In the spirit of Women’s History Month, three of March’s books focus on similar themes: strong, gutsy women who knew life had to be seized in order to be alive. One is a long-time favorite singer of mine, Angelique Kidjo, from Benin, Africa. Another is the first female president in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. The other is a now a famous movie – Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.

The other two books could be classified as inspiration in action. Spark captures case studies of co-creation in the corporate space (although it’s equally inspiring for small business). And Seth Godin’s latest book is a keeper.

Happy reading!

PS – I just started my certification in positive psychology, so the next few months have some amazing books from this field.


Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music, Angelique Kidjo

I’m a long-time fan of this amazing voice from Benin, Africa, and her memoir is both delightful and motivating. If you are a fan of her music, you will really enjoy reading about the creative process and meaning of her work. If you are a fan of Africa, you will love the vibrant patterns and photos. If you are a supporter of children and women’s health and education, you will enjoy the learning a bit about her advocacy work. If you are searching for a book with a story of delicate-meets-determined grit of an artis, this is it.

This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberia has again made international news for yet another disaster: Ebola. Unfortunately it is also the birthplace of Charles Taylor and his brutal civil war, which both destroyed Liberia in the 1990s and instigated the Hutu/Tutsi war in East Africa (Rwanda, Congo, etc. – of Hotel Rwanda reputation). But this book is a memoir of grit and perseverance on an entirely different level: the story of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson. Beginning with a brief history of Liberia (I love history!), the story ultimately tells the story of how to navigate politics in an incredibly turbulent African country while risking your life by voicing your dissent. Her story both makes my own journey appear so simple and challenges me to do more.   Game on.

PS – If this topic interests you, I also highly recommend you watch “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”. I saw the director speak a few years ago, and I’m so grateful she brought this story of natural grit of women during male-made disasters.  Check your local PBS station, as they might still offer it for free.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

The movie does the book justice, but the book definitely has a bit more to add. This is the story of a young woman who stopped her physical, mental and spiritual descent (heroine, random sex, etc.) by tackling a solo-hike over a large part of the Pacific Crest Trail. She learns to trust and love her Self by facing her demons over months of grueling terrain and weather. The best part: she did this pre-mobile phone, pre-ATM, pre-Google Maps. Yes, kids, it is possible.

Spark: Be More Innovative Through Co-Creation, John Winsor

This short and valuable book explores how various businesses use/have used co-creation to spark innovation to carve a market niche for their product and/or service. Specifically avoiding tech-hype companies, the author categorizes these stories in 4 themes:

Some of my takeaways include:

  • Ideas need to be tried in a workshop. (Ahem…Inspired Grit = workshop)
  • Always asking myself “Are my decisions brave enough?”
  • Align new ideas to plausible market outcomes

What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn), Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s latest book is visually stimulating and seriously motivational. As the title implies, this is not intended for ruminators and “Someday Sally”. Heavy on images and Seth Godin-esque language (although actual word count is low), what I most enjoyed about this book was the space I had to allow my own creativity and intelligence to connect the dots. It doesn’t take long for people to realize I’m an initiator and doer, preferring imperfect action over architecting exactness. I bought this physical book (definitely not a Kindle book), and plan on perusing it any time I feel the itch of indecision or the lull of “What’s next?.”