As the summer stretches before us and the pandemic lingers on, many of us — including members of PCMA’s Board of Directors — are filling our spare time and occupying our minds with books and podcasts. Here is what some of them are reading and listening to.
“Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne — This book aligns perfectly with the business events strategist’s core thinking now, because it discusses reinventing a product or service differently than what has been done in the past — taking a concept and turning it on its head. Since COVID-19, most of us have had to come up with ways to create a virtual platform for our meetings and to make it interesting enough for people to attend. Blue Ocean Strategy discusses how you define your strategy and create out-of-the-box experiences.
“Dare to Lead by Brené Brown is a great book if you are leading a team or about to become a new manager. The book provides advice about not having all the answers and being vulnerable as a leader, and the importance of transparency and how that demonstrates authentic leadership.
“Becoming by Michelle Obama is a book every woman should read. It discusses overcoming obstacles and demystifying expectations. She provides an inside look at her career, being First Lady of the United States of America, and how all of these experiences have shaped the person she has become.
“White Fragility by Robin Diangelo explores the defense mechanism white people activate when they are provoked racially. This book challenges white people to take a look at their unconscious bias against Black people, [and explores] what they can do to be more enlightened and woke about racial issues.”
— Desirée A. Knight, Director, Education and Meetings, American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association
“I listen to the ‘Harvard Business Review (HBR) IdeaCast’ — it focuses on business and management.”
— Derrick Johnson II, Director of Event Strategy and Development, Talley Management Group, Inc.
“The podcasts I’m listening to most often are ‘Armchair Expert’ and ‘Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.’ Both shows are the right mix of interesting and entertaining and always feature guests I’m excited to hear. My book list is almost always fiction, and I thought Daisy Jones and the Six was a great read. The story paints such an interesting picture of the ’70s music scene that I broke my ‘fiction only’ rule to read about the real thing in Patti Smith’s Just Kids.”
— Kelly Ricker, Executive Vice President Events & Learning, CompTIA
“I read the new Erik Larson book The Splendid and the Vile. It is a great story about Winston Churchill. We could all use an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in times of unprecedented crisis.”
— Benjamin Erwin, President, PSAV
“The two books I’ve read recently are Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek and The Forever Transaction by Robbie Kellman Baxter.
“COVID-19 has forced us to look deeply at who we are as leaders and how we lead. I chose to read Start With Why after hearing Simon at Convening Leaders in San Francisco, and this book has given me many tools to be a better leader during the current crises. Even prior to COVID-19, associations and membership organizations were changing. We have been moving away from transactional-based relationships with our members into value-driven models. This book delves deeper into subscription-based modeling and creating loyal, long-term members. Both books are highly engaging and provide tools that you can implement.”
— Paula Rowntree, Head of Events & Experience, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
“The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison — [It is] timely reading. It seems that although this book was released in 2017, [it] could not be more relevant today. The book is based on one of Toni Morrison’s lectures in 2016, ‘The Literature of Belonging,’ and speaks to the effects that literature, history, politics, and personal experiences have had on American culture regarding race. [There are] interesting insights into authors Hemingway and Faulkner, and how they influenced Americans’ perception of race. Morrison talks about her idea of ‘othering,’ which refers to those who have been cast out, the ones who are not accepted.
“This quote [from The Origin of Others] — ‘Race is the classification of a species, and we are the human race, period. Then what is this other thing — the hostility, the social racism, the Othering?’ — is spot on exploration for today. I recommend spending some time with this book. [It] gives one pause and perspective to dig deeper into our personal beliefs.”
— Valerie Sumner, Principal, VRS Meetings & Events Inc.