FT Business Books – January Edition
“Full Out: Leadership Lessons from America’s Favorite Coach,” by Monica Aldama
When the Netflix docuseries Applaud first aired in 2020, it has become (with King tiger), one of the great successes of the start of the pandemic. Applaud followed the Texas Navarro College cheerleading squad in the months leading up to their biggest competition, with drama on and off the mats. The star was her tough but fair coach Monica Aldama.
The show, which returns for a second series this month, showcases Aldama’s experience in making the most of the talented teens on her team. In Full, a leadership book and accompanying memoir, Aldama offers insight into how she approaches her role and manages work and family life.
She’s being honest about what she’s wrong. She and her husband, who met in high school and got married right out of college, found the pressure too much and divorced when their children were young. They are now remarried, and as Aldama repeatedly points out through anecdotes about his work and family life, the key to solving problems is good communication.
“You can accomplish all aspects of your life when you know how people around you feel and when you express your own feelings to them. Learning to communicate with Chris has made me a better coach, ”she writes.
The book will not be a key text for those trying to transform a failing team or business. But it’s insightful read for anyone interested in learning more about Aldama, who originally intended to work on Wall Street (she holds a finance degree and an MBA).
Handcrafted wisdom can creak at times, but Aldama often makes the same points that more sophisticated writers obscure with jargon. “The more I can secure each student as an individual, the better we do it as a team,” she writes. Others might call it psychological safety. For Aldama, it’s the way to win trophies.
“The Wall and the Bridge: Fear and Opportunity in the Wake of Disruption,” by Glenn Hubbard
In this book, Glenn Hubbard’s “walls” are the barriers against change, while “bridges” are the things that prepare people to participate in a vibrant economy. This preparation – and this reconnection – is something he believes we have collectively failed to do.
Hubbard writes that the book is about “noticing” and ideas for dealing with the disruptive structural changes that accompany economic progress. Economist Adam Smith – who saw the economy as a moral system, not just a means of generating income – is a central figure in this book.
Much of it centers on the larger economic and political picture, but the former economic adviser to President George W Bush is speaking to business as bridge builders. For the most part, Hubbard believes companies have left the building of bridges to local communities and governments. “But businesses can – and should – help build bridges now,” he writes.
Hubbard thinks companies are recognizing this now, while also pointing out that Milton Friedman’s idea that “the business of business is business” does not mean that the only stakeholders worth worrying about are shareholders.
He reminds readers that Friedman does not advocate short-termism; some critics, he says, argue that it is the companies themselves that have tended to sacrifice long-term goals, and that one solution is to compensate executives and directors with stock options. that can only be sold for a year or two after leaving their business.
Given the tight global labor market, his remarks on worker training – from which companies benefit in the long run by investing in the development of their workers – are timely.
The bottom line is that in order to thrive, we must all build bridges. Government policy must play a central role, while businesses must invest in their citizens and communities.
“How to get started: start doing something that matters” by Michael Bungay Stanier
Timing is a key ingredient to the success of any new business, which is arguably why the publication of How to start – a self-help book on how to get started with a new project – was written for January, when people are most likely to be thinking about doing something new.
This book is a learning manual for those who need motivation to reach a new “laudable goal,” as author Michael Bungay Stanier puts it.
He writes from personal experience, having successfully completed several books and podcasts on his favorite subject: coaching. He also founded Box of Crayons, a training company for future coaches.
Bungay Stanier shares a lot How to startincluding how he overcame the difficult decision to step down from the management of Box of Crayons after 20 years.
The book could be one volume in the How To Dummies series of books. It’s easy read, punctuated with exercises to take your next business from an idea to a fully developed action plan.
“Jerks at Work: Toxic Colleagues and What to Do About Them,” by Tessa West
We’ve all met jerks at work, but how do we deal with them so that they don’t drain all of our energy and make life a miserable life?
In her book, Tessa West, a social psychologist who has studied the way people communicate for 20 years, maps out the different types of ‘jerk’ personality types, what motivates them to behave the way they do, and strategies based on them. research that can be used to manage their impact on your working life.
Mastering your “jerk” – which she categorizes into personality types such as “credit thief,” “micromanager,” and “gas slugger” – is, she writes, a bit like profiling a serial killer. “You have to get into your moron’s head to find out what makes them tick. How do they choose their victims? How did they avoid capture? Do they have a boss who (secretly) profits from their behavior?
West also debunks a few myths about jerks at work, such as the misconception that only inexperienced people suffer from it. This is wrong, she argues: even the most experienced employees can be victims. Fools aren’t bitter employees with no real ability either – their skill, she writes, is that they are good “social collectors.”
Problems with a work jerk “can be the death of a team,” West adds, but his strategies can help anyone reduce the impact of their behavior. There is also a quiz to determine if you are, in fact, the jerk at work.
“(Dis) Connected: How to Stay Human in an Online World”, by Emma Gannon
Emma Gannon, podcast host and author of The multi-hyphen method, a bestselling book on career development outside traditional corporate settings, is an expert in building a personal brand online. In this little guide, she takes a step outside that realm and suggests ways to reconnect with each other – and more importantly, with ourselves.
Gannon grew up with the Internet, and this guide is for his peers, those in their 20s and 30s for whom an unplugged life is unthinkable. She is very good on the phenomenon of “overflow, to-do lists, decision fatigue, paralysis of choices, the growing number of applications on our phones and the growing number of pressures imposed on us.”
The solution to this, suggests Gannon, is to learn how to live better with ourselves – taking breaks from social media and our phones and “learning to live less urgently.” She offers prompts and tips to help people disconnect and reconnect with themselves and their friends. Some are pretty obvious (take yourself for a day at a museum or cafe), but there’s plenty here for the overwhelmed to act on – a lot of it is slowing down and thinking twice before you go. engage with anyone who comes uninvited to your inbox or DM.
Much of this is aimed at digital natives, but Gannon has a straightforward writing style, understands plenty of personal anecdotes, and gives solid advice to readers of all ages, including the art of igniting appropriate conversations. “It’s amazing what happens when you let someone speak their mind and don’t fight to be heard. ”
“You Train: How to Overcome Challenges and Take Control of Your Career”, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis
The authors of Squiggly career are back with a second stream designed to help us manage the change and uncertainty that come with a modern career. This guide teaches readers how to coach themselves, as one-on-one career coaching can be prohibitively expensive and out of reach for many.
Tupper and Ellis are both skilled coaches and write that anyone with the right mindset and the right motivation can practice self-coaching to overcome career challenges.
The chapters explore topics such as time, self-confidence and resilience, each divided into two parts. The first deals with how to improve in that specific area (the first part of the chapter on resilience, for example, aims to develop your resilience reserves even if you are not having a difficult time right now). The second examines how to overcome the challenges that one might face now.
The book provides a framework that anyone can work with and a short guide on how to get the most out of it. However, the authors stress that “learning to coach yourself isn’t something you put off your to-do list. It’s a skill you practice and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get.
As careers evolve, so will ideas evolve, and Tupper and Ellis recommend returning to drills and tools regularly. It is a practical and comprehensive guide. However, it does require a long term investment on the part of its reader “to continue development and discover new opportunities to develop your skills”.