6 non-design books to boost your design career

How to understand people better, accept yourself, appreciate differences, stop running around and finally find focus, be brave to push through with your decisions and learn from your mistakes.

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by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Coming from the mathematical background I was for quite some time under the impression that the world is operated by the rules of logic. Needless to say, that was harming not only my relationships but my career as a designer.

by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

You don’t have to be an extravert to be successful, that was a relief. Apart from accepting myself for who I am, reading this book helped me to survive extravert-dominated meetings and steer them to be more introvert-friendly

by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer
The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer

Must-read if you work in an international company.
Once upon a time, I had an American manager who asked “Would you like to make a presentation for our quarterly meeting?” to which I replied “No, thanks”. In a textbook I used to learn English, the phrase “would you like” was mostly used in a context “would you like a cup of tea” and literally meant “do you want it?”. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that in American English it meant “go do the presentation” (I didn't get fired though)

by Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Reading this book will keep you sane in a mad world, where being busy means being successful. Stop running around and focus on essential. My favorite quote is

Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize

by Seth Godin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Despite a lot of self-help nonsense, this book made an enormous impact on me. There I first learned the concept of resisting the resistance: if your lizard brain screams don’t do it, you should probably do it¹. Later in a conversation with Tim Ferriss they called it “your compass, but backwards”

when you hear “the lizard brain, the scared voice, what Steven Pressfield calls “the resistance,” you do precisely what it is afraid of.” Basically, it’s your compass, but backwards.

This situation is probably familiar to everybody: you’ve done with your design/presentation/email and about to hit “send”, but you start hearing this little voice in your head saying “Why did you go with blue?? Should’ve tried orange… and the copy… you need to update the copy…. JUST DON’T SEND IT”. That’s your lizard you should ignore.

by Matthew Syed

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The importance of acknowledging your mistakes so that you can learn from them. Sounds obvious but the higher the stakes, the more difficult it is to follow through with it.

[1] This logic is not that straightforward when we’re talking about perceived physical danger.

Product, data, decision-making, philosophy| Learning from everything that went wrong | Digital Product Designer | elenaborisova.com

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