The LIST: What’s Inspiring Us Right Now

Here at exaqueo, we are always looking for ways to be inspired. In the second edition of the LIST, we’ve pulled together a list of what we’re reading (or listening to) currently and hope you’ll find some inspiration as well. 

Alyssa Bani: I recently listened to a podcast episode featuring Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. As a woman who spent her career working on Wall Street during the financial crisis, her story is full of ups and downs. I found her perspective on the pitfalls of unconscious biases and the critical role that executive support has on the success of diversity initiatives fascinating. She talks about how as a society, we speak differently about money to our sons versus our daughters and what needs to change in order to reach gender pay and investment equity. This was eye-opening for me and is something I keep coming back to as a working woman and one day a mother.

Adrienne Betenbaugh: I just started a new book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, PhD. As a mom of a preschooler, someone who prefers to work at night, and avid lover of sleep (I feel like I can never get enough), I was curious to know how to improve not only my sleep, but that of my family. Turns out, there are far more benefits to getting a good nights shut-eye that we could all benefit from. I’m not finished reading yet, but I am shocked and thrilled by what I’m reading so far.  Not only do I see this benefiting my general mood, but how I perform at work and in my health as well. The only difficult thing is putting it down before going to sleep - I want to read more and more! 

Erin DeGroot: I get the most reading done when I’m on a plane, and just happened to have client travel this week. It was a great opportunity to burn through “It Doesn’t Have Be Crazy At Work” in a single day! Written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founders of Basecamp, this book is essentially a guidebook on how to build and keep a culture of calm in a company. They assert that 80-hour weeks, endless meetings, and all-nighters aren’t the way we need to work to be successful. By removing the unnecessary and unproductive habits that plague corporate America (sometimes small businesses as well!), an organization can be highly successful while employees enjoy fulfillment, plenty of personal time, no weekend work - even a great night’s sleep! Their philosophy puts the employee at the center of the work experience and who wouldn’t want that?

“Chaos should not be the natural state at work. Anxiety isn’t a prerequisite for progress. Sitting in meetings all day isn’t required for success.” (<—Click to tweet this!)

Emily Fritz: I read “You Are a Badass” last year and pretty much haven’t stopped thinking about the lessons in that book. Everything from learning how to meditate to overcoming fear, the book is full of hilarious stories that keep you laughing while sharing best practices and blunt insight on how to become the best version of yourself. I recently picked up a little box of badass to add daily reminders around my workspace and life. The mini flip chart with inspirational phrases from the book is my favorite! I flip through it each morning to find a mantra I can use to keep me focused and inspired for the day ahead. Music is also a significant source of inspiration and energy for me. Currently, I’m listening to Cold War Kids and The Lumineers as I’m seeing both bands live when they come to town in a few weeks. In addition to them, my eclectic work playlist includes songs from HBO’s West World soundtrack, Big Wild, and Lord Huron. 


Lexi Gordon: My content consumption right now is limited to snippets. The only time I can find to finish a book is while I am on vacation, unfortunately (I blame my two little kids)! Over the summer I read “The Art of Client Service,” which got my wheels turning on how we can better deliver to our clients. I also absolutely love “The Alchemist.” We included a reading from this book in our wedding ceremony, and I often revisit it when I am in a rut in life. It always gives me the perspective I need. On social media, I follow a ton of professional organizers - their photos give me a sense of calm and aspiration for my own busy life. I love @thehomeedit, @rachelorganizes, and @theorderlyspace. I also follow a lot of designers - beautiful design and pretty spaces inspire me! I love @cestriley @studiomcgee @roomfortuesday (her process, attention to detail, and design are incredible) and @lifeonvirginiastreet. Music also inspires me - I love classic rock but have been getting bored recently and opening myself up to newer music I hadn’t considered. On repeat right now is Billie Eilish, Harry Styles (don’t make fun of me - it’s good music!), Tedeschi Trucks Band (how did it take me so long!), and Grace Potter.

Susan LaMotte: Mine is not a book, but a tool: Blinkist! It allows you to read (or listen to) snippets of different books (all non-fiction) to make yourself smarter. The "blinks" are 6-10 pages--both readable and audible. If you’re intrigued and want to dig deeper, you can go buy/find the book. Currently there are 27 categories you can explore, including things like personal development, entrepreneurship, even mindfulness and happiness. It's a really interesting way to learn and get smarter! I’m currently enjoying the two minute Seth Godin read every few days, really insightful! You can trial it for 7 days at no cost, or purchase an annual subscription for $99.

Shannon Smedstad: While it was published back in 2008, I am currently digging into “Tribes by the acclaimed business executive, Seth Godin. What was radical thinking for marketers 12 years ago is something many employer brand pros are now starting to think about. This statement is quite relevant to our field as discussions about social media and brand ambassadors continue to fill up conference agendas and online conversations. 

“Too many organizations care about numbers, not fans. … What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and interconnections that true fans deliver. Instead of always being on the hunt for one more set of eyeballs, true leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.” This book is inspiring me to think of ways to help clients harness the excitement of their employees to unlock their fan-potential. 

> Check out Seth Godin’s Tribe TedTalk here

Jennifer Wienke: I’m not a big reader (at least not a leisure reader) but do enjoy some Netflix or Amazon Prime shows when I can get control of the TV from my 9 year old and my husband. If football, golf, or some version of a kids show isn’t on, my husband and I will turn on something we’ve heard friends say they are watching. But honestly, what’s inspiring for me isn’t something I watch or read about. It’s WHO surrounds me - family, friends, coworkers. Every day I watch some amazing people and see the challenges that each person is facing. Seeing the strength of those around me makes me strive to be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague. I am so grateful for all of these people who have made me who I am today.

Jaclyn Wollett: My husband and I have been watching a lot of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix—it’s short, casual, and funny. What I love most is Jerry Seinfeld’s ability, through casual interviews, to dig into the creative process with all of these successful comedians—his peers. What I find most inspiring is that no two of them approach comedy or the comedy scene the same way, nor do they get the same thing out of comedy. It reminds me that the creative process, in all industries, as well as our career journeys, are unique to all of us and are shaped in different ways.

In an episode with Martin Short, Short says, “I tend to, with funny people, I’m so delighted with something that’s been said funny... I’ll immediately turn and tell three people because a funny line that is clever is the most exhilarating thing in the world.” Short also asks Seinfeld, “So you’re starting out, you’re doing standup, before the pilot. What’s in your mind, accomplishment to be creatively successful or fame, what’s motivating you?” And, Seinfeld responds, “Well why would you separate them, first of all? It’s show business. It’s like saying, ‘I want to be a banker and I want to be successful, but not with money.’”


What’s inspiring you today? We're all about sharing! Leave us a comment and you may see it on a future edition of the LIST. Are you looking for more specific employer brand, recruitment marketing, or talent attraction resources to be inspired by? Check out another post on our blog

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