Speed Reading: 5 Pieces to Inform Your Busiest Seasons



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by Tamara Paton in Professional development
speed reading

Late April is always a sprint for me. One of my boards hosts its AGM, and another starts a board meeting on the other side of the country less than 24 hours later. Throw in a late night flight to make it home for my daughter’s birthday and I’m kind of a zombie.

The situation was so dire this year that I frosted the birthday cake with a blend of cocoa, avocado, and maple syrup. It tasted pretty good, but illustrates the state of chaos ruling my home life.

Fortunately, all this time on airplanes and in quiet hotel rooms offers ample opportunity to read. (And you should see the pristine state of my email inbox, but that’s another blog post.) I lack the stamina required to tackle big works, but short pieces of insight are like oxygen.

I thought I’d share a handful of my favourites to fuel your board work too.

Digital Disruption in Journalism

Strategy guru Clayton Christensen once partnered with a young journalist to study the disruption facing news organizations. Five years later, David Skok looks back on his work with Christensen, with particular focus on the pitfalls of valuing platforms over readers and stories. The analysis will inform any director’s view across a variety of industries. What I wouldn’t give to think and write as skillfully as Skok does here, here and here.

Good Grief

I’ve been looking forward to Sheryl Sandberg’s upcoming book, Option B, since I heard her 2016 UC Berkley commencement address. Although I’ve been spared significant personal loss, her insight into personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence resonated with me. Collaborating with Wharton professor Adam Grant, Sandberg observes that loss prompts us to believe incorrectly that we are at fault, that everything is terrible, and that our sorrow will last forever.

On the eve of Option B’s publication, this Time article dives into the book’s backstory. I found it particularly helpful as I got over a recent career setback and started charting a new path forward.

Get Your Head in the Game

Twenty weeks of tough training will come to fruition when I toe the line of the Mississauga Half Marathon this coming weekend. As hard as I’ve pushed through my workouts, I’ve spent even more time developing my mental fitness. I’m grateful to sports psychologist Dr. Justin Ross for sharing his steps to developing an optimal performance mindset.

What Makes a Great CEO Great?

The Washington Post recently summarized conclusions generated by the CEO Genome Project, a 10-year collaboration among University of Chicago, Copenhagen Business School and leadership advisory firm ghSmart. The study revealed that the most successful CEOs are more likely to be introverts, tend not to have an Ivy League degree, and often have a career-defining failure in their past.

To offset these potential limitations, successful CEOs embrace four key behaviours: reaching out to stakeholders; being highly adaptable to change; being reliable and predictable versus exceptional; and making fast, potentially imperfect decisions with conviction.

Questions & Answers

Some readers may recall my love of questions in the boardroom (see here and here). Although we often reward those with smart answers, a recent HBR blog post highlights the value of asking questions that prompt “curiosity, creativity, and deeper thinking.” The authors also suggest five essential questions that leaders can ask in a wide variety of circumstances for better results. (Spoiler alert: “How can I help?” is my fave.)


I’ll return next week with a post focused on a single boardroom topic. In the meantime, what are you reading? What articles and posts could fuel other readers’ board work?

Thank you for reading! If you found this post useful, please share it with others in your network. Doing so helps my work reach others and would mean so much to me.




Speed Reading: 5 Pieces to Inform Your Busiest Seasons

by Tamara time to read: 3 min