Literary Lessons: Inspiration & Takeaways From a Few of Our Favorite Books [Clix Shares]

We tend to keep things pretty technical on the Clix blog, but we want to share more of what drives our team and how we work – so we hope you’ll find value in our Clix Shares posts! What else are you curious about in the agency world? Let us know and we’ll tell you our stories in the coming weeks!

Abby

I have a tendency to take things too seriously, so my husband is always reminding me to lighten up. For Christmas he got me a short little book called Dream More by Dolly Parton to help me remember what’s important. I know a little about Dolly, probably about what the average person knows. The main thing I know is that I’ve had a hard time finding someone who doesn’t like her. She’s given the world some of its most beautiful, heartfelt songs and has done so much to help children in need. She seems to lead a life of kindness and acceptance, which I think our world could use more of.

As I started reading her book, what stood out to me wasn’t one particular bit of wisdom but who she seems to be as a person. She’s lived a dynamic life and experienced so much starting out in a low income family to becoming famous. As I read, I started jotting down characteristics of her that I admired. As I get older, I’m realizing that who I am is much more important than what I do or accomplish in life or work – so I want to share some of these important traits that I admire in Dolly and hope to emulate more of in my own life.

She dreams big and doesn’t listen to naysayers. She has a good sense of humor. She stays positive. She is generous. She is thankful. She stays humble. She has a strong work ethic and she’s committed to her work. She’s maintained a strong faith despite her life circumstances. She prioritizes reading and learning. She doesn’t let herself get bitter – she lets things go. She doesn’t give in to fear. She doesn’t complain (who couldn’t improve here?! ). She works hard at being happy instead of working hard at being miserable (both take work). She’s wise in who she spends her time with – she avoids energy suckers. She takes big chances but does her homework first. She knows herself well and trusts that. She is kind and non-judgmental. She’s honest. She is team-minded. She learns from challenging people and situations. 

Those are things to aspire to! Only Dolly knows if she genuinely practices these characteristics she says she tries to embody. Regardless, these are some admirable qualities that I’m working to apply to my own character and daily life.

Andrea

I tend to be more of a fiction reader. I have an affinity for historical fiction especially. One of my favorite books (and movies) is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 

Having a background in television and newspaper journalism, I really connected with one of the main characters, Skeeter. It was 1960 in Mississippi and she had big dreams of breaking the mold in her upper class social circle to become a writer. 

The civil rights movement was in full swing in the 1960s. Skeeter collaborates with the African American housekeepers of her city to create a tell-all book about their experiences. Skeeter’s own childhood housekeeper had a special place in her heart and is a driving force behind her quest to tell the stories of deplorable conditions that most housekeepers faced.

This book reminded me to always stand up for what I believe in, even in the face of opposition, and how lucky we as Americans are to live in a country with a free press that can tell stories, even when they’re hard to hear.

Bethany

One of my favorite recent reads was The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More By Doing Less by Christine Carter. What I learned most from this book was how to form habits using three factors: Trigger, Routine, Reward.

The trigger is the driver of some action. It can be an emotion, sound, smell, etc. The routine is the path that leads you to the desired habit. The reward is what helps you to continue  the habit.

When I first started working from home, I would be sitting at my desk most of the day and was starting to get back pain. I wanted to form the habit of moving my body more. To do that, I added in yoga to my daily routine. My trigger was waking up since yoga was the first thing I would do in the morning. My routine involved setting up my mat and changing into yoga clothes. My reward has been no more back pain.

This process has worked well for other habits I want to add to my life, like meditation and eating healthier.

Kayla

I went to a conference once that wound up being in my bottom three least favorite of all time (is there anything worse than an event geared toward women’s empowerment, where the exhibitor space is full of shoes and bags?!), but the one nice thing was each attendee received a bag with three books in it. One that I received was The Confidence Code by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman. The authors spend a few chapters framing up our understanding of the gap girls and women find themselves in, and where the confidence busters are planted in life (spoiler: they’re all over).

Katty & Claire then provide guidance on what boosts female confidence and how it can be nurtured – you’re not born with it, but you can build it. I found myself shaken a bit with their honesty around the notion of ‘flimsy’ self-esteem and confidence that girls and women try to force into existence. To eliminate the flimsiness of it all, they promote a revision to what it means to be nurturing, especially for women and girls, and a world where we allow young women their opportunities to fail again – and thus, to remember how to build a true drive for real confidence.

They make a minor call to anyone who reads the book to pass it on and find ways to participate in building the code for women in their lives, and to this day I can say it’s the book I loan out the most to fellow female colleagues who need or want a different approach. I see the inspiration I took from The Confidence Code every time it’s handed back to me after completion. We can help each other find true confidence by praising progress, not just perfection or completion. We can remind one another that it’s ok to fail, but you should learn something and be better the next time around. We can be kind – but also honest and firm.

These are things we can all work on daily, and help younger generations with across all genders, so I strongly recommend it!

Kristin

I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman years ago and have always appreciated the concept it explained: everyone gives and receives love differently. Some people “speak” the same love language and others don’t.  When you can learn to show love in a way that someone else prefers to receive it, you’ll have a better connection. Here are the 5 love languages:

  • Words of affirmation: What you say (or don’t say), verbally or written
  • Quality time: Intentional time spent together
  • Acts of service: actions speak louder than words
  • Physical touch: self explanatory but think about how Olaf likes warm hugs
  • Receiving gifts: to physically demonstrate that someone thought enough of you to buy something.

There are numerous versions of the book out there now and I’m currently reading the one for blending families. 

While this concept works for family members, it can be modified to apply to other relationships as well. I can tell you which of my coworkers specifically are missing ways to connect with one another and long for that quality team time (especially with Team retreats being cancelled last year and postponed indefinitely). Some appreciate Skypes of encouragement (words of affirmation) more than others. Others value when we jump in to help with a task when we weren’t asked to (acts of service). And some value gifts sent in the mail more than others. For your team, knowing each other’s love language can help you support one another better. If you’re also a remote team, that’s true now more than ever. 

You can also think through your clients to know which ones appreciate more time on a call vs extra reports sent vs check-ins vs affirmations of performance. You get the idea.  If you focus on what they value most, then you can keep working to improve your rapport, value, communication and relationship with them.  

Michelle

The book I read the fastest was Sum It Up, by Pat Summit. I couldn’t put it down. Having been an athlete through all of my years of schooling and convinced I was going to be a professional basketball player growing up, Pat Summit was always someone I thought I’d enjoy playing for. 

This book was her last before she lost her life to early-onset Alzeheimer’s so it’s effectively her autobiography. She was the winningest coach in NCAA history (men’s or women’s, until recent years at least), so it’s easy to see how the book could be exciting as she recounts games, nearly play by play, some non-essential during the regular season and some countdown to national championships.

The part that I enjoyed the most wasn’t the basketball, it was the first person account of all the days and weeks that would lead up to those games. Each little moment from recruiting athletes, to them doing their homework in her office, workout and practices where people were being lazy, team meals, even Pat driving vans to get the team to their games in the earliest days. All of this felt a little nostalgic for me as a college athlete, but I also know that when it comes down to it, that’s the harder part of being a college coach. You’re there to win, sure, but you’re also there to help develop 18 year olds into functioning members of society. 

At the end of the book, she has a list of many of the players who played for her, what she remembers about them, and what they did with their talents. When it really comes down to it, those players are arguably just as important as her winning career. It’s not always what you do in the spotlight that counts, sometimes it’s all the small things that add up to an even bigger impact. Just so happens Pat Summit did both. 

Tim

I tend to be cynical about books in the “inspirational founder story” genre, but I found the book Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World to be an engaging read. Written by Scott Harrison and Lisa Sweetingham, this book tells the story of how Scott built the nonprofit charity : water, which works to provide clean water to people around the world.

Scott talks about how the organization built its reputation by remaining true to its value system of ensuring 100% of donations from the general public went to projects in the field (with funding for other areas coming from select donors giving for that purpose). Business/nonprofit values and mission statements are often talked about and easily become cliches, but you need to show that values are backed up by actions.

In addition, the book touches on the importance of sharing tangible proof behind why people were giving to the organization, including some creative use of technology. When people gave, charity : water would share photos and videos of the specific project they were contributing to, and they even used Google Earth in its early days to map out wells using GPS coordinates. 

Scott also touches on the importance of storytelling in building awareness for the cause. Earlier in the book, he shares about his experience working on a hospital ship and creating a blog which told the stories of people who the team was able to help.

In summation, while you may not be engaged directly in a cause as world-changing as charity : water, there are lessons you can learn from how Scott took his experiences in branding and promoting events to build a highly recognized charitable organization (and you may also walk away inspired to give to this organization and similar ones).

What works have shaped your day-to-day….work or at home? Share your thoughts with us below!

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