I reflected on the impact that books have had on my journey as a founder and CEO of a rapidly growing company. The sudden increase in people who depend on a company’s success, as well as the scrutiny it places on yourself as an individual, can be daunting, and often require bouts of introspection. Asides from a good coach and therapist, I’ve found that another incredible aid is dipping into a book. Mari and I thought long and hard about books we wanted to bring to the Support Driven Expo. We believe these five treasured books could help any leader in their journey.
Applied Empathy by Michael Ventura
Michael Ventura has become synonymous with rebranding and strategizing for corporations that want to reinvent themselves. His primary focus has always been to partner with organizations and to guide them towards the ideal scenario of seeing the world through the eyes of others. Michael served as an advisor to Boldr and was an incredible thought partner. My favorite part about Michael’s book and working with him is his simple, easy-to-digest advice. One of the things he loves to do is to teach leaders how to lead with empathy. A quick way to implement this in our day-to-day life is to pause, ask clarifying questions, and to listen to the answers. While simple, how often do we as leaders run to answer our team members’ questions? Empathic listening is a skill that I’ve been working on because it was difficult for me as a first-time founder of a company. I appreciate the background Michael provided as to how he learned about the notion of applied empathy and his work with indigenous healers is absolutely fascinating. I also loved how he referenced that we must apply empathy to ourselves as a starting point before applying it to the larger company.
Touching Two Worlds by Sherry Walling
When Mari and I spoke about these books, her intro to Touching Two Worlds came as a word of caution: It’s a good idea to get the tissues ready for this book. It is required reading for anyone experiencing grief or anyone knowing someone who is experiencing grief. As a clinical psychologist, Sherry Walling has encountered her fair share of loss and hardship, not just through the hardships of those she consults daily, but also in her personal life. She wrote this book after losing her dad and her brother within six months of each other. It is a beautiful, tender guide on how to process and move through the stages of grief. Though it was released only recently, she has done numerous speaking engagements about the contents of this endearing book. In Touching Two Worlds, Sherry Walling reminds us that, even when it seems impossible to cope with the harsh reality of personal loss, there is always a glimmer of hope that can pull us through those difficult times. She is also my therapist and my coach, which added a certain gravitas to the words as they leapt off the page. Mari Parker, Boldr’s COO, had this to say: “Having already met and engaged with Sherry made this book extremely personal to me. Then again, I believe every person who takes up this book and starts to read it, will feel like they are cozying up by the fireplace with a friend and a warm cup of tea. It was riveting, engaging, heartbreaking, and inspiring, all at the same time.”
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Mari brought this book to my attention and facilitated conversations with our leadership team about it at the onset of her career with Boldr. While the book is a clever fictionalized account of a newly elected CEO, it puts the corporate decision-making process under the microscope. It offers revolutionary, though alarmingly simplified, insights to the dynamics of running or managing a global team, which is why it has become a mandatory read for our leadership team. Mari’s description below sums it up better than I ever could. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is incredibly easy to read. It is the CEO’s or entrepreneur’s page turner, like a telenovela for business folks. It’s a fictional story about a woman who takes on the new role of CEO at a company and the steps she takes to weed out dysfunctions in her leadership team. My favorite takeaway, and one of the first foundational steps we applied to our Boldr leadership meetings, was the exercise of recognizing who your first team is. There is an epiphanic moment in the book where the fictitious CEO has her team around the table and asks each one who their first team is. Everyone points out the team members who report directly to them, but she draws their attention to the fact that the people around the table are, in fact, their first team. Creating that camaraderie, support, and trust forms part of the practice of bringing your leadership team together. It is an excellent foundation to addressing dysfunctions in a team.”
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Dether, Chapman & Klemp
The Conscious Leadership Group has tons of videos on their site. We’ve gone through their group-training facilitated two-day workshop across our entire leadership team. These sessions, based on the principles in the book, helped us to get a better understanding of what conscious leadership is, and how we can apply it within Boldr. It also provided us with a language we can use internally to navigate these discussions in our 1-on-1 and leadership meetings. Mari’s input as COO of a B-Corp certified outsourcing company, cemented our decision to lean into this approach to leadership. “There’s value in using a common language, as well as understanding or recognizing whether you’re above the line or below the line, and whether you are operating in a manner that’s going to be conducive to a productive outcome. The book, the process, the coaching and the consulting that comes with it, helps you to understand as a team that it’s not just important to recognize where you are at, but whether you have an interest in shifting or changing this to a more productive dynamic. If your answer is yes, they give you the tools to do it. The foundational concept of the conscience leadership has been immensely valuable, especially when going through the first four commitments of the program. This empowers you to bring your team closer together by building a foundation of trust through vulnerability and meaningful connections.”
The Lion Tracker’s Guide To Life by Boyd Varty
Boyd Varty is not only a lion tracker, but also a certified Master Life Coach. Having studied ecology and psychology at university, it gave Boyd a unique take on the wisdom of nature. Now, engaging with leaders as a wildlife and literacy activist, Boyd shares his messages with a wider audience. The Lion Tracker’s Guide To Life is required reading for leaders who is in pursuit of a better version of themselves. “This book is intended for individuals who are curious about self-development. It provides a different perspective that will help you to access your inner wild, so that you can tap back into understanding your instinct and your inner nature. What’s so beautiful is that the simple and easy-to-read conversational-style of this book brings many realities to the front. It point out that nature knows the way. If we learn to listen to our inner nature we will be able to live the life that we’re called to.”
While Boldr seeks only to pursue our mission of ethical outsourcing, we constantly try to understand how we can achieve this while doing good in the communities around us. This keeps our noses in the books and our eyeballs on the research put forth by our peers. Boldr’s purpose is to help people grow and connect. We’re living our purpose by sharing some of our favorite books and authors that have shaped how we work at Boldr. Mari and I hope that you enjoy any or all of these books. Be well, David and Mari
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