2018 — what a year!
We certainly had a lot of fun building cool products, going above and beyond for our clients, and engaging with hundreds of inspirational jobseekers last year. We also grew as a team, adding 27 new Shortlisters (and 3 Shortlist babies!) to the family. We even found the time to brainstorm and make a crucial addition to the Shortlist values.
But when we weren’t at work, we spent time refreshing our knowledge and discussing the latest trends across startups, talent, technology, and beyond! Without further ado, here’s what we loved reading last year (and why):
Paul Breloff (Co-founder & CEO of Shortlist and self-proclaimed bookworm):
The Culture Code — Probably the book that has had the most significant impact on how Shortlist thinks about teams and culture, and inspiration to this blog. It’s particularly exciting when a book can break through the noise and provide a compelling answer to a simple, huge question like, “why are some teams great, and others aren’t?” Daniel Coyle goes through the steps leaders can follow to build great environments that enable teams to thrive — as well as highlighting some of the common ways leaders and their teams muck things up.
The Fifth Risk — In case anyone needs any additional reasons to believe that the current US political situation is dangerously crazy, this book helps you understand why the apparatus of the US government is actually really important, beyond the politics, for things we really should all care about. Only Michael Lewis can make big bureaucracy fascinating and scary and a page-turner…
The Overstory — Will never look at a tree the same way again. A big-ish book but fundamentally changed how I look at nature, the delicate balance of our ecosystems and globe, and the philosophy-beyond-pragmatism import of caring about life forms even if they move slowly and don’t show signs of sentience.
Bad Blood — I definitely wanted more from this Theranos blow-by-blow, like a little bit more “what does this all mean, how can things get better” — but it still delivered a gripping page-turner of “How on earth did none of these adults stop this?!”
Ariane Fisher (Managing Director — East Africa and one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs!)
Becoming — My favorite book of the year. Michelle Obama’s story is vulnerable, honest, and filled with insight on how to build a life of meaning.
Barbarians at the Gate — The incredible page-turner tells the story of the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. It’s the ultimate story of greed, backstabbing, and corporate intrigue.
Educated — Tara Westover’s thought-provoking and moving memoir of growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho is at its core a story about the meaning and value of education.
Mridvika Raisinghani (Managing Director — India, saleswoman extraordinaire, and supermom to adorable 6-year old twins who are taking Mumbai’s junior chess circuit by storm)
Built to Sell — Some interesting sales anecdotes and perspective (e.g., don’t hire fancy country clubbers; hire 2 sales people at once and get them to compete), but packed with lessons far beyond sales and marketing alone.
Zero to One — A quick and fascinating read for any startup enthusiast capturing Thiel’s lessons from founding PayPal to becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most successful investors.
The Difficulty of Being Good — Gurcharan Das uses the 2000-year old Indian epic, the Mahabharata, to describe the failings and virtues of its major characters and how they relate to the ethical and moral dilemmas that we face in today’s complex world.
Rhea Mehta (Director of Assessments at Shortlist and mother to one of the three Shortlist babies born in 2018!)
[Podcast] The Sorting Hat — This episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain plays out the Harry Potter analogy to expose the risks of using personality tests to screen candidates for jobs.
Babyhood — A parenting classic on developmental psychology (and an engaging respite from reading about pureed foods, sleep, and diapers). Penelope Leach addresses how our minds develop and helps us understand why people behave the way they do.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go — This upbeat and easy to read Dr. Seuss classic, written for children aged 1–100, is one of the few books I consistently read to my daughter. It’s always fun to revisit Dr. Seuss’ lyrical adaptation of life’s profound truths — “You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!’
Pranay Merchant (That’s me! Manager — Strategic Initiatives, recruitment geek, and startup and tech enthusiast)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things — My companion on a visit to the sunny beaches of Varkala, Ben Horowitz’s practical guide on how to navigate every hairy problem you can possibly encounter while building a startup is a must-read for every startup employee or wantrapreneur! Don’t be startled by the occasional hip-hop song lyric or liberal use of profanity.
Mindset — Stanford professor Carol Dweck distills decades of research on success in school, work, sports, and nearly every field of human achievement into a simple yet groundbreaking idea: people that think their abilities are unchanging — or those with a fixed mindset — are far less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset (the belief that one’s abilities can be developed through effort and embracing failure.
How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) — Fascinating long-form article from one of my favourite blogs, Wait But Why. In classic Tim Urban fashion, this piece breaks down a large and consequential question into a digestible framework for how to pick a career that reflects “who you are, what you want, and what our rapidly changing career landscape looks like today”.
[Podcast] Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture — No prizes for guessing why this episode of the Andreessen Horowitz podcast makes my list. 🙂
Over to you… What were some of YOUR favourite books or blogs from last year? Let us know in the comments!
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