Hot Topics — Our Best Books, Posts, & Podcasts From 2016

Published on
December 19, 2016
Sara Saddington
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
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As we move into the final weeks of the year, it’s a great time to pause, reflect, and regroup for the year ahead. To help you with this process, we have curated a list of our most popular posts on These summaries, blog posts, and podcast episodes are all a great place to start to help you create bigger impact in 2017 than ever before

In 2016 several common themes emerged: a focus on developing coaching skills, treating happiness as a skill that can be developed, and an interest in “life hacks” that save time or encourage innovative thinking. Another common theme that has emerged for me, in my brief tenure as Managing Editor, is the absence of shortcuts to behavior change. Each skill we want to develop, or behavior we want to change, requires concentrated and sustained effort. This round-up of our best posts from 2016 will help you start to think about changes you want to make for 2017, and give you some ideas to get started.


The Coaching Habit
By Michael Bungay Stanier

Coaching has become a popular word in the corporate world, and many leaders know this is something they should be doing, but aren’t sure it’s worth the effort or are convinced they don’t have the time. As the book notes, quoting Daniel Goleman, many leaders “don’t have time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow.” Admit it, you’ll never have more time. But with the research clearly showing that coaching can improve individual performance and bottom-line results, it’s worth the effort to build coaching into your role as leader, and see greater productivity, engagement and accountability in your team as a result.

Smarter Faster Better
By Charles Duhigg

While tools, gadgets, systems and apps provide a structure for productivity and goal achievement, the real work occurs between our ears and cannot be avoided or sidestepped. When you understand the science behind why people do what they do, you appreciate the power that comes from shifting one’s internal thinking processes first instead of latching onto the latest productivity app or system.

By Angela Duckworth

Are you trying to create greater success; for yourself, your team or perhaps your children? Have you ever wondered, what is the most important thing you can do or teach them to spur their achievement? Angela Duckworth, a celebrated researcher and professor shows us that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but rather grit; a word that summarizes a special blend of passion, deliberate practice, purpose and hope. Grit isn’t a fixed personal quality, you can grow it by cultivating your interests, creating a daily habit of deliberate practice, connecting your work to your purpose to serve others and nurturing your hope. You can also help others you care about do the same.

Extreme Ownership
By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The principles that are taught and discussed throughout the book are told through incredible stories and lessons from Willink and Babin’s experience leading combat troops in the battle of Ramadi. They then break down, examine and discuss each leadership principle individually, and, finally, share these principles from client examples of how they show up in the business world. You’ll not only gain appreciation and respect for what these men did in combat, but you’ll learn practical and actionable leadership principles to help you succeed in your leadership role!

The Ideal Team Player
By Patrick Lencioni

Like most of Lencioni’s books, The Ideal Team Player is presented as a fable. This type of a narrative is not only entertaining to read, but helps the material resonate better with the reader. The reader follows along as Jeff navigates his way through a new leadership position in an unfamiliar industry. He quickly realizes that if the organization is to succeed, Jeff and his colleagues must address its toxic workplace culture. They determine that each employee must personify the three virtues that are apparent in any ideal team player: being humble, hungry, and smart.

Blog Posts

5 Crucial Books—A Snapshot of the Entrepreneurial Cannon
Guest Post by Steven Fisher and Ja-Naé Duane

Quentin Tarantino forged himself into a legendary filmmaker by watching literally thousands of films. Every scene in a Tarantino film draws on storylines, themes, techniques, and cinematic shots from films throughout the decades. Likewise, the authors of The Startup Equation developed the ability to launch and grow successful businesses by reading books by the savviest entrepreneurs out there. In 5 Crucial Books, they have curated a list of 5 titles all entrepreneurs should read.

Winning the Brain Game
Guest post by Matthew E. May

Likened to a computer, the brain is the passive hardware constantly storing experience, while the mind is the active software, directing our attention and thought. But the mind is not just any software—it’s intelligent software capable of rewiring the hardware, which, if left unchecked, reverts to stored patterns that can prevent us from solving tough and unfamiliar problems creatively, resourcefully, and elegantly. Matthew E. May discusses the seven traps that we frequently fall into when faced with a challenge, and arms us with tactics to combat those challenges.

How to Add an Hour to the Day with Only One Small Change
Guest post by Neil Pasricha

Your brain is capable of infinite possibilities: producing great works of art, building businesses, raising children. Brains made The Starry Night and the Great Wall of China. The Beatles and the Bible. Brains make your life what it is and die when you do. The good news is for no money down, no annual fees, and no monthly interest, you get one free copy of the universe’s most complex and powerful object. It’s yours for life! The only bad news is there is no warranty, it requires daily charging, and even the longest-lasting models in the world last only forty thousand days. (The average model lasts twenty-five thousand days.) Pasricha arms us with a simple tactic to save time each day, and make more time for what really matters.

Podcast Episodes

Simple Strategies for Boosting Happiness with Neil Pasricha

We were excited to welcome Neil Pasricha onto The 21st Century Workplace podcast. Pasricha is the author of the wildly successful Book of Awesome series, and in creating his latest, The Happiness Equation, has inadvertently written his first business book, one he describes as the “IKEA manual for happiness” for both your personal and professional life.

Becoming Pre-Suasive with Robert Cialdini

We were delighted to welcome Dr. Robert Cialdini, the “godfather of influence,” to The 21st Century Workplace, to talk about his new book Pre-Suasion, a Revolutionary way to Influence and Persuade. There is a whole world of influence that takes place before we even open our mouths, that communicators can harness to become more effective. This conversation with Dr. Cialdini will arm you with tactics to become a more influential communicator.

Bubbles of Belief with Dave Gray

We all cruise through at least part of our days on autopilot: we take the same route to work, walk the same way to the grocery store, respond to emails without thinking about them, and make assumptions about the people we interact with. We were joined by Dave Gray, best-selling author of Gamestorming and Liminal Thinking, for a wide-ranging discussion of the deeply (and often unconsciously) held beliefs through which we all view the world. Dave chats about the Bubbles of Belief that frame our habits, and how we can disrupt our habits to create new paths to creative thinking.

We hope that you will enjoy this round-up of our most visited posts as much as we enjoyed creating them!

The Actionable Team would like to wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season! How are you celebrating?