January is a great time to start thinking about your career goals. Maybe you're looking for a new job in 2020, striving for a promotion, or simply hoping to find more satisfaction with the day-to-day tasks in your current role.
No matter what you hope to achieve in your professional life in the upcoming year, a good book can give you the motivation and direction you need to get started. Grow polled financial and career experts about the best books they recently read about career growth and navigating the workplace.
Here are four of their top picks:
Intelligence and drive are only part of what it takes to succeed in the corporate world, writes author Carla A. Harris. As Harris — a Harvard MBA, Wall Street veteran, and Morgan Stanley executive — climbed the corporate ladder, she developed "key survival tools" or "pearls" that helped her excel in a competitive environment. In "Expect to Win," Harris shares those "pearls," as well as the setbacks that ultimately helped her find career success.
"It's rare to read about an executive's mistakes along the way to the corner office, but she's candid about them and how to avoid repeating them. It's ideal for anyone striving to become a leader and standing apart from their peers," says Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
Used wisely, to-do lists can help you be more productive at work and achieve your goals. In "The Checklist Manifesto," Dr. Atul Gawande, a respected surgeon, "New Yorker" contributor, and Harvard Medical School professor, draws on his experience in the operating room to make a case for why checklists are a critical part of success for professionals in a complex, fast-paced world.
"I got a chance to visit Boeing and see how they make things work, and over and over again they fall back on checklists," Gawande told NPR in 2010. "The pilot's checklist is a crucial component, not just for how you handle take-off and landing in normal circumstances, but even how you handle a crisis emergency when you only have a couple of minutes to make a critical decision."
Experts say it's a lesson that spans careers. "This book makes a great case that all professionals, not just airline pilots, should develop and follow simple checklists to reduce errors. Our world is complex and we need systems in place to make sure we don't miss things," says Patti B. Black, certified financial planner and partner at Bridgeworth LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.
Drawing on her entrepreneurial experience as CEO of career development company The Memo, Minda Harts' guide for women of color addresses the "ugly truths" that often prevent them from getting a "seat at the table" in corporate America. Harts writes about the prevalence of micro-aggressions, systemic racism, and white privilege in the workplace, and the importance of tools like network building and negotiating to excel.
"'The Memo' provides clear, concise, [and] actionable advice to help women of color — those of diverse and multicultural backgrounds — as they navigate office politics and drama and advance in their careers," says Marguerita Cheng, a certified financial planner and the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "As a CFP professional, I help clients plan for their financial futures. It's important to help my clients manage their greatest asset — their human capital. It's such an enjoyable read."
Video by Courtney Stith
In "How to Have a Good Day," economist and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb draws on behavioral finance concepts to share how you can best utilize your "brain wiring" to set better financial and career priorities, make your time go further, and "live a more thoughtful, fruitful, and joyful life," says certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan, director of financial planning for Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.
"[Web] covers setting priorities, efficient productivity, relationship skills, resilience, ways to improve energy, and much more," says McClanahan. "Her tools and tips are practical and actionable, and have definitely helped me set the tone to have more good days."
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