Our Favorite List of Must Read HR, Business and Leadership Books

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We at Workology have already begun compiling our 2017 reading lists, just like many of you. However, we felt it would be a good idea to reflect on some of the books that affected us in the previous year. These books assisted us in improving our performance both this year and as we advance in our professions, from being courageous to determining where to concentrate our efforts to knowing when and how to let go.

What books did you read last year that made a difference for you? Tell us in the comments.

Our Favorite HR and Leadership Books 

Daring Greatly

by Brene Brown

I started reading this book after hearing Brene Brown speak in Austin shortly before Memorial Day weekend at Indeed’s Interactive Conference. After spending almost 8 years working as a consultant and entrepreneur, I braved significantly to move into a new corporate career. The book included many pearls of wisdom, and it was quite significant. Although I don’t have all the answers, a lot of what she wrote as a professional, parent, friend, wife, and mother resonated with me. I recognized a lot of myself in Brown’s book. You can find the book here.

— Jessica Miller-Merrell

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

by Kory Kogon

Project management was one professional opportunity where I quickly realized I needed to brush up on my skills. There have been instances in my consulting and entrepreneurial work when I was the only person who could do the task. I could have used a to-do list instead of project management. Although I am a master at delegation, I struggle with organization when it comes to large projects. I’ve been reading this book at the advice of a project manager. In the near future, I also intend to enroll in a two-day project management training course for leaders. Because who couldn’t be better at coordinating and managing projects? You can find the book here.

— Jessica Miller-Merrell

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

by Chris Anderson

I am a speaker so this book is a treasured addition to my library.  Chris Anderson does wonders to expand the understanding and appreciation of presentation literacy in his book TED Talks. In addition to his sage advice on public speaking, he shares the tales of real people overcoming incredible obstacles by ultimately telling their own stories on the stage. You can find the book here.

— Sandra Long


by Angela Duckworth

“As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.” That passage from Grit, by Angela Duckworth, stands out among others.

Despite our culture’s infatuation with talent, we frequently ignore work. We frequently believe that some people are “naturals” or possess advantages over us in particular situations. Because we believe they are naturally talented and that we are not capable of living up to the bar they set, we also have a tendency to give in to them.

The key to grit is work. This is commonly referred to as “intentional practice” by Duckworth. Consider the instance of a speaker who is widely respected. She may appear to have a natural talent for persuasion and winning over an audience from the viewpoint of an outsider. However, we are unable to observe the numerous hours of work and planning that went into her presentation. The numerous times she failed but recovered are not mentioned. A polished and engaging speaker is not just the product of inherent skill; rather, it is the product of talent AND effort.

Grit, in my opinion, is all about repeatedly using our skills, attributes, and experiences while also learning from our errors and improving. The good news is that we can all become “gritty” learners. In Grit, Duckworth presents a method for determining your level of “grittiness” and then offers doable actions for improving. But it demands work.

And let’s be honest, that’s the point. You can find the book here.

— Carlos Escobar

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

by Mark Manson

I have been following Mark Manson’s blog, off and on for some time. I say “off and on” because I sometimes abruptly stop following him when his words, frequently, rubs me the wrong way. But that’s what happens when a writer’s goal is to cut through the bullshit to offer nontraditional self-help, and this book is no different.

The whole point of not giving a f*uck isn’t really not caring about anything at all – it’s not nearly as nihilistic as it sounds. Rather, it’s about choosing which f*cks to give – and being ruthless about that process. As all my jobs consist of knowledge work, prioritization is absolutely necessary to achieve meaningful work. Manson cuts through the bullshit to remind us of that and even offers some cool, new insights along the way. You can find the book here.

— Jenna Ledford

Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

by Brigid Schulte

An award-winning journalist and mother, Schulte talks about the idea of the good life in relation to workforce policy and politics. Her particular focus is on family leave policies and she dives right into addressing gendered labor and America’s antiquated notions about productive work. Her perspective ranges from the deeply personal to the global – cross-comparing a variety of attitudes and experiences. She sinks her teeth into things only the way a great journalist can. You can find the book here.

— Jenna Ledford

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Megan Purdy

Former recruiter, HR pro and Workology editor. Comics, cheese and political economy.

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