FT Business Books – January Edition


‘Full Out: Leadership Lessons from America’s Favorite Coach’, by Monica Aldama

When the Netflix documentaries Encourage first released in 2020, it was (along with Tiger King), one of the big hits from the early pandemic. Encourage followed the Navarro College cheerleading team from Texas in the months leading up to their biggest competition, with drama on and off the mats. The breakaway star was its tough but fair coach, Monica Aldama.

The show, which returns for another series this month, shows Aldama’s experience of getting the best out of the talented teens on her team. IN Fully, an accompanying guidebook and memoir gives Aldama insight into how she approaches her role and manages work and family life.

She is honest about what she has failed. She and her husband, who met in high school and married directly from college, found the pressure too much and divorced when their children were young. They are now married again, and – as Aldama repeatedly emphasizes through anecdotes about her work and home life – the key to solving problems is good communication.

“You can reach all aspects of your life when you know how people around you feel and when you express your own feelings for them. Learning to communicate with Chris made me a better coach,” she writes.

The book will not be a key text for those trying to transform a failing team or company. But it’s an insightful read for anyone who wants to know more about Aldama, who originally intended to work on Wall Street (she has a degree in finance and an MBA).

The wisdom found at home can sometimes tear, but Aldama often makes the same points that more advanced writers obscure with jargon. “The more confident I can make each student as an individual, the better we do it as a team,” she writes. Others might call this psychological security. For Aldama, it’s the way to win trophies.

‘The Wall and the Bridge: Fear and Opportunity in Disruption’s Wake’, by Glenn Hubbard

In this book, Glenn Hubbard’s “walls” are the barriers to change, while the “bridges” are the things that prepare people for participation in a dynamic economy. This preparation – and reconnection – is something he believes we have failed to do together.

Hubbard writes that the book is about “noticing” and ideas for addressing structural disruptive changes that accompany economic progress. Economist Adam Smith – who saw the economy as a moral system, not just a means of generating income – is a central figure in this book.

Much of it centers on the broader economic and political picture, but former President George W Bush’s economic adviser addresses companies as bridge builders. For the most part, Hubbard believes companies have left the bridge building to communities and governments. “But companies can – and should – help build bridges now,” he writes.

Hubbard believes that business now recognizes this, while also emphasizing that Milton Friedman’s idea that “business is business is business” does not mean that the only stakeholders worth worrying about are shareholders.

He reminds readers that Friedman is not in favor of short-sightedness; Some critics, he says, argue that it is the companies themselves that have tended to sacrifice long-term goals, and that one solution is to compensate executives and executives with stock options that cannot be sold until a year or two after that. they have left their business.

In light of the tight global labor market, his point about training workers – which companies benefit from in the long run by investing in the development of their workers – is timely.

The result is that in order to flourish, we must all build bridges. Government policy must play a central role, while companies must invest in its people and communities.

‘How to Get Started: Start Doing Something That Matters’, by Michael Bungay Stanier

Timing is a key ingredient in the success of any new venture, which is probably why How to start – a self-help book about getting started on a new project – was written in for January, the moment when people are most likely thinking about making something new happen.

This book is a learning manual for those who need motivation to take on a new “worthy goal,” as author Michael Bungay Stanier puts it.

He writes from personal experience, having brought several books and podcasts to life on his pet topic: coaching. He also founded Box of Crayons, a training company for wannabe trainers.

Bungay Stanier shares a lot in How to start, not least about how he has worked through the difficult decision to resign from being CEO of Box of Crayons after 20 years.

The book could be a volume out of the For Dummies series of practical how-to books. It’s easy to read, characterized by exercises to take your next bet from an idea to a fully-fledged action plan.

‘Jerks at Work: Toxic Colleagues and What to Do About Them’, by Tessa West


We have all encountered jerks at work, but how do we deal with them so that they do not lose all our energy and make life a misery?

In her book, Tessa West, a social psychologist who has studied how people communicate for 20 years, charts the different “jerk” personality types, what motivates them to behave the way they do, and the research-based strategies that can be used for to control. their impact on your working life.

Getting a handle on her “jerk” – which she categorizes into personality types like “credit thief”, “micromanager” and “gaslighter” – is, she writes, a bit like profiling a serial killer. “You have to get into the head of your fool to learn what makes them tick. How do they choose their victims? How have they avoided being caught? Do they have a boss who (secretly) benefits from their behavior? ”

West also dispels a few myths about jerks at work, such as the misconception that only inexperienced people suffer from them. That is wrong, she claims: Even the most experienced employees can fall victim. The crazy ones are not bitter employees without real abilities either – their abilities, she writes, are that they are good “social perceptors”.

Problems with a work can “can be the death of a team,” West adds, but her strategies can help anyone reduce the impact of their behavior. There is also a quiz to determine if you are really silly at work.

‘(Dis) Connected: How to Stay Human in an Online World’, by Emma Gannon


Emma Gannon, podcast host and author of Multi-hyphen method, a bestselling book on career building outside of ordinary business environments, is an expert in creating a personal brand online. In this short guide, she takes a step outside this area and suggests ways in which we can reconnect with each other – and more importantly, with ourselves.

Gannon is brought up with the internet, and this guide is aimed at her peers, those in their twenties and thirties, for whom a life unplugged is unthinkable. She is very good at the phenomenon of “overwhelm, to-do lists, decision fatigue, paralysis of choice, the growing number of apps on our phones and the increasing number of pressures being put on us”.

The solution to this, Gannon suggests, is to learn to live better with ourselves – to take breaks from social media and our phones and “learn to live less urgently”. She provides messages and tips to help people disconnect – and reconnect with ourselves and with friends. Some are pretty obvious (take yourself out for a day at a museum or café), but there is plenty here for the overwhelmed to shop for – much of it about slowing down and thinking twice before interacting with anyone who comes unsolicited into your inbox or DMs.

Much of this is aimed at digital natives, but Gannon has an easy writing style, contains plenty of personal anecdotes, and has solid advice for readers of all ages, including the art of reviving proper conversations. “It’s unbelievable what happens when you let someone speak fully and do not fight to be heard.”

‘You Train Yourself: How to Overcome Challenges and Take Control of Your Career’, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis


The authors of Squiggly career is back with a different installment designed to help us deal with the change and uncertainty that comes with a modern career. This guide teaches the reader to coach themselves because one-on-one career coaching can be prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to many.

Tupper and Ellis are both qualified coaches and write that anyone with the right mindset and motivation can practice self-coaching to overcome career challenges.

Chapters explore topics such as time, self-confidence, and resilience, each of which is divided into two parts. The first deals with how to improve in the specific area (part one of the chapter on resilience, for example, aims to develop your resilience reserves even if you are not experiencing a hard time at the moment). The second explores how to overcome the challenges one may face now.

The book provides a framework that everyone can work with and a brief guide on how to get the most out of it. However, the authors emphasize that “learning to coach yourself is not something you tick off your to-do list. It’s a skill you practice, and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you become ”.

As careers evolve, insights will also evolve, and Tupper and Ellis recommend returning to the exercises and tools regularly. It is a thorough, practical guide. However, it requires long-term investment from its reader “to continue developing and uncovering new opportunities to develop your skills”.

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