The economic shutdown, stock market volatility and coronavirus pandemic have put stress on various areas of people’s lives. Retirement portfolios need to be rebuilt. Careers need to be salvaged. Work still needs to get done, but we are distracted.
Books are a cost-effective resource in difficult times. Even though libraries are closed as states lock down, many libraries offer e-book lending. If you have friends who are avid readers and you both have Kindles, you can share Kindle books with each other. Or maybe you already have a stack of books you intended to read. If you’re working from home, consider using the time you save from your commute to squeeze in extra reading time.
Here are five book recommendations in a variety of subjects but all relevant to today’s uncertain markets:
1 – How Much Do I Need To Retire (2020 edition) by Todd Tresidder
If your retirement portfolio has taken a beating and you want actionable advice on what you can do about it, How Much Do I Need To Retire by Todd Tresidder is a must-read (it was updated and rereleased for 2020). Tresidder is a former hedge fund manager and also trained as a life coach. You can see this rare combination of skills in his writing, as he adeptly couples exhaustive financial information with life planning. The result is that you get a financial planning book for real people, like what you can do if you started saving late or how you can manage market volatility. I read a lot of business and personal finance books and blogs, and if I could only read one writer, I would read Tresidder. Check out his blog which covers a wider range of topics beyond retirement (I particularly like his take on leverage).
2 – The No BS Guide To Acting by Matt Newton
My career pick is a career book for actors, The No BS Guide To Acting by Matt Newton, even if you’re not an actor or in the entertainment business. Most actors are perennially unemployed – being in-between projects and looking for work is a big part of the job — so actors who are good at managing their career have good job search technique. Actors are one of the earliest side hustlers – most of us probably know a waiter/ actor – so mastering the side gig is also a hallmark of a good working actor. Finally, actors are entrepreneurs — in charge of doing the job but also sales, marketing, finances, training – and in today’s market every employee is an entrepreneur. Newton’s book is written for actors, but the advice can and should be translated to other professions. If you enjoy movies and TV, Newton’s examples from the acting business will be a fun read. Given the unprecedented unemployment numbers in today’s market, knowing how to manage your career like an actor is a competitive advantage.
3 – Formula X: How To Reach Extreme Acceleration In Your Organization by Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen
Formula X by Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen is a leadership development book written as a business parable, so it’s an easy read. The book tells the story of Ronald Park, a director of a kitchen remodeling business that is losing money and needs to be turned around fast, or Park loses his job. Park ends up implementing lessons he learns from car racing, which enable him to create a fast-moving, collaborative culture. Formula X is particularly relevant given the pace of change in today’s volatile market and the need for many companies to turn business around.
4 – Indistractable: How To Control Your Attention And Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal
With so much troubling news around us, we need to control our attention more than ever. Indistractable by Nir Eyal gives a step-by-step framework for taking back control from our mobile devices, social media and other common distractions. The book gives tips for individuals, teams and even families to avoid distraction. Eyal knows his stuff – he comes from the distracting industries of video gaming and advertising and is the author of Hooked, the primer on how to create habit-forming tech products. Now he turns his talents to the user’s advantage and shows us how to avoid the distractions.
5 – Mindfulness At Work: Flourishing In The Workplace by Maria Arpa
In an ideal world, your work would be a source of fulfillment, providing you with meaning and purpose. Too often, though, this isn’t the case. When the world around you isn’t performing how you would like, your choices are either a change of attitude or a change of direction. Mindfulness will help you choose.
Mindfulness At Work by Maria Arpa is such a timely book given that work and home have collided and all of us having to navigate more personal and professional stress. Arpa’s message is that we have choices – how to perceive what is happening to us, how to respond to a situation, how to move forward. This is a beautifully written book with a powerful message even more relevant to the times.
There are so many good books out there. I focused on more recent books, and I also didn’t pick books I already called out in previous columns. What books would you recommend?