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Patricia Reed, Technology Growth Leader & Mentor, On the Books That Helped Her Understand People & Situations

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Today’s book-talk is with Patricia Reed, a Technology Growth Leader and Mentor.

Patricia lived and worked on four continents: she’s originally from Texas, USA, moved to Norway as a child, then to France, Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now has been living for over a decade in Singapore.

Patricia holds two MBAs from top-ranking business schools UCLA Anderson School of Management and the National University of Singapore.

Her career in tech started at Cisco, where she spent nine years. She’s now working as a consultant and coach, advising business leaders on transformation and technology integrations.

She also volunteers her time to be a mentor at Female Founder, where she guides business founders on their journey to achieving their visions.

Find out more about the books that left deep marks on her and lessons learned from them.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 8 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

For non-business, I loved “Atonement“, by Ian McEwan. The portrayal of vastly different interpretations and outcomes from a single moment was thorough, unvarnished, and raw. I agonized and worried about the main character, and turned pages as fast as I could, hoping for resolution. As for a business book, I loved Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt. It had many stories and examples about how strategy is often misconstrued, and what leaders can do to ensure they have a proper strategy.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

I’ve been reading a few non-fiction books recently, one in particular was useful, “Why Won’t You Apologize?” I’ve noticed how defensive people can be, yours truly included, versus apologizing. (Full disclosure, I haven’t told my husband I read the book, and he might not believe it.) It helped me to understand the need to apologize for whatever part of a situation I contributed to, even if I don’t feel that it was necessary. When my kids mess up, and conversations escalate, I often ask them, “what are you doing right now?” They are able to identify they’re being defensive, and then choose to apologize, which de-escalates the situation as they recognize their responsibility. I tell them children don’t apologize, but grown-ups do. It’s an important lesson, and one I’m still learning for myself.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

The Power of Now“, by Eckhart Tolle, as well as “A New Earth“. Understanding the ego, and being able to separate it from self, is a powerful thing. It has changed my outlook on people and situations, and made me able to see my inner critic for what it is, and choose how I want to engage or respond to situations.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read mostly online, for books, I’ve started listening to a lot of audio books. I never skip to the end of a book to see the ending, but I do quit books that don’t capture my imagination. I tend to borrow novels from the library, or pick up one that my husband has bought.

How do you make time for reading?

I read best on vacation, away from distractions. At home, I find audiobooks have been the best way to ‘read’. I listen on the bus, putting on my makeup- wherever. I even got through Anna Karenina by Tolstoy recently. An audiobook was less daunting than the huge book. I never would have made it all the way through.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I’m kind of a hermit. I have a broad range of topics I’m interested in from nutrition to politics, not to mention technology. I listen to a number of podcasts, I tend to choose ones that make me happy and open my mind – The Moth, This American Life, How I Built This, and Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. I keep up with the news at a high level, but I don’t like podcasts about it.

How do you choose what books to read next?

Often, for beach type reading, I’ll choose an author I know, and enjoy, like Jodi Picault. If I want something that stretches me, I’ll ask one of my coaches. Best sellers lists are also good, and I like Bill Gates recommendations. He and Melinda have become such inspiring people.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

My family reads voraciously, a lot more than I do. I’ll ask them sometimes. Occasionally, my son will beg me to read something he loved. Our tastes are quite different, but his excitement is enough to make me read it.

On a side note, I’m often asked how we got our children to love reading, I have my husband to thank for modeling, but also our being strict about screen time allowance. Their love of reading is the best friend they will ever have.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m currently reading “The Sympathizer“, which has won many awards, been a NYT bestseller, AND recommended by Bill Gates. It is unusual as it is written by a Vietnamese American, and I don’t remember ever reading anything that talked about a that particular immigrant experience. It is funny, enlightening, and serious all at the same time- a rare accomplishment.

All books mentioned by Patricia Reed in this interview:

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