This is the Too Many Trees newsletter, where I share what I’ve been writing and reading in the realm of leadership and personal development. My executive coaching practice is centered around the idea that we are more effective in moving towards our goals when we become more conscious and intentional in focusing our time and attention, and learn how our unconscious patterns are holding us back. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, please forward this to them or let them know they can set up a free intro chat with me.

Book review roundup

September 24, 2023

I used to do book review roundups on my blog when I didn't have the time to do full writeups of the books I found interesting. I had set the intention for the last couple weeks to write up blog summaries of the books I read on vacation, and have completely failed at that due to spending more time on book-related activities (layout decisions, and pitching myself as a podcast guest on So you'll get one paragraph summaries instead!

Power: A User's Guide, by Julie Diamond
  • Julie Diamond's book is a short and simple guide to power where she writes that to use power responsibly requires self awareness around how we use the power that we have. The key insight for me was that power is misused when we fall into a low-power identity while also holding a high-power identity. She gives the example of a Mexican college professor who was beloved by his students, but occasionally lost his temper and berated them when it came to issues of immigration, as those issues brought him back to feeling like a poor and powerless Mexican immigrant, forgetting that he still had the formal power of being the professor in the room. This contrast between internally felt identities and the identities of power explains a lot of the tension I see with leadership, when we expect our leaders to be perfect and noble and then are disappointed when they act like normal imperfect people.
Buddhism: Tools for Living your Life, by Vajragupta
  • I've always been curious to learn more about Buddhism as what I knew seemed to align with my approach to the world, so when I saw this recommended as a general introduction to Buddhism, I bought it. Much of what I've spent the last decade discovering about mindset and philosophy aligns with what Buddhism has been teaching for over a thousand years. This isn't surprising, as several of my coaches have been Buddhists, and yet it was a little disconcerting to read this book and realize I had written essentially the same advice in my book without the Buddhist framing. Reading this book and its exercises did inspire me to return to spending more time on mindfulness and meditation practices, and I hope to explore more about Buddhism and its practices in the coming months.
The Antiracist Business Book, by Trudi Lebrón
  • After joining the Institute for Equity-Centered Coaching Exchange, I wanted to learn more about its creator, Trudi Lebrón, so I read her book. This is an excellent primer on how to create and run a business in a different way, one that is not centered around treating people as resources to be exploited to generate profit at all costs for the benefit of the owner (thanks, capitalism!). Instead, Lebrón shares how to run a business in a more equitable way, by distributing decision making, being radically transparent, paying people a living wage and treating them respectfully, honoring people as individuals who have their own needs and preferences, and creating inviting spaces that welcome everybody. While I was familiar with most of the concepts in the book, I appreciate the way Lebrón brings them all together as a blueprint for running an antiracist business.
Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler
  • For some reason, I had never read this book, even though it was on my Kindle for years. But I recently started it and it grabbed me, maybe because it was set in 2024 in a post-civilization California, where a ragged group of people try to survive and make a home despite the forces of chaos arrayed against them (for a book written in 1993, it feels all too current). I don't think I would have appreciated it if I had read it even five years ago, but now the connections of racism and slavery to capitalism that permeate the book make more sense to me. It doesn't have much in the way of plot or character (I had trouble keeping the characters straight), and yet I found the philosophy compelling as I highlighted passages of the titular Earthseed verses. And the dystopian future described feels all too possible from where we sit in 2023, unless we take responsibility for shaping change in the world, as the protagonist asks we do.
Updates from my world:
  • I'm finalizing the graphic design and layout for the book, and now have a cover design, which you can see over on my book page. You can also sign up there for monthly-ish updates on progress.
  • In preparation for the book launch, I'm interested in raising my profile. I'm booked for several podcast recordings in October, but am looking for more. Please let me know about podcasts where I might fit as a guest, or places where I might speak about the topics of leadership and personal development.
And now for the normal personal development content…

LinkedIn: These are ideas that have helped my clients (or myself), and that I share via LinkedIn to help a wider audience, and archive here. I have a bunch to share due to the long newsletter break, so I'll just list the headlines/question provocations, and you can click if you want to learn more.
The last three posts above were partly inspired by my anxiety about delivering the newsletter a week later than my original plan, even though that was a purely self-imposed obligation. It's funny how the expectations we set for ourselves can create suffering (another Buddhist idea!).
Other articles I found interesting and thought-provoking
  • I loved Nikhyl Singhal's article on how our superpowers are often the very thing holding us back, echoing a phrase "A strength overused becomes a weakness".
    It's so hard to let go of a mindset or behavior that has brought you great success, especially when you don't see the ways it is holding you back. You dismiss problems as other people's sensitivity or inability to handle feedback, and yet you are the one who can change the dynamic. This lack of awareness can stall your leadership journey, as Singhal describes.
  • The Challenges of Networking as an Executive, by Herminia Ibarra in HBR.
    It's different looking for a job as an executive, as so much of succeeding as an executive is trust and alignment with your fellow execs. A personal connection is essential to setting yourself up for that success, which means networking.
    I love how this article captures several nuances that often come up when I discuss with my clients how networking is different at their level.
Thanks for reading! See you in a couple weeks!
Raising a glass to the last day of the summer beach vacation
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