Learning Impact 2023: The Shortlist

Here are the Nominees for getAbstract’s International Book Award 2023 in the “Learning Impact” Category.

Launched in 2001, the getAbstract International Book Award is among the world’s oldest, continuously presented non-fiction book awards. The “Learning Impact” category, first introduced in 2022 and curated by a jury of renowned learning experts, recognizes original contributions in the L&D and HR space. All nominated titles are must-reads for L&D leaders!

The jury will choose their winners in October. These are our nominees for 2023:


Tiago Forte:
“Building a Second Brain”

Profile Books, 2022

In today’s Information Age, you can’t rely on your brain alone to remember facts and retain information, says productivity expert Tiago Forte. Trying to keep abreast of the nonstop flow of information will overwhelm you. When Forte suffered a chronic, debilitating illness that damaged his working memory, he developed a smart note-taking system to help him function. He outsourced the cognitive demands of remembering to intelligent machines so he could focus on creative work.

As the world becomes more complicated, it is harder to keep pace with technology. Learning techniques to effectively manage information by creating what Tiago Forte calls a ‘second brain’ is an interesting and fascinating way of thinking about organizing time and energy. I particularly liked his idea of distilling information as you are acquiring it in a manner that is easily retrievable. With AI, this takes on even more meaning.

Karl M. Kapp, Jury Member

Forte shares actionable insights to help you create your own personal knowledge management system – your “Second Brain.”

Image of: Building a Second Brain
Book Summary

Building a Second Brain

Harness the power of technology to keep track of what’s essential to fuel your creative work.

Tiago Forte Profile Books
Read Summary

In our exclusive interview, Tiago Forte reveals some immediately applicable tricks for making your second brain a useful tool:

Kevin Wilde:

Kevin Wilde, 2022

Veteran leadership development executive Kevin Wilde persuasively argues that learning to accept feedback as a leader has far more value than learning how to deliver it. This concise, intriguing read offers copious data and field research demonstrating how leaders can make the most of feedback, improving their “coachability.” More importantly, he believes anyone can develop coachability and outlines numerous strategies.

The people best positioned to give managers feedback are their employees. Yet many bosses are too arrogant or too proud to solicit feedback from their underlings. If you are the long-suffering employee of an overconfident, arrogant boss, you might consider anonymously leaving a copy of Coachability on your manager’s desk.

Deirdre Cody, Jury Member

Wilde brings 17 years as head of leadership and talent management at General Mills, along with his current cutting-edge research at the University of Minnesota.

Image of: Coachability
Book Summary


Become a better leader by learning to harness feedback.

Kevin Wilde Kevin Wilde
Read Summary

Curious about the author and the book? Read our interview with Kevin Wilde:

Nelson Sivalingam:
“Learning at Speed”

Kogan Page, 2022

Learning tech expert Nelson Sivalingam argues organizations must put aside traditional, plodding approaches to developing learning content and adopt Lean and Agile principles instead. By creating “minimum valuable learning” content and iterating toward a fully viable product in sprints, professionals can develop relevant learning linked to business outcomes – at greater speed.

Useful advice for L&D managers and company leaders. Whether or not you agree with every point made in the book, it does a terrific job of showing L&D leaders the mindset they need to succeed today.

Donald H. Taylor, Jury Member

Sivalingam, who heads a learning technology platform, refreshingly refrains from using his book as a marketing ploy, offering a convincing case for bringing Lean and Agile to L&D.

Image of: Learning at Speed
Book Summary

Learning at Speed

Learn to speed L&D by applying Lean and Agile approaches to content development.

Nelson Sivalingam Kogan Page Publishers
Read Summary

Do you want to know more about curating world-class content in L&D, AI-powered adaptive learning and Intelligent Tutor Systems? Read our interview with Nelson Sivalingam here:

Thomas D’Eri:
“The Power of Potential”

HarperCollins Leadership, 2023

Since Tom D’Eri and his father John launched Rising Tide in 2013, it has become one of the highest-volume car wash chains in Florida, with a retention rate five times that of its competitors. D’Eri shares his formula for success: Put employees first by offering them clear job roles, efficient processes and empathetic, organized managers.

Organizations were already struggling with disengaged employees and massive skill gaps. In 2023, Al came onto the scene like a freight train and exacerbated organizational crises everywhere. This book hits on what organizations can do to deconstruct the related problems in their organizations and reconstruct them in meaningful ways that balance human-centric thinking with business performance.

Christopher Lind, Jury Member

Fully 80% of D’Eri’s employees are autistic. By addressing the needs of his unique workforce, D’Eri overcame numerous talent management challenges that plague many businesses.

Image of: The Power of Potential
Book Summary

The Power of Potential

A successful business owner makes clear the emotional and business benefits of hiring and nurturing diverse employees.

Thomas D’Eri and Sara Grace HarperCollins Leadership
Read Summary

Minette Norman & Karolin Helbig:
“The Psychological Safety Playbook”

Karolin Helbig, 2023

In their concise and insightful guidebook, consultants Karolin Helbig and Minette Norman offer 25 actionable tips leaders can implement immediately to improve psychological safety at work. They outline five skills leaders must harness to do so: communication, listening, emotional regulation and managing failure and inclusion. Each of the five skills is handily accompanied by five ways to implement them.

A crucial attribute of high-performing teams is whether its members feel engaged, seen, heard and trusted. The authors present an actionable playbook for team leaders so they can confidently and methodically implement critical behaviors that empower their team to achieve at the highest level.

Brandon Carson, Jury Member

Accessible and inspiring, this handbook fills a long-standing gap in the literature on psychological safety: exactly how to nurture it in relationships, teams and cultures.

Image of: The Psychological Safety Playbook
Book Summary

The Psychological Safety Playbook

Learn 25 practical tips you can apply immediately to improve psychological safety and enhance organizational learning.

Minette Norman and Karolin Helbig Karolin Helbig
Read Summary

In our exclusive interview, Karolin Helbig and Minette Norman explain why there is a gap between knowledge and action when it comes to psychological safety, and that this gap is easier to overcome than assumed:


Jason Wingard:
“The College Devaluation Crisis”

Stanford University Press, 2022

Learning strategist and longtime university executive Jason Wingard argues US colleges are failing to keep pace with the rapidly evolving skills landscape. Employers are seeking innovative training solutions to keep workers up to speed as the market-based value of a traditional university degree faces a precipitous decline.

This book captures the urgency and call to action that is important in the capability crisis we are currently in. The author lays out a strong argument for re-architecting how we think of jobs and meeting our workforce where they are and then developing the skills and capabilities we need.

Brandon Carson, Jury Member

Wingard covers the history of higher education, outlines recent tectonic shifts in the educational landscape, and profiles emerging alternative learning models.

Image of: The College Devaluation Crisis
Book Summary

The College Devaluation Crisis

The market value of a college degree is in decline. Understand the implications for learners, employers, educators and policymakers.

Jason Wingard Stanford UP
Read Summary

Lily Zheng:
“DEI Deconstructed”

Berrett-Koehler, 2022

In a comprehensive and candid text, one of the DEI field’s most respected and popular strategists, Lily Zheng, unpacks the booming multibillion-dollar industry. The author claims DEI initiatives largely deliver feel-good talking points but few measurable solutions. Zheng meticulously “deconstructs” the meaning of DEI, then redefines it broadly to increase multi-stakeholder buy-in and reduce backlash. They consider data, measurement and hard outcomes the only real proof of impact.

Organizations may question the importance of DEI strategies if they cannot see measurable results. This guide provides effective strategies that can turn good intentions into tangible outcomes.

Danielle Goodrum, Jury Member

This foundational tome delves deeply into strategies that can help turn good intentions into tangible results.

Image of: DEI Deconstructed
Book Summary

DEI Deconstructed

From one of the field’s most respected strategists comes a challenging and rewarding deconstruction and re-purposing of the DEI industry.

Lily Zheng Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Read Summary

Josh Bersin:

Ideapress, 2022

HR guru Josh Bersin applies his vast knowledge of motivation and learning to the challenging environment organizations face today. Based on extensive research into “irresistible” companies – those that maintain employee engagement over the long term – Bersin sets forth seven principles for attracting and retaining talent. His core theme: Field well-trained managers devoted to people’s growth and happiness and reap the dividends as workers flourish.

A compelling collection of use cases from some of the world’s top companies that are focusing on employee-centric processes and cultures to highlight the employee experience and its connection to business value.

Brandon Carson, Jury Member

The book has won praise from luminaries such as Adam Grant, Arianna Huffington and Daniel Pink, and Bersin is developing various projects to highlight his findings.

Image of: Irresistible
Book Summary


Build a high-performance organization by treating employees well.

Josh Bersin Ideapress Publishing
Read Summary

Daniel Willingham:
“Outsmart Your Brain”

Gallery Books, 2023

Psychology Professor Daniel Willingham offers tips for learners and trainers in his research-backed guide to improving how you acquire and retain knowledge. Willingham’s recommendations, based on insights from cognitive psychology, frequently upend common wisdom about studying, test-prep and teaching.

Although this is focused on study rather than workplace learning and at the individual rather than organisational level, this can definitely help employees and employers flourish.

Donald H. Taylor, Jury Member

The brain, Willingham says, doesn’t know the best ways to learn; hence, intuitive methods often don’t produce the best results. Instead, Willingham offers counterintuitive – but brain science–based – tools for learning and training, as well as a revised understanding of the important role played by motivation and confidence.

Image of: Outsmart Your Brain
Book Summary

Outsmart Your Brain

Become a better learner, teacher or trainer with this detailed guide from a cognitive psychologist.

Daniel Willingham Gallery Books
Read Summary

Are you curious about the author and the book? Read our interview with Daniel Willingham:

Selena Rezvani:
“Quick Confidence”

Wiley, 2023

Leadership consultant and best-selling author Selena Rezvani offers an array of easily implementable, actionable tips to boost your confidence. Gathered from coaching sessions with thousands of professionals at Microsoft, HP, the World Bank, the US Treasury Department, and many more, these learnable skills fall into three categories: mindset, embodiment and interpersonal.

In Quick Confidence, Selena Rezvani makes a case for trusting and believing in yourself and provides powerful, practical advice on how to be the best version of yourself.

Dr. Hendrik Dietrich, Jury Member

This comprehensive approach to growing your confidence has already garnered over 90,000 subscribers to Rezvani’s LinkedIn newsletter. Now, collected in one place, they’re ready to put into practice.

Image of: Quick Confidence
Book Summary

Quick Confidence

Use these actionable tips gleaned from thousands of workshops to grow your confidence skills day by day.

Selena Rezvani Wiley
Read Summary
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