Dec. 22, 2017
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is that I get some breathing room in my calendar. I love to use this time to spend time with friends and family, to work on projects and certainly to catch up on my reading.
If you want to take time to read to improve your professional life, there are three books I read this year that I recommend.
We are living in a time of disruption. Traditional businesses are either being disrupted or – the smart ones – are actively making sure they are ahead of the curve to disrupt themselves.
But most people don’t think about what that means for their own professional lives. Disrupt Yourself takes the concepts of disruption and applies them to personal careers.
Disrupt yourself to stay ahead.
Why is this important? Many of us are tempted to maintain status quo. But with the pace of change accelerating, staying where you are or just moving forward incrementally puts you at risk of being….well, disrupted!
To mitigate that risk you have to consciously put yourself in the driver’s seat of your own career. Johnson uses the well-known disruption S-Curve to demonstrate this.
There are many gems in this book. Her advice is to take calculated risks, notice where your strengths can fill a gap, embrace constraints and let your curiosity be your guide. Johnson also points out that solid careers often have a zigzag path. Sometimes these zigzags are forced on you. Johnson profiles a woman who was fired from a large bank. It was painful, but she used her time to take stock of her life. She focused more on her family, began a healthier lifestyle and got a job as a consultant that gave her more variety of projects – a better fit for her. Sometimes a step back can be a step forward.
When you actively look to disrupt yourself you build your career by gaining strategic skills and a broad network. You also build your fitness to “surf” the disruption curve in your career and help make yourself bulletproof in the face of accelerating change.
Create multiple revenue streams.
Once you’ve stepped back and assessed your career, you might decide to embed more diversity and self-reliance into it. Entrepreneurial You gives you a guide to do that. (Disclosure: I am profiled in this book.)
Clark says that the way to hedge your career risk is to develop multiple options and multiple revenue streams. In the busy day-to-day of your life you may not be thinking this, so the insight itself is helpful.
Clark lays out a roadmap for how to do this. She provides an inventory so you can assess what you are uniquely skilled at and what you might be able to turn into a revenue stream. Then she offers specific tips to monetize those skills. You can do this inside your company or externally. One employee she profiles, for example, built up his technology skills simply because he was interested. Ultimately he used those skills to get a promotion within his existing company.
For people who want to build their revenue streams externally, Clark suggests building up your credibility and reach with consistent content creation: blogging, vlogging, and course creation. She shows you how to work your way up by starting small to build a track record and then finding opportunities to reach larger audiences. And she suggests you create your own communities to put you at the epicenter of a generosity chain.
Throughout Clark encourages consistency and resilience: creating multiple revenue streams takes time, effort and patience. Ups and downs are normal. When you take small steps consistently you will find your path to building up a portfolio that will help you liberate yourself financially and shape your own career destiny.
Get the most out of your employees.
The premise of Mulitpliers is simple: as a leader you are either getting the most out of your people or you are in some ways dampening them. Wiseman lays out specific frameworks and tools to help you assess what your actions are doing and to chart a path for you to unlock more smarts and capabilities in your employees.
Leaders all operate differently and there are multiple ways to multiply others. Wiseman offers specific archetypes, for example the Challenger, the Investor and the Liberator. She then highlights case studies to demonstrate how these play out in the real world. For example, a “Challenger” CEO she features takes on a big “mission impossible” commitment to the board. He engages the employees of the company in this big goal by encouraging them to join him and to set their own personal “mission impossible” alongside the organizational one. He called it “impossible” strategically so that people would know they were allowed to take risks and fail. By being a “Challenger” in this way the CEO got more out of his employees as they achieved this goal –that’s a true multiplier.
Wiseman summarizes each chapter with a helpful framework that includes “What multiplers do” and “What they get” as well as what Diminishers do and what they get. It’s pretty clear which list you want to be on.
Wiseman also includes the enlightening but bad news that you may actually be a diminisher and not know it! She suggest ways to figure out if this is true and what to do about it if it is.
Finally, you may not be a diminisher but unfortunately perhaps your manager is! In that case she also offers solid ideas about how you can thrive even in that environment.