5 Books That Will Help You Work Smarter

5 Books That Will Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

What is one thing ultra-successful CEOs and business leaders like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban do every day? It’s the single best way to increases your focus, give yourself perspective and keep your mind nimble.

It’s simple: read often. Read voraciously. Doing so gives you new insight and opens your mind to new possibilities, including better ways of working and communicating with those around you.

Ready to jump in? Start with these five books to help you hone your leadership skills, bring out your best managerial style and get you work smarter, not harder.

 

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein

 

If you look at the best and brightest of any industry, you’ll notice that as many one third have worked for and been mentored by the boss. These leaders share key personality traits that spawn talent and help others grow their innate genius. These “superbosses” inspire others. They are responsible for launching many successful careers while also building extensive networks and stronger communities. During more than 10 years of research and hundreds of interview, author Sydney Finkelstein, an acclaimed professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, found that superbosses used similar “people strategies” in seeking out unusually gifted up-and-comers. Among the practices that distinguish superbosses is learning to create master-apprentice relationships, relying on the cohort effect and saying good-bye to employees on good terms. Finkelstein shows how each of us can emulate the best tactics of superbosses to create our own powerful networks of extraordinary talent.

 

Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

 

Productivity is fundamentally about making choices. How we frame our daily deci, what ambitions we chose to embrace or the goals we ignore all play into our productivity. In Smarter, Faster Better, Duhigg focuses on how to increase productivity in business and in life. Among the many anecdotal narratives Duhigg weaves throughout: a group of data scientists at Google embark on a four-year study on how the best teams work together. They find that how a group interacts is more important than who is in the group. This principle also explains why Saturday Night Live became a hit. The book, which is a follow-up to The Power of Habit, explores eight productivity concepts that explain why some people and companies are so effective and productive and how your world view profoundly shapes the choices you make and how productive you are in life.

 

Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely

 

From the boardroom to the living room, many of us function in the role of “motivator.” We strive to motivate ourselves, the people we live with, and the people we do business with. But motivation is a much more complex and intricate than most of us we realize. Payoff delves into the nature of motivation, how we can truly tap motivation, why we are half blind to the way it works, and how we can bridge this gap. Ariely explores a number of intriguing questions such as: can giving employees bonuses harm productivity? Why is trust so crucial for successful motivation? What are our misconceptions about how to value our work? How does your sense of your mortality impact your motivation? Its central thesis is that intrinsic (or internal) motivation shapes long-term beneficial results, but extrinsic (or external) rewards don’t work as well.

 

Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz

 

This book offers a transformative formula for solving problems and getting your idea off the ground quickly and effectively. It seeks to give business leaders and entrepreneurs a way to answer their most dire questions: Are we going fast enough? Where should we be focusing our effort? What will our idea look like in real life? Designer Jake Knapp created the sprint process at Google to tackle these questions. He joined Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures and together they have completed more than a hundred sprints with companies in mobile, e-commerce, healthcare, and finance. At its core, Sprint is a five-day process, with each day structured to solve tough problems, find solutions, make decisions, test ideas and ultimately create a prototype that can be tested with customers. Sprint is for anyone with big ideas, plagued by big problems and looking to get answers quickly.

 

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

 

Train yourself to think like a designer and you’ll learn how to deal with almost any challenge. That’s the premise of Designing Your Life, a book that was borne out of a popular Stanford class by the same name and taught by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Like the class, which walks students through “the wicked problem” of designing your life and career, the book (also authored by Burnett and Evans) is a guide to creating a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. Look around your home – everything you see was purposely designed using creativity and problem solving. By using these same principals, you can build your life as designer would, by incorporating experimentation, way-finding, prototyping and constant iteration. The result is a life that is creative and productive, and always holds the possibility of surprise.

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Accompany (accompany.com) is a relationship intelligence platform for professionals that was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Los Altos, California. Available for mobile, the web, and as a Gmail extension, Accompany’s intelligent, adaptive chief of staff app serves professionals everything they need to know about the important people in their network, anytime they need it. Accompany is funded by CRV, Cowboy Ventures, ICONIQ Capital, and Ignition Partners, and led by Amy Chang, Matthias Ruhl, and Ryan McDonough.