What Are You Reading?

Hanging out on Clarion Alley in San Francisco
Hanging out on Clarion Alley in San Francisco

Always the avid learner, I am constantly asking people:

What books or articles are you reading lately?

What podcasts are you listening to on your commute?

What are you writing on and speaking about this year?

What exciting projects are you working on?

And my favorite question: What are you learning?

Here’s my latest:


  • I just finished Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. It’s a reminder that simple things can have a huge impact. The author is a surgeon and highlights the need for us to be more aware of the failure points in our systems and processes. These points of failure could be overcome by following a simple checklist. I have used checklists for myself personally, and with my teams, professionally. Checklists have helped me get the right stuff done, balancing the tactical and strategic aspects of my work. My favorite quote from the book is:

“One essential characteristic of modern life is that we all depend on systems—on assemblages of people or technologies or both—and among our most profound difficulties is making them work.”

  • I just finished Educated by Tara Westover. This is a story about resilience, identity, and learning how to learn. Tara renewed my appreciation for my own education and learning system, growing up in the Midwest. I cherish the memories I have of my father endlessly quizzing me with our 3” x 5” multiplication flashcards that we made together. Tara had to teach herself and eventually created her own learning support system. She saw education as a process of self-discovery and connection–discovering what and how she thinks compared to the perspectives of others. Mostly, I resonated with how Tara honored and integrated who she was while also creating who she is becoming. My favorite quote of the book is:  

“Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

Listening to?

  • Adam Grant’s “Work/Life Podcast,” Season 2. In the episode on March 12, 2019, Adam talked with two pioneers at Pixar, John Walker and Brad Bird, who created The Incredibles. We always need to be shaking things up and testing our assumptions about the kind of people a project needs. Frustration, if leveraged effectively, can be an engine that fuels creativity.
  • “The Healthful Pursuit” Podcast by Leanne Vogel. Leanne gets real about Keto. It’s for beginners, like me, who are learning what the ketogenic diet really is (and isn’t!) through discussions about diet and our body.

Working on?

I am working on some exciting projects with a few companies, crafting the behaviors that best exemplify the values of those organizations. There is a playbook to this, and we are designing  it.

Writing about?

How do we bring diverse candidates into our organizations who exemplify the behaviors we expect from everyone while also bringing their individual perspectives? Is it more about culture complement than culture fit or even culture add?

Speaking about?

I am excited to be speaking on a panel in the next few weeks with empowerwork and AllVoices – two companies committed to creating workplaces in which employees feel empowered to speak up and voice their opinions. My panelists and I will be discussing what employees can do when faced with challenging work situations and how employers can better support and create space for their teams.


I am taking a course on AI through Coursera with Andrew Ng. I’m learning about machine learning, deep learning, and why this is relevant for everyone to understand today.

Your turn. What are you spending time on these days?




  1. David Parks says

    Listening to Matt Dixon world class coach to triathletes. Local to San Francisco with his very innovative Purplepatch Fitness organization. He is a trailblazer and lots of parallels to the LD field. Reading Danny MacAskill’s biography “At The Edge: Riding For My Life.” Both these guys represent skill development, world class excellence and leading edge innovation outside the usual business book arena. Refreshing!

    • Melissa Daimler says

      very cool, David. I love getting out of business mode, as you are doing. I have been really into autobiographies lately, too. Reading outside of the usual business books actually helps me think differently in business. 🙂

  2. Julien Goy says

    I had made a note to comment your article, Melissa, it’s about time I get to it!

    My objective is to always read 3 books in parallel: fiction/novel, non-fiction/business, and a “what if” book. Currently, they are: Munich, by Robert Harris; Flawless consulting, Peter Block. Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond.

    Listening to
    I don’t listen to podcasts – not my cup of tea, I don’t really know why!

    Working on
    As a Chief of Staff, I work on almost everything taking place in my organisation! Though, I’m trying to keep my focus on our new strategy and how we’ll monitor it over the next years.
    “In an average day you would deal with Bosnia, Northern Ireland, the budget, taxation, the environment – and then you’d have lunch! And then on Friday you would say “Thank God – only two more working days until Monday.” – Erskine Bowles

    Writing about
    My resume: it has been asked several times recently. And I’m desperate to find a better way to showcase what I can do, what I have done. CV/resume say so little about us, in my view!

    Speaking about
    Nothing planned. But your question leads me to wonder if I should!

    My focus is currently on integrative thinking, and how to effectively implement it in my organisation.

    Thank you so much for your questions, Melissa, it’s definitely something one should do on a regular basis!

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