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This book was different from Malcolm Gladwell’s other books. World War II history is not part of my genre that I like to read. I do know authors like to use Navy or the Army examples to highlight team building or leadership. This book follows two generals Curtis LeMay and Haywood Hansell and their different leadership styles. I won't ruin it for you by sharing what happens between both of them. Hansell is a member of the Bomber Mafia which is a group of highly skilled men who believed long range precision bombing would help to win the war. It is a derogatory term given to this group as the military did not believe them. Remember we are talking about 1939 to 1945. Haywood Hansell thought that having precision bombing would reduce the number of casualities and they used the Norden bombsight that allowed you to put in various measurements to be able to hit your target precisely. The big gotcha was that you had to see the target and so if it was a cloudy day the instrument would be less effective. Hansell was entirely focused on precision bombing and couldn’t think of another solution. Now Curtis LeMay was a general who focused on all scenarios and prepared his army with multiple drills. For example, he had his crew practice taking off in the fog and flying the planes with low visibility. As the war waged on another option was created Napalm. Now Napalm was a gel that kept burning so when the bomb was dropped and this gel like substance went everywhere it would burn for miles and miles. As it turns out Curtis LeMay used Napalm and proceeded to bomb Tokyo which resulted in more persons killed by fire in a 6 hour period than any other time in history. LeMay proceeded to bomb the rest of Japan which resulted in so much devastation. As I read the book it showed me how one leader can cause a lot of destruction compared to a leader. Now I know we are talking about war and I do not have any sense of what that would be like. Overall it was an interesting read about a time in history.

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Ok so we are 16 weeks in and I will be honest no one told me how much work this is going to be. Yes, that is my moment of wow 52 books is a lot. As well I may need to start repeating cookie recipes. So any recipes please send them my way.

Let's talk about crucial conversations…it is in its 3rd edition and I wanted to rip out every summary page at the end of the chapter and tape it to my wall in the office. Yes it was that good.

The book is broken down into 3 parts: what to do before you open your mouth, how to open your mouth and how to finish. I will share a couple chapters that really stood out for me. This was a difficult choice because every chapter had the “aha” moments of Steph please remember to do this next time or Steph please try never to do that again. The first chapter is significant as it talks about choosing the right topic. We typically choose easy over hard and recent over right behaviours. Meaning we choose an easier issue than dealing with the bigger issue because we don't like conflict and it's uncomfortable. To find the right topic you need to unbundle, choose and simplify. Unbundling means looking at what are the issues that need to be discussed. I suggest writing it down to help make it clearer. Choosing is deciding what is the most important topic and what do I really want to address. Simplifying means you need to articulate the issue clearly. Now remember this is done before you have the conversation. The chapter on Make it Safe is really important to me because in the EDI space you do not make progress without psychologically safe environments. You just don’t. The authors discuss 2 important conditions for safety: Mutual purpose (you care about their concerns) and Mutual Respect (you care about them). I have seen leaders who say all the right words around EDI and yet I have walked away feeling they do not believe it or something is off. When having crucial conversations around EDI you really need to care about the other person and really hear their concerns. If I could give this book 6 out of 5 stars I would. I truly believe we change the world when we learn how to communicate better and this book really helped.

  • sredivo


This book is a quick read @ 189 pages. I think all books should be 250-275 @ most because if you cannot get your message across by then I will begin to skim sections.

Reshma shares how she fell into this ridiculous “have it all motherhood scheme” & how a lot of us have fallen trap to it. She is the CEO of Girls who code, which I am a huge fan of as I have focused a lot of my career on girls & STEM.

She shares her meltdown moment & how the "have it all" mentality is one big lie. I completely agree with her. I will never forget the moment another mom at a playgroup said "Oh are you teaching her sign language at 8 months?" I politely said no & walked away thinking…are you f&&***& kidding me? Now on top of all the organic baby food I need to make, as well as sleep training and get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes I need to teach my kid to sign.

Heck no…

In Chapter 5, she discusses the 4 forces of making real change: empower, educate, revise and advocate.

One of my favourite sections w/in Chapter 7 was the discussion on the motherhood penalty. The motherhood penalty is a term coined by sociologists who argue that in the workplace, working mothers encounter biological & cultural based disadvantages in pay, perceived competence, & benefits relative to childless women. I recall hearing stories of moms who would leave their coat on the back of their chair even though they had left to go pick up their child. Or what about not even being asked about an opportunity because you would have to travel & you have young kids.

Who else has had to deal with this?

Reshma also shares her Marshall plan for moms Homepage - Marshall Plan for Moms, which calls on US companies and policy makers to create policies on paid family leave, affordable childcare & rooting out the motherhood penalty

What I wished this book had was more of a global perspective. It is mainly based on US content & I realize how living in Canada I would really like to read more Canadian content & perspectives

Curious to hear what are your thoughts on the book?

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