It's tough to make our own professional development a priority. We often ensure there is budget, opportunity and time for our team members to advance their skills, but for some reason we often don't make the same a priority for ourselves. Professional development can occur through mentoring & coaching, seminars & conferences, networking, self-study and other sources. I'm "speaking" with the collective "we" voice, but I'm also owning this challenge. So many things get in the way of prioritizing my own development (the job, the travel, the baby, sleep...), but that doesn't excuse not finding even a little time. So this year I'm publicly pledging my professional New Year's resolution: I will read (or listen to the audio book) of at least six "business books."

Across the past year, several colleagues, clients and peers have identified more than a few books that I would enjoy and benefit from reading. Usually I add them to a document I keep on my computer desktop called "Books to Read"--clever, right?

I think I've identified the six books, but am reserving the right to edit my list if a new hot book is suggested across the year. As a way to (1) hold myself accountable and (2) hopefully inspire others to read these books or others, once I finish each book I'll post a blog of key takeaways and a adult book report, if you will. Without further adieu, here's the list in the tentative order:

  • Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom
    I'm starting out on the lighter side, this is not a typical business book but I found the author very compelling in a radio interview--it does deal with our space: Marketing.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
    "In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?"[1]
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink
    I'm embarrassed I haven't read this one yet...
  • The Corporate Creative: Tips and Tactics for Thriving as an In-House Designer, by my friend and esteemed colleague Andy Esptein
    "This book focuses on key strategies and tactics to help you establish yourself and your team as powerful players in your company." [2]
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
    This book made it to list after watching an 11-minute "RSAnimate" YouTube video on the topic; check it out (not only is the content great, the creative is amazing):
  • Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins
    A former manager (who was an amazing mentor) had me read Good to Great shortly after I started running the creative department at my former company. My current boss, Terra Hull Campbell, recently raved about this book and labeled it a "must read."

  • I hope you'll join me in pledging to devote more time to your own professional development. Find a way to hold yourself accountable--put it on your 2012 performance objectives, have your team join you so you're accountable to make it happen to them, schedule attendance at industry events (our CreativeExecs Roundtable schedule for 2012 is now available, save the dates!), look into hiring a business coach--just make it a priority.

    I hope everyone had a joyous holiday season. Look for my "book report" on Brandwashed in February.

    In her role as Cella General Manager, Jackie Schaffer has consulted for Fortune 500 clients with more than 400 in-house team members and for teams at mid-sized businesses, government entities, and educational institutions with teams as small as four designers. Jackie's management competencies lie in operations assessments, financial management, and talent management, and she has a deep passion for balancing the creative and business needs of in-house shops while providing fulfilling opportunities for the team. Prior to joining Cella, she directed an international team of 80 creatives. During her tenure, she spearheaded the launch and development of the group's India-based team, built an interactive media division, and executed against a new visual identity.

    [1] From "Book Description"

    [2] From "Book Description"