Further Reading

Books

 

Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working For Yourself

By Daniel H. Pink

In 2002, Pink made popular the phrase “free agent” to describe the self-employment phenomenon in the U.S. At the time, Pink estimated that one-quarter to one-third of American workers worked as independent contractors. He explores their attitudes toward autonomy, informal networks, self-constructed safety nets, and more. The mentality of the self-employed people Pink profiles is relevant to anyone who wants to think more like an entrepreneur.

 

Brand You

By Tom Peters

This is the book version of Tom Peters’s famous 1997 article in Fast Company titled “The Brand Called You.” Peters pioneered the idea of “You, Inc.” He says you should think about what makes you stand out and then aggressively promote those distinctive skills, accomplishments, and passions—which together make up your personal brand–just like a company would promote its products and services.

 

Working Identity

By Herminia Ibarra

This is a great book on career reinvention and transition. A professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, Ibarra tells the stories of men and women who pivoted into new industries. She observes how difficult it is to shed your old identity and create a new one. She stresses the importance of experimentation. And she hammers home the idea there is no “one true self” that can be discovered.

 

Only The Paranoid Survive

By Andrew S. Grove

Intel cofounder Andy Grove introduces the concept of Strategic Inflection Points: crucial moments in the life of a company where the actions taken will determine whether the company survives massive environmental change and emerges stronger than ever, or whether it declines dramatically. Grove makes the case for staying in front of change. The most recent edition of the book contains an extra chapter on career inflection points, which is quite useful.

 

One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success

By Marci Alboher

Marci says you can successfully weave together seemingly different career interests into one unified whole—all at once. You don’t have work in one industry for a long time and then making a frightening leap to another. Marci interviews lawyers/chefs, journalists/doctors, and others in a “slash career.” The book presents a whole new way to think about combining passions.

 

Different: Escaping The Competitive Herd

By Youngme Moon

Moon argues that to have a true competitive advantage in today’s business world means a company must be fundamentally different from the outset. It can’t bolt on differentiators after the fact. Recommended reading to explore the concept of competitive advantage in more detail.

 

Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals

By Nathan Bennett and Stephen A. Miles

This is practical career advice in a style that’s unusually substantive and dense. Bennett and Miles interview top executives about their careers and derive principles of success. They stress “career agility” and write thoughtfully on creating differentiation as a professional.

 

The Invention of Air: A Story About Science, Faith, Revolution and The Birth of America

By Steven Johnson

A story about the life and times of Joseph Priestley, who was the first person to discover oxygen and the first person to realize that plants were also creating it. Johnson shows that the “discovery” of oxygen was not the result of a single Eureka moment but rather the culmination of many experiences and influences over an extended period of time. The discussion of Priestly’s networks and relationships are particularly relevant to career networks and relationships.

 

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

By Steven Johnson

Johnson explains the environmental causes of innovation, including the role of open networks, collaboration, serendipity, adjacent niches, and many other concepts relevant to fostering breakout career opportunities. An excellent analysis.

 

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Action

By John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davidson

The authors say the 21st century model of knowledge acquisition is about “pulling” information in from dynamic “knowledge flows.” By placing the social network at the center of information gathering and opportunity flow, the book complements well our discussion of serendipity and network intelligence.

 

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries by Peter Sims

Adapt: How Success Inevitably Begins with Failure by Tim Harford

Peter and Tim each argue for an experimental approach to business, politics, and life. Rather than betting big on a large endeavor that takes a long time to pay off, companies—and individuals—should take many small risks and see which ones turn out okay. Eric Schmidt of Google calls this philosophy, “the most at-bats per unit of time.”

 

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

By Jonathan Haidt

Haidt, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, presents fascinating insights from the latest research on happiness. In one chapter, he writes about how humans are more focused on avoiding risk than seizing upside, which is relevant to our discussion of risks and opportunities.

 

Streetlights and Shadows

By Gary Klein

An original and counterintuitive set of ideas on how to make better decisions. Yet unlike many books on the topic, Klein assumes you have incomplete information and high levels of uncertainty—in other words, he assumes you live in the real world, not an academic lab.

 

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

By Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler

Drawing on extensive (if not completely proven) research, social scientists Christakis and Fowler argue that connections up to three degrees away from us have a profound effect on our mind and body. Christakis and Fowler say that we are very much the company we keep—out to the third degree.

 

Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed

By Michael Eisner with Aaron Cohen

Eisner, former CEO of Disney, writes about ten notable partnerships. Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are featured in the book, as are Brian Grazer-Ron Howard, Warren Buffett-Charlie Munger, Bill Gates-Melinda Gates and others. Inspiring stories that show the power of alliance.

 

Pull: Networking and Success Since Benjamin Franklin

By Pamela Walker Laird

Laird demolishes the idea of the “self-made man” and adds historical depth to the idea of IWe. A Good account of how famous figures like Ben Franklin operated within a web of social support.

 

Superconnect

By Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood

An in-depth exploration of “weak ties” including a review of the academic studies that coined the term, and what professionals need to know about how weak ties function a social network.

 

The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You

By Michael Malone

What does a company of the future look like? Michael says it’s a “protean corporation,” one that can constantly adapt to new challenges by restructuring itself instantly. Organizations like Wikipedia and Google fit this mold. An intriguing portrait of tomorrow’s workplace.

 

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