Summer Reading List: Recommended Books for Professional Development and Enjoyment

June 24, 2022

Summer is here. For many of us, that means more time at the beach, by the pool or on an airplane traveling to a far-away destination. In other words, it’s vacation reading season.

To help you come up with a few ideas, we surveyed members of the FSI community, asking about which book impacted them the most professionally and which recent read they enjoyed the most. Here’s a sampling.

Alex David, President & CEO – Stifel Independent Advisors

FSI Board Member 
The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

Professional impact: The Greatest Salesman in The World by Og Mandino. When I started my career as a broker, I had to make hundreds of cold calls a day. As you might imagine, there were many days when I felt like quitting the business. But this book saved me. I still have a copy in my desk drawer and occasionally re-read a few key passages. I must have given this book to at least ten of my mentees.

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Best recent read: Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. I believe this book is a must-read for everyone. Life is full of conversations that could get intense or confrontational, whether with a colleague, employee, client, boss or spouse. But the author points out that there is a formulaic model to accomplish what you need in every conversation while at the same time leaving everyone with their dignity. It has elevated all my discussions, producing more positive outcomes. I wish I had read this book years ago, or at least before I got married!

Elizabeth Kietzman, Financial Advisor – Artisan Financial Group 

FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence, Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Award 
Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing

Professional impact: Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani. While research and books about finance are important to my job, a book about a near-death experience helped me remember what really matters – love, family and living your best life.

Recent read: The Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England’s Greatest Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus by Andrew Klavan. It’s about the influence of the Bible on early English poetry, and it is also a fascinating account of the poets’ lives. 

Brad Greenbaum, Vice President – Altigro Pension Services, Inc.

FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence, Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Award 

Professional impact: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. This has helped both my professional and personal life. Before I leave for any trip, I make a checklist. It helps to make sure I don’t forget anything. In terms of business, for any project, we always make a checklist to make sure we cover all the bases. We give all new employees a copy of this book, and as part of their onboard training, they must read it.

The Butcher's Boy by Thomas Perry; Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz; Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted; Flash Boys by Michael Lewis; Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

Recent read: I like what most call “beach reads.” I look for books that are fun and interesting. I enjoyed The Butcher’s Boy series by Thomas Perry or Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X novels. If you are looking for something a little heavier, I recommend Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It by Larry Olmsted or Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. And if you don’t want to sleep at night, read Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser.

Mark Quinn, Director, Regulatory Affairs – Cetera Financial Group

FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence, Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Award 
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

Professional impact: The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. It’s essentially a biography of Warren Buffett and his theories about life. It reminds me that being successful in business or anything else is largely about having a plan and sticking to it regardless of what everyone else is doing; the importance of surrounding yourself with people you respect and want to emulate; and always trying to act in good faith. 

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

Recent read: Red Notice by Bill Browder. Browder started an investment fund in Russia around the time the Soviet Union’s collapse. It’s about his adventures and includes a lot of material about Russia’s political environment and long history of corruption. He also provides insight into Vladamir Putin’s attitudes, shining a light on how he thinks about Russia’s role in the world and potential motives and objectives for invading Ukraine.

Jennifer Brittingham, Senior Vice President, Retail Services – PlanMember

FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence
Atomic Changes: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Professional impact: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. This book is about incremental changes resulting in meaningful change over time. This concept is a great way to approach big issues in bite size pieces to achieve your objectives. 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz

Best recent read: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. The author takes you through his experiences in negotiating tactics, providing real-life examples and how to apply them to everyday life, both personally and professionally. 

Adam Roosevelt, Director, Wealth Solutions – BNY Mellon | Pershing 

Chair, FSI Investment Advisory Services Council
Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others by Stephen M. R. Covey

Professional impact: This is a tough one. It’s like asking me who my best friend is or my favorite song. But I recently read Stephen M. R. Covey’s Trust and Inspire. It was a reminder of how important compassion and engagement are in leadership, now more than ever.

The Body by Bill Bryson; The Truth about Crypto by Ric Edelman

Best recent read: I’ll share a couple. The Body by Bill Bryson is a fascinating exploration of the human body. With such a focus on health and germs and wellness in the world today, Bryson’s book is a timeless and hilarious education on what makes us uniquely human. Ric Edelman’s book The Truth About Crypto is a layman’s blockchain and digital assets handbook. Love it or hate it, crypto is the first new asset class in our industry since oil was discovered in 1859, so we all should learn about it.

Jeannie Finkel, Chief Human Resources Officer – Cetera Financial Group

Co-Chair, FSI HR Council
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Professional impact: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. If any aspect of your work involves written communication – beyond texting – and you want the quality of your writing to stand out, you’ll want this little book (it’s fewer than 100 pages). It isn’t something you “read” per se. Rather, it’s a great reference tool for everyone who aspires to write clearly and influence others.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Best recent read: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. If you’re truly looking to escape into another world (or world within a world), where time slows down in the Carolinas, grab this book and a good beach or lawn chair. Shortly you will be drawn into a tale full of beauty, mystery, loneliness, romance, danger and discovery. This book is almost impossible to put down. You’ll either want to race ahead to see what happens next or slow down and relish the words – either way, in my mind, the mark of a great story well told. This one’s special!

Dale Brown, President & CEO – FSI 

Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley

Professional impact: Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide by Andy Stanley. I read this for the first time more than 20 years ago when my four children were very young. It profoundly impacted how I chose to invest my time and energy as I built a career in leading FSI. It helped me avoid sacrificing my marriage and relationships with my family and instead redefined success for a more meaningful and lasting impact.

Best recent read: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. I grew up in the deep South during the 60s and 70s and had no appreciation of the true impact of Jim Crow until I read this book. Ms. Wilkerson tells very human and compelling stories that helped me deepen my understanding of and empathy for the struggles so many of my fellow Americans have experienced. 

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