Three Career Books to Read in 2011

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You might not have read any of these business books yet because there are a) so many out there and b) so many of them being recommended by reputable sources. Amidst all that clutter, how can you determine what's worth your time?

After reviewing New York Post's list, I narrowed it down to three recently published business books that I found to be most useful:


1. 'Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose' by Tony Hsieh.

A serial entrepreneur since his college days, Hsieh has an impressive resume. He founded the billion-dollar online shoe business Zappos.com. His advice for entrepreneurs is to achieve both happiness and commercial success through fun on the job mixed with a little good-old-fashioned weirdness. But his own style shows that the secret might really be to ignore what "the experts say." Tony believes that to be successful your best bet is to plow all your energy into what you sense, just might work.

The book's takeaway message is to have confidence in yourself.


2. 'Rework' by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier.

Like Hsieh's book, this one screams to ignore much of the traditional wisdom about success. Instead, be alert to opportunity and you will find plenty of it. When you spot it, you won't be consumed with your mission statement and five-year plans. Instead you will pounce on that possibility and turn it into a profitable reality. This is hard for those whose comfort zone is to know exactly what will happen next. The reality is that you're the one who controls what's next by turning what's happening to your advantage.

So, the rework is transforming your mindset from expecting a static smoothly running workplace to a dynamic one which often is in total chaos.


3. 'How Did I Get Here? The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO' by Tony Hawk.

This book champions getting out of the box. In addition, Hawk demonstrates the power of making yourself into a brand, that is what people, be they employers or clients/customers, pay attention to. Management consultant Tom Peters hammered this approach to selling yourself as "the brand called you."

Those who dominate their fields are those who have been able to establish themselves as a unique brand. Examples are Bill Clinton, Betty White, Warren Buffett, Gawker's Nick Denton, and the Tea Party's Sarah Palin.

First you have to stand apart, then you can rise to the top. After you get to the top, of course, you must figure out how to stay there or scramble back after setbacks.

If you decide that you don't want to read, but do want to reflect on some ideas to change your career path, fine. Here are the key takeaways from these and other influential business books:

  • There is no one way to accomplish anything. You have to observe what's going on, what could be put in play, and connect the dots. That demands confidence. Confidence allows you to fail and to leverage that failure as needed learning.
  • Success is your business. You make it.
  • Create your unique brand. Then the challenge is to keep it fresh. Careers are dynamic, not static.
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