The Best Of SXSW 2023

 The Best Of SXSW 2023

These 6 books highlight the annual festival’s quintessential experience.

South by Southwest (SXSW) 2023 was back in full force this year. Discussions and panels centered on artificial intelligence (AI), changes in the workforce, how to live longer and live better, and the changing definition of success. The six books in this reading list are the works of CEOs and authors who either gave keynote addresses or participated in panels at the event.


Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World 

Ginni Rometty, Harvard Business Review Press, March 2023, 272 pages, $30, hardcover

Under former chairman, president, and CEO Ginni Rometty’s leadership, IBM reinvented 50 percent of its portfolio, built a $25 billion hybrid cloud business, and established leadership in AI and quantum computing while achieving record results in diversity and inclusion.

Named one of the four “Most Anticipated Business Books You Need to Read in 2023” by Inc., Good Power is part memoir and part inspirational advice for using power to make transformative and meaningful social change. Rometty recalls her journey from first-time manager to CEO in relation to her five principles—be in service of others, build belief, know what must change and what must endure, steward good tech, and be resilient—which give a road map that anyone can apply to achieve real change at any stage of their life and work.


Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately

Daniel Lubetzky, Ballantine Books, March 2015, 304 pages, $27, hardcover

While best known as the founder and CEO of KIND Snacks, Daniel Lubetzky is also the founder of PeaceWorks, the OneVoice Movement, and the apparel company Maiyet. Through his business-building and investment platform, Camino Partners, Lubetzky partners with the next generation of entrepreneurs. A proud Mexican-American, he cofounded SOMOS, a convenient, better-for-you Mexican food brand.

Ten years after its founding, KIND became the fastest-growing purveyor of healthy snacks in the US. In Do the KIND Thing, Lubetzky shares the principles that have shaped his business model while offering an unfiltered look at the hurdles faced by social entrepreneurs. Inspired by his father, who survived the Holocaust, Lubetzky shares how he followed his vision of creating a business that makes great products as well as making the world a better place. Additionally, his experience sets an example on building a brand, communication, and transparency in business as well as shines a light on why good intentions alone do not sell products.


The New Rules of Work:
The MUSE Playbook for Navigating
the Modern Workplace

Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, Currency, September 2019, 336 pages,
$17, softcover

Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathyrn Minshew are the co-founders of The Muse, a career platform used by more than 75 million people. The Muse was named one of Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World and ranked third in Most Innovative Company for Enterprise.

In today’s workplace, the rules for finding a job and the skill sets required to navigate emerging career shifts and paths are constantly changing. This book explores the new reality of the job hunt, the shifts in the workplace, and finding a career that aligns with personal as well as professional values. If you want to expand your career options and thrive, or if you want to understand the path to hiring employees seeking more than a salary—those who are seeking the “right fit” and the ability to make an impact—this book is a must-read.


Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans
in the Age of Automation

Kevin Roose, Random House, February 2022,
272 pages, $17, softcover

Kevin Roose is an award-winning technology columnist for the New York Times and a New York Times bestselling author of three books: Futureproof, Young Money, and The Unlikely Disciple. He is the co-host of Hard Fork, a New York Times-produced podcast about the rapidly changing world of technology. He writes and speaks regularly on many topics, including automation and AI, social media, disinformation and cybersecurity, and digital wellness.

Understanding and navigating the world of AI was a dominant topic at SXSW 2023. Roose’s latest book, Futureproof, is billed as a survival guide for the age of AI, which is upon us. Rather than promoting fear of AI, this book has been celebrated for presenting a “clear, compelling strategy for surviving the next wave of technology with our jobs—and souls—intact.” In its pages, Roose shares the secrets of people and organizations that have successfully navigated waves of technological change and explains what skills are necessary to stay ahead of the curve.


The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work and Thrive in the Next Decade

Rohit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason, Ideapress Publishing, March 2023, 336 pages, $28.95, hardcover

For the past decade, Rohit Bhargava and Henry Coutinho-Mason have been on the front lines of the future through their work, independently leading two of the most successful trend consultancies in the world: the Non-Obvious Company and TrendWatching. Their research has taken them into cutting-edge labs, private testing facilities, and invite-only showcases across the world. 

In a post-pandemic world, predicting the future is anything but predictable, and defining “new normal” is even more difficult. The Future Normal spotlights ideas and instigators who are changing the world. From biophilic skyscrapers to generative AI, the stories offer an optimistic yet deeply human view of the next decade. Along the way, they tackle some of the biggest ethical and societal questions raised by progress.


Getting Along: How to Work With Anyone (Even Difficult People) 

Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review Press, September 2022, 304 pages, $30, hardcover

Amy Gallo has written hundreds of articles for Harvard Business Review, where she is a contributing editor. She is a workplace expert who frequently writes and speaks about gender, interpersonal dynamics, difficult conversations, feedback, and effective communication. For the past three years, Gallo has co-hosted HBR’s Women at Work podcast, which examines the struggles and successes of women in the workplace.

Billed as a “research-based, practical guide for how to handle difficult people at work,” Getting Along identifies eight familiar types of difficult coworkers—the insecure boss, the passive-aggressive peer, the know-it-all, and the biased coworker, among others—and provides strategies tailored to dealing constructively with each one. Using relatable examples, behavioral science, and practical advice, Gallo demonstrates how to navigate tough relationships and difficult work colleagues by taking the oftentimes tricky high road and making these relationships work on your own terms. 


First appeared on

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne

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