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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Grobman

Five Books That Will Change Your Way of Thinking About the World

The Talent Code, Quiet, Show Your Work, Man's Search for Meaning, Sapiens

In the last few years I've been inspired by many great books and thought leaders from various disciplines. I wanted to share with you 5 books that really influenced my way of thinking. 1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain Up until I read Quiet, I believed that there was an optimal way of corporate being - namely an extraverted one. Susan Cain really opened my mind into articulating the tremendous value that introverts bring to the table and how the corporate environment kills value through unproductive activities like group brainstorming. This book inspires overall a broader reflection on personality differences and on the challenges of building diverse teams and listening to the less dominant voices that often have the best ideas. I read Quiet way before I started thinking about the challenges of getting more women into leadership roles and it has definitely helped shape my approach to understanding these challenges later on.

2. Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl There are tons of books, articles, movies, blog posts, social media accounts and whatnot about finding one’s meaning and purpose. The whole self-help industry is built upon this but somehow the advice offered ("find something you’re passionate about!!!") never seemed to make sense to me. Victor Frankl was a psychologist and a Holocaust survivor who created a new stream in psychology called Logotherapy. In the book he tells his life story of surviving the concentration camps as well as outlines his theory. He analyzes why some people were able to find meaning under the most horrendous circumstances in the camp while others simply gave up and decided to die. According to Frankl, one finds meaning through:

  • Experiencing reality by interacting authentically with the environment and with others,

  • Giving something back to the world through creativity and self-expression, and

  • Changing our attitude when faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

I’ve been seriously practicing these principles in the last few years and I can testify that they have created a lot more meaning and purpose in my life.

3. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon Austin Kleon is a huge reference on creativity. He reads a ridiculous amount of books a year, writes, and creates new art sketches 24/7. In this book, he reveals a little secret about the art world: people are even more curious about HOW you create your work than about the end result itself. Sharing work with others while it’s in progress also lets one solicit feedback and improve it as you go. Kleon really inspired me to share my work and not worry too much about what others may say. Sharing my work also taught me a lot about how little intuition I had (and still have) about other people’s reactions to it. As an entrepreneur, I have been learning so much and also connecting with people on a much deeper level by showing my work to them.

4. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle When I first started building my programs, I got recommended this book by a UPenn instructor. It’s a collection of fascinating stories about how people learn and hone their talents around the world. One of the coolest things I learned from this book was that we learn much more from our mistakes than from our successes. The other one was about the magic of myelin, a microscopic neural substance that adds vast amounts of speed and accuracy to your movements and thoughts. The more you repeat a certain activity, the more myline is formed around your neuro-connection responsible for this activity and the better you’re able to perform this activity over time. Three elements contribute to greatness according to Coyle: Deep Practice, Ignition (motivation & commitment) and Master Coaching.

5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari History was always my most hated subject in school (along with literature). I could care less about the events we were studying and the details of who killed whom and when. Part of this indifference was probably due to my wee age and lack of understanding the context and relevance and part due to the poor quality of instruction. Only during my Masters in International Studies, I finally started catching up on some of the educational gaps I had in this field and connecting the dots between historical events and the evolution of nations and people’s mindsets and cultures. Sapiens is one of those books that really helps you connect the dots. Harari is a craftsman who takes so much information about literally everything and translates it into a captivating tale about how we’ve come to be who we are today. He breaks many traditional paradigms, cross-referencing research in history, anthropology, biology, politics, economics and much more. This book also helps make sense of a lot of the geopolitics nonsense we see around us today. It’s one of the most brilliant books I have ever read (and probably ever will). ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? Sign-up for our newsletter!

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