This career coaching piece originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com:
I wrote in my last column about how summer is a great time to network. Summer is also a great time to catch up on reading. Here are four books with helpful takeaways for your career. Each of these books has an unexpected twist which makes it an enjoyable surprise for summer:
You Already Know How To Be Great by Alan Fine
The twist here is that Fine convincingly argues that we often don’t need more knowledge. We just need to tap into the skills we already have. With lots of examples, including detailed coaching role plays, Fine delivers a practical and inspiring book for those looking to focus on performance improvement this summer.
To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink
The twist here is that it’s a book about selling but not for salespeople. Pink writes about the importance of selling, or influencing, for everyone in every type of job. My fellow Forbes contributor, Dan Schawbel, did a more in-depth piece on Pink and his new book, but suffice it to say that it’s breezy, yet important summer reading for those looking to hone in on one critical skill.
Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak
The twist here is that you might not expect a business book to highlight monks as the prototype to follow. But Turak, also a Forbes contributor, shares a compelling case for how we can derive success on the secular side from the religious Trappists. Lessons such as aiming past the target and the importance of service and selflessness were my favorites.
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The twist here is that this is not a career coaching book specifically, but the book’s premise is so fitting for today’s job market: the opposite of fragile is not resilient but rather antifragile, where you actually BENEFIT from volatility or shock. Taleb, who also wrote The Black Swan, actually uses an example comparing a cab driver and a traditional company employee to highlight that what might seem risky (the cab driver who is an entrepreneur with no guaranteed income, while the employee has a steady paycheck) is actually less risky (the cab driver has lots of customers and therefore a portfolio of work, while the traditional employee might go to zero income if something happens to his company). This is not a breezy summer read but it’s an important one, and if it just gets you to start thinking about career risk management in a different way, then it’s a worthwhile read.