What’s on Your Learning Bookshelf?

20160420_064541I’ve written about conference homework and the importance of investing in your success. For me both of these usually lead to more books on my reading list. Here’s my current stack —

Reinventing You by Dorie Clark. I recently started following Dorie Clark on Twitter after hearing one of her interviews with Ron Friedman as part of the Peak Work Performance Summit (there will be another one fall 2016). In this book, she provides a step-by-step guide to assessing your strengths, developing a compelling personal brand and ensuring that others recognize the contributions you can make.

Mastermind by Maria Konnikova. A psychologist and journalist, Konnikova says that we can develop our powers of thought and observation just as Sherlock Holmes did. While I haven’t yet finished the book, I did hear her speak recently, and can’t wait to explore further the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.

How Philosophy Can Save Your Life by Marietta McCarty. McCarty was recognized by Virginia Professional Communicators as its Newsmaker in 2014. During her talk she shared how clear thinking, quiet reflection and good conversation are essential to a well-lived life. She strongly encouraged members to start their own Philosophy Club. This book frames ten big ideas for such a club to discuss. When I finish the book, another member and I are considering starting a Philosophy Club.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’m looking forward to diving into this book because it’s about getting the right things done, and not trying to do it all. McKeown’s website includes a quiz to see how you are doing with respect to essentialism. He was another participant in the Peak Work Performance Summit, and following his interview, I began to make adjustments on how I spend my time. One way I’ll be spending my time is reading this book.

If you struggle to keep up with your reading list, Peter Bregman writes about how to read a book a week. I have found the advice helpful with particular books. Perhaps you will, too.

Would you share what book (s) are on your learning bookshelf by posting a comment with the title and author and the reason it’s on your list?

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Interview with Shonali Burke

A few months ago, I participated in the Social PR webinar that Shonali Burke offered. It was free, and afterward, you could sign up for a more in-depth program with her. I was really impressed with what she offered, and wanted to learn more about her.

Shonali Burke

Photo credit: Cade Martin Photography

I discovered she loves ABBA and Elvis, and is a really good knitter. She also has a presentation style that is low-key so you don’t feel intimidated asking questions. The result is that you learn.

Shonali does have one advantage over most speakers because she is a former actress; however, for those who may fear public speaking, she notes that the benefits of public speaking far outweigh any drawbacks.

“I love getting up on a stage and ‘performing,’ as it were; the best speakers are great performers,” she says. “l Iove interacting with the audience and knowing I’m helping them in some way; that’s a huge high.”

The challenge of public speaking is being on top of your game. Shonali says she never assumes that she will “wow” an audience. “That would be a surefire recipe for disaster,” she says.

“Regardless of how small or big the event, or audience, is, I always rehearse and bring my A-game.”

Shonali brings her A-game as an adjunct at John Hopkins University’s M.A. in Communications program. She teaches nonprofits in the digital age and PR writing. One area she emphasizes is the importance of measuring efforts.

“You have to know what you’re working toward, i.e. begin at the end. You have to have specific goals and objectives in mind, otherwise how will you know whether or not you’re getting closer to them?” she asks. “A lot of PR measurement still focuses on outputs; we really need to be focusing, as a body, much, much more on outcomes.”

As I said, I “met” Shonali by participating in a free three-day webinar that she offered. She shares why she sometimes offers free courses. “I’ve learned a lot from wonderful, super-smart people who have shared their knowledge without charging me. I’ve tried to respect that, and not take advantage of it, and feel I should do that, too.”

“It’s my way of paying it forward.”

In addition to paying it forward, Shonali says that offering free webinars and contributing on Twitter and blogs enables her to demonstrate her value. “Why should you give your hard-earned money to someone who has not yet demonstrated their value?” she asks.

“If we provide incredible value for free, then when we have paid offerings, people are far more likely to buy.”

Whether you choose to follow Shonali on Twitter (@Shonali) or on her website (shonaliburke.com) or you pay for one of her courses, you can be sure you will receive incredible value.