Books: Get What You Want

open book lying in grass Associations Now May/June 2016 Issue By: Kristin Clarke, CAE

Three new books to add to your summer reading list: The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want; The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great; and Hidden Strengths: Unleashing the Leadership Skills You Already Have.

Soft skills. Emotional intelligence. People skills. Call it what you want, but the importance of connecting better with others at work and in life has become more challenging than ever, despite the proliferation of social media and wearable communication devices.

"In today's world there is so much noise, we are trusting personal referrals more than ever. We have a short attention span, so we are listening to the people who 'get us' and whom we trust," writes social technology entrepreneur and former Paradise Hotel reality show star Dave Kerpen in The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want.

This book is not heavy on scientific data and academic theories. Instead, Kerpen identifies 11 key people skills that have helped him and other successful business pros build substantive relationships and support networks. Then he prescribes 53 First Action Steps to Take (FAST) to create or reinforce them in yourself.

Kerpen's aim is to use reminders and to-dos, backed by stories of how he learned these lessons at the practical level, to nudge you to proactively develop strategic self-improvement strategies to strengthen this core competency.

Topics covered include developing a personal advisory board, honing active listening abilities, building influence, and resolving conflict. Among the book's more whimsically titled chapters are "Blow Off the Right People," "The Paradox of Persuasion: Shut Up," and "Wear Orange Shoes: The Simple Keys to Networking That Nobody Talks About."

Start with the self-assessment in the appendix, or take it online at

[Crown Business; 288 pages; $27]

The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great

By Joel Peterson

In this short, snappy exploration of trust, the CEO of JetBlue makes the case for why and how leaders and their workplaces can leverage it for greater individual and organizational success.

Three elements ground such a powerful "leap of faith rooted in optimism"—character, competence, and authority—but not all trust is the same. While reciprocal and representative trust accelerate decision making and work satisfaction, pseudo-trust makes failure a matter of time. Peterson unloads some personal baggage to coax leaders into fostering a culture crafted around restoring trust.

Worth the intellectual mileage.

[Amacom; 126 pages; $15.95]

Hidden Strengths: Unleashing the Leadership Skills You Already Have

By Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell

If you love self-assessments and wonder which personal strengths and weaknesses to develop for your career, you'll enjoy this addition to the list of strength-finding books linked to requisite online tests.

After skimming the book, you'll work through an assessment of 28 skills needed for optimal leadership development. First will be your natural strengths, the 20 percent of your talents, knowledge, and skills that seem easiest to perform.

You'll also identify the 10 percent of performance elements categorized as weaknesses, which can rarely be turned into strengths.

Your greatest potential, however, lies in the 70 percent labeled "hidden strengths" that, with attention, can be transformed into "learned strengths."

[Berrett-Koehler; 87 pages; $19.95]

Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is president of Clarke Association Content and is the books columnist for Associations Now.