Summer 2011 Reading List: Books to Change Your Life

Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you think about the course of your life.  Christopher Gergen’s Life Entrepreneurs did that for me. I was first introduced to this book when Christopher Gergen became the Innovator in Residence at my company about a year ago. He facilitated a workshop based on the principles of Life Entrepreneurs and I was utterly captivated.  Life Entrepreneurs draws on interviews with 55 top entrepreneurs and deconstructs the common patterns and themes that made them successful. Many of the individuals interviewed started out with more traditional corporate careers and left those careers to follow newly discovered passions. These entrepreneurs were able to marry their life’s purpose with reinvented careers . The book is divided into seven sections with exercises and thought provoking scenarios to challenge and help readers align their values with a life and career of purpose:
  • Discovering core identity
  • Awakening to opportunity
  • Envisioning the future
  • Developing goals and strategies
  • Building healthy support systems
  • Taking action and making a difference
  • Embracing renewal and reinvention

The book does have its shortcomings. For example as good as the interviewee vignettes are, I would have liked to have had more in-depth information on the process of how they reinvented their careers and lives; many of these individuals are quite extraordinary and as a reader you’ll want to understand the thought processes that helped them to get to where they are today.  Additionally, social entrepreneurs are over-represented among the interviewees. Not a bad thing but for those who are focused on more traditional entrepreneurism (without the social or philanthropic angle), some of these stories may not resonate. These are minor criticisms though. On the whole this book is perfect for anyone who is questioning their current career path or looking to create a deeper connection between their core values, identity and what they do for a living. I also highly recommend Life Entrepreneurs for new college grads and anyone who has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time and is thinking about reinventing their career.

Regardless of where your career is today, Life Entrepreneurs is a book you will come back to again and again to rethink and relearn its lessons.

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