February #HRBookClub Recommendations

Welcome to the February edition of #HRBookClub. It is African-American History Month, and we’ll be reading two books geared towards the HR community.

Every year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) chooses a specific theme for the month. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the official theme for the month is “African Americans in Times of War,” honoring the roles black citizens have played in warfare since the American Revolution.

I love this country and want to thank our veterans for their service, but I am not recommending books about foreign wars. It’s hard for me to stay awake while watching a Ken Burns documentary. There is no way a history book about the military-industrial complex is making its way into my club.

Instead, I’m recommending two books from living figures of history with messages that will resonate in the HR community.

The First Book Recommendation of the Month

The first book is “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person” by Shonda Rhimes. The book is based on a simple premise: Shonda always says no to everything, and she’s both triumphant at everything she does and also miserable. How about trying something new and saying yes?

This book reminds me of nearly all the HR professional I know. Yes, I’m talking about you.

Do you think leadership means sacrifice? Are you following your dreams but not having any fun? Do you defer your joy and focus on others because that’s what you’re supposed to do?

Shonda Rhimes is one of the most successful African-American women in our country. She described herself as FOD. Do you know what that stands for? First. Only. Different. How many of you are FODs? How many of you are the first to attend college in your families? First to have a corporate job? The first to own a home or purchase a brand new car?

Shonda takes her role as an FOD seriously. “Scandal” is the first major television show to feature a black woman as the lead character in 37 years. Who knew that a TV show could also be FOD? Shonda’s creativity and passion have changed the way women and minorities see themselves represented in the media.

So, this book is my first choice for the #HRBookClub. Because, my dear friends, you need to say yes more often. Your employees will love you for it, and you will love yourself.

The Second Book Recommendation of the Month

My second choice is “A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home” by Steve Pemberton. Steve is the former chief diversity officer at Walgreens and is now the chief HR officer at Globoforce.

Yes, I’m recommending an HR book for the #HRBookClub. This book is about race, identity, and how people with authority didn’t protect a young man in the foster care system. When I first read this book, I was reminded to check my assumptions about wealth and success. Not all executives are there because of connections or family wealth.

“A Chance in the World” reminded me that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. The story is about a successful businessman’s look back at his harrowing history. Steve pulls no punches when he writes about abuse and neglect, and his complicated story includes frank discussions about race and heritage.

Choose a Book and Get Started

So, just to recap, the two books of the month are “Year of Yes” and “A Chance in the World.” Read one, read both, or read something else. I don’t care. If you’re ready to achieve your goals and read 12 books in 2018, the time is now. Pick one of these two books and join us on Facebook on February 28th at 2 p.m. Eastern to discuss the selections.

Hope you enjoy reading!


  1. How's Your Reading? - Laurie Ruettimann on Feb 16, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    […] you been reading the #HRBookClub books of the month? The selections are “Year of Yes” and “A Chance in the World.” You can read both books, one […]

  2. […] in February? Did you read else? Nothing? Overall, did you meet your reading goals in February? hrbooks.com/february-hrbookclub-recommendations/ #HRBookClub […]

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