11 Books to Add to Your 2021 Reading List


9 min read
19 Jan

1. What '80s Pop Culture Teaches Us About Today's Workplace: 10 More Iconic Movies, Even More Totally Awesome Business Lessons by Chris Clews 

Are '80s movies really imbued with timeless lessons for business leaders? Yes!  

The era of parachute pants, Members Only jackets and padded shoulders also brought us the same creative indulgence for the workplace in the form of bigger business lessons, bigger budgets, and anything-goes totally radical marketing. And the practical, evergreen lessons for businesses of all kinds? They're timeless. 

In this book you'll find 10 unforgettable '80s movies and righteous business lessons to apply at work. Plus a totally radical foreword from '80s silver screen sweetheart Diane Franklin. Turn the pages and celebrate the arrival of a decade that saw an explosion in creativity and the rise of the individual. Discover dozens of relatable, unique and fun workplace lessons with a side of nostalgia. You'll never look at these movies and their characters the same as you did before. 

The timeless lessons of '80s movies (taught to some of us as tweens and teens, and just now being discovered by younger generations) still resonate and apply to our careers. Extract these lessons and live them every day. 

So, get into some parachute pants, pump up your favorite '80s jams and get ready to learn!

Also by Chris: What 80s Pop Culture Teaches Us About Today's Workplace: Unexpected business lessons from ten of the great 80s movies that defined a generation (Mix Tap #1)

2. Lunchmeat & Life Lessons: Sharing a Butcher's Wisdom by Mary B. Lucas

John Bichelmeyer dispensed much more than ground beef and bacon to his customers. A man with only an eighth-grade education and father of 10 children, he offered rare wisdom and compassion to his clientele, friends and family that came from the heart.

Now his daughter, Mary B. Lucas, B.D., tells the story of how she earned her B.D. (which stands for "butcher's daughter") by spending hours at the butcher-block table in the family kitchen, listening to her father's stories about how he achieved success by making deep connections with the people around him. In turn, Mary used her father's advice to find the passion and perseverance to rise to the top of the staffing industry.

As John used to say, "Remember to put the `comeback sauce' on everyone you meet." In Lunch Meat & Life Lessons: Sharing a Butcher's Wisdom, Mary offers a healthy dose of that sauce, which will empower everyone who reads this book to reach their full potential.

3. At Ease: Enjoying the Freedom You Fought For -- A Soldier's Story and Perspectives on the Journey to an Encore Life and Career by Col. Rob Campbell

Join Col. Rob Campbell, U.S. Army, Retired, on a journey to post-military life -- the ups and downs, the sleepless nights and complex decision-making, and the arduous weighing of the "what ifs" and choices before you. At Ease: Enjoying the Freedom You Fought For is a servicemember's guide to an authentic transition. This remarkable book is part memoir, part "how to" guide to help senior servicemembers explore the nuances of the military/civilian transition.

Hear Rob discuss, candidly and vulnerably, everything from what surprised him about the "big, hard civilian world" and the challenges of "the job swamp" to the role of spouses and children on the transition decision and how to celebrate your service before putting it behind you. Learn how to reapply your values (like duty, commitment and selfless service) in new ways and to a new mission. Discover a new compass for your life and career, where job passion and geography (i.e., "What do I WANT to do and where do I really WANT to live?") point the way, and where seeking the next rank or finishing an assignment or deployment are no longer the guideposts for living.


If you're looking to find income, fulfillment, relevance and a comfortable lifestyle in the wake of your military service, this book is a must-read.

Also by Rob: It's Personal, Not Personnel: Leadership Lessons for the Battlefield and the Boardroom

4. PASSION P.I.P.E.L.I.N.E. by Dr. Sandra Colton-Medici 

What is in your bag of tricks? Can you take what you know and teach someone else how to do it? Of course, you can! Dr. Sandra Colton-Medici offers her sound advice on how to navigate emotions, time commitments, and the struggle many of us face, not being able to leave what we are used to doing. It’s that security that many people cannot break free from in order to pursue their passion. The ability to invest in oneself is one of the hardest things you will do. This is where you trust your gut. This is where you take a stand AND put yourself FIRST. 

This short read provides a path to personal development and inspires the reader through motivational stories that get to the heart of the struggle many entrepreneurs encounter. Taking a cue from her experience as a Laker Girl, finalist on So You Think You Can Dance, Star Search, backup dancer for Rhianna, and music videos with Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, and Raphael Saadiq, Dr. Sandra Colton-Medici shares her unique perspective on pursuing YOUR goals, achieving YOUR dreams, and pushing YOUR passion to the forefront. 

Making a mental mindset switch can be a challenge. Sandra's 8-step method will help you understand where your passion truly lies. Learn the steps today that aim to help you improve your business outlook and detangle the complex challenges and stress you put on yourself. 

5. Put a Cherry on Top: Generosity in Life & Leadership by Joyce Russell with Sarah Davis

In Put a Cherry on Top, Joyce Russell shares memorable stories and actionable advice that will help you bring optimism, generosity, authenticity, and courage into your workplace and life. You'll be inspired to join Joyce as she strives to make a difference every day in the lives of colleagues, clients, and family. Putting a cherry on top is what Joyce does every day. 

As President of the Adecco Group Foundation, she makes an extra effort to go above and beyond and create truly memorable experiences that show appreciation for her colleagues and clients, and you can learn to do the same. In this book, you'll learn how to lead your life with more passion, purpose, and meaning. You'll gain leadership skills like what it means to vote with your time, when to go to the fire, how to hire and inspire talent, and why your boss is your best customer. You'll also learn how to be the best version of yourself.

If you aspire to leave a legacy and lead a more meaningful life, read this book.

6. The Success Cycle: 3 Keys for Achieving Your Goals in Business and Life by Marques Ogden

Retired NFL player Marques Ogden shares his story of achieving maximum success as a professional athlete, followed by notoriety in corporate America, then catastrophic failures that cost him everything he owned in just ninety days. But even in the face of crushing defeat, he identified and put into action the traits required to rise from the ashes and find success again. 

The Success Cycle is comprised of three components that, when implemented correctly, give you the best chance to create long lasting success and prosperity.

Also by Marques: Sleepless Nights: THE NFL: A BUSINESS AND FAMILY

7. On Your Mark: From First Word to First Draft in Six Weeks by Cathy Fyock and Kevin Williamson

You have a book inside you, but how do you get it out? Author Cathy Fyock has written five of her six books in less than six weeks, and has a formula for getting the book out of your head and heart and onto the written page. She and co-author Kevin Williamson offer tips for identifying your obstacles, turning off "that voice" inside your head, getting a game plan, creating momentum, and finishing your draft. With their practical tips and exercises, you'll finish with an action plan for getting your book done!

Also by Cathy: Blog2Book: Repurposing Content to Discover the Book You've Already Written and The Speaker Author: Sell More Books and Book More Speeches

8. The Flight to Excellence: Soaring to New Heights in Business and Life by CAPT William "T" Thompson, ESQ.

Thompson uses his life's challenges and his personal story to prove that we can all accomplish much more than we previously considered possible-and that we should strive for things that we have even considered unattainable. It doesn't take special gifts or talents either, the author insists. 

He credits his P4 System (Principles, People, Flight Plan, and Performance) as the foundation that enabled him to literally pilot his way to success and ultimately become a multi-millionaire in the process. With an attractive and distinctive aviation motif, The Flight to Excellence inspires and instructs executives, entrepreneurs, and anyone with a strong desire to reach extraordinary heights on how we can each build a ''Culture of Excellence'' in our own professional and personal lives by applying his methodical process and concepts and our own discipline and hard work.The proof is in the captain's own successes.

9. Feedback Fundamentals and Evidence-Based Best Practices by Brodie Riordan

Feedback is an incredibly valuable source of information – it enables us to be more self-aware and understand what we are doing well, and it tells us what we could be doing differently, more of, or less of to improve our performance and achieve our goals. Feedback Fundamentals and Evidence-Based Best Practices: Give It, Ask for It, Use It  provides an essential overview of feedback fundamentals, what gets in the way of effective feedback exchanges, and the impact of technology on feedback interactions.

The value of feedback is often unrealized because people dread giving it, dread receiving it, and may not know what to do with it once they get it. Feedback Fundamentals and Evidence-Based Best Practices balances research, testimonials, and practical tools to provide readers with a thorough understanding of feedback exchanges. Critical findings from decades of research in psychology, business, and other disciplines are distilled into tools and strategies that readers can easily adopt in their own lives, regardless of who they are or what they do. Throughout the book are a wealth of examples from a variety of people and situations, both within and outside traditional work contexts.

Feedback Fundamentals and Evidence-Based Best Practices: Give It, Ask for It, Use It is a crucial resource for professionals, leaders, and anyone of any industry or stage in life looking to give better feedback, proactively ask for feedback, gracefully receive feedback, and put that feedback to use.

10. 23 Miles and Running: My American Journey from chopping cotton in the Mississippi Delta to sleeping in the White House by Ty Pinkins

In 23 Miles & Running, Pinkins shares his journey - with a deep sense of humility and the realization that he is not an anomaly. Just as there were many others like him walking those rows of cotton back then, there are many children still in the Mississippi Delta who continue to grow up in poverty. 

This book asks readers if they have ever considered what it's like growing up in one of the most poverty-stricken areas in America; chopping cotton for a living, and doing whatever it takes just to get by; ever wondered how it feels to literally get lost in a foreign country, engulfed by the culture and communities surrounding you; ever thought about the unique and unbreakable bonds built between those who go into combat together; ever imagined what it would be like to fly aboard Air Force One, sleep in the White House, or shake the hand of a President of the United States?

Pinkins' story speaks to the underdog - the people in society who are facing seemingly insurmountable odds - and lets them know that they can overcome and achieve anything.

11. From the Battlefield to the White House to the Boardroom: Leading Organizations to Values-Based Results by Robert "Bo" Brabo

Every organization - whether big or small, public or private, for profit, or not-for-profit - can and should be operated in a manner that reflects clear, admirable, shared values. But having “core values” isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s imperative for long-term results and ongoing profitable growth.

Wherever and however you lead, such impact is surely your goal. So how can you get there?

You Must First Recognize that Behaviors Determine Your Values, and That Values Should Drive Your Workplace Behaviors.


Take a journey with acclaimed leader Robert “Bo” Brabo back through a storied career -- to his years on the military battlefield, to a decade in the White House as a Presidential Communications Officer for President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, and to his experiences as a corporate executive and a small business owner -- to learn from real, raw, front-row stories about values-based leadership.


From the Battlefield to the White House to the Boardroom is a leadership memoir chock-full of practical lessons and inspiring case studies to help leaders and aspiring leaders develop, embrace, and strengthen a values-based approach to leading people, projects, and organizations.

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