Read. Expand your brain. Learn to be a Critical Thinker.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I worked for many years with a leadership coach, Dave Maguire. As each year-end approached, I looked forward to receiving a carefully curated non-fiction book from Dave’s personal library. Most years the choice made perfect sense: Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro arrived during a re-election year. Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life: Life is Long if You Know How to Use It was a well-timed gift during a time of personal despair. Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Uh, no idea!

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As I reflect on these gifts which still adorn my office bookshelves, it seems he was simply saying: Read. Expand your brain. Learn to be a critical thinker. Of course, he was also using books to give me a few specific lessons to supplement our many discussions.

I haven’t yet reached the point where I am sending books to all my clients on an annual basis. But I do wear them out with frequent references to some of my favorites. So, I figured, why not share a few book recommendations with all of you? My goal is to share a book recommendation twice per month. Let me know what grabs your attention and why. I’d love to hear from you.

Starting a project like this means I have to make a first choice. Those of you who know me well have heard me describe my theory about lists. My experience is that what people put first and last are significant; often the others are ordered haphazardly. This theory does not apply to this project! I have over 50 books I want to tell you about. You get to decide which ones you find most impactful.

I am starting with one of my favorite books from the last year. You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy. This was a 2020 choice of the Next Big Idea Club, a readers’ group I joined which was started by Dan Pink, Susan Cain, Adam Grant and Malcolm Gladwell. Kate Murphy’s book is an informative and approachable study of a skill that most of us aren’t very good at. ( Me included.) I learned a lot about why we are bad listeners and how to get better at it. I now believe that listening is the most important skill we all need to be effective communicators. This book will help you with your boss, your customers, the people you supervise, and with those you love.

Let me know what you think. I promise to listen.

Ed Offterdinger is a former CEO and Managing Partner who served in senior leadership roles for 25 years and is now a leadership coach, strategic advisor and author. His first book, co-authored with his AO co-founder Catherine Allen, is titled ‘‘Conscious, Capable and Ready to Contribute: How Employee Development can become the Highest Form of Social Contribution.” It’s set to publish in 2021 through Conscious Capitalism Press. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


Embrace the opportunity to grow your brand and reputation as a company that truly invests in helping employees grow their capabilities – even and especially during an employee off boarding experience. When viewed through the development lens, this is a valuable opportunity for employers to learn and improve organizational and people development practices, build brand ambassadors, and enable departing employees to reflect on gains in skills and capabilities.


Facilitate strategic conversations with senior leaders to explore and define ways conscious people development can be integrated into the culture and daily workflow to power your business, your people, and your employer brand. 


Incorporate learning and development objectives into retention activities to prepare employees for new roles and opportunities. This can be done through engagement and feedback surveys, recognition and rewards programs, promotion, succession planning, and more.

Social Contribution

“Build it so they will want to come, flourish, and stay, knowing that someday they may leave.

Thus, it is imperative to define what you want them to say about their growth experience with your organization and what you want the outside world to say about how you invest in and contribute capable people to society.”

-Ed Offterdinger & Catherine Allen
Conscious, Capable, and Ready to Contribute. (p. 173)

Integrated Capability Development and Performance Management

Integrate learning, growth, and capability development goals and activities into your performance management rather than relying on day-to-day responsibilities alone to create a more engaging, productive, and helpful process.


Adapt onboarding to set new hires up for success in a continuous learning environment through orientation activities that introduce the principles and practices that support everyday learning and development for each employee.


Integrate practices, principles, and tools to better evaluate a candidate’s orientation to continuous learning and development as a factor in their overall fit for a position. This provides:

  • Improved candidate interviewing, assessment and selection practices
  • Better candidate selections with learning and growth mindset
  • An early introduction to your company’s development culture focus


Embed messages about commitment to people development to attract your ideal candidates.