No preamble required. My purpose for this post is to give you a few options beyond your usual “every fundraiser should read books” like Start With Why or Made to Stick [which you should also have read by now].

A few notes:

  • All books titles are linked to their amazon.ca page – these are non-affiliate links.
  • These are in no particular order – all are highly recommended in order to become a better person, both personally and professionally.

Awaken the Giant WithinAwaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial by Tony Robbins. 

One night in a bar Lao Tsu told me “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” This is one of the quintessential books to learn how to transform yourself, transform your fundraising.

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam.

If you’re curious of how we found ourselves in the current climate of echo chambers, identity politics, lack of meaning and close relationships, and why there is a huge opportunity to build a “Tribe” of your donors who are thirsting for meaning and to be part of a community larger than themselves, read this. From the description: Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”

Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe…Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Description: Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius  offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and the values of leadership. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years.

The Emperor’s Handbook

This is my “Farenheit 451” book. If all books were banned this is probably the one i’d memorize before the bonfire. From the description: In the tradition of The Art of Living and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations—a practical book of timeless advice from one of the most powerful individuals in history…calls it “the essential book on character, leadership, duty.” Never intended for publication, the Meditations contains the practical and inspiring wisdom by which this remarkable emperor lived the life not of a saintly recluse, but of a general, administrator, legislator, spouse, parent, and judge besieged on all sides…This book belongs on the desk and in the briefcase of every business executive, political leader, and military officer. It speaks to the soul of anyone who has ever exercised authority or faced adversity or believed in a better day.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

From the description: We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions. Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing—fast. The authors document how four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Examining human need by category—water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom—Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, among many, many others.

Why We Do What We Do – Understanding Self-Motivation

Understanding human motivations is one of the best skills that a fundraiser can have. From the description: if you reward your children for doing their homework, they will usually respond by getting it done. But is this the most effective method of motivation? No, says psychologist Edward L. Deci, who challenges traditional thinking and shows that this method actually works against performance. The best way to motivate people—at school, at work, or at home—is to support their sense of autonomy. Explaining the reasons why a task is important and then allowing as much personal freedom as possible in carrying out the task will stimulate interest and commitment, and is a much more effective approach than the standard system of reward and punishment. We are all inherently interested in the world, argues Deci, so why not nurture that interest in each other? Instead of asking, “How can I motivate people?” we should be asking, “How can I create the conditions within which people will motivate themselves?”

Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

From the description: Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup? When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we’re making smart, rational choices. But are we? … Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping

From the description: Revolutionary retail guru Paco Underhill is back with a completely revised edition of his classic, witty bestselling book on our ever-evolving consumer culture—full of fresh observations and important lessons from the cutting edge of retail such as Internet behemoths Amazon and iTunes as well as the globalization of retail in the world’s emerging markets.

 

Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Books around the concept of Flow states are abound these days. This is the one that started them all. From the description: psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less – How the Culture of Abundance Robs us of Satisfaction

From the description: Whether we’re buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

…We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

From the description: Redefining the classic essay, this modern edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most famous work, Self-Reliance, includes self-reflections from both historical and contemporary luminaries. With quotes from the likes of Henry Ford and Helen Keller to modern-day thought leaders like Jesse Dylan, Steve Pressfield, and Milton Glaser, we’re reminded of the relevance of Emerson’s powerful words today. Emerson’s words are timeless. Persuasive and convincing, he challenges readers to define their own sense of accomplishment and asks them to measure themselves against their own standards, not those of society. This famous orator has utter faith in individualism and doesn’t invoke beyond what is humanly possible, he just believes deeply that each of us is capable of greatness. He asks us to define that greatness for ourselves and to be true to ourselves. At times harsh, at times comforting, Emerson’s words guide the reader to challenge their own beliefs and sense of self. This modern edition of Self-Reliance is ideal for graduates or those who are in the midst of a career or lifestyle change. Emerson’s sage guidance wrapped in modern-day reflections is a great reminder about the potential within us all and that life is what you make of it.

Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse

From the description: “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite; the other infinite.” Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life; they are played in order to be won, which is when they end. But infinite games are more mysterious. Their object is not winning, but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change—as long as the game is never allowed to come to an end. What are infinite games? How do they affect the ways we play our finite games? What are we doing when we play—finitely or infinitely? And how can infinite games affect the ways in which we live our lives?

Carse explores these questions with stunning elegance, teasing out of his distinctions a universe of observation and insight, noting where and why and how we play, finitely and infinitely. He surveys our world—from the finite games of the playing field and playing board to the infinite games found in culture and religion—leaving all we think we know illuminated and transformed. Along the way, Carse finds new ways of understanding everything, from how an actress portrays a role to how we engage in sex, from the nature of evil to the nature of science. Finite games, he shows, may offer wealth and status, power and glory, but infinite games offer something far more subtle and far grander.

Linchpin – Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin

From the description: There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back. Here’s a little taste.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

From the description: Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong.  The secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

*Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives
*Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters
*Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience

From the description: This thought-provoking book turns explains plainspoken yet brilliant consideration of manifestations of the divine in everyday existence distinguishes between the ego and the soul and celebrates life’s one constant: change.rdinary experiences on their heads, almost forcing readers to find the mystical in their own subjective engagement of daily events. Drawing parables from daily experience (a golf match, a Halloween party, a mouse eating a grain), Carse gently prods us to see beyond the obvious in the world and in our lives. In so doing, he brings the profound within the grasp of everyone. The engaging and insightful stories reconsidered here also explain why Carse has gained an almost cult-like following on his own campus as well as beyond it.

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers 

If you have the time, listen to Tim’s podcast – the drawn out conversations contain a lot more of the info/context/insight that you are looking for in his excellent interviews. If you don’t have the time [make it!] read this book instead. From the description: For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to-three-hour interview. This unusual depth has helped make The Tim Ferriss Show the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads.

“This book contains the distilled tools, tactics, and ‘inside baseball’ you won’t find anywhere else. It also includes new tips from past guests, and life lessons from new ‘guests’ you haven’t met.

“What makes the show different is a relentless focus on actionable details. This is reflected in the questions. For example: What do these people do in the first sixty minutes of each morning? What do their workout routines look like, and why? What books have they gifted most to other people? What are the biggest wastes of time for novices in their field? What supplements do they take on a daily basis? “I created this book, my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools, for myself. It’s changed my life, and I hope the same for you.”

Don’t Think of An Elephant – Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff.

From the description: Lakoff’s years of research and work with environmental and political leaders have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programs, and why people vote their values and identities, often against their best interests.Don’t Think of An Elephant! is the antidote to the last forty years of conservative strategizing and the right wing’s stranglehold on political dialogue in the United States.

Interested in viewing my complete bookshelf? See it here [note: my personal site crashed and I am currently working on getting it back up a running. Here’s the cached copy of my bookshelf for now, last updated in 2016]

May you be learned in continuing to cultivate the joy of giving.
AC

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