Spring is for Growth: VSG Staff Picks

This year the VSG team has made it a part of our culture to focus more on personal and professional development. We’ve made great strides over this 1st quarter of the year and wanted to share some resources that have helped!

Please enjoy this compilation of books, podcasts, and or tools that have impacted our team personally or professionally in many ways…

productivity

Jared Eddy, Web Development

Laracasts: This is one of the dev tutorial video subscriptions I pay for. It’s one of my favorites because the content and videos are easy to understand and follow along with. I’ve found in particular the PHP Practitioner is a great starting point for learning PHP and a lot of it translates to WordPress.

Podcasts: I listened to Works For Me a couple times last week. One of the two hosts does an experiment in each episode to try and solve work related problems. I like the authenticity of the hosts, they don’t always succeed at their experiment and usually have a little tidbit of wisdom for the rest of us.

Book:High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way – This book focuses on developing habits within 6 aspects of your life: clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence, and courage. It asks great questions that help you discover what success in those aspects looks like for you and gives you practical tools to slowly work towards that vision.


leadership

Ashlee Weatherford, Project Manager

Book:”Permission to Screw Up. How I learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong” By  Kristen Hadeed

Favorite recent read was Permission to Screw Up. I really loved how the author was candid about mistakes she made while building her business. There wasn’t a lot of fluff, just straight to the point examples that are relevant to just about any professional reading it. For me, the best take-away was how she truly empowers her staff to run with an idea or task without laying out a step-by-step of what she wants done. When they complete the task, she gives feedback using a Feelings, Behavior, Impact method. This puts any critiques on the task and not on the person themselves, allowing them to take any lessons and apply them to future situations.

creativity

Sarah Bradshaw, Designer

Book: “Steal Like An Artist – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative” by Austin Kleon

This book starts off by telling the reader to let go of the burden of having to make something out of nothing. All creative work builds on what came before, and we should embrace influence. It is broken down into 10 steps on how to “unlock your creativity.” These steps are easy to digest, and they are a good reference to come back to anytime, to get into a more creative mindset. The book is also filled with various, encouraging quotes from creatives.

One thing I learned, and would like to practice, is keeping a logbook. It’s answering the question “what’s the best thing that happened today?” in regards to projects and life in general. I like how it’s a way to keep track of how far you’ve come, and also keep a positive mindset.

Overall, this book is a quick read with valuable information for anyone looking to live a more creative life.


entreprenuership

Alex Devine, Marketing Director

Podcast: How I built this

The stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.
I am endlessly fascinated and impressed by the spark of creativity or necessity that makes people start their own companies. More than that though, I enjoy listening to how each creator learned to grow with their company and the insights that process provides.

Plus, if you’re a brand champion for any of the guests, it gives you a new appreciation for the work they have done to get that chapstick, website, workout, ride etc into your literal or metaphorical hands.

leadership

Katie Price, Account Manager

Book: “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

The overall premise of this book is that you have to know the “why” prior to focusing on the “what” or “how” in order to build something that gains momentum, sparks inspiration, empowers others and brings fulfillment. I really liked how Sinek weaved in direct examples and stories of different thought leaders on how these principles have been applied in various businesses and industries like tech companies, airlines and the military.

This book brought me a depth of understanding to the importance of how having a clear sense of why can set a strong foundation that produces greater potential. Regardless of if you’re a corporation, a nonprofit or an individual, what and how you do something always has to tie back to why you’re doing it or else you’ll become unfocused and less effective in your pursuits.

intuitive design

Marissa Blandford, Graphic/Web Designer

Book: “Intuitive Design: Eight Steps to an Intuitive UI” by Everett McKay

As a designer I often focus more on aesthetics and what makes sense to me and sometimes I can forget that other people don’t view websites the same as I do. This book really helps define what ‘intuitive’ means in regards to UI (user interface) and what may be obvious to some is not obvious for everyone. I really liked the definition McKay has for intuitive UI: “If your target users must resort to reason, memorizing, experimenting, seeking help, or training, your UI isn’t intuitive by definition.”

The eight steps (discoverability, affordance, comprehensibility, responsive feedback, predictability, efficiency, forgiveness, and explorability) are thoughtfully explained and easy to understand and apply. This was an invaluable resource and will definitely change the way I think about and design websites.

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