Summer reading list for nonprofit executives

Summer isn't over yet - there's still time for the Expert Advice Summer Reading list. The key to this list? These books aren't about nonprofits!

summerreading.jpgHopefully, the rest of the summer will still provide you with some time off, whether in the form of an extended vacation or just a weekend at the beach. I like to use that kind of away time to read books that recharge me with a new influx of creativity and inspiration. For me, this recharging is not usually found in books that feel like “work:” business type books or various how-to advice books about the nonprofit industry. It is found in books that feel like “fun reading,” emerges from very different fields, but yet are still relevant in analogous and unexpected ways.

 
For your summer reading pleasure, I’ve listed below my top recommendations for books that fit that description. Enjoy and feel refreshed!
 
Watership Down by Richard Adams
What it is about: A fictional story about rabbits facing extinction
What it offers you: Compelling pictures of leadership and community, especially in situations of crisis
Potential relevance: A seemingly insurmountable budget deficit
 
 
Story by Robert McKee
What it is about: How to write a Hollywood screenplay
What it offers you: Time tested elements to great story telling, delivered in the most entertaining way possible – thoughtful analysis of famous movie scripts
Analogous nonprofit situations: You are crafting your fundraising pitch
 
 
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
What it is about: How to run a baseball team (and a charismatic character that is about to be played by Brad Pitt in a theater near you)
What it offers you: How to compete for talent when you have limited resources
Potential relevance: You need to hire a top notch development director
 
 
In Pursuit of Elegance by Matthew May
What it is about: Why some things (like Apple products) have that seemingly undefinable allure for audiences
What it offers you: How to rethink how you communicate by subtracting important content
Potential relevance: You are redesigning your website
 
 
Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
What it is about: Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team (this was recently made into a Matt Damon movie but the book is much, much better)
What it offers you: An amazing real life example of leadership that is “manipulative” of your opposition yet is morally centered in every way
Potential relevance: You are facing hostility on your board or staff team
 
 
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
What it is about: An examination of how innovation happens by looking at nature and history
What it offers you: Encouragement to seek new ideas by interacting with fields very different than your own
Potential relevance: You want to shake things up in your strategy
 
 
The wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Russo
What it is about: An ancient framework for psychological and spiritual understanding of different personality types
What it offers you: Self-understanding of what makes you tick and insight into those around you
Potential relevance: You are feeling discouraged and not sure why, or you are puzzled by the behavior of someone on your staff
Hopefully, the rest of the summer will still provide you with some time off, whether in the form of an extended vacation or just a weekend at the beach. I like to use that kind of away time to read books that recharge me with a new influx of creativity and inspiration. For me, this recharging is not usually found in books that feel like “work:” business type books or various how-to advice books about the nonprofit industry. It is found in books that feel like “fun reading,” emerges from very different fields, but yet are still relevant in analogous and unexpected ways.
 
For your summer reading pleasure, I’ve listed below my top recommendations for books that fit that description. Enjoy and feel refreshed!
 
 
Watership Down by Richard Adams
What it is about: A fictional story about rabbits facing extinction
What it offers you: Compelling pictures of leadership and community, especially in situations of crisis
Potential relevance: A seemingly insurmountable budget deficit
 
Story by Robert McKee
What it is about: How to write a Hollywood screenplay
What it offers you: Time tested elements to great story telling, delivered in the most entertaining way possible – thoughtful analysis of famous movie scripts
Analogous nonprofit situations: You are crafting your fundraising pitch
 
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
What it is about: How to run a baseball team (and a charismatic character that is about to be played by Brad Pitt in a theater near you)
What it offers you: How to compete for talent when you have limited resources
Potential relevance: You need to hire a top notch development director
 
In Pursuit of Elegance by Matthew May
What it is about: Why some things (like Apple products) have that seemingly undefinable allure for audiences
What it offers you: How to rethink how you communicate by subtracting important content
Potential relevance: You are redesigning your website
 
Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
What it is about: Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team (this was recently made into a Matt Damon movie but the book is much, much better)
What it offers you: An amazing real life example of leadership that is “manipulative” of your opposition yet is morally centered in every way
Potential relevance: You are facing hostility on your board or staff team
 
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
What it is about: An examination of how innovation happens by looking at nature and history
What it offers you: Encouragement to seek new ideas by interacting with fields very different than your own
Potential relevance: You want to shake things up in your strategy
 
The wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Russo
What it is about: An ancient framework for psychological and spiritual understanding of different personality types
What it offers you: Self-understanding of what makes you tick and insight into those around you
Potential relevance: You are feeling discouraged and not sure why, or you are puzzled by the behavior of someone on your staff

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