Sometimes we get stuck thinking one
way when we need to find new patterns around us. Without a "cognitive
poke", we become victims of our own limited perceptions. These are some of The
Headhunter's favorite stimulants.
The Power of Now
by Eckhart Tolle
(New World Library, 2004)
I'm not big on New Age-type books. Rehashed philosophy is cheap and usually worthless. But I was
pleasantly surprised when I picked up this book at the local Borders store -- it was on the "Recommended by Employees"
list. Tolle doesn't preach. His writing is simple and clear. And he teaches a simple concept that underlies Eastern religions:
If you can learn to focus on who and where you are right now, you will relax and do your best thinking and your best work. Sorry
if that sounds mushy. I read short sections of this book almost every day, and Tolle reminds me how to be myself rather than who
others expect me to be. A very good partner to this book is The Enlightened Mind, below. Order
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig
(Harper Torch, 2006)
This is the only book about quality you need to read. It will change the way you think about your work, and about what value
means. I wish I'd read this book in high school, like my friends did. But I'm also glad I didn't, because
my brain was not mature enough to handle it. Now it's on my top-ten list: a must-read. Pirsig approaches philosophy with a
neophyte's enthusiasm and sense of discovery. I never really understood what this book is about -- and now I realize there is no
way to describe it. Except maybe to say, everything we know is wrong, and Pirsig helps us understand why -- and what to do about
it. Yah, big words. But, when you consider that our view of the world was defined by Aristotle long, long ago, and we've been
stuck -- and screwed up -- as a result, then this book provides some important hope. Everything we know is wrong, and that's
good, because now we can do something about it. Go ahead: I dare you. Read this book. Then come tell me I'm nuts. Order
Never Eat Alone
by Keith Ferrazzi
(Currency Doubleday, 2005)
Nah, you're not going to get as good at networking as Keith Ferrazzi, who has established a new class of
guru in the universe of inside contacts. You won't even like some of his methods. But no matter. There's wisdom in this book
that no one should ignore. In a world where technology lets you "connect" with a zillion other members of "online
social networks", Ferrazzi reminds us that flesh and blood is the be-all and end-all of life. Who you know matters, and who
knows you probably matters more. It ain't the "nodes" in the network. It's the people and the relationships. Real
people. Real relationships. If you can't sit down and break bread with a real person, then you have no real relationship, and
the joke's on you. Having friends takes a lot of time and a lot of love. Order
by Martin E. P. Seligman
(The Free Press, 2004)
Tired of fretting over how you got to be frustrated, unhappy, and unmotivated? Maybe it's not you, but
the "rotten-to-the-core doctrine" that's widely accepted in the religious and secular world. Martin Seligman, whose Learned
Optimism I also highly recommend, says our lives are screwed up because our culture is focused on "fixing what's
wrong with us". Seligman takes a different view, which is largely ignored: Happiness comes from building strength and
virtue in our lives. Seligman's book is based on solid psychological research -- a field in which he's a respected leader. This
ain't your mother's Dr. Phil. This is science made usable by an expert who leavens hard data with common sense and examples that
will make you breathe a sigh of relief. Half of successful job hunting is knowing who you are and what you want. Unless that
knowledge is based on your strengths and virtues, you'll never find the job you deserve. Order
The Enlightened Mind,
edited by Stephen Mitchell
(Harperperennial Library, 1993)
You needn't be religious to enjoy and appreciate the far-reaching ideas in this book. Very
short chapters, great to read at bedtime or breakfast. These ideas have served as the
foundation of much of mankind's culture and thinking for -- dare I say it? -- millennia.
From the Upanishads of the 5th century B.C.E., through the Chinese Taoists, Muslims,
Greeks and Albert Einstein, you'll find the perspectives that conventional religion has
forgotten it arose from. These guys were more radical than you'll believe. Get radical. Order this book.
Wisdom for a Young CEO,
by Douglas Barry
(Running Press, 2004)
This book has been quickly criticized as a collection of platitudes gathered by a kid from CEOs of major corporations. That's
the nose-in-the-air reaction of jaded pundits who are missing the point. Barry was just 14 when he wrote to CEOs, asking advice
on how to become one himself. And boy, did they respond. Yes, the advice might seem obvious and trite. But read this book
carefully. I don't give a rat's batootie what the critics say. Nowhere else will you find the common threads of wisdom that
invoke hard work, perseverance, and self-motivation as the rulers of personal success. If you're preparing for a job interview,
you could read ten of those dopey books about "how to answer 2,000 tough interview questions", or you could read the
minds of 100 key hiring managers by reading this book. Kudos to Barry. This book is a great idea. I always giggle when I'm
reminded how simple real wisdom really is. Order this book.
Accidental Genius: Revolutionize your thinking through
by Mark Levy
Buried in your mind is a way of thinking that breaks all the rules, while exploiting all your inner genius. Sound kind of
new-age? It's not. Mark Levy bases his "private writing" method for finding your own genius-within on the little-known
work of some of the world's greatest educators, scientists, and business people. All you need is a desk, a pencil, and some
paper. Your mind will do the rest. Heck, what have you got one for, anyway? Put it to work. Order this book.
Six Degrees: The science of a connected age,
by Duncan J. Watts
(W.W. Norton, 2003)
Think you know anything about networking and meeting people to promote your interests (and career)? So did I, until I read
Watts' book. It turns out we can learn a lot about networking with people by understanding the effects of other kinds of
networks on epidemics, mathematics, terrorist organizations, and stock market madness. Watts has applied his Ph.D. in
mathematics to sociology, and he has produced a readable book on a topic that we all need to know more about. Try this: Where in
your network are the people who are most likely to introduce you to your next boss? Trust me: you'll be as surprised as I was at
the answer. Order this book.
by Richard Farson
Need to solve a problem? After you read this book, you will realize
that there are no solutions, because there are no problems, and
there are no right or wrong ways to do anything. Sorry if that
sounds like a new-age cop-out, but it's not. I agree with Farson
that only by recognizing the paradoxes in our work and our lives can
we cope with them. Business (and much of life) does
not lend itself to being "fixed". Order this book.
The Magic of Thinking Big,
by David J. Schwartz
This is an oldie-but-goodie. I picked up my copy at a used-book sale because the title was so bold. Guess what? So are the
ideas. Originally written in 1959, it's interesting to see ideas that are beaten to death in today's self-help books presented
clearly, simply, and without great commercial fanfare. Schwartz's message is hidden in the title: we usually fail because we
think too "small". Order this book.
The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work, by Richard
Everyone knows I'm not a fan of career counseling. I put Richard Leider a cut above the career quacks -- he offers real insight
into what makes people happy at their work. He bases this book on research he has done over 20 years. Having heard Leider speak,
I can tell you his perspective on "purpose in our work" is both profound and useful. Besides, I'm a big believer in
the idea that if you aren't doing what you love to do, you'll soon be out looking for yet another new job. Order this book.
A Whack on The Side of The Head:
How you can be more creative,
by Roger Von Oech
(Business Plus, 2008)
The title says it all. Von Oech was one of the first creativity consultants, and this book
is a classic. You can't apply The Headhunter's methods until you figure out how to bend,
shape and use them in your own unique ways. Von Oech's book will help you out of your
linear thinking rut. Order this book.
When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough, by Harold
(Pocket Books, 1987)
Success often breeds questions like, Why am I doing this? and Why am I so
bored? Rabbi Kushner's book isn't one of those formulaic "feel-good"
guides. It's a compassionate discussion about how to alter your perspective on life.
Imagine sitting on a park bench, having a comforting talk with a wise man who knows more
than you do. If the title gets your attention, you need to read the book. Order this book.
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