17 Books To Kick off 2017

Eric Rodriguez
Jan 2, 2017 · 8 min read

As we welcome a new year, thought I would share my 17 favorite books going into the new year. Would love to hear recommendations as well and add it to my reading list for 2017.

Transforming Education

Most Likely To Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith
This is one of the most important books about the future of education and the challenges of the 21st century. We can all play a part, as citizens, parents, teachers, students, private and public sectors alike. The authors do a great job highlighting the historical challenges facing our education system and key recommendations that we can implement today to best prepare the next generation.

They have also created an amazing film worth watching in a community setting: http://www.mltsfilm.org/

Creative Schools by Ken Robinson
This is one of my favorite books on education today. Not because Robinson advocates for significant changes, but because he recognizes these changes are very difficult to implement on a significant scale. His search for the most creative schools introduces several communities that are taking the leap into something different for their students. A case study which includes Blue School opened up my eyes to early childhood education beyond the traditional approach. Ken has also been well received by the TED talk followers.

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner
I remember the moment my mom dropped me off at the school bus stop for my first day in first grade. She told me to enjoy school and learn everything I could. To this day, thanks to my mom, I strive to learn something new every day. Now that I am a parent and seeing the global challenges my children will be asked to solve, innovation is not a nice to have, it is a core skill set. Wagner similar to Robinson on this list highlights that children are naturally gifted to innovate, take risks, explore and fall off their bikes time and time again. How do we harness those gifts as parents, educators and citizens to unlock the potential of all of our students? That is question Wagner is off to answer in this great book.

The Prize by Dale Russakoff
What can we learn from change makers coming together to make a difference in the lives of the kids in Newark? When a mayor, governor, superintendent and philanthropy attempt a significant change in schools, they are faced with challenges. Some expected but mostly challenges they had not planned for. Change in education is very difficult, but not impossible. This book highlights that education is a marathon, however, our students are sprinting through this marathon every day and we run the risk of losing their given potential. The bright spot of this book is the lesson’s learned from both the private and public sector. And this eventually set the foundation for the important Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative that is set to transform education for every child.

One World School House by Salman Khan
Technology continues to accelerate improvements in several sectors around the world. The Khan Academy platform is the accelerator education has been looking for. From his first TED Talk, Khan continues to advocate for subject mastery. That every student learns at his/hers own pace, a true “flipping of the classroom” model that can be used all around the world. So why don’t we? Personalize learning continues to have a challenge of scale, however as connectivity becomes more of the norm and technology becomes even more affordable, Salman’s vision of a One World School House is not too far from reality.

Facing Business Challenges Today

Executive Presence by Sylvia Ann Hewitt
There is a difference between having all the leadership skills on the table, however still not be perceived as the leader. Hewitt highlights the challenges of leaders that have historically not been seen in leadership roles and how to overcome them. If you have personal or professional development on your 2017 goals, this is a great book to get started on the journey.

Business Secrets From the Bible by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Reading this book was like reading about all the advice, questions, and guidance my father has given me through the years. As an economist, my dad always looked at the world through data, and as a man of faith, he looks at the world through scripture. This book put those elements beautifully together. So much that I bought the book for my father, and we had a great conversation about what retirement really means.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl’s TED talk is one of my most shared with family, friends and colleagues. Before her second book “Option B” is released, this is a must read for young adults of the 21st century. Since the release of the book, Sandberg has revisited some of the Lean In recommendations, however, the core message remains the same: we all have a role to play to create a more inclusive environment at work and in our society. We have a responsibility to Lean In, for our daughters, sons, and the generation we stand on the shoulders of.

Scrum by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland
As a project manager and son of an economist who was always asking me how can I improve my school projects, Jeff Sutherland, and his son do a great job in breaking down the SCRUM philosophy. Even if you think you are not managing projects (trust me you are), this book is filled with efficiency tactics for your tool belt. Highly recommended for project managers going into 2017. As our world seems to get faster, we need to get more efficient with our time to take projects into execution.

The Future of Business

BOLD by Peter Diamandis
I was introduced to Diamandis’s work through a podcast and have been a fan ever since. A great follow-up to his first book, Abundance, and his TED Talk that has been viewed over 1.2 Million times. Diamandis takes the reader through the history of “impossible ventures” and brings you back to present day to see the opportunities to disrupt, de-materialize and democratize solutions to make the world a better place.

#AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuck
I learned about Gary a couple of years ago and his no holding back message is what gravitated to me. Compared to his first book “Crush It” , Vaynerchuck brilliantly re-purposed the content from his popular Youtube show #AskGaryVee and authentically spoke to his fans. I actually found the best way to go through the book was via Audiobook, and a 30-minute jog would all of sudden turn into a 60-minute run. Since the book is mostly structured around answering questions from his audience, it was easy to just listen for a few more minutes. Highly recommend this book for young professionals or college students.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Recently recognized as the Silicon Valley leader that openly supported the Donald Trump for President. Before then, Peter Thiel was known as one of the founders of Pay Pal with Elon Musk. This business book takes the reader through the mindset of Thiel and his view of starting a company today. “What is something you believe that nearly no one agrees with you on?” The one question Thiel asks every potential founder he would invest in. This question is what many people should get more comfortable answering as we are just at the beginning of the 21st century.

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
One of the last books I read in 2016 and made me excited to see what 2017 has in store for us. This book is about the accelerated changes we see today in society and what we should expect in the very near future. Reading this book, I also felt the importance of ensuring the next generation of students, leaders, parents and citizens are best prepared for this future. It was just 20 years ago when I was introduced to my first computer and was inspired to one day become an engineer in the field of technology. The future I imagined then, is very different to what I imagined, in some cases better. Reading Kelly’s book helped me distinguish some unique patterns that are building upon each other as we enter 2017. I am sure I will revisit this book several times as technology continues to accelerate over the coming decades.

Gaining a New Perspective

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
The building blocks of the evolution of the human species are beautifully captured in this book. Harari takes the reader through a fascinating journey that has scientific, spiritual and cultural implications. The book makes you feel small and larger than life through the chapters. Even though the author recommends spiritually is a human invention, a story we have told ourselves to progress, I couldn’t help but feel truly blessed to live in the time we live in today. Yuval’s TED talk is a glimpse to what the book dives into.

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book is a quick and powerful read. Coates welcomed me to his living room into a conversation about his life and his perspective as a black man today. More importantly, his words are for his son. As a father myself, Coates challenged me to question how would I react in similar life situations. Or how many times have I seen my parents react a certain way and why?

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
After reading Steve Jobs biography by Isaacson, I was interested in reading more of his work. After reading the biography of Franklin, I understood why Jobs had personally asked Isaacson to author his life story. From childhood to the building blocks of the United States, Franklin’s story reads like an epic historical film. How different would the world be if Franklin would’ve taken a different path, a voyage that arrived a few months later to America or to England? It is a reminder that history is not only written, but it is lived by human beings no different than you or me.

The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
What happens when you decide to surrender your life to the universe? What happens when instead of finding 10 ways to say No to try something new, you find 10 different ways to not say YES? Without spoiling the book, those are the answers Michael Singer is off to answer. Like similar books on this list, I could not put this one down. I lost count of how many times I shouted “No Way!” as Singer’s “life experiment” was shared. The book is a great reminder that we only have control over one thing in life, ourselves.

Eric Rodriguez

Written by

Education Program Manager @Intel, creating the next generation of innovators.

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