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The best reads of 2019, according to our readers


Each week, our goal at Lift IOWA is to offer you insight stemming from a variety of sources from women (and men) throughout the world. Much of this insight is how to be a better leader, how to develop personal skills, and — sometimes — how to simply be happy in life, and much of it is offered via our Good Reads feature.

But each of our readers is in a different place in her career — in her life. What resonates with one may not resonate with another. In the spirit of discovering what motivates our readers, a handful offered the work — be it a podcast, a book or a news article — that inspired them in 2019.

See a good read you want to share with readers? Send it to us at meganverhelst@bpcdm.com.

Some responses were lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.

How to become a CEO: Indra Nooyi

By Dorene MacVey, CEO and personal development coach, iThrive31: As a leadership coach, one of my favorite female business leaders to follow is former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. In this article for LinkedIn Learning, Nooyi highlights three things you should focus on to become a CEO. Whether it is a CEO position you are seeking or the next desired step in your professional journey, I believe that Nooyi’s three points are universal to career success: Do your current job well, develop a “hip pocket” skill, and be ethical and have the courage to defend what you stand for.

The persistent myth of female office rivalries

By Jann Freed, leadership consultant, The Genysys Group: There is a long-standing myth that women are their own worst enemies. But through research in Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris’ book “It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace,” there is no empirical evidence to support that “women are more mean-spirited, antagonistic or untrustworthy in dealing with other women than men are in dealing with other men.” They attribute the perpetuation of the myth primarily to workplace expectations. The authors conclude unconscious biases in workplace practices and procedures cause women to be competitive and antagonistic with each other. “Instead of setting up female rivalries, let’s fix workplaces so that women are not systematically disadvantaged in their pursuit of career advancement.”

Why you should try to be a little more scarce

By Cindy Hughes-Anliker, associate director, UnitedHealthcare: Cindy Lamothe’s May 2019 New York Times article “Why You Should Try to Be a Little More Scarce” was one of my favorite business reads of the year because I’m a recovering “natural born hand-raiser.” For years, I wanted to show the world that I was involved, available and willing to do the work, and I raised my hand at just about everything that came my way. This changed a few years ago when I felt like I was spreading myself too thin and I wasn’t living up to my full value as a result. Since then, I’ve focused on being more calculated with my availability and accepting the fact that I can’t be “all” for everybody. It’s good to pause, take a step back and think about your value in the situation.

Creative living beyond fear

By Susan Hatten, senior manager, Holmes Murphy: One of my favorite reads — and listens — in 2019 was related to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic.” As many know, Liz Gilbert is most widely known for her book “Eat, Pray, Love,” released in 2006. “Big Magic” is all about embracing fear and failure, and allowing these experiences to fuel your creativity and new adventures in your life. While “Big Magic” most definitely did not rival the success of “Eat, Pray, Love,” the experience of writing “Big Magic” allowed Liz to immerse herself back into the creative process with the brave understanding that every step in her movement forward was a step in the spirit of personal progress.

‘Becoming’ Michelle Obama

Bobbi Segura, regional manager, Women Lead Change: I started reading this book with no expectations, and was immediately surprised that I knew so little about Michelle Obama’s personal professional journey. Obama’s route to “leadership” was somewhat overshadowed by her husband’s, but hers is a story that shows how the support of mentors and sponsors is so vital. This support is especially important when one feels like they don’t possess the confidence needed when taking chances on big life changes. I was fascinated by her unique insight on the process of getting elected to the presidency. This quote from the book sums it up for me: “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why.”

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