As the UK heads into Lockdown 2.0, many of us will be thinking about what we’re going to do to keep ourselves busy through another four weeks tucked up inside our own homes.
When we first went into lockdown in March, there was an impressive focus on learning and development, with 75% of Brits choosing to learn new digital skills and online learning platforms such as edX, FutureLearn and Coursera reporting an upsurge in enrolments. Likewise, publishers and booksellers recorded huge increases in readership since restrictions began, noting that many people have “rediscovered the pleasure of reading” in lockdown.
So what about the second time round?
Well, it looks like many of us are looking for similar challenges. On social media, people are sharing all sorts of plans and ways to stay positive – from sewing challenges to Warhammer, running to house renovations. Plus – of course – a little learning and a lot of reading.
It’s fair to say there’s a lot to choose from – which is why we thought now was a good time to share five books on creativity and entrepreneurship that can boost your self-care routine. Bridging the gap between learning and entertainment, these are titles that are designed to inform, inspire, encourage and challenge you.
2020 may be a year of stops and starts when it comes to the outside world, but we hope that these books support the continued growth of you and your goals.
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The Multi-Hyphen Method: Work less, create more, and design a career that works for you by Emma Gannon
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read The Multi-Hyphen Method, revisiting key chapters and underlining my favourite paragraphs – and given how many people have started side hustles in lockdown (one in five of us according to GoDaddy), it only seems appropriate to share it now.
A Sunday Times business bestseller, Emma Gannon’s second book is pretty much the definitive guide to building and maintaining a portfolio career. Emma’s own multi-hyphenate experience serves as a solid backdrop, and she also clearly pulls on the insights gleaned over a career spent talking to CEOs, creatives, technologists, marketeers and activists. The book is candid about the highs and lows, full of practical advice, and reads like a conversation with a friend – even when talking about topics like day-rates and paying tax.
As Forbes put it, “The Multi-Hyphen Method is about investing in yourself and being your own backup plan. It’s about betting on yourself, when the only thing you can control is how you choose to develop, diversify and design your workday.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
When people think of Elizabeth Gilbert, they often think of her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, and the ‘fever’ that followed in its wake. But Big Magic is a slightly different entity – part manual, part story, part overshare – and it examines that illusive concept of inspiration.
Big Magic is all about helping readers live creatively – which, in this case, does not necessarily mean ‘pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts’. Rather it’s about ‘living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear’. And this is why it’s on our list today. Lockdown has been hard. It’s been frightening and anxiety-inducing and frustrating. At times, it’s felt easier to retreat than to keep ourselves open and receptive to new ideas.
It’s not a perfect read. You’ll soon spot some of the inconsistencies in how Gilbert tells her own story and how fallible some of the suggestions can be. Some feel unique to the author. Others are essentially paradoxes that occasionally baffle the mind. But when Alex Holder, author of Open Up, recommended this book to me during the height of the pandemic in April, it was exactly what I needed to read. It’s a reminder to take time to reflect and enjoy yourself without thinking too hard about things. It encourages you to make time for what inspires you as this is the basis of the creative life.
Charming, self-aware, conversational but well-crafted – Big Magic is a positive little book full of huge ideas. Hopefully, it’s one that can inspire you.
Why Losing Your Job Could be the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You: Five Simple Steps to Thrive after Redundancy by Eleanor Tweddell
Losing your job can feel like the end of the world. Even if you have a strong support system and good financial safety net, being out of work can be a huge cause of stress and anxiety – especially if that redundancy comes unexpectedly.
With the ongoing pandemic and anticipated economic recession, Tweddell’s book comes at exactly the right time. Tackling the stigma associated with redundancy, Twedell turns the situation on its head and emphasises how losing your job can become an opportunity to rethink your career and reset your life. Described as ‘part survival guide, part life coach’, Why Losing Your Job certainly has aspects of a user manual, but it’s also light and warm, sensitive to the seriousness of the situation without losing Tweddell’s clear sense of humour.
It offers a reminder that you are not alone. Whilst offering proper tips and actionable steps for how to make your next move, it never fails to come back to the fact that this is something many of us go through. Ultimately, Why Losing Your Job isn’t just a book for those facing redundancy – it is a book for anyone at a crossroads – and right now, that’s all of us.
In a world where all of us are having to adapt to working from home and digital teamwork, there’s perhaps been no better time to pick up this book by Kim Scott. Scott’s own experiences at places like Apple, Google, and various start-ups leads to some insightful advice and practical suggestions as well as often very funny observational stories.
As a book, it provides a relatively simple framework to follow – caring personally whilst challenging directly – and aims to help you develop a culture of feedback, build a cohesive team, and achieve good results. After all, how many times have you received positive feedback that’s ultimately empty or criticism that feels lacking in empathy? And how many times has communicating during lockdown gone awry? Written in 2017, Radical Candor still feels exceptionally timely and useful, helping us be better leaders and better colleagues by asking us to really think about how we interact and communicate with each other.
There’s also a great podcast you can listen to on the Harvard Business Review here.
If you’ve not heard of Shonda Rhimes, CEO of production company, Shondaland, and the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. But that’s ok. You don’t need to be an avid TV fan to appreciate this excellent memoir.
In theory, most of us know the power of saying yes. Saying yes opens doors and challenges boundaries. It starts conversations and relationships and new chapters. But in practice many of us hold ourselves back – perhaps out of fear or self-doubt – and that’s exactly what Rhimes acknowledges. It’s a very relatable book, full of stories of panels that go wrong, clothes that don’t fit properly, friends asking for money and getting upset when their request is denied. These are the moments that make the memoir so interesting – whilst it’s about hard work and entrepreneurship and success, it’s primarily about the person behind all of that. They are real human frailties and anxieties.
There are so many things to say yes to. As this year has shown, we need to say yes to using our voice, to our sense of self-worth, to real friendships and to respecting our boundaries. A warm and useful book to see you through Lockdown 2.0.
The Power of Us: How we connect, act and innovate together by David Price
Ok, confession – I’ve only just started reading this one – so let me tell you why it’s on the list.
The Power of Us is the result of a three-year journey around the world seeking out highly successful companies from BrewDog and Patagonia to inner city schools and renewable energy co-ops to discover how we can cultivate people-powered innovation and – hopefully – ensure a better future.
Right now, looking at the future can seem uncertain at best. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic; we’re battling climate change and social inequality and there are times when the world feels entirely divided. Yet The Power of Us is about the exact opposite. It is an urgent call to leaders, teams and individuals to collaborate and work together to build back better.
I’ll be reading this as we head into lockdown – perhaps you’d like to share what you’re reading too?
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