Top Shelf Reads from Help Scout Leaders
Illustration by Christine Kim

Read any good books lately? A recent request for book recommendations from leaders at Help Scout delivered some similar (and rapid) responses: “Ooh, fun!” “Yes, I got you!” “Great idea!” 

Turns out Help Scout is brimming with bookworms, and they’re ready to share some of their favorite picks. 

From strategic reads about building, leading, and growing a company to fiction finds, memoirs, and spiritual reads — these books reflect the diversity of thought and love for learning that thrives at Help Scout.

So, from our team to yours, check out these books that are making us think differently about leadership, develop in our roles, and escape into the joy of a story well told. 

On the desk: Words to learn and lead by

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

“Through the lens of a product designer turned manager, it’s the most honest, transparent, yet approachable playbook that I’ve come across for anyone looking to learn about or transition into leading successful teams.”

-Jared McDaniel, Co-founder and Director of Product Design 

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

“I love all things Brené Brown, but I especially appreciated her book geared toward the workplace. In this book, she dispels so many damaging myths that have been perpetuated at work and instead teaches that being a great leader means being vulnerable. She also provides a useful framework for how to build trust and respectfully debate with colleagues that I’ve used time and time again.”

-Leah Knobler, Director of Talent Acquisition

No Ego by Cy Wakeman

I spend a ton of my work time thinking about organizational health and found Cy’s perspective both insightful and actionable.

Nick Francis
Nick Francis

Co-founder and CEO

Fun fact: Nick and LaToya Lyn, Help Scout’s Chief People Officer, are reading No Ego together and sharing insights.

The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

“This book is helpful for anyone managing people. It’s a quick read with practical advice for improving your ability to really listen to others and be thoughtful with your own words.”

-Abigail Phillips, VP of Customers

Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

I think this exploration of management principles across industries by former SVP of people operations at Google and co-founder of Humu is my choice for probably the best leadership book to date. The key takeaway: Don't manage people. Create processes and operations that help people do their work.

LaToya Lyn
LaToya Lyn

Chief People Officer

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“This is an all-time favorite — a really interesting, deep dive into how we make decisions in our lives and tips for avoiding some of the pitfalls that can lead to less than ideal choices.” 

-Stuart Blake, VP of Sales

Accelerate: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren

“I’m currently rereading this great, data-informed book about what works and what doesn't. The author, Nicole Forsgren, also happens to also be a fabulous woman and friend.”

-Lisa Phillips, VP of Engineering

Building Evolutionary Architectures by Neal Ford

“Great book to make you think about how to build an architecture that can evolve over time, and more helpful if you’re building net-new architecture.”

-Denny Swindle, Co-founder and CTO

On the bedside table: Page turners and insight builders 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now has inspired me to think about how much I actually have in my control when it comes to how I experience the changes and challenges in our environment, the world, and the people around me. In the midst of all of that turmoil, I can still be so grounded and weather the storm with my own internal resources. The ideas in this book helped me recognize that, like a river flows through and around obstacles to reach the ocean, by tuning into my own faith and belief in myself, I will also overcome challenges and flow to reach my goals.”

-LaToya Lyn, Chief People Officer

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

As a leader, self-care is so important. So my book rec is one that took me out of my day-to-day life. It’s super cheesy with so many allusions to Beauty and the Beast one can only laugh. There's something about romance novels that is anxiety reducing — probably because you know the characters will end up together. But I love reading Guillory's work because she balances that so well with authentic characters who have depth, careers, and logic!

Kristen Bryant Smith
Kristen Bryant Smith

VP of Brand

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

“Memoirs are my favorite type of book to read, and Dave’s incredible life story was right up there with the best I’ve read.”

-Nick Francis, Co-founder and CEO

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

“This novel is a beautifully written, gut-wrenching story based on true events that weaves together themes of trauma, hope, racism, and friendship. I couldn’t put it down.”

-Leah Knobler, Director of Talent Acquisition

The Intersectional Environmentalist by Leah Thomas

“Thomas coined the term ‘intersectional environmentalism,’ and she makes a complex subject accessible. The book will challenge you and expose you to new ideas, as well as put a name to things you felt like you knew but couldn’t articulate.”

-Abigail Phillips, VP of Customers

A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I enjoy true crime and a bit of mystery in a travel or adventure environment, as well as historical fiction, and this novel about an American communist spy during the cold war was entertaining and encouraged me to learn more about spies in general.

Lisa Phillips
Lisa Phillips

VP of Engineering

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

“This book offers up engaging stories about the many ways people think about money — and nudged me to consider how I approach financial topics in my own life.” 

-Stuart Blake, VP of Sales

Ready to read? We've got you covered.

If you’re looking for more leadership-focused reads and resources, check out our founder-focused publication In the Works

We launched In the Works to share knowledge, inspiration, community, and tools for curious, kind, and scrappy leaders who are intent on building businesses that do good as they do well. One of the ways we’re doing that is through regular round-ups of books, articles, podcasts, and other content recommendations. We’ve highlighted finds for creatives, resources developed around mental health, and wide-ranging lists of content for deep thinkers and values-driven leaders

If you want to know more about what In the Works is all about, subscribe here. We send between 1-2 emails a month, and they’re chock full of inspo and resources, and we'd love to keep you in the loop. Happy reading, building, and growing! 

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