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Why Your Company Needs a Book Club

April 28, 2017 | by Jenni Klauder
Reviewed by real estate expert Jonathan Wasserstrum

The idea to start a company book club didn’t come out of thin air.

It came from a desire, nay need, to really grow and learn as a team. Besides our all-hands meetings, there wasn’t a team event (not counting happy hours!) that brought everyone together to discuss where and how we want to grow as a company.

Initiating a monthly book club has filled this void: different members of the company’s various sectors (tech, sales, etc.) come together to learn and partake in fruitful discussions over dinner and wine.

Each book is geared towards a particular aspect of our business, and we cycle through different subject matters that pertain to each sector. For example, some months the topic has to do with unleashing creativity (for the design and tech team). Other months, we discuss business psychology and negotiation tactics (for the transactions/sales team).

We even read Anthony Flint’s book on the dramatic rivalry between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, which transformed the urban landscape of New York City. Urban planning books such as these are crucial in understanding the fabric of the city and the neighborhoods that our brokers travel around on a daily basis.

photo; The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhig

Every discussion gets a designated book club leader who structures the conversation around applying what we read to the work we do on a daily basis. And everyone who attends is encouraged to participate and share what they learned and what inspired them. Attendance varies from month to month (depending on the book and the topic) but there are 5 or so die-hard book clubbers who haven’t missed a book yet. And SquareFoot’s CEO is one of them!

The company provides the book to those who wish to participate that month in their preferred format (hard copy, kindle, or audiobook). Additionally, the team gets to vote on the following month’s book from a curated list.

As an added incentive, the dinner is never the same and in many cases, is tied in to the discussion itself. For example, we ordered sushi to discuss Phil Knight’s memoir on creating Nike, as he spent much of his early years traveling around and researching running shoes in Japan. And when we read Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, we even took a field trip to Shake Shack!

See below for the full list of books we’ve read since we started our book club:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City by Anthony Flint
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

**Currently reading: City on a Grid: How New York Became New York by Gerard Koeppel**

We encourage you to start a book club as well, if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to turn your company into a learning machine!

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