Here is a list of some of my favorite books. Each of these readings provide background and information that I believe will prove useful to improving your career and leadership.
Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year by James M. Lang
Lang narrates the story of his first year on the tenure track with wit and wisdom, detailing his moments of confusion, frustration, and even elation—in the classroom, at his writing desk, during his office hours, in departmental meetings—as well as his insights into the lives and working conditions of faculty in higher education today.
Remaking the American University: Market-Smart and Mission-Centered by Robert Zemsky, Gregory Wegner, and William F. Massy
The authors describe how a competitive preoccupation with rankings and markets published by the media spawned an admissions arms race that drains institutional resources and energies. Equally revealing are the depictions of the ways faculty distance themselves from their universities with the resulting increase in the number of administrators, which contributes substantially to institutional costs. Other chapters focus on the impact of intercollegiate athletics on educational mission, even among selective institutions; on the unforeseen result of higher education’s “outsourcing” a substantial share of the scholarly publication function to for-profit interests; and on the potentially dire consequences of today’s zealous investments in e-learning.
A central question extends through this series of explorations: Can universities and colleges today still choose to be places of public purpose? In the answers they provide, both sobering and enlightening, the authors underscore a consistent and powerful lesson-academic institutions cannot ignore the workings of the markets. The challenge ahead is to learn how to better use those markets to achieve public purposes.
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.
The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton
In The Coming Jobs War, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton boldly asserts that job creation and successful entrepreneurship are the world’s most pressing issues, outpacing runaway government spending, environmental degradation, and even the threat of global terrorism.
The book is grounded in findings from Gallup’s World Poll, which reveals implications of the jobs war on everything from economics to foreign policy to America’s moral authority in the world. And it offers a prescription for attacking the jobs issue head-on. Clifton says the solution to creating good jobs must be found in cities, not the federal government. Promoting entrepreneurship and job creation must be the sole mission and purpose of cities’ leaders.