Brain Food: Our Top Book and Podcast Picks for 2017


I’m a proud book nerd.

In 2016, I read more than 100 books.

This year, I’m somewhere in the 60s, which makes me a bit anxious.

I blame the decrease on the number of podcasts I subscribe to—which exceeds 15 these days.

When people find out how many books I read, they ask how I have the time while working and parenting young children. My response is always that I prioritize it and read in my “fringe hours:” first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up, in the evening and before I go to sleep. I also listen to podcasts and/or audio books if I’m doing any type of household chore, cooking, driving alone or exercising [my primary motivator for working out is that it’s podcast time].

Reading and listening to podcasts are my favorite ways to unwind.

And while most of what I read is fiction, I wanted to share a few recommendations for your to-be-read (TBR) list and podcast app.

I found these to be inspiring reads/listens on the topics of business, time management and personal growth.

Five Books

1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport

In today’s distracted world, deep work is king. While many jobs [mine included] do not allow for unplugging for hours at a time, we need to choose to limit distractions because, Newport argues, “focus is the new IQ.” Also check out Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain 

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” Susan Cain uses research and case studies to show how extroverts and introverts excel in different business environments and the different types of influence that introverts and extroverts have. It’s an engaging read for those who are outgoing and those who are more reserved in both business and personal contexts.

3.     Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
by Brené Brown

Perhaps there’s someone out there who hasn’t read Brené Brown? I’d start with The Gifts of Imperfection, but I enjoyed this one even more. Her messages about vulnerability and human connection will resonate.

4.     Shoe Dog
by Phil Night

I’ve always been interested in origin stories of successful companies, and this is a fascinating account of one of the most iconic brands—and the real-life challenges of founding a company and managing people.

5.     The E-Myth Revisited
by Michael Gerber

An interesting read for entrepreneurs and small business owners, which highlights three functions in a business: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Technician. Gerber highlights three stages of business growth—Infancy, Adolescence and Maturity—and shows how the role of functions change as your business grows. It’s a little less applicable to a service-oriented business, but still worth a read.

Additional book recommendations from our team: Designing Your Life, Great Teams, The Tipping Point and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Five Podcasts

1.    How I Built This with Guy Raz
I only wish I’d discovered this podcast more recently so I could binge the backlist of episodes. An absorbing listen about entrepreneurs and stories behind the businesses they built. Check out the episodes with Reddit, Instagram, Rent the Runway, Zappos…I could go on. 

2.    The Accidental Creative
My colleague, Becky, turned me onto this one, and it has become one of my favorites. It offers practical tips for succeeding in client service. Check out these episodes: The Art of Radical Candor, The Assassins of Creativity and Being a Strategic Storyteller.

3.    Longform
Longform is a high-quality podcast about how journalists got their scoops and broke major stories—and they have the best guests. The episodes with Terry Gross and Ira Glass are especially insightful.

4.    Tim Ferriss Show
This one is often recommended as Tim’s interviews are useful and interesting, and he offers tactics, routines and tools to apply in your own life. These episodes are my favorites: The Not-To-Do List—9 Habits to Stop Now, Productivity, 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win The Day, How Creatives Should Negotiate.

5.    The Lively Show
I stopped listening to The Lively Show last year when Jess started traveling the world and the subject matter changed, but it’s worth binge-listening to any of the first 100+ episodes for intuition-based tips and advice from business and thought leaders.

Additional podcast recommendations from our team: The Art of Charm, The Minimalists, The Smartest Person in the Room, The School of Greatness, Reply All and Annotated.

What have you guys been reading or listening to lately?