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Great reads for the perfect timeout

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how it can help any organization thrive.

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up whom he’d just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They’d have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress—to measure what mattered.

Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where the legendary Andy Grove (“the greatest manager of his or any era”) drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove’s brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practiced, it worked.

In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.

The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization’s most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.

In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person you Hate by Fran Hauser

A candid guide for ambitious women who want to succeed without losing themselves in the process

Fran Hauser deconstructs the negative perception of “niceness” that many women struggle with in the business world. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch.

Hauser proves that women don’t have to sacrifice their values or hide their authentic personalities to be successful. Sharing a wealth of personal anecdotes and time-tested strategies, she shows women how to reclaim “nice” and sidestep regressive stereotypes about what a strong leader looks like. Her accessible advice and hard-won wisdom detail how to balance being empathetic with being decisive, how to rise above the double standards that can box you in, how to cultivate authentic confidence that projects throughout a room, and much more.

THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.

Endings & Beginnings : A Story of Healing by Redi Tlhabi

Two years after her father’s death, 11-year-old Redi Tlhabi meets Mabegzo: handsome, charming, and smooth, but also a rumoured gangster, murderer, and rapist. Against her family’s wishes, Redi develops a strong and sometimes uncomfortable attraction to him; she herself doesn’t understand why she is drawn to Mabegzo. When he too is found lying dead in a pool of blood, as her father was, Redi has to try to stay sane. Following her emotional journey into the past to finally humanize Mabegzo, this account interviews the alleged criminal’s family and friends. As she fits together the pieces of the puzzle that was Mabegzo, Redi also finds peace and allows her demons to rest.

Normal People: A Universal Story of Love Friendship & Growing Up by Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

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