Deb's Top 10 Must Reads 2020


I developed my passion to read at the earliest of ages. Since my mother wouldn't allow me to watch television past 10pm or to have a TV in my room, like most of my friends, I resorted to books. I would get lost in pages full of robots, spaceships and terrifying creatures, to mention a few. Whenever she'd check up on me, I would quickly turn off the light and pretended I was sleep, only to turning it back on as soon as she left. One of my favorite memories from Buenos is spending weekends in our house by the river, lying on a hammock under a tree, devouring book after book.

Fast forward a few years, as an adult who has to make a living (like most human beings), I don't have the luxury of time. However, thanks to apps like Audible, I can "read" 24/7, whether while on a bike ride or while commuting. There is no time to waste and too much to learn.

Below is a list of my top 10 books I've read/listened to this year. They have helped me grow both on a professional and personal level, as I strive to become a better human being and help make this world a better place for all. I hope they help you on your journey as well.

If you would like to recommend your favorite book, or have read them below and would like to share your experience, email me at debra@bridgesunite,com. I'd love to hear from you!

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek


On my first day at my day-job, a speaker introduced my team to a model called “The Golden Circle”. It explains how legendary leaders like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright brothers were able to inspire, rather than manipulate, in order to motivate people. It is the framework for the WHY, which inspired me to build Bridges Unite.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: 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? “Start with Why” shows that the leaders who've 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. If you need to be reminded of your purpose, or are looking for it, this book will help you put things into perspective.

2. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love to sleep. Getting out of bed in the morning has always been a struggle, and this goes back to my parents getting me out of bed for kindergarten. That being said, getting to bed is also hard. As a night owl, ideas flow freely when the stars come out and the crickets begin to chirp. But, as a manager at a Fortune 500, and the founder of Bridges, it was crucial to make time to work out in the morning, allowing me to work on my passion after my day-job. That’s when this book comes in.

In “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. From the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, he presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. The biggest take away is that there is a cue, a habit and a reward. We cannot change the cue or the reward, but we can change the habit by understanding how they work, and replacing them with other habits. By understanding how habits work, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.


So, before bed I prepare my work out gear, and when the alarm goes off at 5am (cue), and my first instinct is to stay glued to the bed (habit), I magically get out, put on my work out clothes and hit the gym (new habit), and feel amazing, powerful and ready to take on the day (reward). The same concept I have applied to many areas in my life, and it surely will help you achieve those rewards feeling great about yourself.

3. Insight: Why We're Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life, by Tasha Eurich

This book is a jewel, and one that I wish I had come across earlier in my career. Research shows that self-awareness—knowing who we are and how others see us—is the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. There’s just one problem: most people don’t see themselves quite as clearly as they could. To make matters worse, people around us don’t necessarily see us the way we see ourselves.


There may come a time when we may be blindsided by our bosses, direct reports or peers, through feedback that is completely unexpected, or even worse, a resignation letter or getting fired. Fortunately, that self-awareness is a surprisingly developable skill, and the meta-skill of the 21st century.


Tasha Eurich explains that self-awareness is “the ability to see ourselves clearly, to understand who we are, how others see us and how we fit into the world around us.” Most people feel like they know themselves pretty well. But what if you could know yourself just a little bit better and with this small improvement, get a big payoff…not just in your career, but in your life, avoiding being blindsided?

Through her research and stories of people who have made dramatic gains in self-awareness, she offers surprising secrets, techniques and strategies to help you do the same—and how to use this insight to be more fulfilled, confident, and successful in life and in work. Definitely a treat to have a spectacular 2020!

4. Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek

Another book by Sinek, who begins by explaining that when we cooperate or look out for others, serotonin and oxytocin reward us with the feeling of security, fulfillment, belonging trust and camaraderie. Serotonin is the feeling of pride, it makes us feel strong and confident, like we can take on anything, Oxytocin is the feeling of friendship, love or deep trust. It’s the feeling we get when we are with our closest friends, or do something nice for someone. It is vital to our survival instincts. Cortisol, however, is responsible for our stress and anxiety we experience when something goes bump at night, it inhibits the release of oxytocin.

Now, imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things. Imagine working in an environment where leadership tells the truth, layoffs are not default in hard times. The result, thanks to the increased levels of oxytocin and serotonin is trust and cooperation. This is what work-life balance means. If we have strong relationships at home and at work, if we feel like we belong and protected, oxytocin can diminish the effect of stress and cortisol.

Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why? The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last," he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort--even their own survival--for the good of those in their care. Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a "Circle of Safety" that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside. In fact, our marketing team received this book for the holidays from our lead, a man whom I admire very much, and has the best leadership style I’ve encountered.

This book is for everyone out there, looking to bring goodness into the world. We are all leaders and we should all eat last.

5. The Right It: Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed, by Alberto Savoia

This book was recommended by my boss. As the forces behind our digital transformation, it is crucial that we know how to strategize and execute ideas that will succeed. You’d be shocked to learn that the law of market failure tells us that up to 90 percent of most new products, services, businesses, and initiatives will fail soon after they are launched—regardless of how promising they sound, how much we commit to them, or how well we execute them.

Millions of people around the world are working hard to bring to life new ideas. Some of these ideas will turn out to be stunning successes that will have a major impact on our world and our culture: The next Google, the next Polio vaccine, the next Harry Potter, the next Red Cross, the next Ford Mustang. Others will be smaller, more personal but no less meaningful, successes: A little restaurant that becomes a neighborhood favorite, a biography that does not make the best-seller list but tells an important story, a local nonprofit to care for abandoned pets.

At this very same moment, another group of people is working equally hard to develop new ideas that, when launched, will fail. Some of them will fail spectacularly and publicly: like New Coke, the movie “John Carter”, or the Ford Edsel. Others will be smaller, more private, but no less painful failures: A home-based business that never takes off, a children’s book that neither publishers nor children have any interest in, a charity for a cause that too few people care enough about.

Using his experience at Google, Alberto Savoia offers with detailed case studies, a lesson on creating your own hard data, a strategy for market engagement, and an introduction to the concept of a pretotype (not a prototype), The Right It is a groundbreaking, entertaining, and highly practical book delivers a proven formula for turning ideas, products, services, and businesses into successful endeavors.


As Alberto writes, “make sure you are building The Right It before you build It right”.

6. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy

How many times have you forced yourself to be “present”, to beg your mind to stop wondering and come back to planet earth? Or as Amy Cuddy puts it, have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret. By accessing our personal power, we can achieve "presence," the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves. We don't need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives. From the way we present ourselves, to the way we sit or articulate our words, everything we do, every detail can make us feel more powerful and therefore help us succeed in our endeavors. Amy Cuddy has risen to fame with her TED talk about "power poses." In this book she explains the science underlying these and other body-mind effects, and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same. Read it and began observing yourself, it’s a real eyeopener.

7. Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, a Franklin Covey Title

Let’s be honest - how many of you have had formal Project Management training? If you haven’t, you are not alone. In today’s workplace, employees are routinely expected to coordinate and manage projects. Yet, chances are, you are managing projects on a regular basis. That being said, you’re an unofficial project manager.

The authors of this book understand the importance of leadership in project completion and explain that people are crucial in the formula for success. They offer practical, real-world insights for effective project management and guides you through the essentials of the people and project management process: Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor/Control, and Close If you’re struggling to keep your projects organized, this book is for you. If you manage projects without the benefit of a team, this book is also for you. Change the way you think about project management—"project manager" may not be your official title or necessarily your dream job, but with the right strategies, you can excel.

May 2020 be your most productive year yet!

8. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, by Josh Kaufman

Like many out there, I have not had the opportunity to get an MBA, and for most, getting an MBA is an expensive choice-one almost impossible to justify regardless of the state of the economy. Even though I would consider it, I choose to get my unofficial education through my day-job and Bridges, as we build this organization I’m so passionate about.

Josh Kaufman was on the same boat. He founded PersonalMBA.com as an alternative to business school. His blog has introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to the best business books and most powerful business concepts of all time. In this book he shares the essentials of entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, negotiation, operations, productivity, systems design, and much more. The Personal MBA distills the most valuable business lessons into simple, memorable mental models that can be applied to real-world challenges. He explains concepts such as the Iron Law of the Market, the 12 Forms of Value, the Pricing Uncertainty Principle and 4 Methods to Increase Revenue.

True leaders aren't made by business schools - they make themselves, seeking out the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to succeed. Read this book and you will learn the principles it takes most business professionals a lifetime of trial and error to master. Apply them at your day-job or venture!

9. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcom Gladwell

Blink is not only informational but highly entertaining. Have you ever wondered why there are some people that are brilliant decision makers, while others constantly make the wrong decisions? Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem.

Gladwell introduces us to a psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

10. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

Another book by Charles Duhigg, who explores the science of productivity, and why managing how you think is more important than what you think. He shares eight key productivity concepts - from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making - that explain why some people and companies get so much done.

Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics, he explains that most productive people, companies, and organizations don't merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways. You will be surprised to learn that the filmmakers behind Disney's hit Frozen were nearly out of time and on the brink of catastrophe - until they shake up their team in just the right way, spurring a creative breakthrough that leads to one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

The way we frame our daily decisions; the big ambitions we embrace and the easy goals we ignore; the cultures we establish as leaders to drive innovation; the way we interact with data: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive. Charles helps understand how we can improve at the things we do, to succeed with less stress and struggle, and to get more done without sacrificing what we care about most - to become smarter, faster, and better at everything we do.


Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Debra Natasha Pogorelsky has been driven by a passion for tech and startups. She kick-started her career in Toronto with one of Facebook’s first marketing partners. After relocating to Miami, Debra joined the agency world, applying her expertise to acquire and grow Fortune 500 accounts.


Her passion, creativity, and connections have led her to create Bridges Unite and she is a force to be reckoned with in female empowerment and business building. In her day-job Debra drives PepsiCo’s Beverages portfolio’s digital transformation. She is an intrapreneur who has successfully navigated the Fortune 500, the tech world and the agency space.