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10 Books To Motivate & Inspire Your Career Glow-Up

Add these reads to your list for advancement, leadership, occupational self-care and more.

Good Reads

As much as we all love a good Netflix binge, diving into a great book never gets old. Many of us are stuck dealing with the unique issues that come with managing a remote team, trying to virtually impress a boss who holds the keys to your job's future, conducting meetings while needy kids, pets, (and even hubbies) play the background, and doing magic with bank accounts that are literally on their last legs.

Sis, we all need to take a moment of silence and get our read on. Here are 10 career advancement, job hunting, leadership and motivational books to help you tap into a bit of calm and upgrade your boss moves, one step at a time.

The Negotiation Workbook: Don't Leave Money on the Table by Jacqueline Twillie

The Negotiation Workbook: Don't Leave Money on the Table by Jacqueline Twillie

This is the perfect companion to the Twillie's best-selling guide, Don't Leave Money on The Table: Negotiation Strategies for Women Leaders in Male-Dominated Industries. It's one thing to just read something that offers strategy and what-you-need-to-be-doing directives, but being able to put words into action is the key to real growth.

$19.99

Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders


Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders

Whether you're a person of Christian faith or not, the insights in this book on servant leadership are amazing and can apply to any industry. This read breaks down the foundational aspects of leadership that many successful people embody---faith-based or not---and it's an easy read where you can reflect via questions at the end of each chapter.

$13.69

Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba

Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba

The great thing about this book is it includes direct, no-nonsense tone of advice on subjects including productivity, time management, creativity processes, and entrepreneurship. It's basic, foundational insights packaged very conveniently in a read that can easily be completed on a road trip or while waiting for your last load of laundry to finish.

$10.99

After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love by Alexandra Elle

Amazon

After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love by Alexandra Elle

This book is clearly a manifestation of the peaceful yet definitively impactful self-care vibe of her online platform. (Sis has more than 900,000 followers on IG who are blessed with a healthy daily dose of hope and positivity.) Alex Elle shares super-relatable stories from both her personal and professional life---all eloquently illustrating how to overcome issues that challenge self-confidence, abundance and self-love.

$16.39

The Leader You Want to Be: Five Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self -- Every Day by Amy Jen Su

The Leader You Want to Be: Five Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self -- Every Day by Amy Jen Su

It's never a bad idea to strengthen your foundational thinking on what dynamic leadership actually entails. Su, a successful executive coach and business leader in her own right, shares insider tips from her work with high-earning and high-achievement investment industry professionals. She also includes specific leadership scenarios, case examples and processes you can analyze and learn from.

$19.29

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

Amazon


From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein 

Dorey-Stein's story of her time as a millennial stenographer working at the White House during the Obama administration continues with more intrigue: She got the gig after answering a Craigslist ad. She further writes about traveling on Air Force One, recording and transcribing the former president's speeches, and navigating the culture on the Hill. It's a humorous, inspiring ride that will remind you that anything is possible.

$14.99

The Memo: What Black Women Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts

Amazon

The Memo: What Black Women Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts

Harts offers a roadmap to success that does not glaze over challenges black women continue to face in corporate America---the microaggressions, workplace snafus and disrespect and the complications of office politics. It's strategy you can actually use and take to the bank from someone who has the experience and maturity to back up her words.

$19.89

How to Lead: Wisdom From the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders and Game Changers by David M. Rubenstein

Goodreads

How to Lead: Wisdom From the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders and Game Changers by David M. Rubenstein

This book includes Q&A interviews with people who have reached the top of their industries and have impacted generations across the globe. The conversations go beyond the usual encyclopedia vibes of some leadership books that profile successful CEOs, and there are takeaways for budding bosses who have diverse interests and leadership styles.

$21.99

From Ball Girl to CMO by Melissa M. Proctor

Proctor,

From Ball Girl to CMO by Melissa M. Proctor

Proctor's journey from being a team attendant AKA "ball girl" for the Miami Heat to chief marketing officer for the Atlanta Hawks was creative and out of the box. She provides yet another started-from-the-bottom-now-we're-here success story to remind anyone that progress is inevitable when you throw comparison to the wind, embrace your uniqueness, work hard, and enjoy the ride.

$24.99

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene

The authors---best friends of Nigerian descent who grew up in the UK---include interviews with dozens of female powerhouses, offering insights that will ensure you won't play small in whatever you choose to do. Adegoke and Uviebinene press a few buttons with this one, highlighting the relationship between culture, education, upward mobility, and discrimination that might trigger a few sighs, side-eyes, mmm-hmmms, or grimaces, but if you need a swift kick in the butt to elevate and push harder---or at least a great book for your next debate on leadership and career advancement---give this read a try.

$17.99

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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