You know it’s cold when iguanas start dropping out of trees in Florida, literally “cold stunned” by the extremely low temperatures. The new year has kicked off with record-setting cold weather across North America — making it a perfect time to practice the Danish art of hygge and cozy up inside with a good book. Here’s our reading list for IT pros looking to further their career, develop new skills or be entertained on a cold, wintry night at home:
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google
By Scott Galloway
You may have heard of NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway — he’s the guy who predicted Amazon should buy Whole Foods. Now, in an entertaining book backed by strong research, he looks at how The Four have risen to the top of the food chain, in a way that infiltrates our lives so completely it’s impossible to avoid them. He also deconstructs the strategies used to create them, like building modern-day ‘moats’ to stave off the competition. He says, for example, the iPhone won’t be the best phone for long, but Apple’s key asset is its 492 retail stores in 19 countries: “Wait, a marauder could just put up an online store, no? No. HP.com vs. the Apple Regent Street Store in London is like bringing a (butter) knife to a gunfight.” If you want to compete or do business with The Four, this book shows you how.
Great at Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Achieve More
By Morten Hansen
Ever wondered why one sushi chef gains three Michelin stars for making the exact same sushi roll that his competitors make? According to author Morten Hansen, performance isn’t about innate talent, nor is it about work ethic. Hot off the presses from the New York Times bestselling author, Great at Work is a practical guide to performance, based on the analysis of a five-year study of more than 5,000 managers and employees. Hansen has combed through the data, coming up with seven “work smarter practices” that anyone can use to maximize their time and performance, highlighted with real-world examples. Once you understand your individual productivity style, Hansen says you can achieve more by working less — and he has the statistical analysis to back it up.
The Culture Code
By Daniel Coyle
You might remember Coyle’s previous bestseller, The Talent Code, which explains how to capitalize on your own talent. Now he’s tackling the topic of corporate culture — a hot topic these days among tech talent — in his latest book to be released at the end of this month. Coyle delves into the dynamics of successful groups (like Navy SEAL Team Six) to understand “cultural chemistry,” and provides tools to help build — and sustain — a cohesive, motivated culture (and fix what’s broken), with mantras like ‘listen like a trampoline.’ If you’re looking for strategies to improve teamwork and collaboration, this book provides you with a roadmap.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes
By Jason Fagone
If you’re looking for a good spy novel with thrills and chills (and a love story), this should be on your reading list. Oh — it’s also a true story. The book follows pioneering code-breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman, who along with her husband William (who got all the credit for their work, along with the FBI) invented cryptology and used it to track down Nazi spies. Fagone — a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle — has painstakingly pieced together her achievements: “During the Second World War, an American woman figured out how to sweep the globe of undercover Nazis … The proof was on paper: 4,000 typed decryption of clandestine Nazi messages that her team shared with the global intelligence community.” It’s only a matter of time before a movie comes out — and I, for one, will be first in line to see it.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
By Daniel Pink
You shouldn’t ask your boss for a raise at 2:55 p.m., according to the bestselling author of Drive. Daniel Pink is back with newly released When, with tips on how to unlock the scientific secrets of good timing. We often say that timing is everything, but our timing is based on a gut feeling or guesswork. Pink explains the science behind timing, using research from psychology, biology and economics. So, if you’re trying to figure out when to make your next move, whether it’s asking for a raise or taking your career to the next level, When is worth a read. And since it just hit shelves, the timing couldn’t be better.