We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (book review)

May 31, 2019

Now more than ever, the ability to have honest and impactful conversations is a critical skill everyone needs to have. We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee is an excellent book for those looking to improve their conversation and listening skills while fostering relationships and solving problems through the process. In the book she shares personal stories of success and failure along with lessons learned from others about the importance of being able to communicate effectively through conversation. Celeste is currently the host of a daily news program on Georgia Public Broadcasting and shares from her wealth of experience interviewing people on the radio.

The book is divided into two sections: the first part illustrates a contextual basis for the problems we often encounter by having poor conversational (and listening) skills while the second part focuses on direct solutions and sound advice:

Part I

1. Conversation is a Survival Skill
2. Communication and Conversation are Not the Same
3. You Can’t Outsmart a Bad Conversation
4. Set the Stage
5. Some Conversations are Harder than Others

Part II

6. Be There or Go Elsewhere
7. It’s Not the Same!
8. Get Off the Soapbox
9. Keep it Short
10. No Repeats
11. That’s a Great Question
12. You Can’t Know Everything
13. Stay Out of the Weeds
14. Travel Together
15. Listen!
16. Sometimes We Shouldn’t Talk

While I’m a practicing scholar at heart and love research, I do, however, appreciate books that are practical, a quick read, and can be easily applied for the professional development of both staff and students. This is definitely one of those books. With the introduction, the book is 252 pages of content and can be easily read over the course of three or four sittings. This book would serve as an excellent resource for the basis of a student programming series (i.e., leadership, career services, etc.), a great “Lunch and Learn” or professional development discussion for staff meetings, and to potentially frame supervisory one-on-ones among your team’s managers and employees. I highly recommend it to you and encourage you to share how you have used the book in your work in the comments below.


140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (book review)

November 3, 2011

In 2009, one of the founders of Twitter, Dom Sagolla (@Dom), wrote the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. This is a fun little read that not only has a sense of humor, but is also practical for those who are new to or are veterans of the Twitterverse.

The book is broken up in five parts (Lead, Value, Master, Evolve, and Accelerate) and 19 separate chapters. The titles of the chapters serve as snippets of advice themselves and is a nod to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (you may remember this from high school or college composition or English). Here are a few examples:

  • Simplify: Say More with Less
  • Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information
  • Reach: Understand Your Audience
  • Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency
  • Open: Give and You Shall Receive
  • Increase: Do More
  • Fragment: Do It Smaller

As is the case with many of the “self-help” Twitter books that I have read, 140 Characters comes complete with a short history of the founding of Twitter, practical tips, and recommended individuals to follow.

This is a nice resource for both professors and student affairs professionals alike. It is a short read (179 pages) that can be completed in one sitting and applied to various student learning applications, such as networking (career services), composition and writing (English / poetry / creative writing) and communication skills (leadership development / Greek Life / Residence Life / clubs & organizations).

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Career & Leadership Resource: “Business Fitness” (Book Review)

April 26, 2011

Recently I made the acquaintance of a business blogger on Twitter (@businessfit) who offers remarkable content related to business development, leadership, organizational development, and employee supervision. She shared a book with me that she had published called Business Fitness.

Business Fitness is written by Dawn Lennon, an expert in organizational development and business coaching. Lennon defines being “business fit” by “developing intellectual strength and steady nerves so that you are positioned to handle any circumstances at anytime, anywhere” (p. 7). The book is divided into four parts: Business Fitness, Private Moves, Public Moves, and Lifelong Success. Each chapter comes complete with thought-provoking “do-it-yourself” inventories to complete to help you on the way to better define personal and professional goals related to career moves and entrepreneurship.

Business Fitness is written in a format in the conversational style of a thoughtful coach. It captures the essence of John Maxwell’s leadership and teamwork books. Although the book is is geared toward entrepreneurs, it is also appropriate for goal-minded achievers and leaders of all types. While the book does not illustrate how to incorporate a business or other operational means by which to run a business (i.e., taxes, insurance, etc.), it does coach the reader how to prepare to become a leader within your chosen career. The book is rife with inspirational quotes throughout each chapter and also includes stories of success and shortcomings of individuals to illustrate the ideas taught.

I recommend Business Fitness for all student affairs professionals and student leaders alike. The text would be appropriate to use for staff development activities, supervision meetings, and team conversations.

Lennon, D. G. (2007). Business fitness: The power to succeed – your way. Centennial, CO: Glenbridge.


Guest post for TheSABloggers.org: Content Rules (Social Media Book Review)

January 5, 2011

 I have written a new post for The Student Affairs Collaborative regarding a newly published (2011) book titled Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C. C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). Although the book is primarily written for entrepeneurs, the 282 page book would definitely benefit student affairs professionals and student leaders alike who are looking to develop and market educational and social program initiatives on campus.

Click HERE to read the entire article.


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