Books: Girl Power

Associations Now July/August 2013 Issue By: Kristin Clarke

How invitation-only networking circles are transforming the lives of high-achieving women.

Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business

By Pamela Ryckman

Women rock. But they rock more when they help each other. Those beliefs are at the heart of Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business, the uplifting, insider-y first book by journalist Pamela Ryckman.

Ryckman realized that, despite individual success stories emerging from expanding numbers of invitation-only female dinner groups and vetted networking circles, most groups had no idea that other sisters were mindfully meeting nationwide.

Participants—a mixture of America's most powerful women from corporations, government, academia, and nonprofits—mingle with meaning. This is not conference-level networking, although participants do sometimes sequester themselves for multiday discussions in an environment of absolute confidentiality, shared relaxation, and uninterrupted quality time. The primary agenda item: "How can I help?"

Despite humorous names such as Brazen Hussies, the networks are discrete power packs of personal and professional support. Such honesty, trust, commitment to "paying it forward," and peer-level friendship often elude high-achieving women.

Ryckman finds to-die-for Rolodexes open to her as she lunches her way through a who's-who of female icons and emerging stars, all willing to share insights about their groups' uniqueness and the resulting gains-and-gives.

Kudos to Ryckman for the create-your-own section that assures readers they don't already have to be Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg.

[AMACOM; 272 pages; $22.95]

People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work

By Ben Waber

Corporations eager to boost employee productivity are well ahead of associations in adopting so-called social-sensing technology that reveals off-the-org-chart realities of communication patterns affecting what work gets done and how.

Former MIT Media Lab scientist Ben Waber explains this emerging field and how it may "tell us about the future of work" by capturing and analyzing actual behaviors via a computerized badge worn by employees.

With such data, organizations can measure workplace cohesion (e.g., how tightly knit someone's network is) and centrality (e.g., key employees who connect work groups and distribute information). Organizations then can adjust practices or work environments in ways that improve productivity.

[FT Press; 215 pages; $39.99]

Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are

By Carlin Flora

Summer sun inspires more gathering of friends—a move applauded by author Carlin Flora in her examination of the influence of friendship on everything from health and happiness to personal triumphs and careers.

Mixing social science research and myriad anecdotes, this Psychology Today staffer explores how such relationships emerge, change, and shape us at various life stages. "Friendship is often the special catalyst required for us to reach our aims" at any age, Flora writes. "Surrounding yourself with friends who hold you to a high standard and expect a lot from you might just be the best way to move ahead in life."

Expect animated book club discussion and some serious nostalgic moments.

[Doubleday; 290 pages; $25.95]

Contributed by Kristin Clarke, a business journalist and writer for ASAE. Email: [email protected]

Kristin Clarke

Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.