Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman’s Summer 2022 Reading List

July 6, 2022

Jack and Joe Summer Reads

We want to share some of the books on our summer reading lists.

This list includes books that inspire growth and continued development in leadership behaviors like trust, strategy, humility, humor, and happiness. And, of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a shameless plug for Joe Folkman’s new book, The Trifecta of Trust. 

We hope you find a book in this list that piques your interest and motivates and inspires you in your leadership efforts. Happy reading!

The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again | Catherine Price

  • In this follow-up to her hit book, How to Break Up with Your Phone, Price makes the case that True Fun—which she defines as the magical confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow—will give us the fulfillment we so desperately seek. If you use True Fun as your compass, you will be happier and healthier. You will be more productive, less resentful, and less stressed. You will have more energy. You will find community and a sense of purpose. You will stop languishing and start flourishing. And best of all? You’ll enjoy the process.Weaving together scientific research with personal experience, Price reveals the surprising mental, physical, and cognitive benefits of fun, and offers a practical, personalized plan for how we can achieve better screen/life balance and attract more True Fun into our daily lives—without feeling overwhelmed. (The Dial Press).

Humor, Seriously: Why Humor is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life | Jennifer Aaker & Naomi Bagdonas

  • In Humor, Seriously, Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas draw on findings by behavioral scientists, world-class comedians, and inspiring business leaders to reveal how humor works and—more important—how you can use more of it, better.Aaker and Bagdonas unpack the theory and application of humor: what makes something funny, how to mine your life for material, and simple ways to identify and leverage your unique humor style. They show how to use humor to rebuild vital connections; appear more confident, competent, and authentic at work; and foster cultures where levity and creativity can thrive. (Currency).

Humbitious: The Power of Low-Ego, High-Drive Leadership | Amer Kaissi

  • Tracing triumphs (and missteps) of leaders from Napoleon Bonaparte to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, soccer star Alex Morgan to Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, and others, Amer Kaissi illuminates what true humility is—and what it isn’t—and how to cultivate it within yourself and with others. As you gain insight into this critical leadership trait, you’ll come to understand that humility requires ambition, courage, and fierce determination. Humility, you’ll learn, isn’t about false modesty; it’s about being honest with yourself, and others, about your abilities and potential, so you can make a realistic plan for improvement.The unequivocal truth is that the successful narcissists that you either know or are working for right now are the exception to the rule. The highest performers are those who adopt and integrate humility into their relationships with others, with their organizations, and with themselves. Because fortune favors not simply the bold—but the humbitious. (Page Two Press).

The Trifecta of Trust | Joe Folkman

  • We obviously needed to make a shameless plug for Joe’s new book.
    In Trifecta of Trust, psychometrics and leadership expert Joseph R. Folkman has collected a mountain of compelling data to make the irrefutable case for the value of trust in leadership. His research shows that there are three core behaviors that create and reinforce trust from others. By mastering this leadership trust trifecta, you can increase your success and happiness, both in business and life.Folkman’s life mission has been to provide accurate assessments for leaders to help them understand their effectiveness, impact on outcomes, and specific insights on what they can do to improve. To discover the differences between leaders with high levels of trust and those who are not trusted at all, Folkman collected data from millions of raters and hundreds of thousands of leaders from across the globe. The results revealed the measurable disparities of trust between poor and good leaders, three behaviors that are most important to gain trust, and how leaders can vastly improve the trust others have in them.Now you can discover the tools for increasing trust based on quantifiable results and have greater impact and effectiveness as a leader. (River Grove Books).

How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters | Michael Bungay Stanier

  • We unlock our greatness by working on the hard things.This is your practical guide to finding the focus and courage to set a Worthy Goal: one that lights you up, compels you to grow, and serves a bigger game by being thrilling, important, and daunting.With Michael’s trademark humor, compassion, and laser-focused clarity, you’ll walk through a tested process to:
    • find and strengthen your Worthy Goal to the very best it can be;
    • get absolutely clear on your commitment so you know what you’re up for;
    • develop the resources to cross the threshold, so you don’t have to travel alone;
    • build momentum, progress, and impact.

Don’t regret a life half-lived. Use this book to start doing something that matters. (Page Two).

The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists | Richard P. Rumelt

  • What passes for strategy in too many businesses, government agencies, and military operations is a toxic mix of wishful thinking and a jumble of incoherent policies. Richard P. Rumelt’s breakthrough concept is that leaders become effective strategists when they focus on challenges rather than goals, pinpointing the cruxof their pivotal challenge—the aspect that is both surmountable and promises the greatest progress—and taking decisive, coherent action to overcome it.Rumelt defines the essence of the strategist’s skill with vivid storytelling, from how Elon Musk found the crux that propelled the success of SpaceX to how the American military came to grips with the weaknesses of its battle strategy. Musk’s core challenge, for example, was rocket reusability. His intense focus on the soft landing of SpaceX’s rockets enabled them to be used again—radically reducing the cost of putting a pound in orbit. Musk’s strategy was not based on how value is created or how to position SpaceX in its industry. It was a design foraction, the mental maneuver that focuses energy on what really made a difference through understanding the crux and creating an effective response that led to breakthrough. (PublicAffairs).

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society | Nicholas Christakis

  • In Blueprint, Nicholas A. Christakis introduces the compelling idea that our genes affect not only our bodies and behaviors, but also the ways in which we make societies, ones that are surprisingly similar worldwide. With many vivid examples — including diverse historical and contemporary cultures, communities formed in the wake of shipwrecks, commune dwellers seeking utopia, online groups thrown together by design or involving artificially intelligent bots and even the tender and complex social arrangements of elephants and dolphins that so resemble our own – Christakis shows that, despite a human history replete with violence, we cannot escape our social blueprint for goodness.In a world of increasing political and economic polarization, it’s tempting to ignore the positive role of our evolutionary past. But by exploring the ancient roots of goodness in civilization, Blueprint shows that our genes have shaped societies for our welfare and that, in a feedback loop stretching back many thousands of years, societies have shaped and are still shaping, our genes today. (Little, Brown US).

Authentic Happiness | Martin Seligman

  • According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Using practical exercises, brief tests, and a dynamic website program, Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered. Accessible and proven, Authentic Happinessis the most powerful work of popular psychology in years. (Atria Books).

—Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman