Based on the amount of highlights I made and the number of times I mentioned these books in career conversations, these made it to the top of my list in 2019. These books expanded my perspective on careers, culture, psychology or life in general. I also had an opportunity to interview four of the authors for the I Want Her Job Podcast and go deeper into the books and personal stories of the authors. Get the books then listen to the authors share their inside stories about the books and their own lives.

If you have thoughts on these or want to share what books influenced you this year, please chime in!

  1. Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat

Mo Gawdat is a top engineer and the Chief Business Officer at Google X. When Mo realized he wasn’t actually that happy, he used his engineering mindset and logic to create a life formula for happiness. When the ultimate tragedy came to his life, he applied that same logic to get through unimaginable loss. Luckily, Mo decided to share his formula and life philosophy with the world. There are so many generic books written about happiness, and the field is saturated with supposedly easy ways to find joy.Aside from deep conversations with close friends, and the slow path of life as little clues appear and then disappear again, this is the only book that has given me a theory of happiness in a formula I can respect and believe. My father was an engineer, and always used logic to help me work through problems. A few years before he died, I asked him the meaning of life. “To be happy”, he said with a warm twinkle in his eye. Although we never dived in to the deeper topics Mo discusses in this book, I have a feeling his engineering mind would have agreed with the happiness theories, and that gives me the peace I need.

2. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

This book made me cry twice, ok, maybe three times. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist in Los Angeles who decides to start seeing a therapist to get over a difficult break up. Throughout the book she shares the evolution of her therapy while interweaving the stories of four of her therapy patients. Lori narrates how she helps each of the four patients resolve their personal issues from dealing with destructive patterns to coping with a cancer diagnosis. The results are uplifting, heartbreaking and give the reader a view into some oft the ways therapy can transform our lives.

Listen to Lori’s podcast

3. Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

This book will give you new insights on different pathways to success including the thought processes and strategies for getting things done and actually reaching your potential. You will be surprised, inspired and informed about the tradeoffs and decisions that lead to success. When you read about what keeps Navy SEALs and disaster survivors going, how networks and positive self talk make a world of difference, why valedictorians rarely become millionaires and a dozen more fascinating insights into traits and strategies successful people share, you will realize we are all capable of more than we can imagine if we cultivate the mindset and put in the work.

4. Becoming by Michelle Obama’

Michelle Obama’s tells her extraordinary journey from her family home in Chicago to the White House. The best part is really getting to know Michelle’s strong family roots and how her close family influenced and gave her the love, space and care to grow into the woman she is today. I loved learning about everything from early piano lessons, playing dolls, family trips and understanding the decisions that led Michelle along her academic, professional and romantic path. It feels like you are in the room when Michelle meets Obama, and you feel the daily thrill and intense pressures of living in the White House. I recommend listening to the book on Audible so you can hear the emotion in Michelle’s voice as she shares her extraordinary path.

5. Clementine by Sonia Purnell

I enjoy reading about and being amazed by all Churchhill achieved for humanity and the ways he operated. Since he once claimed victory in the Second World War would have been “impossible” without his wife Clementine, I gave this book a try and could not put it down. This is about Clementine’s life, but it also about how their partnership and her unwavering support, ambition, intelligence and devotion allowed Churchill to thrive. A fascinating read through the Churchil times, a peek into the lives of extraordonary people, and a sense of being there during the action and the moments in between.

6. Fight Like a Mother by Shannon Watts

If you need some inspiration about getting involved with an issue you’re passionate about, you’ll find plenty in Shannon’s book, Fight Like a Mother. As the founder of Moms Demand Acton, Shannon has an incredible story to tell about her path from a mom who wanted to create change to a leader in the gun safety movement. In a style of part memoir, part manual, and part manifesto, Shannon shares her story of becoming one of the largest grassroots non partisan organizations in the country with almost 6 million supporters and a powerful grassroots network of local chapters in all 50 states. Listen to the podcast conversation with Shannon on I Want Her Job the Podcast where Shannon shared how she manages to rise above cynicism, and why “losing forward” is a crucial part of reaching big, long-term goals.

Listen to Shannon’s Podcast

7. Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie

Alpha Girls, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize nominee Julian Guthrie, takes the reader into the rooms where deals, risks and decisions shaped some of Silicon Valley’s biggest industries and into the lives of four extraordinary women who rose to the top of the Venture Capital industry. The Alpha Girls story is so damn, jaw-dropping good that there was a bidding war for the film and TV rights. Each of the Alpha Girls has a unique and inspiring story of passion for their work, overcoming obstacles and trailblazing. My conversation with Julian was one of my favorite podcasts this year.

Listen to Julian’s Podcast

8. Switchers by Dawn Graham

If you have you ever wondered what it takes to make a career switch Dr Dawn Graham wrote the book on the art of a career transition: Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success. Dawn is also a coach for the Wharton School’s Executive MBA program and host of Career Talk on SiriusXM channel 132. In her book, Dawn answers your top career transition questions such as should I go back to school? How do I pass an interview in a new career track? How do I know if my job switch is worth it? With advanced degrees in counseling psychology, Dawn’s training allows her to understand the fears, doubts or mistakes that can often block us from making the career switch our souls want us to make.

As Dawn shares, “Clarity comes through action.” Listen to Dawn on the the I Want Her Job Podcast to help you test out the new career role you are considering and get guidance from Dawn about what to do when you get an interview, how to show your dedication for a new role, and much more. Switchers is a goldmine of tactical career switcher advice.

Listen to Dawn’s Podcast

9. How to Raise Successful People by Esther Wojcicki

Esther Wojcicki is asked about parenting advice – sometimes over 10 times a day! In How To Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons For Radical Results, Esther shares the guiding principles she has used to raise her wildly successful daughters, as well as in her teaching of journalism to students at Palo Alto High School who affectionately call her Woj. Each of Esther’s daughters have impressive career achievements. Daughter Susan Wojcicki, is the CEO of YouTube; Janet Wojcicki is a professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco; and Anne Wojcicki, is the founder and CEO of genetic testing company 23andMe. At the center of Silicon Valley for her entire career as an influential teacher, Esther also is a dedicated community member. With Google famously beginning its empire in daughter Susan’s garage, Esther has truly been surrounded by the tech revolution.

Esther’s parenting philosophy can be distilled into a combination of values and practices within an acronym called TRICK, which stands for trust, respect, independence, collaboration and kindness. In her book, Esther drills into each area, explaining why she believes each component to TRICK is critical. She also offers ideas for utilizing her TRICK philosophy with your children, and shares dozens of memorable stories. Esther is a brilliant example of the impact one teacher can have, and the joy of living a life of purpose.

As a mom of two young children I have thought a lot about Esther’s philosophy, and it has influenced how I parent, especially in helping me pushing out of my comfort zone to encourage more independence in my kids.

Listen to Esther’ Podcast