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Breaking Glass

10 books for businesswomen by businesswomen

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'Tis the season for Secret Santa's and stocking stuffers!

For some great gift ideas, I thought I’d compile a list of the books women in business have recommended to me this year that I admittedly have not yet read (I’ve just been waiting for the holiday lull!):

“Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder,” byArianna Huffington.

I wrote a blog about this book and the interview Huffington had with Inc. Magazine earlier this summer — and it’s still sitting on my nightstand. If Huffington — the editor-in-chief, president and chair of the Huffington Post Media Group — found the time to write 14 books, I really should have the time to read just one of them so far. And that’s exactly the challenge Huffington asks women to take on in “Thrive”, learning how to focus on improving oneself.

“Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business,” by Barbara Annis and John Gray.

Considering these authors of the opposite sex were able to write a book together, they might just have some advice to offer on how to successfully utilize and navigate gender difference in the workplace. “Work with Me” focuses on eight major differences between men and women, including communication styles, expressing appreciation, mentorship and partnership, using caution, interrogating tactics, listening and paying attention, and expressing emotion and sensitivity.

“How to Be a Power Connector: The 5 + 50 + 100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits,” by Judy Robinett.

According to the women who have recommended “How to Be a Power Connector” to me, I already am one — without ever having known it. Drawing on a wealth of experience as an executive, fundraiser and adviser to boards and entrepreneurs, author Robinett writes about her personal experience and the stories of others to exemplify the best practices of building, maintaining and using successful networks as major resources.

“The Empathy Exams,” by Leslie Jamison.

While not a business-oriented book per say, Jamison’s collection of revealing essays poses essential questions about our basic understanding and care of others that would indeed be helpful when interacting with clients or colleagues. By confronting instances of pain, “The Empathy Exams” encourages readers to experience a wide range of emotions — and these days, companies are catering and marketing more to how people feel than ever before.  

“Bad Feminist,” by Roxane Gay.

Don’t we all love that word? With refreshing and satirical spirit, Gay explores the meaning of feminism today in a collection of essays focusing on politics to pop culture and everything in between. Sharp, funny and insightful, “Bad Feminist” explores how culture can often dictate who we are, and how both women and men can improve the world by redefining feminist culture itself.

“Lean In for Graduates,” by Sheryl Sandberg.

I mean, how could I not? Sandberg is back! And this time, her target audience isn’t exactly middle-aged women in business — it’s young women and men who should be in business. “Lean in for Graduates” reads as an instructional handbook for the next generation, with advice and inspiration from experts and fellow young people from around the world on how to find first jobs, negotiate salaries and discover one’s passions.

“The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms,” by Lauren Maillian Bias.

At 19, Maillian Bias founded an internationally recognized and award-winning boutique winery, serving as the CEO of the company through the brand’s acquisition in 2011. In “The Path Redefined,” Maillian Bias reflects on her experiences building her unique and personal brand to eventually become the founder and CEO of Luxury Market Branding, a strategic marketing company, and the founding partner of Gen Y Capital Partners, an early stage venture film focused on investments in mobile and consumer facing technology-enabled companies.

“The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know,” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

Whenever I write about or listen to speeches regarding or engage in research about the gender gap, one key trait is always mentioned as being stronger in men than in women: confidence. Why is that? Kay and Shipman set out to find some answers in “The Confidence Code,” using neuroscience, genetic testing, psychology and interviews with women leaders from around the world to find out why so many women struggle with self-doubt and what can be done to change it.

“Yes, Please,” by Amy Poehler.

This is my personal recommendation simply because writers, producers and actresses Poehler and Fey (“Bossypants”) are the most successful business women I’ve ever been made aware of. And, while insightful and inspiring, their books are downright hilarious. In “Yes, Please,” Poehler reflects on the challenges that have contributed to her success in chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend.” Yes, I have actually read “Yes, Please,” and yes, I will be reading it again this holiday season. If you have neither book mentioned here, drop what you’re doing right now and write a request to Santa.  

 “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” by Cheryl Strayed.

As the only book on this list that was published in 2013, it may be “cheating” a bit to offer it up as yet another personal recommendation. However, I mention it out of request that you read “Wild” before seeing the Oscar-buzzing movie starring Reese Witherspoon that just hit theatres. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to do exactly what Strayed has done — move on from the past, accept a challenge, live through it and then make millions writing about the whole experience. If there’s one book you read this holiday season, let it be this one. It is truly inspiring.

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