Professional Development Book Recommendations

Below are summary notes of professional development book recommendations. It is essential that you continually work to improve yourself and your value to the workplace. Read the key takeaways and follow the links if you would like to read further.


We recommend Blinkist as you can explore the ideas of many of the bestselling nonfiction books via 15-minute audio and text. Perfect for your busy lifestyle.


Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau

Don't let imposter syndrome hold you back.

  • It helps to act confidently, regardless of how you feel. "Act like you know what you are doing, listen hard, and, eventually, you will know what you are doing." is what Shellye repeats to herself.

  • There will be people who believe in you and advocate for you. Shellye calls these your cheerleaders.

  • To identify your cheerleaders, think of those who always encourage you. They will help you believe in yourself.

Decide on your goals and create a strategy to achieve them.

  • Understand the importance of setting goals and remaining singularly focused on them.

  • Shellye shared how much she enjoyed organising and leading clubs and activities.

  • She decided that she wanted to become a CEO.

Improve your self-determination

  • Self-determination is the ability to make responsible decisions about your life and stand firmly behind them - even if others disagree.

  • To improve your self-determination, think of your levels of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Determine which ones need improving and what steps you can take.

Learn to Delegate.

  • Know when you're taking on too much, and find harmony by integrating different aspects of your life.

  • The act of delegating not only frees up time at home, but it also helps people move up in an organisation. As Shellye puts it, the upper-level management of a company hasn't gotten there because they can single-handedly do everything. Their ability to direct and inspire other people to do the required work is why they are where they are.

  • She discovered the importance of prioritising herself as she climbed the corporate ladder. Shellye began exercising, which benefited her mind as well as her body. She learned to be realistic about her capacity to help others and started saying no to requests. And she also started asking herself what she needed to focus on from one day to the next.

  • One more thing that helped Shellye get a better handle on her work and personal life: work-life integration which allows people to prioritise different things at different times rather than split life and work equally.

Be loud and proud

  • Be vocal about what you want career-wise - and if something blocks your progress, find a way around it.

  • Another tactic she used was making sure that everyone around her knew of her goals and intentions.

  • You never know who has the power or connections to make things happen. By broadcasting your intentions, you up the chances of finding opportunities.

  • You also guarantee that people will be aware of your ambitions.

Be Flexible.

  • To increase your opportunities, stay flexible, and be willing to take a few risks.

  • Being ambitious, in life and work, involves taking risks. Avoiding them may feel safer, but it also limits opportunities for rewards.

  • Shellye had this in her family, her cheerleaders, and her partner. As such, she could allow herself to take risks, knowing she could always ask for help. Another factor that enables risk-taking is developing confidence and resilience, which happens when people repeatedly embrace risk. The resulting successes teach them that they're capable, while failure demonstrates that they can always get up again.

Believe in yourself.

  • Reaching your professional goals isn't easy, but it's not impossible either. Even when it seems that the odds aren't in your favour, you can set personal and professional ambitions, and strategies your way toward them. There'll be times when you need to juggle or integrate priorities, change course, or even risks, and having support and self-determination will help you stand behind those decisions.


Establish your reputation.

  • Find training and education opportunities to improve your skills, and focus on making sure that your work's quality makes you stand out.

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