4 Non Design/Tech Books That Help My Career

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I read a lot of technical books and get asked quite often about book suggestions on a specific topic. I will know I should publish a bibliography somewhere on the blog and I will.

In the meantime, I started reading less technical books this year. I read more books about management, leadership and human relationships at work. Those books help me with my career and I hope also help me become a better co-worker. Here is a selection of the last 4 books I finished that are all about team management, getting better (or starting) public speaking, surviving and staying creative in a corporate company and holding up as a women in tech.

Resilient Management – Lara Hogan

My grade: 5/5

My new job at Maltem since April is a Design Lead position. I was looking for some advice on how to better communicate and on how to build a strong team and work with them. Lara, gives a lot of keys to help you understand how the humans in your team work, how to support them and help them grow at work. Get familiar with the BICEPS” method (Belonging, Improvement/ Progress, Choice, Equality/ Fairness, Predictability, Significance) to understand the basic needs of your team. Learn to use your mentoring, coaching, sponsoring or feedback hat to better help your teammates.

This book is NOT about managing projects, which is good for me, since it’s not what I was looking for but I prefer to warn you.
Honestly, this book should be a mandatory read to help you become a better teammate, even if you don’t manage anyone!

Buy Resilient Management

Demystifying public speaking – Lara Hogan

My grade: 5/5 for beginners, 3/5 for people already speaking in public

This book is a great introduction to public speaking. Lara goes through the different steps: finding a topic, a venue, building the talk. She also covers preparing and giving the presentation and what to do after the talk.

There’s a LOT of good little tips to help you get started. Even after a few years in the conference circuit, I still learnt a few tricks with her book.
If you are starting, or considering doing public speaking, this is the great practical introduction you need.

Buy Demystifying public speaking

You can also read it for free online.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace –  Gordon MacKenzie

My grade: 2.5/5

The author worked at Hallmark Cards for 30 years. He developed different strategies to keep his creativity flowing and survive in a corporate organisation. He describes this organisation as a giant hairball with a gravity field. The trick is to gravitate around it: close enough to be able to do your job, but far enough to not get sucked into the corporate vortex and loose all creativity.

It’s a fun to read book about creativity split in small stories about those 30 years in this big company. Some people describe this as “life changer” but I wouldn’t go that far. The book has some nice insights on how people in corporate company work. But I get the feeling that Gordon was able to orbit around this because he was perceived as an eccentric person and people put up with him. If I did half of what he did in this book, I would get fired. This might have worked for a man in this particular industry some years ago. But I’m not sure those advice could apply to a women working in tech in 2019.

This is a fun one to read and you want to have the hardcover version because it’s also a beautifully illustrated book. I see this as a fun biography of a creative person with a few interesting quotes.

Buy Orbiting the Giant Hairball

Feminist Fight Club – A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace — Jessica Bennett

My grade: 5/5 for women in tech, 5/5 for allies in tech, 10/5 if you don’t care about women in tech and are still convinced you are a nice guy and there’s no issues with the tech industry and the way it treats women.

As a woman in tech, it’s sometimes hard to get through the day. And a lot of us already gave up. This book helped me put things into perspective and survive quite a few situations. It also helped me put words on things I noticed but didn’t quite know what to do with. You know, when you wonder “WTF is happening is this normal, is it me?” (hint, it usually is not you) in some of those situations. Casual sexism in the workplace is something that sadly still happen a lot. This book gives some interesting advice in different situations on how to survive them.

One concept I got out of it (among many things) is the concept of boast bitch: women get torn down when they celebrate their own accomplishments. So find a bitch to boast for you, and do the same for her, elevate each other.
If you are not a woman, the end of the book is for you. She also gives some advice on how to become a good ally, to build a better workplace for everyone.

Buy Feminist Fight Club