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Read your way to success
Sunder Ramachandran
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December 18, 2006

We all need to grow, and often, this means picking up some reading material and digging into it. While we might prefer a novel by Ian Rankin or Michael Crichton, a huge source of our learning comes from heavier material that covers business, self-help, general awareness and even biographical subjects.

Learning through reading is an integral part of a successful career. To give you a headstart in your career, here are a few recommended reads.

Branding Yourself: How to Look, Sound & Behave Your Way To Success by Mary Spillane

This is one book that provides practical ideas on image building. Written by Mary Spillane, a consultant and adviser on personal branding, it aims at providing a comprehensive guide on how to design and craft a positive image.

If you need help figuring out how to put your best foot forward, this book is pretty comprehensive and will serve as a good reference for any young professional who is looking at making a positive impression.

Until recently, the idea of personal branding had largely been overlooked, but with the huge number of image consultants employed by politicians and celebrities, ordinary citizens are starting to look at the idea of personal branding more closely. The book covers useful topics like how to look and sound, and how to build a personal brand identity to convey the feelings and qualities you want other people to see.

Learn how to market and brand yourself with this cool book.

Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage In A World Of More, Better, Faster by Bill Jensen

The author, Bill Jensen, is the CEO of the Jensen Group, a change and communication consultancy with a number of Fortune 500 clients. Simplicity is about thriving in a chaotic business environment and dealing with information overload. It outlines ways to get the most out of your communications process and to simplify it.

The author introduces a number of new concepts to help you frame your messages so that they achieve a purpose rather than add to the clutter of useless communication that already dominates our days. For those in change management or project management roles, this book provides excellent ideas on how to spend less time communicating and more time getting results.

Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

How do you go about conducting those difficult discussions that could either send someone into a rage or make them gain respect for you? Written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler, this book is about how to tackle those delicate conversation topics that can make or break your business. It is a recommended read for all young professionals, especially those who are constantly dealing with high pressure and conflict in the workplace.

Too often, we go about these conversations the wrong way and unnecessarily alienate the other party instead of drawing them into useful change or cooperation. Learn from the cases and lessons in this book, and go about approaching these crucial confrontations the right way.

Why Not? How To Use Everyday Ingenuity To Solve Problems Big And Small by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres

The authors believe that innovation can be taught and this is their attempt to do so. By analysing how people come up with new ideas, these two Yale professors set out to customise the innovation process so that people can constantly and instinctively come up with new concepts.

Packed full of insights and ideas, this book is a must-read for any aspiring young professional. It truly stimulates the creative mindset and challenges each of us to think of things in a new light.

The Fifth Discipline by Peter M Senge

Author Peter M Senge is an MIT professor and the author of this business classic. The Fifth Discipline explains how to build a learning company and is packed with real-life case studies that illustrate how young professionals can get rid of 'learning disabilities.'

Whether you are stepping into your first management position or advancing into a higher one, this book provides advice on how to nurture your team so that everyone improves.

We can learn a lot from others. Reading helps us tap into the ideas and concepts of experts. It allows us to learn from the mistakes of others without repeating them ourselves. If you are committed to self-improvement, we recommend you make reading a part of your daily routine.

Sunder Ramachandran is a managing partner at WCH Solutions (, a training solutions organisation. He can be reached at

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