The best books on workplace social justice with true stories and interesting stats, that are informative and fun

Why am I passionate about this?

Most of the one billion people with disabilities in the world are chronically unemployed. Years ago, I set out on a mission to research why that is, and to then attempt to prove that people with disabilities and others are not unemployed for lack of ability. I discovered that we all lack understanding regarding what they need in order to bring their considerable abilities to bare. Fifteen years ago, I founded CY, a for-profit company as a proving ground and showcase for the solutions I found. Over 1,500 employees, 5 weddings, and two court cases later – I have quite a story to tell.   


I wrote...

Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business

By Gil Winch,

Book cover of Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business

What is my book about?

I wanted to found a free-market company staffed and managed entirely by chronically unemployed people with severe disabilities. Experts were unanimous: "It's as daft an idea as putting together a random team of untried and unexperienced Paralympic athletes... to compete in the regular Olympics against seasoned professional fully able-bodied athletes. And you expect them to win?” Fifteen years ago, I did indeed. I still do.

Winning with Underdogs is the story of our one-of-a-kind company, our struggles, our employees, and our mission to change the world. It's the ultimate underdog real-life story and I'm dying to tell it to you. So, get some coffee, make yourself comfortable, and let's start.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt

Gil Winch PhD Why did I love this book?

Enemy of All Mankind is entertaining, and fun to read and it actually debunked a lot of things I thought I knew about pirates. First and foremost I was surprised to learn that pirates were the epitome of social justice – for real. The captain was chosen by the crew democratically and could be demoted (not beheaded) if they didn't deliver enough bounty. But it was how bounty was divided that blew me away. The captain share, in most cases, was only about twice as much as a regular seaman. That's it! In today's market CEOs get slightly more – about 270 times more than their average employee. 

By Steven Johnson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Enemy of All Mankind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Thoroughly engrossing . . . a spirited, suspenseful, economically told tale whose significance is manifest and whose pace never flags.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
From The New York Times–bestselling author of The Ghost Map and Extra Life, the story of a pirate who changed the world

Henry Every was the seventeenth century’s most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular—and wildly inaccurate—reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But Steven Johnson argues that Every’s most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a major shift in the global economy.…


Book cover of Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism

Gil Winch PhD Why did I love this book?

Accountable is a highly researched book filled with case studies and interesting stats to help make the author's case – that Capitalism needs some adjustments. It's especially important for people who don't fully buy into the modern rhetoric and abundant lip service of large companies regarding their "good doing" and self-stated "care" for communities, employees, and stakeholders. It grants an eye-opening perspective regarding the real motivations of business leaders and the incredible power their corporations wield. The many case studies of large and global companies convincingly demonstrate the danger we all face if that power is left unchecked and its wielders are left unaccountable to the globe we live in and the people that inhabit it. 

By Michael O'Leary, Warren Valdmanis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Accountable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Uses a combination of great stories and thoughtful analysis to suggest that we must find a way to change the purpose of our corporations if we are to build a society that works for all of us.
Rebecca M. Henderson, John & Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University

"Fresh, balanced, highly readable and deeply informed"
John Pepper, former Chairman and CEO of P&G

"Thought-provoking and insightful, Accountable offers a pragmatic and original roadmap to transform capitalism into a system that's more inclusive, sustainable, and just."
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation

Capitalism is failing and the…


Book cover of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Gil Winch PhD Why did I love this book?

Switch is built around great real-life stories and counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change or in other words – succeed at changing the things in our lives we deem worth of change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, one you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your weight.

Other than being a fun book to read, Switch points out the importance of feelings and emotions when driving change in ourselves or in others, and I believe that emotions play a huge role in our business lives and are both highly important and highly neglected by so many. 

By Dan Heath, Chip Heath,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Switch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

___________________________________
Change is hard. It doesn't have to be.

We all know that change is hard. It's unsettling, it's time-consuming, and all too often we give up at the first sign of a setback.

But why do we insist on seeing the obstacles rather than the goal? This is the question that bestselling authors Chip and Dan Heath tackle in their compelling and insightful book. They argue that we need only understand how our minds function in order to unlock shortcuts to switches in behaviour.

Illustrating their ideas with scientific studies and remarkable real-life turnarounds - from the secrets of…


Book cover of David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Gil Winch PhD Why did I love this book?

Three thousand years ago, on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. 

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

As a devout believer in the power of underdogs – this choice was a no-brainer for me. Plus Gladwell writes well and is always enjoyable to read.

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked David & Goliath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explore the power of the underdog in Malcolm Gladwell's dazzling examination of success, motivation, and the role of adversity in shaping our lives, from the bestselling author of The Bomber Mafia.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwellchallenges how we think about obstacles…


Book cover of The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness

Gil Winch PhD Why did I love this book?

We are primed to measure things against the yardstick of averages, judged according to how closely we come to it or how far we deviate from it. It affects our own self-confidence, how we view and grade our performance and worth.

The assumption that metrics comparing us to an average--like GPAs, personality test results, and performance review ratings--reveal something meaningful about our potential is so ingrained in our consciousness that we don't even question it. That assumption is spectacularly—and scientifically—wrong. 

Together with great stories about the folly of averages (the one about pilot chairs really got me) and many research facts and stats it conveys a very important message about how we view the world.

By Todd Rose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of Average as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Must the tyranny of the group rule us from cradle to grave? Absolutely not, says Todd Rose in a subversive and readable introduction to what has been called the new science of the individual ... Readers will be moved' Abigail Zuger, The New York Times

'Groundbreaking ... The man who can teach you how not to be average' Anna Hart, Daily Telegraph

'Fascinating, engaging, and practical. The End of Average will help everyone - and I mean everyone - live up to their potential' Amy Cuddy, author of Presence

'Lively and entertaining ... a cheering story of how the square…


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We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

New book alert!

What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope – about figuring out where you belong, finding your way there, and living a life that matters.

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


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