How do you start your workday? After arriving at work you might make a coffee, check in with your manager, say hello to coworkers, and set up your space. What do you do next? At Feniks and Company, we read.
For the first 15 minutes of each workday, employees read books from the company library. The books vary in subject matter, but they typically relate to workplace communication, productivity, self-help, social science, and psychology. We try to curate a balance between two types of books: those that teach communication techniques, and those that focus on examining how we live our lives. By reading a little every day, we support personal and team development at the office.
The first book every employee of Feniks and Company reads is How to Say Anything to Anyone by Shari Harley. It’s a classic business advice book that focuses on how to give feedback. Administrative assistant Ezra Adasiak commented that “Harley’s core idea is that candid communication is essential to working relationships and it is better to give candid feedback than to dance around issues that occur in the workplace.” And because every employee in the office reads this book first, it sets the standard for communication in the office. From here people are recommended, assigned, or pick books based on what they need or want to learn.
Books go beyond just giving advice for the workplace. Some focus on personal life, like our administrator Julia’s favorite book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The Happiness Advantage presents research about how being happy and practicing habits that make you happy can have unexpected benefits in your life. Julia said, “Having actual serious research to back up the author’s claims that happiness makes life better, and easier, and makes us more likely to succeed at anything we do, helped make it something that I felt I could follow through with and implement into my life.” Thomas agrees, noting, “Applying the contents of each book is a useful experience. Borrowing Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage during my studies for the CPA exam helped keep me positive and focused as I worked toward my goal.”
Melody Feniks says the book that’s impacted her most was Reboot by Jerry Colonna. Concepts such as radical self-inquiry and explorations through journaling are offered as a path to making decisions that support meaning-centered actions. Although she first read the book two years ago, she still does some of the journaling exercises today. The book uses journaling to explore the impact of historical habits and to develop an awareness and opening for knowledge that leads to change.
One of Josh’s favorites is The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. This book recounts the story of Fred, a mail carrier who is passionate about his job and the people he serves. It challenges readers to learn from Fred and contemplate how they can bring meaning to their work and enjoy the impact they have through their job. This is one of the shorter books in our library which present simple yet transformative ways to think about our workload and communication strategies. These Melody sometimes calls “Doctor Seuss for Business”. Among these are Fish! by Stephen Lundin, and The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, two easy reads that provide perspectives of how our work reflects the energy we bring to it. Pierce enjoyed Fish!: “It’s a wonderful book, both in terms of the writing style and the message it delivered. Having seen how much a change in work environment can affect a person’s performance and motivation, the Fish! philosophy resonates with me.”
Another book that’s a favorite in the office is Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson. Despite the divisive title, this book is actually really great for understanding different personalities. In the office we call it the color book, because it sorts people into colors depending on their habits. Mariah Ver Hoef, a CPA on staff, said, “This book helps with self-awareness. I was able to identify some of my strengths and personal growth areas based on which primary color I associate with, as well as stress factors, triggers and friction that occurs when I communicate with the other colors. It also helped me appreciate the need and value in all the colors, especially the one I identify with least, and take things less personally.”
How would 15 minutes of daily reading change your workday?
Books our staff love:
How to Say Anything to Anyone by Shari Harley
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn
Core Confidence by Fiona Pearman and Kate Boorer
The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson
Fish! by Stephen Lundin
Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton
dare to lead by Brene’ Brown
Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer