Need to Read? 2020's Top Book Recommendations

December 2020

Every nonprofit leader has "read more" on their list of 2021 new year's resolutions!  If you're looking for some good recommendations, we've got a countdown of the five top picks (and a bonus pick) from our nearly 60 podcast guests in 2020.  Enjoy!

5. Essentialism 

An exercise in prioritization, Greg McKeown's Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less will provide you with a great philosophical and practical approach to minimizing overload and focusing on what's truly important. In our ultra-connected lifestyles it's too easy to try to do everything and ultimately fail. This was a recommendation by Angela Woods, our guest on Episode #30 of The Path Podcast, and Brian Maness, our guest on episode #37.

4. Sapiens 

Yuval Noah Harari's popular nonfiction book, Sapiens, offers readers a fascinating and surprisingly accessible view of the history of mankind. The widespread success of this account of human history was a publishing phenomenon: indicating that readers were eager to take on challenging nonfiction titles like this one.  I was struck by the many takeaways you gain from stepping back and considering the ways our species evolved (or didn't!) and the cultural changes that continue to affect our present day. Sapiens was recommended by Michael Marsicano, our guest on episode #32 of The Path Podcast, and Andrew Hollo, guest on episode #40 on the Path.

3. Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Lencioni's engaging business fable Five Dysfunctions of a Team walks readers through five interconnected characteristics present in dysfunctional teams, and offers actionable techniques to dismantle them. Written as an engaging fictitious story of the executive board of a struggling tech company, the story itself is a means for teaching readers to recognize these five dysfunctions. This was a recommended title from Hal Lewis (episode #26) and Kristin Beck (episode #31).

2. Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Author Jim Collins makes the case why "business thinking is not the answer" in Good To Great and the Social Sectors.  He assures nonprofit leaders that while many of the principles of greatness are consistent between for-profit and nonprofit organizations, there are definitely differences in areas such as leadership models and measurable outputs. The 35-page monograph is a quick read and certainly a helpful way to put his timeless business classic into a relatable reference for nonprofit leaders everywhere. This was also a favorite of Podcast Guests Tiffany Capers (episode #19)  and Hal Lewis (episode #26).

1. First 90 Days 

Our most recommended title by guests so far on the Path PodcastThe First 90 Days is a classic, essential read for any nonprofit leader interested in maximizing the critical three-month arrival into a new job. This title, coined "the onboarding bible" by the Economist, is a handy guide for anyone who has taken a new job and wants to make sure they're doing everything right, maximizing the introductory period, making the transition as smoothly as possible, and ensuring that you and your employers' expectations are aligned for this new phase of your life. Whether you've just accepted a new job or imagine that you will in the near future, The First 90 Days is a great tool for self assessment and for maximizing the relationship with your new colleagues. This was recommended by Mike Blackwelder (#5)Shannon Hinson (#7)Jim Taylor (#35)Adam Cook (#39), and Cheryl Richards (#46).


Bonus: Eat that Frog

Eat That Frog boils down to one significant lifestyle change: doing your hardest, most important task FIRST, even if that task happens to be "eating a frog". Tracy advises readers to do the most important task first because it's probably the one you're dreading and the item you're most likely to procrastinate. Eating your ugliest frog first means that everything else you have to do during the day seems far less intimidating compared to what you've already accomplished. If you're seeking some instructive and motivating words on why you should do your most important task first and how it can change your life, Eat That Frog is the title for you. Eat That Frog is a personal recommendation as well as a suggestion from multiple Podcast guests including Penny Hawkins (#3)Karen Geiger (#9), and Katherine Lambert (#17).