How many books did you read this year that had an impact on your professional development, family unity, communication or self-awareness?

Are you clear on the impact of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, digital assistants and robotics on your career trajectory and the business landscape?

Whether you read one book a month, or one book each quarter, may I suggest committing to a reading list in 2017 that elevates and accelerates your professional development and helps you get from now to next?

Here are 4 of my top 10 books of 2016.

Enjoy!

  • Grit, by Angela Duckworth
  • The Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono
  • How Will You Measure Your Life?, by Clayton Christensen
  • Rise of Robots, by Martin Ford.

Grit: Did you know that I am a genius, and so are you? According to Angela Duckworth, it is not the IQ you are born with that makes someone intelligent, or a “genius” (although it helps) Rather it is your natural, foundational “base talent”, multiplied by your effort and perseverance. Continued perseverance that is! Being a “gritty” person and proving your grit on a daily basis is what Angela believes to be a strong indicator of a successful person.

Sometimes life moves so fast and we are so demanding of ourselves that we forget to look in the mirror and realize just how much grit it has taken to get to where we are right now. The self-reflective aspect and benefit of Angela Duckworth’s Grit is just one lesson that she leaves you walking away with.

Perhaps more importantly are the insights I gained on how to successfully hire, coach and lead millennials. I would suggest that hiring, training, coaching and promoting millennials is critical to your leadership and executive success. And the key to working with millennials is screening and hiring those with Grit.

Bottom line: Regardless of generational differences, boomer, X, Y, Z or millennial – the key to hiring is finding those who possess Grit. Angela Duckworth does an outstanding job at laying out what it is and how to identify it.

The Six Thinking Hats is an essential read for leaders and managers who are looking for effective ways to lead and produce efficient meetings, conferences or events. If you have ever been to one of my breakfast, dinners or workshops – you have experienced a version of the six thinking hats, in action.

This book is a super quick read and will most definitely help you run meetings in the best light, learn how to minimize counterproductive interactions and conflict among participants and generate more innovative and mutually beneficial ideas for your group.

Bonus: I also found that this book is a great framework for dinner conversations with teenagers or young adults that bombard you with their expressive feelings or concerns when you are trying to make a point or share a lesson; or when you are just trying to be a parent.

How Will You Measure Your Life is an incredibly inspiring book. But I have come to learn that it is not just this book, but more so the author, Clayton Christensen, who has endless realms of knowledge to share. Christensen is actually the author of another one of my “top-ten reading books”, The Innovator’s Dilemma.

At first glance, I thought How Will You Measure Your Life was going to be a “touchy-feely” spiritual book, but to my surprise, it was not made for the spiritual-guru, yoga-goer. This is a book for type-A, over achievers that have a plan and checklist for almost everything. But they find themselves rarely putting their own needs – whether it may be personal growth and happiness, or family life – on their checklist.

If you are like me, you have had numerous conversations – if not endless conversations – about metrics and measurement in terms of your career, staff and business. Professionally, we are constantly cognizant that you cannot manage what you do not measure.

But what about measuring our personal lives? What is your family motto? The one around the dinner table where your children know specifically what your family holds dear and true to your hearts as a unit. What is it that you want to teach your children about personal contentment, values and experiences?

I strongly believe that this is a terrific read for the holidays when hopefully you are surrounded by loved ones and family. While you are on a break from work for a little bit, spend that time truly contemplating and envisioning how you want your life to look in the next 5, 10, 30 years – and how you can help your children reflect the utmost important values as well.

Do you ever wonder what it will feel like, or look like, when technology “takes over the world”? The Rise of The Robots does a great job at putting everything into perspective in a collectively thoughtful and composed manner. This book left me extremely optimistic about the future of technology.

Although I am constantly reading about how technology is beginning to outsource all of our day-to-day jobs, I truly do not buy into all of the “robot talk”. Too often I hear people discussing a “jobless future” and how artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to eliminate jobs on a semi-apocalyptic scale.

In reality, I have never been more optimistic about our future. I think that it is because I have found the silver lining through it all, and this novel specifically taught me how to come out of this conversation feeling prepared and ready to combat and thrive despite the rise of robots.

Rise of The Robots is a great read for those who seek to understand how accelerating technology will make a difference in their lives, careers – and the future lives your children will one day consider normal society.

It is up to you to stay ahead of the curve and make conscious, aware and thoughtful decisions surrounding what new roles will be created during this upsurge. And more importantly, what skills, competencies and experiences you will have to bring to the table in order to rise against the new robots in your office.

Lead, follow, or get left behind!