Recommended books

I keep paperback copies of many of these books in a lending library in my office. Clients are welcome to borrow them at any time and return them whenever they are finished learning from them.

JENNY MAENPAA, LCSW, EdM

Forward in Heels: A step-by-step guide to having it all for badass women who want to excel at what they do, stand tall, and own their worth so they can light up the world.

I work with so many clients who say, “I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up and it feels like I’m out of time to figure it out.” You’re not out of time but you do need a guide! So many people have never thought about what they value in life, and this book walks you through the step-by-step process of figuring that out. Sometimes your values will seem to be in conflict, but it’s really a matter of choosing how you prioritize in a given situation or moment in time. Sometimes you think you know what you value until you look at your actions, habits, and spending, and realize that you dedicate nothing to actually realizing those values in daily life. This book will help you uncover your values, realize where you are in conflict, and figure out exactly how to design a career and life that serves all of those values in a way that allows you to live meaningfully and purposefully.

BRENÉ BROWN, LMSW, PhD

The patron saint of vulnerability has a library of books and I truly recommend each and every one of them. No one author or researcher has been as instrumental in my own practice as Dr. Brown and much of her work informs my approach.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential. When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work. But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

When our embarrassments and fears lie, we often listen to them anyway. They thwart our gratitude, acceptance, and compassion—our goodness. They insist, “I am not worthy.” But we are worthy—of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love. With The Gifts of Imperfection we find courage to overcome paralyzing fear and self-consciousness, strengthening our connection to the world.

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, that teaches us the most about who we are.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"

The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we’re supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection. I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.

Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

In this lively and compelling account, the author chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

Lois P. Frankel, PhD

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers

Internationally recognized executive coach Lois P. Frankel reveals a distinctive set of behaviors--over 130 in all--that women learn in girlhood that ultimately sabotage them as adults. She teaches you how to eliminate these unconscious mistakes that could be holding you back and offers invaluable coaching tips that can easily be incorporated into your social and business skills. Stop making "nice girl" errors that can become career pitfalls, such as:

Mistake #13: Avoiding office politics. If you don't play the game, you can't possibly win.

Mistake #21: Multi-tasking. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do it.

Mistake #54: Failure to negotiate. Don't equate negotiation with confrontation.

Mistake #70: Inappropriate use of social media. Once it's out there, it's hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Mistake #82: Asking permission. Children, not adults, ask for approval. Be direct, be confident.

Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, gave an electrifying TED talk in 2010 in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which has been viewed more than six million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto. Lean In continues that conversation, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can. Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career. She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment, and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women both in the workplace and at home. Written with humor and wisdom, Lean In is a revelatory, inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth that will empower women around the world to achieve their full potential.

Katty Kay And Claire Shipman

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know

In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world’s leading psychologists who explain how we can all choose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment. Ultimately, they argue, while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. That’s the good news. You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won’t find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.

Arianna Huffington

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success--money and power--has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. In being connected to the world 24/7, we're losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward. That third metric includes our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. As the author points out, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success. They don't commemorate our long hours in the office, our promotions, or our sterling PowerPoint presentations as we relentlessly raced to climb up the career ladder. They are not about our resumes--they are about cherished memories, shared adventures, small kindnesses and acts of generosity, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.

Kate White

I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve

New York Times bestselling author Kate White is the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, the #1 young women’s magazine in the world, and a hugely successful businesswoman. In I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, she shares her secrets to success. A witty, wise, straight-talking career guide for women, this is the perfect book for the current economic climate, whether you’re just starting out, re-entering the workforce after maternity leave, or simply looking for a career change; essential tips and bold strategies from a gutsy innovator who helped increase Cosmo’s circulation by half a million copies per month.

Kim Scott

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

From the time we learn to speak, we’re told that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. When you become a manager, it’s your job to say it--and your obligation. Author Kim Scott was an executive at Google and then at Apple, where she worked with a team to develop a class on how to be a good boss. She has earned growing fame in recent years with her vital new approach to effective management, Radical Candor. Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity. This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of. This book offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.

Jessica Bennett

Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace

It was a fight club—but without the fighting or the men. Every month, women would gather in a New York apartment to share sexist-job frustrations and trade strategies for how to tackle them. For years, these meetings were kept secret. But the time has come to talk about the club. In Feminist Fight Club, acclaimed journalist Jessica Bennett blends the personal story of her real-life fight club with a studied assessment of the gender gap that continues to plague the American workplace. With equal measures wit and rigor, Bennett provides the tactical strategies—and the camaraderie—every woman needs to fight back, as well as tools for the men who support the cause.

Kristen Hadeed

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong

The inspiring, unlikely, laugh-out-loud story of how one woman learned to lead - and how she ultimately succeeded, not despite her many mistakes, but because of them. This is the story of how Kristen Hadeed built Student Maid, a cleaning company where people are happy, loyal, productive, and empowered, even while they're mopping floors and scrubbing toilets. It's the story of how she went from being an almost comically inept leader to a sought-after CEO who teaches others how to lead. Hadeed unintentionally launched Student Maid while attending college 10 years ago. Since then, Student Maid has employed hundreds of students and is widely recognized for its industry-leading retention rate and its culture of trust and accountability. But Kristen and her company were no overnight sensation. In fact they were almost nothing at all. Along the way, Kristen got it wrong almost as often as she got it right. Giving out hugs instead of feedback, fixing errors instead of enforcing accountability, and hosting parties instead of cultivating meaningful relationships were just a few of her many mistakes. But Kristen's willingness to admit and learn from those mistakes helped her give her people the chance to learn from their own screw-ups, too. Permission to Screw Up dismisses the idea that leaders and organizations should try to be perfect. It encourages people of all ages to go for it and learn to lead by acting rather than waiting or thinking. Through a brutally honest and often hilarious account of her own struggles, Kristen encourages us to embrace our failures and proves that we'll be better leaders when we do.

Alison Green

Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results

A nonprofit manager's fundamental job is to get results, sustained over time, rather than boost morale or promote staff development. This is a shift from the tenor of many management books, particularly in the nonprofit world. Managing to Change the World is designed to teach new and experienced nonprofit managers the fundamental skills of effective management, including: managing specific tasks and broader responsibilities; setting clear goals and holding people accountable to them; creating a results-oriented culture; hiring, developing, and retaining a staff of superstars.

-Offers nonprofit managers a clear guide to the most effective management skills

-Shows how to address performance problems, dismiss staffers who fall short, and the right way to exercising authority

-Gives guidance for managing time wisely and offers suggestions for staying in sync with your boss and managing up

Edmund J. Bourne PhD

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

Living with anxiety, panic disorders, or phobias can make you feel like you aren’t in control of your life. If you’re ready to tackle the fears that hold you back, this book is your go-to guide. Packed with the most effective skills for assessing and treating anxiety, this evidence-based workbook contains the latest clinical research. You’ll develop a full arsenal of skills for quieting fears and taking charge of your anxious thoughts, including:

-Relaxation and breathing techniques

-Ending negative self-talk and mistaken beliefs

-Imagery and real-life desensitization

-Lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise changes

Written by a leading expert in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a classic in its field, this fully revised edition offers powerful, step-by-step treatment strategies for panic disorders, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), worry, and fear. You will also find updated information compatible with the DSM-V, as well as current information on medications and treatment, nutrition, mindfulness training, exposure therapy, and the latest research in neurobiology.

Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Smarter Faster Better is a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why managing how you think is more important than what you think - with an appendix of real-world lessons to apply to your life. At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts - from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making - that explain why some people and companies get so much done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics - as well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters - this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don't merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.

Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant, in the blink of an eye, that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work, in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing", filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, Blink changes the way you understand every decision you make. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Two systems drive the way we think and make choices: System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Examining how both systems function within the mind, Thinking, Fast and Slow exposes the extraordinary capabilities as well as the biases of fast thinking and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, this book shows where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, contrasting the two-system view of the mind with the standard model of the rational economic agent.

Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way. In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

1. Work Deeply

2. Embrace Boredom

3. Quit Social Media

4. Drain the Shallows

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights. Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.

Learn how to:

* make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);

* overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;

* design your environment to make success easier;

* get back on track when you fall off course;

...and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits--whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

Forward in Heels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We make a small commission if you use OUR affiliate linkS, but please know that every single book on this page has been personally vetted and would be recommended with or without this program.