HomeRecommended Reads & ReportsRecommended Reads – Week 44

Recommended Reads – Week 44

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

Named by The Washington Post as one of the 11 Leadership Books to Read in 2018

When it comes to recruiting, motivating, and creating great teams, Patty McCord says most companies have it all wrong. McCord helped create the unique and high-performing culture at Netflix, where she was chief talent officer. In her new book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, she shares what she learned there and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

McCord advocates practicing radical honesty in the workplace, saying good-bye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs, and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans. McCord argues that the old standbys of corporate HR—annual performance reviews, retention plans, employee empowerment and engagement programs—often end up being a colossal waste of time and resources. Her road-tested advice, offered with humor and irreverence, provides readers a different path for creating a culture of high performance and profitability.

Powerful will change how you think about work and the way a business should be run.


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Have you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life?

Do you often find yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you frequently busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to do less, but better, and declutter and organize their own their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.


The Possible World by Liesl O’Halloran Schwartz

A richly compelling and deeply moving novel that traces the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an elderly woman guarding her long buried past.

It seems like just another night shift for Lucy, an overworked ER physician in Providence, Rhode Island, until six-year-old Ben is brought in as the sole survivor from a horrifying crime scene. He’s traumatized and wordless; everything he knows has been taken from him in an afternoon. It’s not clear what he saw, or what he remembers.

Lucy, who’s grappling with a personal upheaval of her own, feels a profound, unexpected connection to the little boy. She wants to help him…but will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Across town, Clare will soon be turning one hundred years old. She has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, but a surprising encounter makes her realize that the time has come to tell her story.

As Ben, Lucy, and Clare struggle to confront the events that shattered their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together.

An expertly stitched story that spans nearly a century—from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present—The Possible World is a captivating novel about the complicated ways our pasts shape our identities, the power of maternal love, the loneliness born out of loss, and how timeless bonds can help us triumph over grief.


Changing Space, Changing City: Johannesburg After Apartheid None Edition by Peter Ahmad, Graeme Gotz, Alison Todes and Chris Wray

A richly illustrated and detailed empirical analysis of changes in the city’s physical space and and the social identities forged within specific neighborhoods. 

As the dynamo of South Africa’s economy, Johannesburg commands a central position in the nation’s imagination, and scholars throughout the world monitor the city as an exemplar of urbanity in the global South. This richly illustrated study offers detailed empirical analyses of changes in the city’s physical space, as well as a host of chapters on the character of specific neighbourhoods and the social identities being forged within them. Informing all of these is a consideration of underlying economic, social and political processes shaping the wider Gauteng region. A mix of respected academics, practising urban planners and experienced policymakers offer compelling overviews of the rapid and complex spatial developments that have taken place in Johannesburg since the end of apartheid, along with tantalising glimpses into life on the streets and behind the high walls of this diverse city. The book has three sections. Section A provides an overview of macro spatial trends and the policies that have influenced them. Section B explores the shaping of the city at district and suburban level, revealing the peculiarity of processes in different areas. This analysis elucidates the larger trends, while identifying shifts that are not easily detected at the macro level. Section C is an assembly of chapters and short vignettes that focus on the interweaving of place and identity at a micro level. With empirical data supported by new data sets including the 2011 Census, the city’s Development Planning and Urban Management Department’s information system, and Gauteng City-Region Observatory’s substantial archive, the book is an essential reference for planning practitioners, urban geographers, sociologists, and social anthropologists, among others.


The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa

When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants. The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic).

Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs. Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love?

Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges. With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenaged brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days.

Sooner or later something’s got to give …


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