Interested in sharpening your game as a leader, international developer, or social entrepreneur?
Jason recommends the following organizations, books, and documentaries:
International Development Organizations:
Global Camps Africa – this was the first international organization I ever volunteered with. They remain one of my favorites and a personal model for effective international aid.
Kiva.org – I’m a big believer in local economic development through microlending. Kiva.org makes it safe and easy for you to lend to people all around the world.
ThinkImpact – an excellent program to learn social entrepreneurship while simultaneously helping some of the planet’s least fortunate citizens.
Reseau des Entrepreneurs Solidaires – an organization that blends the efficiency of the for-profit world with the benevolence of the non-profit world to deliver aid at an incredibly effective rate.
Roots of Development – development program based in Haiti and Washington, DC based on solving local Haitian problems with local Haitian leadership.
Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program – a great introduction to various thought and approaches to development in Northern Uganda.
International Development Books
Note: international development is complicated business. I personally believe that a responsible developer or volunteer is one with an informed and diverse perspective. This short list consists of books that cover multiple approaches to aid, as well as a book arguing that aid is basically neutral, and a book arguing that aid is destructive.
- “Banker to the Poor” by Muhammad Yunus – this is the foundational book on microlending.
- “The White Man’s Burden” by William Easterly – a nice introduction to grass roots development.
- “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey Sachs – a nice introduction to top-down development.
- “Does Foreign Aid Really Work” by Roger Rideell – a 50,000 foot view of international aid that argues that international aid offers, at best, mild benefits to it’s target benefactors.
- “Aiding Violence” by Peter Uvin – by Uvin’s analysis international aid lined the path for inequality and structural violence in Rwanda.
International Development Documentaries/Movies
- Invisible Children – a documentary chronicling the effects of the recent genocide in Uganda. Pay particular attention to how the foundersof Invisible Children are basically normal Americans who went on to create an influential NGO. If they can do it, you can do.
- The Last King of Scotland – Uganda’s internal war lasted for decades. This movie portrays the horror of Idi Amin Dada’s rule during the civil war.
- Hotel Rwanda – a haunting depiction of Rwanda’s recent genocide.
- Blood Diamond – a fictional (though in many ways accurate) portrayal of the diamond trade in Sierre Leon.
Leadership and Personal Development Books
- “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz – one of the key differences between world-changing leaders and everyone else is that leaders unfetter their imagination and are adept at translating their vision into reality. As the title promises, this book helps you think big.
- “The Dip” by Seth Godin – this is my favorite book on motivation. If you haven’t read this, you should. If you have read this and your motivation is waning, read it again.
- “Leading at a Higher Level” by Ken Blanchard – some of Ken Blanchard’s best work on leadership and coaching.
- “What Got You Here Wont Get You There by” Marshall Goldsmith – often times the skills required to achieve great things are different than the skills required to lead great teams. This book helps iron out many of the wrinkles that top performers have. It also provides a clear description of how to perform a 360 degree review of yourself.
- “Mojo: How to Get it, How to Keep it, How to Get it Back if You Lose it” by Marshall Goldsmith – this book covers tactics to keep your personal and professional energy running high.
- “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins – this is a classic of personal development and motivation by one of the world’s leading performance coaches.
- “Whale Done: the Power of Positive Relationships” by Ken Blanchard – this book does an excellent job of giving you tactics for leading teams (and yourself) in a positive, effective, fun manner.
- “The Leadership Pill” by Ken Blanchard – a quick introduction to effectively leading teams. This book can be read in under two hours.
- “Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude” by Jeffrey Gitomer – a positive attitude is essential for effective and sustainable leadership. This book helps you develop one.
- “A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life you Always Wanted” by Will Bowen – A Complaint Free World challenges you to go 21 consecutive days without complaining. I did this challenge and it made my life better, and it helped my teams perform better. Do yourself a favor – get this book and take the challenge now.
Leadership and Personal Development Documentaries
Note: neither of these documentaries are directly on leadership. I love them because they demonstrate many of the principals of leadership I most strongly believe in: tenacity, owning yourself and your vision, and refusing to believe in “impossible.”
- “Man on Wire” – every time I watch this documentary I feel like my life is too boring and I get inspired to live at a higher level. This documentary follows Philippe Petit as he attempts the impossible: stringing a tight rope between the two towers of the World Trade Center in NYC and then walking between the towers.
- “Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian” – this documentary follows Jerry Seinfeld as he creates a new stand-up act from the ground up after ending the TV show Seinfeld.
- “Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism” by Muhammad Yunus – this is my favorite book on the power and implementation of social entrepreneurship and makes for a great introduction.
- “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” by Harvey Mackay – this extremely readable book offers a nice introduction to many facets of business.
- “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris – an introduction to modern lifestyle entrepreneurship with a focus on digitial automation. While I don’t agree with all of the details of this book but I love the overall thesis of empowerment and possibility.
- “The E Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber – if you’re starting a project and feeling as though you are constantly behind the ball and working harder than is sustainable this book will help you understand how to systematize parts of your work.
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