Each year, I develop the curriculum for The Wise Women’s Council, and put together a series of books that ranges from business development to cultural commentary to parenting to comic relief. (We need all of these things in our life.) This year’s book club is so good, and I’m thrilled by the books we’ve got on our list for our year together.

The Wise Women’s Council is a women’s leadership program for entrepreneurs and business women navigating career, pregnancy, and parenthood at the same time.

I’m developing the 2020 curriculum for our Wise Women’s Council — a women’s leadership program for entrepreneurs navigating career and parenthood at the same time.

When I posted the list to a group of friends, a woman I know wrote back: “Ha! Do you know women business owners who are parents who can read that many books in a year? They must be speed readers!!”

So let me back up a second. We have a book club specifically for parents. We’ve designed things a little bit differently around here, and the last thing I want you to feel is overwhelmed, behind, or like you’re not “completing the homework.” This isn’t homework.

Let me explain how our book club is different.

We have a book club where we pick one book per month, based on our themes for the year. What I ask of you is to pick out your top two or three for the year. Browse through the titles, and see what calls to you. There will most likely be a book—or two—that says “HI, READ ME PLEASE, THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN RIGHT NOW.” Maybe the book on messy business growth and honing your leadership skills is your everything, and you’re not in need of any more parenting books.

I want you to listen internally and hear what calls to you. Then, pick two. Or three.

You have a permission slip to skip months. This is not for a grade, and there is no urgency to do everything. We go slow and steady and have something for you to pick up and join each month, as it suits you. You also have nine months to read through your two books, and I publish the book list in advance, so you can put a hold on books at the library and read them when you get to them.

I deliberately give instructions not to read all the books, but to join in for the months that are most relevant to you and your business. Then, in our online portal, I also put together a short summary, link to articles about the books, or links to youtube videos so that you can still join the conversation if you want to (even without reading the actual book.) Often, I interview these authors on the podcast, so if you’re able to listen to a podcast while commuting or prepping lunches, you can dive into the conversation.

The purpose of the book club is to spark deeper conversations and connections.

The other challenge with book clubs is finding the time to meet up — we’ve solved for that, too.

Out entire book club is hosted on Slack and it’s asynchronous, because making meetings is another huge blocker for parents. In fact, one of the most important things about The Wise Women’s Council is our philosophy of adding as few meetings as possible to your calendar. We meet only a couple times a month in real life (twice if you’re in the community mastermind, weekly if you’re in the group coaching program). Everything else is online and synced to your schedule.

For the book club specifically, we have a channel in our Slack room, and the book club is held the last week of the month. I post one new question per day about the book for discussion, and we thread it up with our experiences, reflections, and notes. Sometimes people come back to a book weeks later and revive a thread because it’s suddenly relevant to their lives, or they remembered something else that feels pertinent.

The wise women I know want to be able to have richer and deeper conversations — but the modern world of work and parenting can be a huge blocker.

One of the design challenges for our group program is finding a rhythm that works well for extremely busy people with schedules that constantly change and adjust.

Our program design is carefully constructed for working parents — you can listen more about it on our podcast episode about the design of the mastermind. People WANT to be able to have richer and deeper conversations and this forum has worked really well.

My aim with all the iterations of the design of this program is to find the sweet spot of intellectually challenging but not overwhelming—to find a place to allow for growth and conversation, while also not making you feel like you’re “missing things” and can’t keep up with the program pace. That’s why our book club is optional, easy to join, and the reading is not required (unless there is a book that you really want to dig into.) Last year, for example, one person said reading “Do Less” changed her whole approach to business and helped her get less anxious and THEN fessed up that she watched the video interview with Kate and didn’t even read the book but it STILL impacted her life.

If a book inspires you to shift your life or change how you show up in the world, then the book did a great job.

In our world, reading the books is not homework, it’s not a to-do list, and it’s okay if you skip all the books—the impact is what matters, and a book can change your life even if you don’t read the entire thing.

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