Last fall, for fun, I read the book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandburg (Facebook’s COO). I was really inspired by this book and wanted to discuss it with people who shared my interest in business. At the same time, Banyan was looking at ways to integrate professional activities into a fun, work-social mix.
But how to find a way to help our diverse and busy workforce continue to grow professionally while bonding with each other at a time when everyone could be available?
Over lunch, I talked to my colleague, Tina about how great it would be to have organized discussions based on books, journals, magazines—pretty much any writing on subjects that we could apply to our work at Banyan.
That’s how the Banyan Book Club was born.
We thought we’d start with a breakfast meeting since most people don’t have conflicting activities right before work (and it never hurts to schedule events around food). Since we have offices in Atlanta and St. Louis, we joined by SKYPE and each office brought some healthy—and if I’m being perfectly honest—some not-so-healthy breakfast treats to share.
With all the media hype, “Lean In” was a natural pick for our inaugural meeting. Sandburg based the book on what we can all learn from her experiences and success in the business world. We invited all employees to join in the open conversation, even if they only read the book’s cover.
Because of the subject matter, the majority of the discussion did revolve around women in the workplace, so we looked to our sole male participant, Chris, to provide the man’s point-of-view. Discussion topics ranged from what it meant to “lean in” to the challenges of life as a working mother to negotiating and self-confidence.
The conversation was positive and constructive. I walked out of the room with a new respect for each person’s perspective on the subject matter and an excitement for the next gathering.
Based on the feedback we received, the Banyan Book Club was off to a great start. We all felt we grew a little, in understanding the dynamics around women in the workplace. We also bonded a little, by understanding our colleagues’ personal perspectives on a very interesting and relevant subject.
The next book on our reading list was “How to Be Like Walt Disney: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life” by Pat Williams. This optimistic and inspiring book walks through 17 steps to live a life more like Walt Disney full of creativity, success and fulfillment. We’ll highlight how the Banyan Book Club captures the Disney magic in an upcoming post.