Earlier this year, Designer Fund and Fika Ventures co-hosted a dinner with LA design leaders from companies like Snap, Headspace, Bird, and Airbnb to share perspectives across different company stages and explore ways to support the broader LA design community. We asked each leader to recommend a book that was recently useful to them and hope that this wisdom can help inspire growth in your career.
Recommended by Marie Boney, Senior Art Director at FIGS
The 5 AM Club shows how embracing a revolutionary morning routine can deliver epic results. It explains how you can use the first hour of your day to drive personal growth and get the most out of life.
Recommended by Evie Alexander, Designer Manager at Airbnb Adventures
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership teaches you how to become a conscious leader – a leader who inspires positive change, creates a great work atmosphere and builds close relationships in their personal life. Because leading is about a lot more than just giving orders.
Recommended by Jack Brody, Director of Product at Snap
Creativity, Inc. explores the peaks and troughs in the history of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios along with Ed Catmull’s personal journey towards becoming the successful manager he is today. In doing so, he explains the management beliefs he has acquired along the way, and offers actionable advice on how to turn your team members into creative superstars.
Recommended by Jay Yu, Senior Director of Product Design at CornerStoneOnDemand
Factfulness offers readers a wealth of statistics and cold, hard facts that reveal the world to be a far better place than it was just a couple generations ago. Hans Rosling also offers readers a way to revise their thinking and fight against our instinct to focus on the bad and lose sight of the good.
Recommended by Michelle Villacorta, Senior Product Designer at Next Trucking
Indistractable addresses one of modern life’s most common problems – distraction, often blamed on technology. Nir Eyal, however, claims that while smartphones and apps might get in the way of more meaningful work, they are not the root cause of the issue. Eyal provides an actionable four-part framework that breaks down how distraction really works and what you can do to overcome it.
Recommended by Ben Hickman, Director of Product Design at Pluto TV
Information Architecture provides essential concepts, methods, and techniques for digital design that have withstood the test of time. UX designers, product managers, developers, and anyone involved in digital design will learn how to create semantic structures that will help people engage with their message.
Recommended by Jane Chung, Global Creative Director at Lime
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is an antidote to dysfunctional work culture. Drawing on real-world examples from the authors’ successful software company, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson shine a light on how to say goodbye to habitual workplace stress and become calm, focused and efficient.
Recommended by Angela Dong, UX/UI Designer at Elementary Robotics
The Lean Startup helps start-ups and tech companies develop sustainable business models. It advocates continuous rapid prototyping and focusing on customer-feedback data. The method is based on the concepts of lean manufacturing and agile development, and its efficacy is backed up by case studies from the last few decades.
Recommended by Heather Weiss, Lead Product Designer at Fair and Ken Seeno, Lead Product Designer at Headspace
The Making of a Manager explores what new managers can do in their first three months and beyond to ensure their team gets excellent results. From meetings to recruitment and managing a growing team, Julie Zhuo examines the opportunities and pitfalls that all new managers face, and demonstrates that great managers are made, not born.
Recommended by Sean Dillingham, Product Design Director at Signal Sciences
In On Art and Mindfulness, world-renowned artist and celebrated teacher Enrique Martínez Celaya shares his views and advice on the art-making process, the development of a practice, the management of obstacles, and the day-to-day choices we must make in order to remain creative and honest.
Recommended by EZ Blaine, Executive Creative Director at ChowNow
Principles shares the insights that Ray Dalio gained from his experience as one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. His advice shows how core principles can make decision-making an easy process, no matter what situation you’re in.
Recommended by James Richman, Creative Director at Floqast
Bernays became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.
Recommended by Maris Bodell, Senior Director of Product Design at Tinder
Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. She draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the differences between extroverts and introverts.
Recommended by Jess Brown, Head of Design at Clutter
Echoing Samin’s own journey from culinary novice to award-winning chef, Salt, Fat Acid, Heat bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking.
Recommended by Edward Boatman, CEO at Lingo
Seeing is Forgetting traces the life and career of the California artist, who currently works with pure light and the subtle modulation of empty space.
Recommended by Tara Ting, Director of Design at Audit Board
In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way, and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. This idea provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with why.
Recommended by Joel Beukelman, Senior Interaction Designer at Google
Through personal story, parable, philosophy, physics, and absurdity, Gungor shows us that who we think we are is an illusion, a constriction of reality that creates suffering in our lives. This: Becoming Free is a letter of love, reminding you of who you truly are under the stories you create.
Recommended by Ernest Li, Lead Product Designer at Tala
Value Proposition Design is a comprehensive guide to designing compelling products and services. Real value comes from empathizing with customers to find out what everyday jobs and tasks they need help with. Practical exercises, process illustrations, and workshop suggestions help apply the tools in the book to daily work.
Recommended by Cameron Worboys, Associate Design Direction, Product at Elephant
A Work in Progress is a set of three books: a cookbook with 100 new recipes from Noma; a personal journal written by Redzepi in which he explores creativity, innovation, and the meaning of success; and a pocket book of candid, Instagram-style snapshots featuring the chef and his team.
Recommended by Midori Sakano, Creative Director at Skylar Body
Marty Neumeier argues that in an extremely cluttered marketplace, traditional differentiation is no longer enough. Today, companies need "radical differentiation" to create lasting value for their shareholders and customers.