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9 Professional Development Books (That We Actually Read and Use)

A list of personal and professional growth books to keep on hand

Posted by Taylor Rose on Jul 02, 2019

One of our core values at Renaissance is “Be Curious,” meaning we place a lot of stock in new ideas that challenge us to think differently about our own. Part of that curiosity is why our development team completes technological certifications, our sales team attends training about the psychology of selling, and our marketing department shares creative resources and travels to conferences around the country—to extend our collective insight and inquisitively create. 

Professional development is ever-present in Renaissance’s culture. Many of our leaders keep a running list of professional development books that they read and discuss. “Sharing creative, personal, and professional resources is a small manifestation of our company values,” says Jill Casey, Renaissance’s Vice President of Marketing & Business Development. “We are committed to continuously learning, growing, and working to deliver the best possible experience for our customers—we do that by starting inside our walls.” Below are a few of those titles (and some additions) to stoke your curiosity.  

Radical Candor 

Kim Scott’s book takes up the sword that direct communication is the best practice when coupled with personal caring. The combination creates a consistent culture of nutritious feedback. Scott was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, and Twitter; but has done everything from teaching leadership seminars at Apple to starting a diamond cutting plant in Moscow. 

Building a StoryBrand

Donald Miller’s book launched a marketing company that provides consulting regarding brand messaging. Miller’s framework focuses on using a traditional “hero’s journey” narrative to piece together and build poignant marketing language. His book delves into how you can wield these tools for your brand. 

The Culture Code 

Daniel Coyle dissects highly efficient groups—Navy SEAL Team Six, for example—to find the common denominators that make them so successful. Coyle notes how diverse teams challenge one another to grow and lay the foundation for an influential group culture. 

Making of a Manager 

Julie Zhuo pulls from her own experience as a new manager and figuring out how to not only lead a productive team but how to challenge them to new heights. Zhuo’s “how-to” guides you through things like how to hire and how to distinguish a mediocre manager from a great one. 

Search Inside Yourself

Chade-Meng Tan created Search Inside Yourself as a Google course on mindfulness, and the result is a research-backed guide to centering yourself and finding happiness to achieve your goals—both personal and professional. 


This book might be the most interactive on this list. It comes with an access code to take the StrengthsFinder assessment. The results place you within 34 strength categories, divided into influencing, relationship building, executing, and strategic thinking.  

Atomic Habits 

James Clear dissects the structures that influence habits (good and bad) to provide a code to undoing poor patterns in your day-to-day. While Clear’s advice is guided by neuroscience to help you rearrange your life, the book also shows you how to dust yourself off and get back on the horse when those old habits rear their ugly head. 

Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos and has some radical ideas about fashioning a company’s culture in the image of happiness. One of Hsieh’s standout concepts is not having a customer service department, but making it the task of every employee. 

Dare to Lead 

Brene Brown is not only a NYT #1 Best Selling author; she also gave a viral TED Talk about the integral connection between vulnerability and leadership that has over 36 million views. Brown uses elements of vulnerability to frame how strong leaders behave, showing the path to their success. She discusses how leaders shouldn’t be afraid of vulnerability because it involves managing uncertainty and risk.