©Susan Smythe-Bishop 2022


I mentioned this book above, if you were going to read one book on personal development, this is it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who will listen :) I have also purchased a couple of his workshops and they are fantastic.


In Seth Godin's most inspiring book, he challenges readers to find the courage to treat their work as a form of art. I would recommend anything written by Seth Godin. His podcast is also great and he has a terrific daily blog that is well-worth subscribing to.

START WITH WHY by Simon Sinek

START WITH WHY asks (and answers) the questions: why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? It shows that the leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act and communicate the same way—and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.


My friend Kate introduced Gabby to me earlier this year and I’ve grown to love her work. I actually experienced a major personal breakthrough reading her most recent work, Happy Days – it was a function of this book delivering the exact the right words that I needed to hear and process at the right time for me. She leans a bit on the spiritual side, which I kind of find fascinating, and is heavily influenced by the work of Marianne Williamson and the late Dr Wayne Dyer, both of whom I admire. I have since read all of her books and think they are all worthwhile but if you were to start with just one – I would recommend either Super Attractor or The Universe Has Your Back. I also love listening to her narration on audio too.



I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across her work, I think I may have seen a video that was shared, but I really loved The Five Second Rule. I LOVE her energy, I listened to this first on audio and then bought the book because I got so much out of it. She is very relatable and it genuinely feels like you’re getting advice (backed by science) from a very smart, hilarious friend. I have also read her The High Five Habit and there are some great takeaways from that too. Both are GREAT to listen to on audio as well.



There are even more books I could list here that I love, Ryan is a very prolific author. These all have their roots in Stoicism, which I am finding very fascinating. His books are quick reads, but very powerful.


HOW TO IKIGAI by Tim Tamashiro

At the start of my recent gap year, I made a decision to really sit down and focus on what it is that I want to do. I haven’t quite figured it all out yet (!) but, this book helped me to narrow down what I think my purpose is. The term “Ikigai” is a Japanese concept for finding your purpose. Previously Tim was a broadcaster with the CBC, he is also a jazz singer and is based in Calgary. The book is an easy, inspiring and delightful read.



Jim sustained a serious brain injury at a very young age and struggled in school as a child. As he got older, he was determined to learn how to learn again – and he did and he has some terrific advice and science-based practices to accelerate self-learning, how to improve communication and memory, some very interesting advice on diet, and on finding your purpose. I really enjoyed this read. 


ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.


In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Combining ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. He transforms abstract lessons into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve relationships, and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can—and should—think like a monk.

THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems areas and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to free up any areas where they might be stuck, opening up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery.


An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

THE UNTETHERED SOUL by Michael A. Singer

What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul -now a #1 New York Times bestseller-offers simple yet profound answers to these questions.

DARLING, YOU CAN'T DO BOTH by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk

From two of the real women behind Dove s Campaign for Real Beauty, a creative, fresh and brutally honest guide to making it in the working world on your own terms. Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk have built their careers on unconventional creative thinking. As ad agency leaders behind Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, they famously championed stripping away the photo retouching and false perfection that force women to conform to narrow beauty stereotypes and leave them feeling lacking. After years of rethinking brands, they decided to focus on rethinking the way women work or, in many cases, the way work doesn t work for women.

PERSUASION by Arlene Dickinson

Blending her own frank stories with compelling social science, she explains how to persuade both in the boardroom and in everyday life: the crucial importance of a particular kind of listening; how to get people to buy into your ideas; how to attract followers and deal with naysayers; the art of storytelling; how to turn mistakes to your advantage; and how to seize opportunities where others see only roadblocks.


Regardless of what you do within your organization and the current circumstances of your life, the single most important fact is that you have the power to show leadership. Wherever you are in your career or life, you should always play to your peak abilities. This book shows you how to claim that staggering power, as well as transform your life and the world around you in the process.


Sharing the astounding story of Julian Mantle, the superstar trial lawyer whose stunning material success masked unhappiness within, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari was initially self-published in a small quantity but quickly became a word-of-mouth inspirational phenomenon that spread across the entire world.

Now, with millions of copies sold, the life-changing wisdom contained in this #1 bestselling classic is even more relevant, as we seek happiness, fearlessness and a life that truly matters in these times of deep uncertainty.


In DELIVERING HAPPINESS, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business, through LinkExchange, Zappos and more.  Fast paced and down-to-earth, DELIVERING HAPPINESS shows how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success – and how by concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own.


Negativity in the workplace costs businesses billions of dollars and impacts the morale, productivity and health of individuals and teams. "In The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work, Jon Gordon, a bestselling author, consultant and speaker, shares an enlightening story that demonstrates how you can conquer negativity and inspire others to adopt a positive attitude." Based on one company s successful No Complaining Rule, the powerful principles and actionable plan are practical and easy-to-follow, making this book an ideal read for managers, team leaders and anyone interested in generating positive energy.

THE ENERGY BUS by Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you ll enjoy the ride of your life!


One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents  in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.

THE NO ASSHOLE RULE by Robert Sutton

A book based on a popular essay written for the Harvard Business Review. It sold over 115,000 copies and won the Quill Award for best business book in 2007.  The theme of this book is that bullying behaviour in the workplace worsens morale and productivity. A rule is suggested to screen out the toxic staff the no asshole rule. The author insists upon use of the word asshole since other words such as bully or jerk do not have the same impact.

"There's an emotional reaction to a dirty title. You have a choice between being offensive and being ignored."

Robert Sutton

FLOURISH by Martin Seligman

This book will help you flourish.  With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman begins Flourish, his first book in ten years and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different it s about actually raising the bar for the human condition.


Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brene  Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

LEAD WITH LUV by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett

Once, there was a remarkable person who led with love. Her company succeeded where its competitors struggled. Its customers were loyal, its employees loved to work there, and it was profitable year after year, for decades. This loving leader began her career as an executive secretary, yet the company's founder chose her to succeed him as president. When asked why, he said, "Because she knows how to love people to success." She is Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines. Lead with LUV is an extraordinary, wide-ranging conversation between Barrett and the legendary Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager. Drawing on personal experience, Barrett and Blanchard reveal why leading with love is the most powerful way to lead and how it can help you achieve truly amazing levels of performance.

DO THE WORK by Stephen Pressfield

Our enemy is not lack of preparation; it''s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications and a million reasons why he can''t/shouldn''t/won''t do what we know we need to do.  Start before you're ready.


Author Steven Pressfield was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad in September 1943. He graduated from Duke University in 1965 and joined the Marine Corps. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a copy writer, taxi driver, bartender, tractor-trailer driver, fruit picker, and worked on oil rigs. He then moved to California and began writing screenplays. In 2000, his debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was made into a movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith. He primarily writes military historical fiction set in classical antiquity. Most of his novels are told from the first-person perspective of the main character.

THE LAW OF ATTRACTION by Michael Lossier

Have you noticed that sometimes what you need just falls into place? Perhaps you''ve met the perfect client or life partner merely by being at the right place at the right time. On the other hand, there are some people who find themselves in one terrible relationship after another or who seem unable to shake off their bad luck.

These experiences are evidence of a very powerful force. It''s called the Law of Attraction, and right now it''s attracting people, jobs, situations, and relationships to you. The Law of Attraction can be defined as: I attract to my life whatever I give my attention, energy, and focus to, whether positive or negative.

There was a time many years ago when my negativity was palpable and I had the confidence of a flea. I played the victim card very, very well. Nothing was fair, the glass was always half empty, the weather sucked, you name it – I could complain about it. When one of my closest friends called me on it, everything changed. Her method of intervention? She handed me a book and subtly suggested that I read it. That was all it took. Based on her recommendation, I read it, I loved it and it literally changed the course of my life and I'll always be grateful to her for it.

That book, Claude M. Bristol's The Magic of Believing, led me to read another, and then another and before I knew it, I was hooked on reading inspirational books about leadership, management, the power of positive thinking, creativity, spirituality and so much more. I learned to see the world through a much more positive lens and my world changed forever, which reminds me of this powerful quote that I have always loved:

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

- Dr. Wayne Dyer

As I navigated my way through a career in the ego-driven film industry, I continued to tap into the power of books for answers and guidance and discovered that, at any time of day or night, I could easily access the mountains of wisdom from others who came before me.

There are two authors in particular who have had a profound effect on me in the last 10 years and I want to shout them out as examples of what a positive impact books like these can have. I think I can truthfully claim that I found myself on a shelf 🙂

ROBIN SHARMA (a Canuck!):

After reading The Leader Who Had No Title back in 2011, I heeded his advice and started to get up at 5:00 am every morning (as opposed to getting up at 7:00 am, which I had been doing forever) and I've been getting up at 5:00 am ever since and it is still my favourite part of the day. By doing so, I found a whopping 730 extra hours each year just for ME. If I'm doing the math correctly - that is over 30 days worth of found time each year. And with that extra time before my busy work day started, I learned to meditate, exercise regularly, journal and I also started draw and tap into and develop my artistic side.

I started doing cartoons as a way to express myself, an art form I didn't even know I was capable of doing. I found my voice and I have Robin and his work to thank for it. And his more recent book, The Everyday Hero Manifesto is phenomenal. I've read it twice now, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Seth Godin's writing is also brilliant and I have his work, The Icarus Deception from 2012, to thank for giving me the courage to share my art through social media. I know myself pretty well, and I know there is no way I would have shared any of my work publicly were it not for his words of encouragement. And after doing so - I ended up having work published in the Toronto Star, not just once but twice. And they paid me for it.

Books, and now podcasts, have had such a profound and lasting effect on me, they still do, they always will, and I am most grateful.

Below is a list of books that I have loved and highly recommend. You just never know when you are going to be hit with the right words at the right time, but it really is magical when it happens. I'll keep adding to this list because I will never stop loving reading inspirational books.