Book Smart: Required reading for industry pros

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By Megan Salzano Birch—FCNews asked industry members to offer up the books that have had the most impact on them personally and professionally. Here are their top picks:

Flavia Baggio, general manager, Indusparquet
“Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg

“‘Lean In’ tells Sheryl Sandberg’s story as a woman in the workplace. She talks about how to coordinate a successful executive life and motherhood. It is a book for women that focuses on career management. Sheryl was a top executive at Google and later chief operating officer at Facebook. She describes all the challenges and obstacles that prevent women from getting into executive leadership positions: external, such as workplace flexibility, access to childcare but, most importantly, internal barriers, such as lack of self-confidence, low expectations of what can be achieved and what they are capable of and even lack of aspiration.

Sheryl does a good job explaining these internal obstacles and how to overcome them, as they are rarely discussed and often underplayed. The book makes the case for leaning in, for being ambitious in any pursuit and that conditions for all women will improve once there are more women in leadership roles who understand their needs and concerns.”

Tim Baucom, president & CEO, Shaw Industries
“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

“‘Extreme Ownership’ leverages lessons from Jocko’s experience as a successful U.S. Navy Seal Officer to set a standard for leadership development. A few key lessons that impacted me and how I lead:

  • Exceptional leaders take ‘extreme ownership’ for everything that impacts their mission without casting blame or making excuses.
  • Exceptional leaders take ownership for mistakes; success is owned by the team.
  • All leaders are either effective or ineffective
  • There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
  • Leaders set the standard for performance based on what they tolerate.
  • Simple but hard guidelines: be humble, listen, respect people, build relationships, show integrity and take ownership.”

Pami Bhullar, vice president, business development, TDG
“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

“‘Start With Why’ talks about the three layers of business: ‘Why, How and What.’ The core is ‘why,’ that is the purpose for action.

The book reinforced as well as created a much higher focus for me to understand and/or discover other people’s ‘why.’ Most people go for a sales call and think ‘why’ they want to sell or how they want to sell; in other words, their own ‘why.’ I started focusing on my audience’s ‘why;’ i.e., ‘why’ they would want to buy what I have to sell or ‘why’ they would want to act on what I am preaching. When I deliver on their ‘why,’ it creates a result of what I want out of any situation. Many people want to motivate others, but I focus on “inspiring” others because it comes from within—it is like bringing the best of them outwards.

I have gifted this book to many in our industry as it has influenced me both personally and professionally. One friend who does not read books said to me: ‘I could not stop reading it…’”

Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO, EF Floors & Design
“Upside” by Kenneth Gronbach

“I have thoroughly enjoyed ‘Upside’ on many levels—and first became aware of Kenneth Gronbach during the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Association’s annual 100th meeting in Hilton Head Island this summer. The speaker/author, Kenneth Gronbach, was engaging, and the topic was right at the heart of what we all, as manufacturers, product development, designers and trend forecasters, are seeking—a new way of looking at data.

What he suggests is that we are all looking at the wrong things when studying sales data, wondering why sales are going up, down or flat. We need to back up and evaluate the direction certain age groups are moving, what their needs are and what we should be doing.

Not only is this book available autographed by the author himself, it has a great audio version, which is ideal for anyone who’s traveling as much as we are these days. I hope you’ll check it out, and maybe even consider calling Kenneth to speak at your own event.”

Raj Shah, president, MSI
“Thirst” by Scott Harrison

“‘Thirst’ is the true story of Scott Harrison, who evolved as a person and developed one of the world’s largest non-profits. Originally, Scott was a party promoter but soon realized he did not get fulfillment. He then joined a medical ship off the coast of Africa as a photographer and realized the need for fresh water in Africa. He quickly realized the profound changes that can come to a community and its population once fresh water is available. So, he strove to build ‘Charity Water’ that today raises close to $80 million annually for freshwater projects in Africa. He was able to set Charity Water apart from the crowded non-profit industry by being a disruptor and upending many of the traditional fund-raising process. Using technology and scale, Charity Water has made a difference for millions of people around the world.

Personally, I see many parallels between Charity Water and the thought process behind MSI. Our goal remains to ‘Make Dreams Attainable.’ We truly believe that providing jobs at scale can make a difference in a community for generations. Today, MSI directly or indirectly provides jobs for more than 150,000 people, which affects the lives of over 500,000.”

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