Workplace blogs

Mike’s Recommended Inspiring Workplaces/Humor in the Workplace Reading List

I confess, I am a bit of a reading junkie.  I read something in the order of 60-70 books a year, two newspapers a day, 15 magazines and several academic journals a month to seek out new ideas and relevant content so that I can continue to be a relevant resource for my clients.  I have amassed more than 200 books in my work library and they continue to inspire me. Heck, just walking past them everyday makes me feel smarter!

If your organization says it values learning, employee development, innovation and continuous improvement, then what are you doing to back up those lofty goals?  Surveys of highly creative individuals reveals one common characteristic for most of them: They tend to be big readers. But rather than sticking to just one area, they tend to be browsers of information, reading across a whole range of interests and disciplines.

In fact, Bill Gates, for one,  used to go on reading sabbaticals: he would take several days to read a whack of material, allowing all the ideas and content to intermix and cross fertilize.  What a fabulous idea!

Now if your company isn’t prepared to offer reading sabbaticals, at the very least you can start a work library for employees.  Or why not start a book club for work-related books? Or create a resource section on your intranet site where people can post their favorite reads or recaps of their favorite reads.  Get a book cart and stroll the corridors to encourage reading.  Facilitate a book exchange program for employees.  Have a book of the month that you encourage everyone to read at the same time, and then meet to debrief and compare insights and ideas.  Just do something, because, well, if a mind is a terrible thing to waste, then imagine wasting 100…or 500…or 3,000 minds!

This is just a very, very small sample of some of my favorite reads…

Humor in the Workplace Books  

The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank!, Michael Kerr (Okay I’m biased but this truly is the definitive book available on humor in business and humor MIke Kerr-book 6x9-FINAL.inddin the workplace. Seriously.)

You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work, Michael Kerr  (Okay, so I’m a wee bit biased, but seriously, I still highly recommend it!)

340 Ways to Put Humor to Work e-book, Michael Kerr  (Okay, again, a wee bit biased but trust me, would I lead you astray?)

Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, Tony Hsieh   (The story of how Zappos became one of the best places to work)

Get Weird – 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company A Great Place to Work,  John Putzier

Why is Everyone Smiling?  The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity and Passion, Paul Spiegelman

Happy Hour is 9 to 5: How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work, Alexander Kjerulf

The Levity Effect, Why It Pays to Lighten Up, Adrian Gostick and Christopher Scott

Managing to Have Fun, Matt Weinstein

Creating Inspiring Workplace Cultures

Inspiring Workplaces: Creating the Kind of Workplace Where Everyone WANTS to Work, Michael Kerr (again, forgive the blatant partisanship)

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright   (This is a MUST-READ in my books, if you want to expand your idea of truly inspiring leadership)

The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman (a great overview of what inspiring companies are doping to build awesome cultures)

The Seven Day Weekend,  Ricardo Semler  (a must read if you want to see how one organization is doing things in a completely revolutionary way)

Let My People Go Surfing – The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard (the very inspiring story of Patagonia) 

Hiring for Attitude, A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting Star Performers with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude, Mark Murphy (this is my top #1 pick for a book on hiring practices and how to conduct interviews that really work)

What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management, Jeffrey Pfeffer Great contrarian viewpoints that remind us just how often conventional wisdom about workplace practices is wrong, and how much workplaces need to change to get out of the “20th Century!”)

Nine Minutes on a Monday Morning: The Quick and Easy Way to Turn Managers Into Leaders, Jamie Robbins, 2012 (Includes a chapter featuring yours truly on the role of humor at work)

The Advantage:  Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, Patrick Lencioni  

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, Ray C. Anderson, 2009   (The late Ray C. Anderson, the CEO of Interface,  redefined his company’s vision at the age of 65.  Their inspiring  vision is to turn his modular carpet company into the first truly 100% sustainable organization on the planet.   And the results thus far are ridiculously inspiring and offer real hope for substantive change in the world.  Now this book is definitely not for everyone! There is some very heavy slogging in this book through some often tedious details around environmental  management, but for the hard core environmentalists on your team OR for anyone interested in reading about the impact of creating a radically new vision for your organization and just how motivating that can be, then I strongly recommend reading at least the first and last parts of this book.)

*Silos, Politicos and Turf Wars, Patrick Lencioni, Death by Meetings, Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lenciono,

(**Okay, so I admit it, I’m a big Patrick Lencioni fan, and any self-respecting workplace library should stock all of his books.   The books are easy to read, fictionalized accounts of workplace challenges. The chapters are incredibly short so it’s one of those great back-of- the-toilet kind of books.  After the story, the last part of each book summarizes the solutions to the problems in easy to apply steps.  The books do a masterful job of simplifying (but not dumbing down) complex workplace issues and offering clear roads maps for success.

Firms of Endearment,   Raj Sisodia, Jag Seth and David B. Wolfe    (What a great title!  With real-life examples, this book shows the way work can and should be at its ultimate best, and reminds us that no matter what business you are in, it is possible to make a real difference, do the right thing, and make heaps of money (if that’s your thing) all at the same time.

Why Pride Matters More Than Money, Jon. R. Katzenbach

The Progress Principle – Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

Harvard Business Review on Motivating People, Harvard Business School Press

1001 Ways to Reward Employees; 1001 Ways to Energize Employees,  Bob Nelson

All In – How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Get Weird! 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work, John Putzier

Good Boss, Bad Boss. How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst, Robert I. Sutton

The Future of Management, Gary Hamel

Flight Path: How WestJet is Flying High in Canada’s Most Turbulent Industry, Paul Grescoe

Hard Facts, Dangerous Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton

Leading With Questions, Michael Marquardt

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It and Why It Matters, Michael Burchell & Jennifer Robin

Start With Why: HOW Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek

The Power of Why, Amanda Lange

It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

The Four Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results, Jeffrey and Laurie Ford

Creativity and Innovation 

Made to Stick, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip and Dan Heath, 2007.   (Great, inspiring and occasionally hilarious real-life examples of how to stand out from the herd and communicate and sell new ideas effectively. A fun, insightful read.)

Inspiring Questions for Inspiring Workplaces e-book, Michael Kerr

Thinking Fast, and Slow. Daniel Kahneman

Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, David Brandt. (An oldie, but still one of my favorites)

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath (great book on getting people to jump aboard the old “change train”)

Innovative Intelligence, The Art and Practice of Leveraging Sustainable Innovation in Your Organization, David S. Weiss and Claude P. Legrand

Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer

The Riddle: Where Ideas Come from and How to Have Better Ones,  Andrew Razeghi

Harvard Business Review on Breakthrough Thinking, Harvard Business School Press

When Sparks Fly: Igniting Creativity in Groups, Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap

Happy reading everyone.  If you want more specific suggestions, or suggestions for other resources including speakers and trainers then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office!

Michael Kerr, 2015.  Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker and trainer.  Michael specializes in inspiring workplace cultures and humor in the workplace.


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