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  • Tara Rethore

Reading and Listening in 2020

I’m an avid reader. In fact, I'm usually working through several books simultaneously. And I often joke that I begin to twitch if I don’t have another book immediately lined up behind whatever volume(s) I’m currently

reading. Still, I rarely have as much time as I’d like to spend simply reading. For business books, I particularly like the books that don’t require ‘cover-to-cover’ reading. Instead, I focus on specific chapters or concepts to address something that’s on my mind – or that of my clients – at any given time. Those are the books that tend to sit on my desk as ready references.


I’m a new recruit to the world of podcasts. They are a great way to ingest bits of insight or knowledge or sheer fun in short bursts, and they often keep me company while exercising. I’m still building my library of podcasts and look forward to expanding it in 2020.


Four Good Reads:

  • Mighty Mid-Sized Companies - A client suggested this to me and so far, so good. It’s a useful view of the factors that both challenge and propel growth for mid-sized companies. Mid-sized companies do work differently than big companies or small or start-up businesses. They are their own animal, requiring different approaches to grow and thrive. That fact, plus the opportunity to have deep, lasting impact, are big parts of why I love working with leaders of mid-sized companies.

  • The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni may be better known for his earlier book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. However, I found this book to be equally, if not more compelling, particularly for CEOs and senior leaders who want to ensure their organizations have the underlying infrastructure and mindset needed for sustained success. Lencioni emphasizes clarity – that seems especially apropos as a theme for the year 2020.

  • The First 90 Days – Although it’s not new, this book is rarely absent from my desktop. It’s a terrific guide for leaders of all levels who are embarking on a new role or joining a new organization or team. I refer to it regularly and recommend it to coaching clients or those in career transition. While I headed the learning function for all of North America at Lafarge, we also incorporated this book into a program to accelerate development for our high potential talent. We equipped them to hit the ground running and provide results more quickly for each new role they landed. Good for them; good for our business. CxOs also need to pay attention to the two things Michael Watkins missed, which I discuss here.

  • The Map of Salt and Stars – Take an adventure that spans time and realms, yet also provides insight into the experience of modern-day refugees. The characters are engaging and real, with a lovely grounding in history and geography, both ancient and current. Be sure to read the Author’s Note as well.


Podcasts Worth Considering:

  • Nothing Constant with Gary Magenta and Bridget Stalkamp of Root, Inc. It’s all about change and the myriad things that keep us up at night. Gary and Bridget explore the issues with humor, intelligence, and the experience to back it up. Typically, they relate the ideas directly to business, customer and staff experience, and leadership.

  • Power Lunch Live with Rhett Power is a collection of conversations with CEOs, thought leaders, best-selling authors, and business executives. They share what they believe are their secrets to success – a list as varied and interesting as the guests Rhett interviews.

  • Boss Builders with Mack Munro speaks to emerging leaders, new bosses, or aspiring supervisors. I find it also to be a useful reminder for experienced bosses, or those who develop these new leaders. Remember what it was like when you first became a leader of people?


What’s on your reading and listening lists for 2020?


© 2020 Tara J Rethore. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

Original photo by author.