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Q1 2017: What We’re Reading, Watching, and Listening to

At ABT, learning is a vital part of our work. But beyond keeping tabs on the latest trends for our technical work, our team strives to open our minds to new ideas that fire our professional imagination. From novels to nonfiction, from thoughtful documentaries to binge-worthy TV, from smart podcasts to pulse-pounding rap, here’s what the awesome people of ABT are reading, watching, and listening to:

READING:

Townsley Minton, Senior Account Executive – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This quick and easy read is essentially Chick Lit meets Who Done It. Readers are taken to a beautiful beach community in Australia where events culminate in a murder during a fancy fundraising night at the local school. Town gossip fuels the plotline, and I found at least one character to whom I could easily relate. Larger issues of bullying, domestic violence, and social perception are explored, giving the novel a bit more heft than the normal beach read. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a piece of fiction that will distract from normal life.

Allan Maule, Senior Writer/Content Strategist – Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy

As someone who spends a lot of his workday writing, I really love books about the craft of putting stories and words together. Thrill Me is this kind of book. Percy breaks down all kinds of techniques for building suspense in a story, defining a setting, and establishing characters. Besides being a fun read, this book is giving me some new ideas for how to plan and write content for ABT and our clients. After all, great content marketing is just large-scale storytelling.

Stewart Arthur Pelto, Account Executive – Realityland by David Koenig

This book follows the Walt Disney Company from Walt’s plane flights over undeveloped Florida wetlands to the construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and maybe a little more, I’m nearing the end). Reading this is teaching me to champion smart production schedules and good, healthy language at work.

Jennifer Herndon, Chief People Officer – The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman

In The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman uses psychological research and data to determine what motivates us at work. Here are a few things I’ve learned: allowing failure can promote innovation, being respected by your peers feels better than a raise, and having autonomy at work is a basic psychological need that naturally motivates us. I highly recommend this book for managers, leaders, or emerging leaders. Friedman follows up each chapter with action items that will help create a work environment that allows people to do their best work.

WATCHING:

Jorma Pelto, Internal Support Engineer – Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I recently re-watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, my all-time favorite documentary dealing with Jiro, a now 91-year-old 3-star michelin-rated chef and his son, Yoshikazu. If you enjoyed Chef’s Table on Netflix, the executive producer is the director of Jiro, which is a must-watch. The film follows Jiro’s career, as well as the preparation required each day to produce sushi on that level. I was struck by a quote from Jiro at the very beginning of the film about work ethic. He put into words how I feel about work and life in general, my need for constant improvement and dedication to see something through to the very end as thoroughly and as best as I can. It’s an ideal I hope will become more prevalent in today’s workforce:

“Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Rachel McKay, Office Administrator – Grand Tour

As a dedicated Top Gear fan for the last 10 or so years, I was deeply depressed when it was announced that my favorite British trio would no longer be appearing on my regularly scheduled programming. Luckily, it seemed that Amazon Video felt the same way and decided to do something about that, cue, Grand Tour.

Grand Tour is the twin brother to Top Gear: full of country-wide car rides accompanied with odd tasks, facts about the hottest luxury cars, the test Ebola track (now done by “The American” instead of “The Stig”), and of course the constant insults and pranks from Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. The fun, new part about this version of Top Gear is that it changes locations each week, and thus you get to learn about that particular place’s “car culture”, which is a neat little feature. In this show you will get great comedy, lots of car eye-candy, and even a couple of explosions. I would highly recommend it to just about anyone.

LISTENING TO:

Matt Deal, Senior Digital Strategist – Lore

One of the reasons I like the podcast Lore is the purposeful storytelling about the supernatural. Aaron Mahnke (the creator) has a cadence that draws you in and creates an experience and makes you feel things. That’s what I always hope to achieve with marketing. Not just hawking things, but creating experiences that make people think.

Eileen Allen, VP of Experience and Strategy – A Tribe Called Quest

Music can affect mood, creativity, and focus. To me, A Tribe Called Quest’s latest album We got it from Here…Thank you 4 Your service does all that and more. It’s nostalgic, socially relevant, and dynamic in the variety of samples and instruments. From beginning to end, the album carries you as a great novel would. In the same way, at ABT we want the work we produce to carry users through an engaging and dynamic user experience from end to end. The album is timeless. As I approach 40, it’s encouraging to see “older” musicians proving once again they are masters of their craft, making fresh and vital art. I can listen to it on loop and continue to find nuance as I hope users find in our products.

Kendall King, Senior Digital Strategist – Metallica

You’re damn right I’m listening to Metallica!  The biggest metal band to roam this earth, and one of the most influential bands in my life, is finally relevant again!  Their newest album, Hardwired….To Self Destruct, is a throwback to the style of hard-hitting, speed-riff metal they showed off in the albums Kill’em All and Ride The Lightning. This album sounds like the Metallica many of us fans have craved for over 25 years (since 1991’s black album—some might argue since ‘86’s Master of Puppets).   

With today’s technology and social media pushing hoards of new songs, artists, and music genres in our faces, it feels great to be reminded of where my musical influences started. And even though I recently saw Beyoncé in concert (And it was incredible!), my musical soul is still deeply rooted in rock ‘n roll.