September 6 is National Read a Book Day! We asked our executive team to share a book that’s had the greatest impact on their careers and how they view business and/or leadership. Here’s what they said.
“Under the Overpass” by Mike Yankowski
Submitted by: Duane Andrews, CEO and co-founder
When the author, Mike Yankowski, was a private Christian college student, he noticed that he was judging people who were “on the street” without having the knowledge of their background and their perspective. So, to his parent’s grave concern, he decided to go ON the street — homeless in six different cities in six months. This book is about what he learned.
Duane explains the backstory behind this book recommendation: “I grew up with loving parents and had a moderate/comfortable home. My parents were ‘hippies’ in the sense that they esteemed others, and respected their points of view. They still take great joy in helping others. So, when I was only five and six years old, we would take day trips to Berkeley’s People’s Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and The Tenderloin. They believed it’s difficult to help people you care about without understanding WHERE they come from. And in the process of learning where they come from, they will likely teach you something.”
“By being able to ‘go on the journey with him,’ he gave me a gift of additional compassion and love for ‘street people,’ many of whom were born into really difficult circumstances, and/or struggle with mental well-being,” Duane said. “The adage ‘business is all about people’ is so true, and it’s what we live for and work for at Clear Capital. To do our work/mission well, it is important for me and our employees to continually strive to understand and empathize with all people.”
One last note from Duane: Bring some tissues — you might cry a few times.
“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown
Submitted by: Valerie McClain, vice president of compliance
This is a great book for women who are striving to be leaders, especially if they are in a male-dominated field.
Valerie recommends this book because Brene Brown writes with passion and wit. She also lets us in on a tip — if you don’t want to read the book, Brene Brown has a great TED Talk on this subject.
“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
Submitted by: Helge Hukari, chief administrative officer and general counsel
When Helge finished this book he learned a great lesson – that grit, determination, and perseverance are needed to turn passion and dreams into reality.
He recommends this book because he likes how Knight, the founder of Nike, learned early on that he’d get better results if he didn’t tell people how to do things, but instead focused on what he wanted to do and let people surprise him with what they were able to accomplish.
“Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur” by Derek Sivers
Submitted by: Jeff Allen, EVP of valuation strategy
“Anything You Want” draws on Sivers’s experience building CD Baby in the 90s, one of the first successful e-commerce sites on the web.
It highlights that going above and beyond to delight customers is your number one goal — everything else is just details. If you blow away the customer with value and leave no doubt in their minds that they can’t live without you, everything else falls into place. This can even mean pursuing strategies that seem insane and unsustainable when you first ponder them, and it definitely means never being satisfied. But as long as every step you take is customer-first, you’re on the golden path.
Jeff recommends this book because it’s often easy to get distracted and confused in business, especially when dealing with innovation and strategy. What’s True North? This book serves as a helpful reminder: It’s all about the customer!
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
Submitted by: Luke Frederick, EVP of customer experience
Although there have been many books that have impacted his career, Luke explains that “Leaders Eat Last” is one that recently made a big impact. The book highlights that when we feel safe and secure where we work, we relax and are more confident and open to trust and cooperation. This leads to more fun, which leads to highly effective teams. One of the most important things a leader can do is to create an environment that fosters safety and security.
The summary of this book as described on the back cover: “Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders are creating environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.”
Luke recommends this book because the author, Simon Sinek, explains the biology behind our ability to get things done and work together in very simple and clear terms. Being a biochemistry major, Luke liked learning how endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and cortisol drive feelings and behavior.
“Servant Leadership” by Robert Greenleaf
Submitted by: Kevin Raney, EVP of appraisal services group
While reading this book, you’ll grasp a key concept: Leadership’s primary job is to make their people’s jobs easier so they can achieve excellence in service to clients and customers.
Kevin recommends “Servant Leadership” because it changed his perspective on how to lead a team of people, securing their commitment and ownership in achieving success.
“Leading On Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro
Submitted by: Ron Rowan, chief financial officer
The key message from this book is that when we push ourselves for long periods of time through and over obstacles, especially while under significant stress, we can risk taking ourselves out of the game — particularly as we accumulate a history of experience of “pushing through.” We can lose our ability to lead effectively, or at all.
Many leaders learn how to “get on with it” when facing problems. They learn that the best way to address the problem is to run full steam ahead with the mentality that “the sooner I get going, the sooner I’ll get through the issue.” That approach might be effective in the short-term, but in the long-term, when repeated over, and over, and over — and when combined with significant stress — it greatly reduces (or even jeopardizes) a leader’s effectiveness and the quality of their lives away from work because they burn out.
This book highlights the psychology and approach of many leaders, the negative effects those traits can have, and how to recognize and address them when they do.
“Change Management — The People Side of Change” by Jeffrey H. Hiatt and Timothy J. Creasey
Submitted by: Valerie McClain, vice president of compliance
Valerie’s biggest takeaway from this book is that everything in life changes. How you lead your team through change sets the tone for adaptation, open dialog, risk-taking, team building, and results.
Understanding how to lead through change is a foundational pillar and core competency for successful leaders. If you’re looking for a research-based primer for change management, this book is for you.
“The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Submitted by: Larry Robinson, chief technology officer
“The Black Swan” helped Larry recognize that opportunities are rare and precious. He recommends this book to think about your life and take more chances to create totally different outcomes.