LF Reviews: Our Favourite Self Help Books
Written by: Steven Prysunka
As seen in the January 2020 issue of Lazy Faire magazine.
A new year, a new decade! It's exciting yet daunting, and makes you feel as though you should reinvent yourself. Reinvention is a tall order, so where should you start? Here's a list of books I read and loved in the last year; all four of these books can help any business student get a fresh perspective in the new year, whatever their resolution may be.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers is not a traditional self help book. It reframed my perspective on success and what it takes for extremely successful individuals to “make it.” Business students are inundated with examples of billionaires who all have the same miraculous story of bootstrap-pulling and innate genius. This book breaks down pure success as we know it. It sheds light on what might be sheer luck (and being there at the right time), and what is in our control. This is the book that put the 10,000 hour rule in the public consciousness among other big concepts. It's nice to have a more realistic perspective on what separates outliers from the rest of us. The latest addition to Gladwell’s repertoire, Talking to Strangers, is a fascinating read as well and may help you understand why people so often misunderstand others.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is the oldest book on the list (published in 1936), but it's a classic for a reason. It covers everything from dealing with people, criticism, influencing and persuading people, and leadership. Some of the advice may seem like common sense, (like smiling and showing genuine interest in what others do) but you’d be surprised to learn how many people end up doing the wrong thing. You don’t have to dazzle people or appease them with hollow flattery in order to be the center of attention. In fact, the book shows that honesty, humility and genuine care and curiosity end up making you a pretty popular person. Living in a world with resumés, social media, and LinkedIn, we are often under the misconception that we need to sell ourselves to be memorable. The book offers the reader an alternative approach to business, relationships and dealing with people in general. As a bonus, the book also offers good advice for anyone who finds people leaving them at a party when they start bragging about their day trading.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
This book is the most business-centric of the four. It has concrete rules on how to effectively engage in negotiations and leave with all parties satisfied. The book states that life is a series of negotiations and coming out on top doesn't have to mean making someone else lose. If you really want to put this in practice, try the SMO Negotiations class next semester.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
Written by a Navy Seal, turned business owner and consultant, this is the book I needed for group work in BUS 201. Despite the focus on the military, humility, ego control, and understanding are central themes; it turns out that people like working with those willing to admit their mistakes. It's easy to blame others but so much more rewarding to make the buck stop with you. The book also shows how being a good leader and holding yourself responsible for your group doesn't necessarily mean being a control freak.
It’s a tough concept to comprehend initially, but understanding it will help you rethink leadership and your role in any project you take on in the future. Accountability as a leader is a challenging yet ultimately empowering philosophy to apply to team work.