The Perfect Holiday Gift (2020 Edition)

Happy holidays to everyone!

It’s fair to say most everyone is looking forward to the start of 2021 – more than ever we look to January 1st as a fresh start. 2020 has been a hell of a ride.

As gift-giving is a tradition for many at this time of year, we want to do our part and help you find the perfect gifts for many on your list (and even for yourself) that keep in the spirit of a clean beginning.

The ECS team has had some fun coming up with the following list with accompanying books – it’s turning into an annual tradition to figure out favorite reads over the past 12 months from our team. Most of the titles below were published in 2020, although there is one ECS favorite on the list that was published a few years ago. Happy holiday reading!

A note: we include links to Amazon for the books below, but are huge supporters of local bookstores if you have access to one!  Enjoy!

The gift of invention – and reinvention
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

by Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings

The author reveals the unorthodox culture behind one of the world’s most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies: Netflix. At this admired company, there are no vacation or expense policies. Adequate performance gets a generous severance. You don’t try to please your boss – instead, you give candid feedback. And the list of unorthodox principles goes on. These principles – unknown and untested when first rolled out – have been a part of Netflix’s great success.

This book dives into the controversial ideas that make up Netflix via many interviews with Netflix employees. This work gives the reader a glimpse into one of the world’s most respected and successful companies. Truly interesting.

The gift of moving forward

by Matthew McConaughey

A “greenlight” on the road means go forward, move ahead, proceed. Yellow and red lights – well, you know what they mean. Greenlights are much more positive in the ideas they convey.

Looking at our lives, greenlights in the more figurative sense are the approvals, support, praise, and similar positive affirmations we get as we move along. We all love greenlights – they say yes to what we want, and make us feel good. But this book shows that sometimes greenlights are disguised as yellow and red lights – where a note of caution or an interruption to slow us down or stop our flow (and they do make our lives hard).

McConaughey shares that we might not have control over what obstacle is put in front of us, but we have a choice as to what we do about it. We also have the ability to recognize that some “nos” might actually be “yeses”. Also important is the recognition that the yellows and reds eventually turn green.

The gift of successful hiring
Hiring Success: How Visionary CEOs Compete for the Best Talent

by Jerome Ternynck

The hiring practices of a company define everything within, from the culture of a company to its leadership, to the success a company will experience (or not) over time. It’s no surprise that hiring great talent is the #1 priority of most CEOs.  Yet, most of these CEOs don’t believe that they actually recruit the highly talented people they need and should have on their team.

As ECS’s HR folks will attest, the talent economy continues to evolve and CEOs absolutely need to adapt in the way they compete for talent. Ternynck is a current SaaS CEO and former recruiter, and shares his 30 years of learnings and differentiated recruiting strategies into his new book. His work provides CEOs a future-ready perspective for talent, and provides the reader with new insight with how to best attract, select, and hire the great talent on a global scale. (Sounds like a superpower to us.)

The gift of concentration and focus
Deep Work (Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World)

by Cal Newport

The ability to do “deep work” – truly concentrate and focus without distraction – is extremely challenging. (When was the last time you were able to do this for an extended period of time?) Yet it is an extremely important skill, and one that is becoming rarer in our distraction-laden world. But if one can master this skill, amazing results will follow.

Called a “superpower in our increasingly competitive twenty-first-century economy”, deep work is elusive for many. Many don’t even know it is a skill and talent to develop and seek to cultivate. The author divides his book into two parts, first making the case for deep work, and then providing a rigorous training program that aims to help transform the reader’s habits. (This is our title on the list not published in 2020 – but it was read by some of our team this past year and has made an enormous impact.)

The gift of preventing problems
Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen

by Dan Heath

It’s something we all deal with every day – problems, issues, challenges, obstacles. Heath dives in to examine how to prevent problems before they happen. It might seem like a superpower – but this book shares the insight gathered from hundreds of interviews with unconventional problem solvers.

This book is meaningful to the ECS team – MANY of us have read this book and we look to glean as much as we can from it. Without hesitation we will say our team is great at dealing with difficult situations, putting out fires, and fixing problems that come in front of us – but we all want to look to prevent the problems from cropping up in the first place. There’s an art and a science to doing so. We’re continuously upping our game and getting better at doing so every day.

We hope you find this list of suggested reads interesting. Check some out that you are unfamiliar with and that you find inspiring. What better way to ring in the new year than with a new book! 

Wishing you all the best for the rest of the holiday season – and cheers to a bright, fresh, and optimistic 2021.

~ The entire ECS Team