What We’re Reading: Skill-Building Books

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With just three weeks until Memorial Day, it's time to finalize your summer reading list. Whether you’re a bookworm or a beach bum, set yourself up for success with a book that advises on business, work and the everyday. We know you’re busy—that’s why we tapped our own team members for the game-changing titles that've had the most profound effect on their lives (so much so, that they’re picking them up for rereads). 

Recommended by Vanessa Street-Mason, Graphic Designer                     

This book demonstrates how to develop and protect a creative, open work environment, and also explores the business philosophies that make Pixar so successful.

Why she recommends it: Written by one of the founders of Pixar, this book shows how leaders can find unseen problems in their organization and fix them. People are a company’s best resource—it’s important to encourage, inspire and protect them so the company can stay profitable. At my job, I’m always on the lookout for potential issues and now know how to communicate in order to solve them. Since Pixar has been such an integral part of entertainment growing up, I also geeked out learning how some of my favorite movies came to be. This book for anyone who wants to see what it takes to have a longstanding, creative organization.

Recommended by Abigail Klem, President

As founder of the positive psychology movement and currently the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman uses decades of clinical research to show how optimistic thinking and approaching situations with a growth mindset (that every experience is an important learning experience) can enhance nearly every aspect your life. 

Why she recommends it: This book has been so valuable to me over the course of my life. Not only does it give practical advice for approaching situations with “the glass half full,” but it also helps you teach your children to be more optimistic and overcome challenges. I now look at every obstacle that I face at work with a growth mindset. If I don’t get an outcome that I was hoping for in a meeting, I realize that I can learn from that experience and not feel defeated. 

Recommended by Rose Barrios, Project Manager and Producer

Mark Manson shares strategies on how to prioritize what’s important in life. Though the title suggests that we shouldn’t care about anything, the underlying message of this book is really this: we all care about things; it's just about choosing carefully and wisely what those things are.

Why she recommends it: This is the most honest, relatable and enlightening self-help book I’ve read (warning: there’s coarse language). It’s taught me to embrace failures. Manson writes, "Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you've failed at something." If a project doesn't go exactly as planned, I look at it as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than as a "failed project.” I'll analyze which parts of the project were a success and which weren’t. In doing so, I'm able to determine what caused the failure and I can take note of that for future projects that may encounter similar issues. 

Recommended by Francesca Farrugia, Senior Marketing Manager

Tim Ferriss interviews successful people from all industries about their nutrition, workout routines, sleep schedules and the books they've read. Their lifestyle tips shed light on how they got to where they are in their careers.

Why she recommends it: Instead of reading this book cover to cover, I keep it in my living room as a manual and look up topics in the index. My favorite tip taught me to sleep with a Chilipad, which was one of my best purchases. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep but now I wake up more refreshed—and, more importantly, can keep a morning routine that sets me up for the rest of day (including those long hours in the office!). One of the most valuable things I learned was to have a system and stick to it. Little moments you take for yourself may seem so insignificant at the time but they enrich your life, overall. 

Recommended by Jackie Keehan, E-Commerce Director

Originally published over 60 years ago, this popular self-help book teaches techniques on how to go through life with a positive attitude and view the world with optimism.

Why she recommends it: As my all-time favorite, I first read this book in high school and recently picked up the newer version. It has given me a really solid perspective on life and has helped me navigate through my many stages with a positive attitude—from my college years into my career and raising a family. Specifically at work, I can stay calm during a crisis and think through a solution with positivity. I feel fortunate to have come across it growing up and know it has definitely changed my way of thinking. 

Recommended by Jackie Zaffarano, Concept Design Manager

Haemin Sumin, a Buddhist monk educated in the United States, teaches you how to slow yourself down in a busy world. He writes short stories on his life experiences combined with very concise yet powerful advice on many of life's most common trying situations.

Why she recommends it: At the end of the day, this book brings my mind clarity, and keeps it from racing and wanting to do more at a time when I should be winding down. (Nighttime tends to be when the most items appear on my mental to-do list). Snippets of wisdom address the importance of rest, mindfulness, passion, relationships, love, life, the future and spirituality. By bringing an understanding of these to the surface of the mind, this book opens up the possibility for success in other areas of life—like our careers. In a fast-paced world, it can be difficult to know exactly how to slow down and this book provides a solid framework to do that. It brings to light a very simple truth: the world isn't what’s so fast-paced; it's our own minds. 

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