Holiday Wish List for Corporate Training Professionals: Part 1 – Books

holiday wish list

The holidays are a great time for sharing and gift giving. This holiday series of lists is always specific to the training professional. Throughout the year, I keep an eye out for new items and I’m reminded of classic items that never go out of date. These lists may offer you ideas for yourself or as good gift ideas for other training professionals in your life. And if you have family and friends who constantly remind you how impossible you are to shop for, then maybe you could just send them these lists and help them out.

Last year the list was getting very long so I broke it up into separate list categories. Part 1 is books. Here is my book list post from 2015.

My lists are in no particular order. I choose them based on my sense of the industry and what I think is most needed or discussed. A Theory of Fun always lands on my lists because it covers a lot of great content in a very consumable package. Video continues to be a huge topic in training, learning and development and so I’ve added a book on that subject this year. Brain Rules is a book everyone should own whether you’re in the industry or not. This is a great book to give as a gift to anyone. There is also a Brain Rules for Babies which is great for soon-to-be parents. The nature of business has changed so much over the last decade that it’s important for everyone to get a handle on it. Julian’s Social Leadership Handbook is the perfect guide for anyone navigating a career these days.

Julian Stodd’s The Social Leadership Handbook 2nd Edition

Julian has a fantastic way of expressing the complexities of the human experience in simple terms. The world is changing. The idea of a career is changing. Jobs are going away. New jobs are being created. Today’s struggle is learning how to embrace the ebb and flow of business and the impact it has on you and your career. The Social Leadership Handbook is for EVERYONE. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader in the traditional sense. You are still responsible for leading yourself, and understanding the new social contract brought on by rapid changes in technology is critical. The game has changed. If you are currently frustrated about life, it may be because you’re playing by rules that no longer lead to success. Learn the new rules.

Check out Julian’s blog for more great insights into the new world of social work.

A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster

I add this book to all of my lists of favorite books. It is especially important to our industry because of the rise of gamification. The idea of “having fun”, or “making work fun”, is not new. Some would argue that work shouldn’t be fun. But what is fun? If you can grok that question then everything else in our industry will begin to make sense. Neuroscience is a complicated and complex topic, but learning the basics of neuroscience in the context of understanding fun gives it meaning most of us can relate too. It’s simple questions like “Why do kids play tic/tac/toe?” and recognizing the point at which you stop playing that game.

My favorite quotes:

“With games, learning is the drug.”

“There is a difference between designing the content and designing the end-user experience.”

A Theory of Fun is great. Check out the web site.

Brain Rules by John Medina

Another fantastically easy to understand book that covers some complex topics. I often do my best thinking while I’m running. The ideas just flow at a pace greater than any other time. And understanding how exercise effects the brain helps me explain why I now refer to running as work. I don’t go for a run to avoid work. I run to get the work done. The book is great but I also highly recommend his videos. Dr. Medina is a great storyteller which is why I booked him twice as a keynote back when I was producing eLearning events. Check out the web site and watch the first introduction video. If that doesn’t get you interested in Brain Rules, then nothing I say here will.

How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck

Video is the medium of the future. I’m confident in that because technology makes it possible. Everyone has the power to create video right in the palm of their hand. However, very few people actually create, and publish, video content. It may seem like everyone but you has a YouTube channel, but the numbers are still relatively low. But all trends point to that changing…fast. Video is an extremely compelling and engaging medium. Now that it’s so easy to create, edit, and publish video you might as well learn how to make a good video. You won’t become an MTV video producer overnight, but you’ll be surprised at how the simplest tips can make your video many times more watchable. And the key is watchability. Going from creating unbearable videos to entertaining videos that people want to watch is the key.

Here are a couple tips I like to share:

  1. Zoom with your feet. Always. If you need to get close, then get yourself closer.
  2. Heads at the top. This one simple tip repeated often at family gatherings has turned most of my family members into pretty darn good picture takers and video makers.

I love the web site. It’s filled with practical tips that can help anybody improve their video production game.

 The 4-Hour Chef

The 4-Hour Chef is a 5 step journey through the art and science of learning…neatly disguised as a cookbook. The book is also marketed with these words, “It’s a choose-your-own-adventure guide to the world of rapid learning”. Now doesn’t that sound an awful lot like something training professionals should be into? No. Tim Ferriss is NOT an eLearning guru. He does not attend ATD events, or any other industry events. I fear he would laugh at us if he saw the presentations we deliver and heard the conversations we have with each other. He approaches it from the perspective of the learner, not the teacher. If everyone was passionate enough about their own learning to master the processes in this book we would all be out of a job. But strangely, that’s why I love it!