3 min. read

February 08, 2020

career development

Four Books That Improved My Career

I want to share with you four books that had an invaluable impact on my career and my personal life, and I hope that they can impact you just the same.


Emma Bostian, Software Engineer

I am an avid reader; I read anything and everything I can get my hands on (I've read eight books in 2020 already).

Books that focus on improving your career, personal relationships, and productivity are some of my favorite types of books to read.

Today I want to share with you four books that had an invaluable impact on my career and my personal life, and I hope that they can impact you just the same.

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

If you know anything about me, it's likely the fact that I won't stop talking about Atomic Habits by James Clear.

I read this book once in 2019 and again in 2020 and I cannot convey how much this book has enabled me to make the changes in my life I've always wanted to make but never knew where to start.

The premise of Atomic Habits is that even the smallest of changes compound to have an incredible impact on your day-to-day life.

We can take the example of flying a plane. If you're flying a plane from Los Angeles to New York City and you alter the flight plan by 3.5 degrees to the south, it doesn't seem as though it would have a big impact. Yet even this minute shift would cause you to land in Washington D.C. Even though the airplane shifts just a few degrees, you end up hundreds of miles apart.

This is why atomic habits are so important.

The book continues to give insightful feedback about habit building and uses many interesting analogies and anecdotes.

I will likely read this book annually to reinforce my goals, and I hope you do too.

2. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer is not only one of my favorite non-fiction books, it's one of my all time favorite books.

We make the mistake of viewing every interaction with a co-worker of a different culture through our own cultural lens, and this inhibits our ability to effectively collaborate.

In The Culture Map Erin examines how different cultures communicate, evaluate performance, give and receive criticism, experience time, and more. And understanding how to map these different points along the evaluation graph can help you understand where to improve interpersonal relationships.

Living abroad in Germany as an American I've encountered many situations where cultural differences hindered our ability to collaborate as a team. Once I read The Culture Map I began to consciously recognize these areas and improve our collaboration.

If you work on a multi-cultural team, this book is a must-read.

3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Why do we do the things we do? What keeps us motivated?

These are the questions asked in Start With Why by Simon Sinek and answering them will transform how we approach life.

"Our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know." - Start With Why Chapter 1.

Put the "why" before the "what" or the "how". If you don't know why your employees should care, they certainly won't know why either.

Understanding the "why" will motivate your team to do their best work. Don't focus on what your competition is doing, focus on why you do the things you do.

If you're a leader in your organization I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

4. It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work by DHH and Jason Fried

How often have you struggled to maintain a healthy work/life balance? Most of us have.

The key message in It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work is "stop celebrating overtime and chaos in the workplace." Instead provide your employees with the tools and time they need to do their best work and the outcomes will follow.

The book also delves into the concept of defending your time. Companies protect nearly all of their assets including their brand and policies, yet they often fail to protect their employees' time and attention.

We have eight hours in the workday and each one of those should be propelling the company towards success, yet these vital hours are often plagued by meetings which could have been an email.

The book goes on to give helpful and actionable tips to establishing a productive and healthy workplace, and if you're a manager I highly recommend reading this book.


These are just a few of the books which have changed my outlook on work and life, and I hope they inspire you as well.