From Books to Blogs: What We’re Reading

unnamedSince we advocate regularly for leaders to read widely, here’s a sampling of what’s been on our desks, bedside tables, laptops, and Kindles. In no particular order, we recommend….

Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist (New York, Workman, 2012) read in combination with Creativity in Museum Practice by Linda Norris & Rainey Tisdale (Left Coast Press, 2013). If you think of Kleon’s for the individual and Norris & Tisdale’s for groups/organizations, your desk will be littered with creative possibilities.

Daniel Goleman’s Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. We especially love his chapters on “How Leaders Direct Attention” and “The Leader’s Triple Focus,” where Goleman discusses among other things, the science behind leaders who inspire.

Chip Heath & Dan Heath’s Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Another good read from the Heaths. Two good chapters: “Overcome Short-term Emotion” and “Avoid a Narrow Frame.”

“Netflix and Google Books Are Blurring the Line Between Past and Present,” a great article for historians, curators, and archivists.


Leap of Reason:  Managing to Outcomes In an Era of Scarcity by Mario Morino (2011)
This highly readable monograph is meant to spark the critically important conversations that every nonprofit board and leadership team should have in this new era of austerity.  Here’s a sample:

“The vast majority of nonprofits do not have the benefit of good information and tools to determine where they’re headed, chart a logical course, and course-correct when they’re off.  They’re navigating with little more than intuition and anecdotes.  Only a fortunate few have a reliable way to know whether they’re doing meaningful, measurable good for those they serve.

Nonprofits must reach clarity of what change they’re trying to create, acquire specificity on how they will accomplish that change, determine what information they need to track how they’re doing, and then use this feedback to make continuous improvements.

Technology can help.  But more important is cultivating the right organizational culture and getting the right people in the right jobs to drive toward the right outcomes.”

Best news:  the Kindle edition is FREE!

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath (2010)
This book describes how small changes can yield big results when one is tuned into the rational and emotional forces at play.  Like the Heaths other books, the lessons are delivered through engaging narratives of real-life examples.

Balancing the Mission Checkbook is the blog of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund
(, a Minnesota-based resource that offers financial management training, technical assistance, and information.

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High Performance Organization by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith (2006)
I read the the 1992 edition a few years ago and continue to revisit it when thinking about how groups work together. Whether is a committee, a staff work group, or the board of trustees, all are teams ripe for nurture.

The blog Createquity (
Described as “a unique virtual think tank exploring the intersection of the arts with a wide range of topics including politics, economics, philanthropy, leadership, research, and urban planning, Createquity is a hub for next-generation ideas on the role of the arts in a creative society,” this is a blog I subscribe to and often dip into for interesting and eye-opening perspectives on the arts.


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