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Executive Extra

Monthly content focused on leadership exclusively for the Executive members of NAA.

September Is the New January: 5 Books to Inspire and Accelerate Your ‘New’ Year

Maybe because—like many of you—I have spent the better part of my life in or around school, my mind automatically visualizes September as the start of a new calendar year, full of promise and possibilities.

After months and months of staying inside and working from home, I'm feeling the need for a reset and restart now, even more than ever! If you feel the same, here are five books—some new releases and some classics—to inspire and accelerate you in this "new" year!


Year of YES: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person
By Shonda Rhimes

With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for Shonda to say she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. And then, over Thanksgiving dinner, her sister muttered something that was both a wake-up and a call to arms: "You never say yes to anything." Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge. For one year, she would say "yes" to everything that scared her.

This poignant, intimate and hilarious memoir explores Shonda's life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her. The book chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self.

You can read more about this book and get your copy here. As an added reset bonus, this book even comes with a journal! Check it out here.


The Art of Showing Up: How to be There for Yourself and Your People
By Rachel Wilkerson Miller

If you're having trouble connecting with those around you, know that you're not the only one. Adult friendships are tricky! Part manifesto, part guide, The Art of Showing Up is soul medicine for our modern, tech-mediated age. Rachel Wilkerson Miller charts a course to kinder, more thoughtful, and more fulfilling relationships—and, crucially, she reminds us that "you can't show up for others if you aren't showing up for yourself first."

You can read more about this book and get your copy here.



Drop the Ball: Achieve More by Doing Less
By Tiffany Dufu

Once the poster girl for doing it all, after she had her first child Tiffany Dufu struggled to accomplish everything she thought she needed to in order to succeed. Like so many driven and talented people who have been brought up to believe that to have it all, they must do it all, Dufu began to feel that achieving her career and personal goals was an impossibility. Eventually, she discovered the solution: letting go. In Drop the Ball, Dufu recounts how she learned to reevaluate expectations, shrink her to-do list, and meaningfully engage the assistance of others―freeing the space she needed to flourish at work and to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships at home.

You can read more about this book and get your copy here.



Winging It: Why Action Beats Planning Every Time
By Emma Isaacs

Are you an over-preparer and underestimator when it comes to your readiness to try something new? What most often holds us back are our own fears, excuses and doubts. With a revolutionary manifesto, Winging It author Emma Isaacs has written a rallying cry to "do the things that scare you, make an impact, fail lots, and get up and try again."

Through hilarious stories, targeted prompts, and timeless advice, Emma will inspire you to get clear on what really matters and go after your dreams, one messy step at a time. Get ready to stop hiding behind the safe option or the perfect plan―and start winging it.

You can read more about this book and get your copy here.


Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits
By Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin, author of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project and NAA19 keynote speaker, tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit—but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better Than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin's compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better Than Before explains the (sometimes counterintuitive) core principles of habit formation.

You can read more about this book and get your copy here.

What are some books that have inspired and accelerated you in your work? Drop me an email at gwarner@naaweb.org and let me know!

Written by Gina Warner, President and CEO, National Afterschool Association.