Why this book?

Today I am talking about a fictional book that I read. I typically only read about 4 or 5 a year. Over the last few years I have really wanted to read more books by indigenous authors. As well it just so happens June is National Indigenous Month. Katherena Vermette the author is a Red River Metis writer from Winnipeg. This novel weaves multiple stories around intergenerational trauma and the love of a family. This book shares individual stories over five years of the Stranger’s lives. ⁠

This book had all the feels, and there were times when I was crying, sometimes mad and sometimes confused. I felt that I was walking beside everyone in the family. You learn about the grandmother Margaret, the daughter Elsie and the three grandchildren Phoenix,Cedar and Sparrow. Early on in the book you learn that Sparrow had died but you don’t find out how until later. This is a significant event in all of the women’s lives that get weaved together. Margaret was the chain smoking grandmother who loved puzzles and Elsie was dealing with years of trauma and finding ways to cope after having her kids taken away. Phoenix also had a child taken away and spent years in prison while Cedar had an opportunity to move in with her biological dad. She was able to study hard and get an education. ⁠

This book showed how complex families are as well as what happens when you do and do not have the support system in place that you need. It is beautifully written and I highly recommend it.⁠


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WHY THIS BOOK?

I wanted to take you back to 2021, with one of the most interesting books that I read called The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


Working in a globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures. This book did a great job at explaining different cultures. Having worked in a global organization for many years I learned over time how to best work with different cultures and sometimes made some mistakes along the way. This book has 8 themes from communication, leadership. Feedback, Thinking, Decision-Making, Trust, Disagreement, and Time Perception.


There are so many great examples that had me saying yes out loud and nodding my head in agreement. Yes, I have seen that happen between myself in Canada and a German colleague.

The one great example when it comes to communication style is the “peach vs coconut culture”


People from Peach cultures are said to be “soft” on the outside: Friendly to people they have just met, frequently smile at strangers, chat, share information (not necessarily deep conversation), and even share pictures. They are very nice and helpful to strangers.


However, when you get past the initial friendliness, you see a very private self that they protect for a select few. That is the hard pit in the middle of the peach. Examples include Americans and Japanese.


Now people from Coconut cultures are described as “hard” on the outside: Rarely smile at a stranger, do not engage in conversations easily, do not talk about personal information with strangers, and mostly keep to themselves or stay with their close friends and family.


These people may be neutral towards you for a long time. However, if you manage to break through their outer shell, they tend to become loyal friends who will accept you as family. Examples include Germans and French.

If you work in a global company or with others from different cultures this is an absolute must read.

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WHY THIS BOOK?

This book was fantastic. It is a great resource that I will be referring to for years to come. Stacey offers practical advice and makes it easy to consume. Her blueprint she created goes from Awareness to Advocacy. ⁠

Here is an interesting stat: Google did an internal study that when 6 out of 10 people felt that their opinions count at work turnover was reduced by 27%, safety incidents by 40% and productivity increased by 12%.⁠

Given the great resignation and it being an employee market this again is another business case for psychological safe environments. I really hope in 2022 the word of the year is Psychological safety. Her book is full of statistics and stories with simple techniques to do today. I love the story about Hallmark and how their card sales were down in a certain retail location that had a high LGBT+ population. They brought the issue to their LGBT+ employee resource group and worked to create cards inclusive to LGBT+ families. This is a fantastic simple example of taking the time to ask and having this employee resource group.

My favourite chapter if I had to choose would be Chapter 12: Leaders see Colour. She addresses the “I don't see colour” narrative and provides ways to address it by having hard conversations and focusing on inclusion as an ally. Thank you Stacey Gordon for a timeless classic that will be used for years to come.⁠


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