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Our Favorite Optimization & Leadership Books To Put On Your 2020 Reading List


Looking to do some light reading over the holidays? Look no further than this post! We asked our team to share their favorite optimization or leadership-focused books. Check out their top picks.

Ruined by Design by Mike Monterio

Submitted by Lorien Olive, Optimization Engineer

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This is more of a manifesto, but it deals with the power designers have to shape the technology that people end up using.  What I liked about it was the fact that it dealt with questions of ethics in design and the responsibility we have as skilled workers to be thoughtful about the technology we create and the way we create it.

Buy it on Amazon

Design is a Job by Mike Monterio

Submitted by Lorien Olive, Optimization Engineer

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Also by Mike Monterio, this is an interesting read because it provides a lot of empowering insights into learning the business of design, which is something so many people struggle with (regardless of talent). It offers a nuts-and-bolts roadmap to conveying the value of what you do to clients who aren’t always inclined to prioritize or value design work.

Buy it on Amazon

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Submitted by Scott Plumb, Senior Director, Business Development

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This is an oldie but a goodie. The philosophy of “it’s not what you do, but why you do it,” applies not only to the spirit of a true test and learn culture, but also in my work connecting with digital leaders.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Submitted by Will Feng, Manager, Project Management Office at Brooks Bell

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Our new CEO, Gregory Ng, actually recommended this book to me. It’s a great resource for anyone in a management role. Sinek talks a lot about how humans react to day-to-day events on a physiological level, and how you can use this to keep your employees motivated and incentivized.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Diplomacy: Communication and the Origins of International Order by Robert F. Trager

Submitted by Zuhaib Mahmood, Optimization Analyst

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For the more academically-oriented, this book delves into the art of diplomatic communication with some key lessons that can be applied in everyday life. For instance, during negotiations, sometimes your willingness to compromise shows how important an objective really is to you. In the same vein, sometimes not asking for something can really communicate what you want.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Submitted by Mat Thompson, Principal Specialist, Data Security and Technology

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I read this book as part of an assignment for graduate school. In the book, Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organizations and uncovers what makes them work so well together. Truly a must-read for anyone who is tasked with the challenging work of establishing or improving your team’s culture!

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

Submitted by Aly Pilkons, Optimization Engineer

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Don’t Make Me Think is a great and a super easy read. It provides you with a framework to focus on the user experience and a user’s goals in accessing your website. Not to mention, the author’s writing style is pretty funny and the book is written in a way that makes concepts easy to understand and put into action.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Submitted by Brooks Bell, Founder & Executive Chairman

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The premise of this book is that online data (including Google searches and data from Facebook, shopping and even porn sites) can reveal a lot more about human behavior than simple survey data. Regardless of whether or not you buy into that, the author consults a variety of online data sources and outside research to make his claims. He also outlines some very interesting experiment ideas and research opportunities that could come to be if his theory proves to be true. It’s truly a fascinating read!

Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon