5 Books You Should Be Reading This Summer


Note: ​School Leadership Reimagined is produced ​as a podcast and designed to be ​listened to, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the correspo​​nding audio before quoting in print.

You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast, episode 72.

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement than stayed tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey builders.

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson and today is an exciting day because today I'm going to share with you the summer reading list, 2020 you see every year I spend the entire year reading lots of books inside of education, outside of education, and over the year I curate five books that have had the biggest impact on my own thinking throughout the year and that I think would be a real source of of inspiration and guidance for you as well. Now the thing about this summer reading lists is that none of these books are directly related to education. In other words, these were not traditionally educational books that are published by an education publisher and designed for educators. Typically these are books for either the general public or books in business, but when I read them I thought that they had some real insights for how we do school and play.

Frankly, we need these books now more than ever, especially as we try to navigate what many are calling the new normal. But what's really happening is that we are building something different. That's what builders are focused on right now and if you are a part of the popup group, you know that's what we've been focusing on inside of the popup group. Every single week inside of the popup group, I work with builders to help them reimagine what school is going to look like in the fall and to be very practical but also to take an opportunity to, to rethink how teaching and learning looks for their individual schools. And so every week I do a free training around that and then I also have office hours where people come with their specific problems and I coach them on how to handle that. And if you're not a part of the mindset's pop-up group, then I don't know what to tell you because all of this is happening for free now.

We only have a few weeks left inside the pop up group.

That's still plenty of time for you to access the training archive to be a part of some upcoming trainings and to get access to the weekly office hours every single week. I spend an hour inside of the group first come first serve basis. You can drop in at any time between the hours of office hours and you can come with your personal challenge. This is something that usually costs a huge investment and you have to kind of have a contractual relationship with them in order to happen, but because I want it to support you during this crisis, I am offering that for free and if you want to be a part of that, simply go to Mindsteps inc com and on the home page will be a place for you to sign up for the free mindsets pop up group.

Now we are, we have about four weeks left inside of the popup group before we close it down. It is a popup group and so now that we've gotten everybody stabilize, we're going to be shutting it down shortly. So if you're listening to this episode, sometimes in the future, then you might want to go to check out my succinct.com and just see what other opportunities are available. But for those of you who are listening to this in real time, you've got about a month left of free training, free coaching, and so I encourage you to join. Now the other thing I want to talk to you about before we jump into the summer reading list is in addition to reading these books this summer, you really need to be to build his lab three 60 it is a three 60 experience. I was just so excited about this. I cannot tell you.

My team and I have been strategizing this week. We were picking out what's going in the box. 

So it's part of builder's lab three 60 we're going to do an online conference, but it's unlike any online conference you've ever experienced before. In fact, what I've been calling an online conference, I'm not sure what to call you. It's really an immersive experience, so this is not three days of me dragging you through my slides in a zoom meeting. This is going to be a three 60 experience. It starts the moment you register, the moment you register, you will get access to some pre-work and then that pre-work is going to be some live coaching with me to kind of get you ready for three 60 and you'll have some access to that from there. Then we're going to have a registration just like you wanted a conference, and that's going to be on July 19th and it's going to be a one hour registration and it's going to be a mocktail party, and so we're going to send you everything you need for that mocktail party registration.

I'm also going to spend some time kind of walking you through what's going to happen and showing you how you can set yourself up for success. And then we get started right in early in some places on the next day where we are going to get to work and we are building a studio inside of Buildship ship university where we can, you know, provide you with that real immersive experience. So it's not going to be me sitting at a desk in my pajamas drinking coffee and you know, saying, okay, next slide please. No, I'm going to be onstage. I'm going to be teaching you. So you'll have access to the main stage. Then you are still going to have access to small group mentoring sessions where after you've learned something on the main stage, then you'll go into your small group mentoring sessions and you'll actually take what you've learned and apply it to your school right away.

So this is not something you can turn on and listen to in the background while you're doing something else.

No, you're going to have to be actively in this. And then there'll be some time for me to come in and give you feedback on what you are working on specifically. There are opportunities for you to set up an appointment with one of our Mindsteps coaches to get some additional support around what's going on in your school. And we're going to be sending you a box and we're calling it the builders box. Can I tell you how excited I am about this box? We were just picking out what's going in the box every single day because one of the things that we love, or at least I love about builder's lab, is that there are times, you know the break times are so cool because we feed you, we spoil you, you know, you get lots of swag at builder's lab and we wanted to make sure that you still have that experience.

So for builder's lab three 60 since we can't have you here and spoil you here, we're going to send you a box with all kinds of things this while you bright at home. So for the mocktail party, we're going to give you everything you need for the mocktail party. We're going to give you everything you need for the breaks. So when we were picking stuff out I was like, okay, I want this. It's just I've just been having so much fun picking hand, picking everything out that's going in that box for you. So we are working hard to design something different and immersive experience and if you've ever wanted to go to builders lab before but you couldn't travel or you're looking at, you know what's going, what things are going to look like in the fall and you really want some direction about how you can make sure that your students still have a meaningful experience.

That's what I'm calling context agnostic. 

In other words, it doesn't matter if we are face to face, if we're on a hybrid or blended schedule, if we're working remotely, the students will still have a meaningful experience. Then you need to come to builder's lab. I was just talking to one of our builders lab alumni this week, and she was telling me that when she came to bulge lab last year, and one of the things we worked on was giving her a clear vision and then creating a plan from that vision. And she went back to her school and she put it in place. And when quarantine happened, her teachers were asking her, okay, so what does grading policy look like now? What is, what should the work? What work should we be posting online? What should we be doing about this, this, and this? And she said, because we had aligned everything so closely to our vision, nothing changed.

They continued the same good work that they were doing. They just shifted the context in which they delivered it. And that's what you'll get at builder's lab. You will learn how to build a school that's so solid that it almost becomes crisis proof. That doesn't mean that you want to experience crises, but what it does mean is that when you experience crises, you will know how to handle them. Your instruction will not stop. The good things that you're doing at your school won't get put on the back burner while you are the crises. You'll be able to deal with that and continue to grow. So if you want to come to builder slab, simply go to mindset, sink.com/builders-lab that's Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab to get your ticket to this amazing immersive experience and I can not wait to do, I'm so excited.

Alright, let's talk about the summer reading list cause I'm also excited about this list. 

We have some really strong books. I mean I say that every year, but some of these books have been really helpful, especially in the last few months as we've been thinking about what we do now and how we design school now. I've gotten a lot of guidance from these books and these are books that I have continued to return to over and over and over again. These are books that I've been recommending to people all year long and I can't wait to share them with you. So the first book is probably the last book that I've read because it's the newest book on the list and it's by one of my favorite authors, Dan Heath. And he and his brother, chip wrote some books that have been on the summer reading list in the past.

So they wrote switch, which is an amazing book about how to make change happen when change is hard. They like me are big fans of Malcolm Gladwell and they really provide a Gladwell alien experience through the books. If you love Malcolm Gladwell's books, you'll love these books as well cause they're kind of written in the same vein book. The reason that I love this book is because it preaches something that I've been preaching for a long time. So when I first saw this book come out, I was like, yes, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Somebody else is saying this, and the book title is upstream, the quest to solve problems before they happen. And don't worry. We're going to link to all of these books in the show notes and to access the show notes. Go to school, leadership re-imagined dot com slash episode 72 anyway, I love this book.

It is so smart. 

And the premise of the book is he tells a story that I, I'm going to murder but I'm going to try to do here. When he talks about these two guys and they were fishing and while they're fishing, they notice there's a little kid floating downstream in the water and they both dive in and rush in to rescue the kid and they get the kids safely to shore and then they turn around and they hear another kid screaming and they all jump in and they rescue a kid and then a third kid and then a fourth kid and with a fourth kid comes downstream. One of the guys jumps in to rescue that kid and the other guy gets all out of the water, goes and starts walking up the shore and the first guy says, where are you going? And the second guy says, I'm going up stream to catch the guy that keeps throwing these kids in the water.

And I love that as illustration because that's exactly what this book is talking about. Rather than always dealing with problems downstream, why not take some time, take a step back and go upstream, figure out what the cause of the problem is, solve the cause of the problem and you will solve the problem for good. I mean that's one of the things that we do at builder's lab. We show you how to do that when the builder's blueprint is about going upstream, it's about taking your problems that you have and figuring out what's causing those problems, what's the real issue, and then we solve the real issue and those problems go away and that's how you get closer and closer to your goals and not by continuing to knock down barriers every time they show up. You don't want to be reactive. What you want to is be proactive and so I love this book for that and so I'm so happy to include this on the list.

It is a really good book and he talks about all kinds of illustrations of where people have done this. 

He talks about why people resist doing it. So you got to read this book. It's awesome. The second book is a book called the four disciplines of execution, achieving your wildly important goals. And it's by Chris [inaudible], Sean Covey and Jim hurling. Now this book, it's been around for a while and I keep meaning to read it or I kept meaning to read it and I finally read it and I thought, Oh my goodness, this is so good. And it was great that I read it when I did because at the time I was writing my book, you know the book that's coming out at some point that I just finished and it was affirming to me because what this book shows you how to do, it's a business book, but it shows you how to get things done.

And it affirmed a lot of the things that I've been teaching builders for several years. You know, we talk about the meeting rhythm and builder slot. We show you how to create a meeting rhythm that, that helps you stay on track and helps you create a disciplined execution of your plants. Cause what good are your plans if you never execute on them. And so this book really kind of rounded out some of the stuff that I've been teaching for a while and it was so happy to read it. And I think it's a great introduction to how you can get stuff done. So if you are frustrated, because at the beginning of the year you make plans and then those plans never get achieved. This book kind of walks you through why that happens and shows you how to make things happen, how to execute on your plans and it doesn't beat you up.

It doesn't give you some crazy schedule of how you need to do this. 

And you don't have to meditate and you know, eat vegetables or whatever. It just shows you some very simple practical shifts that you can make in your organization to make your organization more efficient and more effective and more productive. So I love this book. I recommend it to a lot of people who are struggling to execute. I think it has broadened my own thinking about how we execute as a company. And so I think you should get this book. Alright, the third book is really two books and I'm going to give you a choice between them. They're both about habits. One is more famous than the other. So the famous one is a book called atomic habits, an easy proven way to build good habits and break bad ones.

And it's by James clear and it seems clear if you're not familiar with him, he has a blog where he does articles and he publishes very prolifically. And this book is a New York times bestseller and it's all about habits and habit change. And I love this book because one of the things that we teach you at builder's lab is that culture is a collection of organizational habits. And if you want to change the culture, you have to change the habits that, that exist within the culture. And so this book shows you how to do that and it talks to you about why habits work. And it takes you through that. And if you want to develop some all your of own habits or break some of the bad ones that you may have started in quarantine or help teachers break bad habits. I think this is a great book to help you do that.

Then the other book, which is a little lesser known but I think it's also really cool and a good companion to this one.

A book called tiny habits. The small changes that change everything and it's by a guy named BJ Fogg and he teaches a whole method for how you can change habits or establish new habits by taking baby steps and I love that because whereas atomic habits talks about kind of the big picture around habit change. Paul talks about a really practical step by step approach to creating tiny little shifts that change, that make big results later on and between those two books, if you are having culture issues or you're trying to establish a new culture, as many of you are right now, especially if we continue into some sort of distance or remote learning in the fall, then we're going to have to create a new set of habits and we're also going to have to undo some of the bad habits that people started adopting during quarantine.

So if you are worried about that or if you're worried about what's going to happen to your school culture, if everybody's continuing to work remotely, these two books are going to give you the answer. They're going to help you figure that out. If you can establish organizational habits that actually move your culture forward, then you can not only transform your culture, you can redesign what it feels like to work in your school. So both of those books, I cheated. I know I'm supposed to give five, but I couldn't choose between those two books. I like them both. So we're going to count that as one book.

The next book is a book that I read early this year and hint, I just love this book. 

It's called what you do is who you are, how to create your business culture. And it's by a guy named Ben heroines. I think that's how I pronounce it. But again, go to the show notesPage@schoolleadershipreimagined.com slash episode 72 and you can get the full spelling of his name. This book, I love this one. It's a good read. And so as an English teacher, I like well-written books and this one is really well written and I like it because it's kind of quirky. So he starts every chapter with rap lyrics and what he does is he has probably done what I believe is the best description of how to build culture that I've ever read. And I know that's high praise because in the past on our summer reading lists, we've had other books around culture. But I really think this is the best one I've read. And the reason I like it so much, it's because what he does is it's not a treatise on culture. Do this, do that through the other.

What he does is he teaches by looking at culture through the lens of some of the best culture creators out there, and these are people you may not have thought of, so he talks about how Tucson Lova chore created an entire culture and built an army of slaves who liberated Haiti, but also were they they, they did something that has never been done in the 20th century, which is an army of slaves defeated their oppressors. Not only did these slaves defeat the Spanish and the French and the English and the United States, I think that's right. I don't know. Check me on that, but it's an amazing, he talks about Tucson Loevinger. He talks about a guy named Shaka Sanger who is, who started an entire culture in prison. It was started out as a gang and then it is shifted and he changed the way that prisons work in Michigan and all across the United States.

He talks about Gangas Kahn and how he created a culture with the Huns who dominated the world. 

So he looks at people that history has kind of ignored or they haven't, his history hasn't given them their full credit and he looks at how they establish culture under unique circumstances. And he extracts from those stories. Really valuable lessons about how you can establish a positive, strong school culture. And I find myself going back to this book again and again and again as I'm helping people really tackle some toxicity in their cultures or I'm helping people who are coming new to a building, establish a culture that's very different without having to do, you know, that year of listening and learning, you can that you don't have to do that. You can walk into a building and start right away establishing a culture. So if you are concerned about your school culture at all between those habits, books that I mentioned before and this book, you have everything you need to go in and really transform your culture or create a new one.

So anyway, you can tell, I kind of love that book. It's just, well, it's a really good read. I've learned things I hadn't learned before. You know, kind of like his writing style. So you want to check that one out. Now the last book is a book that I have to be honest, I have loved this book for years, but I've never shared it before publicly. And that's because, you know, this book has kind of been my secret weapon. I teach some of the things in this book at builder's lab and I realized I was being really selfish not to put this on a summer reading list, even though I recommend it to everybody. And you know, I remember the first time I recommended it, there were two superintendents, both who are new to their school district.

So they were newly hired superintendents and they were making their first address to their constituents.

And I said before you do that, get this book, because it can talk, it talks you through how to tell the story of your vision. And this is something that I teach. And so even when I teach it, I give him credit, but it just occurred to me, why don't you just tell people how to read the book. So I want to share this book with you. It's called building a StoryBrand. Clarify your message. So customers will listen by Donald Miller. And in this book, first of all, Donald Miller is a highly successful novelists and author who years ago looked at the story structure, that traditional story structure and, and started noticing that there was a pattern to that. That once you understood this pattern, you could, you know, unpack every movie novel, you know, anything that's telling a story. But you could also leverage this to convey your ideas in a way that it's clear that it, that can move people.

And so if you want to know how to kind of convey the story of your vision, this book breaks it down. So he starts out by kind of laying out the framework and then each chapter shows you how to build another part of your story. And then the last part of the book talks about, you know things about like, okay, so now how, here's how you can use this story framework to create a website. Or this is how you can use this story framework to sell. And although it's very focused on marketing and business, I think every single superintendent building principal, district leader should read this book and understand this because one of the things that he points out that I think is clear and just key and it's something that I teach all the time.

You are not the hero of your story.

When you're communicating your vision to other people, you don't want to go to people and say, I have emerged from my thinking cave and I have the answer and I'm going to communicate the answer to you and your lives will be better. Q, the applause. That's not the point of the story. If you want your story to stick with people, if you want people to buy into your story, you have to join the story. They're already telling themselves in their heads and that story has them as the hero, not you. You are not the hero of somebody else's story. Everybody's a hero of their own story. So he shows you how to tell your vision story in a way that makes the teachers the hero that makes the students the heroes that makes the parents the heroes, and it's probably the best breakdown of how to do that that I've read.

I use it myself and I can tell you that it works. So if you want to learn how to tell the story of your vision in a way that not only makes your vision clear but also gets everybody excited about your vision, then you need to read this book, building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. So that's it. Those are five books. I'll recap them again. Well, five slash six books. The first one is upstream, the quest to solve problems before they happen by Dan heat. The second one is the four disciplines of execution, achieving your wildly important goals by Christmas Chesney, Sean Covey and Jim hurling. The third one is atomic habits, an easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones by James. Clear and tied for third. What's also tiny habits, the small changes that change everything by BJ Fogg. The fourth one is what you do is who you are, how to create your business culture by Ben Horwitz.

The fifth one is building a StoryBrand. 

Clarify your message so customers will listen by Donald Miller. These five books have been extraordinary influences on my thinking, especially as I've been helping a lot of schools navigate their way through this crisis and through quarantine. And I think that there'll be extraordinarily important in your own thinking as you start to reimagine what school is going to look like in the fall. So I strongly encourage you to check out these books. I know a lot of people are on information overload, but I think these books would be a great welcome departure from a lot of the stuff that we're consuming right now and really sparked some interesting ideas that you may have about how to move your school forward, especially as we are still dealing with a lot of uncertainty. This can give you some certainty around what you're doing.

So I strongly suggest you go ahead and check these books out and again, I have the entire list at school leadership re-imagined dot com slash episode 72 all right, that's it for today. Don't forget to get your builders lab ticket and you can go to get that ticket at Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab. That's mindset think.com/builders-lab. Now this was supposed to be the last episode of the season, but because we're all still trying to figure things out, I'm going to include several bonus episodes to the season that are going to be focused more on tools that you can use to reimagine what your school is going to look like in the fall. So we're going to start that series next time and we'll probably do three or four episodes around that three or four bonus episodes to kind of give you that support and so look for that episode coming next time. In the meantime, I hope you'll check out these books and as always we can if you need, if you have questions you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm Robin Jackson. On LinkedIn, and I'm also on Facebook again under Robin Jackson, and I'm on Twitter at Robin underscore Mindsteps. So I look forward to talking to you again next time. Until then, keep writing your school success story #LikeABuilder. 

I'll talk to you next time.

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build master teachers.