As 2016 comes to a close, many of you are reflecting on the past twelve months and setting some goals for next year. Whether a new position is on that list or not, we believe everyone can find fulfilling work. But we also know that process takes work itself. If you’re looking for a little career guidance and inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Check out our 2017 Book List for the Career Optimist:

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown: Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. In Daring Greatly, Brown brings forward the concept of vulnerability and its importance in our lives and shared experience in life. She describes vulnerability as the birthplace of growth and innovation within ourselves, in our relationships and in our workplaces. She promotes the idea of “daring greatly”, or to get in the ring and stop listening to the critics, or those that make judgments from the sidelines. This book is inspiring and a cornerstone of the work I do with clients.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin: This somewhat controversial book espouses that the best thing a professional can do is to elevate his/her work to the level of being irreplaceable. While some people believe this theory is flawed, it’s a great book to get you thinking about the value you add to your position and organization.

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, Jeff Goins: Goins explains that the search for career fulfillment begins with passion but does not end there. “Only when our interests connect with the needs of the world do we begin living for a larger purpose. Those who experience this intersection experience something exceptional and enviable.” As true believers in professional alignment (when skills, values, interests and needs intersect) ourselves, we highly recommend this book.

David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell, a “Goliath” of research, trends and organizational health himself, discusses the importance of thinking differently about obstacles and disadvantages. Using the parable of David and Goliath, the small man able to beat the giant, he explores real life stories and trends, like why there happens to be a disproportionate number of dyslexics that become CEO’s (as compared to their proportion in the general population). We’ve referenced this book before with the premise that bigger isn’t always better. A big sea may be enticing, but being a small fish may not be the best path for you. Ultimately, Gladwell asks the question, “Where can you be most successful?”.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes: What happens when you say “yes” to interesting opportunities that come your way? Even mega-successful screenwriter and director, Shonda Rhimes, had some major life lessons. We’ve found that clients who take the (educated) leap, saying “yes” to various opportunities along their path, have gained significant career momentum.

Grit, Angela Duckworth: Duckworth explains that you don’t need inherent genius to be successful, but instead need to demonstrate a combination of passion and long-term perseverance. Most impressive, her insights come from interviewing dozens of high profile achievers who achieved peak performance thanks to their own “grit”.

The Most Important Thing, Howard Marks: Marks, the chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, is renowned for his insightful assessments of market opportunity and risk. As word has it, he’s also one of the thought leaders that Warren Buffett looks to for insight and inspiration. The book focuses on some of the most important lessons that Marks has learned over his storied career in the investment business, but provides some very transferable lessons for us to consider. The most notable to me is the concept of “second level thinking”, a level of analysis that goes deeper and further than the first level (where most of us give up and stop).

Add these titles to your reading list, and we genuinely hope it’ll add some inspiration to make 2017 a great year. And, we’re here to help, too. If you’re interested in a consultation or any kind of support from our experienced career counselors, contact us at or 312.914.7001. Happy New Year!