Blog Post

The ReWork Bookshelf: 5 Must-Reads from Workforce Trends Expert Ira Wolfe

Ira S. Wolfe

President, Success Performance Solutions

Editor's Note: What are our writers and experts reading? In this series, ReWork contributors share their"must-read" recommendations for HR professionals and business leaders.

The number of books in my library is huge. Unfortunately, the list of ones I've read cover to cover is quite short, and the list of those I've read more than once—most of which are included in this article—is even shorter. In this compilation of my favorites, you'll find a few old oldies, which have so many notes, yellow highlights and dog-eared corners that they're barely readable. Their messages range from timeless to revolutionary, urging us to consider the world that will be, not the world that is. Enjoy!

Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

HR teams understand better than anyone that people lie. But don't dismiss the title of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's new book, Everybody Lies, as just another study of how people make stuff up to get a job or pretend to be sick to miss work . Believe me—this book about the revolution of big data is so much bigger and more important than that.

The possibility of a deeper understanding of human behavior is both exhilarating and terrifying. What happens when big data reveals that people not only lie to others, but also to themselves? Some of the research is just mind-numbing. But here's a warning: Don't rush out and buy this book unless you have an open mind and aren't easily offended. Much of the research and content will certainly make for some interesting family conversations around the holiday dinner table this year!

Favorite Quote:

"First, and perhaps most important, if you are going to try and use new data to revolutionize a field, it is best to go into a field where old methods are lousy." (HR, anyone?)

Thank You for Being Late by Tom Friedman

I first read Thomas Friedman's earlier book, The World is Flat, during a flight to a client meeting in a small town in Missouri, about a two hour drive from St. Louis. Just a few hours later, I found myself staring at a McDonald's from my hotel room. In the book, Friedman revealed how drive-thru windows aren't staffed by attendants inside, but by a call center hundreds miles away, so of course, I had to run out, jump in my car and see it for myself! Fast forward a decade, and here we are again, bewildered by how technology, politics and other forces seem to be disrupting the world we knew and know. But again, Friedman provides an easy, relatable read to help make sense of why the world is the way it is, and make you feel like it will be okay if you understand it and respond accordingly.

Favorite Quote:

"Average is officially over. When I graduated from college I got to find a job; my girls have to invent theirs. I attended college to learn skills for life, and lifelong learning for me afterward was a hobby. My girls went to college to learn the skills that could garner them their first job, and lifelong learning for them is a necessity for every job thereafter."

Paradigms by Joel Arthur Barker

Every now and then, you read a book that doesn't just open doors or let you see things you previously missed, but also changes the way you think. The first time I read Paradigms almost 25 years ago, it led me to disrupt and then change my career. By now, paradigm has become a buzzword. That's too bad, even foolish. Barker believed that excellence, innovation and anticipation are the triad of the future. What was true then is even truer today. Don't let the age of the book discourage you. It's a great read and one of the most important ones in my life.

Favorite Quote:

"The future is where your greatest leverage is."

One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard

Did you ever get the feeling while reading a book that the author somehow got inside your head, and was inspired to create his work? That's how I felt while reading One-Minute Manager Meets the Monkey over 20 years ago. I always thought I was a good boss. My employees told me so! But this book taught me how I might have been a better friend. Apparently, employees found that I graciously accepted their "monkeys" like grandparents babysit grandchildren. For any manager who feels employees aren't accepting responsibility or are overwhelmed by supervising other people, this is a must-read.

Favorite Quote:

"Things not worth doing are not worth doing well."

Recruiting in the Age of Googlization by Ira S Wolfe

Wait a minute, isn't that my new book? You are correct. But with permission and encouragement, how could I not include it? Its message is simple and to the point: If you're not asking how jobs, careers and workplaces will be exponentially disrupted in the next three to five years, you're living in the past. It's time for HR to get its shift together. (See what I did there?) It's not just my personal opinion that HR is doing something wrong—it's a reality. Traditional jobs are disappearing fast, while new job categories are being created and automation is taking over the workplace. The end result is that the competition for qualified workers is both terrifying and intensifying.

Favorite Quote: "People never think fast enough." - Daniel Burrus, global futurist, author and speaker

Photo: Creative Commons

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