Alex Cavoulacos’ Bookshelf

The co-founder of the popular career website TheMuse.com shares the biz books she turns to for advice.

Alex Cavoulacos

The working world has definitely changed. It used to be that career trajectories were linear; People in previous generations tended to pick one professional path and stick to it. Switching companies every few years wasn’t the norm, and changing careers was even rarer.

Today, technology has given rise to a whole new swath of positions (social media manager, anyone?) that never before existed, as well as providing more ways to find opportunities and research the companies who are hiring. However, we don’t discover and apply for jobs the same way anymore and employers don’t find applicants the way they used to. So what’s a job seeker to do?

Enter Alex Cavoulacos. Along with her co-founder Kathryn Minshew, Alex launched the career site TheMuse.com. The Muse is an online resource that not only posts job opportunities with hundreds of companies, it offers original career advice from prominent experts, and access to coaches for personalized, tailored career help. The Muse is all about helping you find a job you love that you can be successful at—awesome, right?

Not only the founder, Alex is the COO at TheMuse.com, where she focuses on the product, engineering, and operations, and creates and launches new features weekly—in short, she makes sure the site runs. The Yale graduate has spoken at SxSW and was named one of INC’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech and Forbes 30 under 30.

While The Muse’s amazing advice is available digitally on their site, Alex and Kathryn recently published The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career. Through quick exercises and structured tips, they teach readers how to sift through today’s ever-growing menu of job options, build a personal brand, communicate your experience to your dream employer, ace the interview and negotiate your salary. For those already in a great job, they provide invaluable advice on networking, managing up and getting ahead—alltips you need to thrive in the new world of work.

Besides assisting all of the loyal Musers, Alex also helps lead a team of over 115 employees, which isn’t always easy. So, she does what any bookworm would do and turns to other experts to teach her the best ways to grow a business, create a cohesive company and be vulnerable in positive ways. Alex shared photos of The Muse offices with Read It Forward and talked about the books that have shaped her life and her career. Click on each white dot on the books’ spines below to read Alex’s thoughts about each title and then pick up a copy of The New Rules of Work—and start working it!

Alexandra Cavoulacos Bookshelf

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has written lots of books I love, but this one has a special place in my heart. In it, he talks about a world where almost everyone finds inspiration and fulfillment at work and where work is a place where everyone feels valued and heard. In exploring why some companies and teams have that, and others don’t, he recounts a conversation with a Marine Corps general who said: “officers eat last”. What is symbolic around the table is serious business in the battlefield. Leaders Eat Last is filled with both big ideas and true stories from different industries that inspire me to be the best leader I can be.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly is an absolute must-read. In it, Dr. Brené Brown challenges our society’s notions of vulnerability as a weakness and shows how, rather than being a flaw or limitation, it is actually the key ingredient for a meaningful, engaged life. Being vulnerable is hard, she is first to admit. But she helps readers see that the alternative is far worse; because when we wait to be sure, or to be “perfect” before we attempt something daring, we end up sacrificing opportunities and relationships that could lead to real joy or growth. Her principles apply at work, in life, and in love and have been a powerful guiding force for me.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

There are few things more powerful than habits. Without much effort or conscious thinking, they can make us better, or create a vicious cycle. All habits—whether an exercise, meditation, or gratitude habit or one of mindless eating, smoking or snoozing—work in more or less the same way, but the difference in how they impact our life is huge. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg teaches us why it’s so hard to change our habits and the secret to succeeding in transforming them.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

This book is a great foundation for anyone who seeks to advance in the business world. A business book disguised as a fable, Patrick Lencioni uses the turnaround story of a startup with a dysfunctional executive team to explain the foundations of what a strong leadership team needs. Complete with exercises and questions to do as a group, this is a favorite I come back to every 12–18 months, and recommend to others often.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

If you’ve ever interacted with Zappos, be it as a customer or a job seeker, you’ve probably been impressed with their personal touch and incredible customer service. In Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares his philosophy of running a people-oriented business and recounts the lessons learned through a lifetime of purposeful work. The book preaches that by focusing on the happiness of those around you, you can increase your own in a meaningful way. As someone who works hard in pursuit of impact, joy, and purpose, this resonated greatly with me.

Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor

Do you ever wonder what makes a company “high-performing”? Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor took combined 20 years of experience transforming cultures at Fortune 500 companies, school systems and nonprofits to give us all the blueprint. The simple truth they lay out is that “why people work affects how well they work.” Through both frameworks and inspiring true stories, you learn about how to build a culture that drives total motivation and measure your company today, and as it changes in the future.


Photos courtesy of Alex Cavoulacos.

Get recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
ALEXANDRA CAVOULACOS is the Founder & COO of The Muse.com, where she leads the Product and Operations teams, creating and launching new features weekly. Alex has spoken on WNYC and at SxSW and was named one of INC's 15 Women to Watch in Tech and Forbes 30 under 30. Prior to founding The Muse, Alex was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company's New York office. She graduated from Yale University and is an alumna of Y Combinator in Silicon Valley

About ALEXANDRA CAVOULACOS

ALEXANDRA CAVOULACOS

ALEXANDRA CAVOULACOS is the Founder & COO of The Muse.com, where she leads the Product and Operations teams, creating and launching new features weekly. Alex has spoken on WNYC and at SxSW and was named one of INC’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech and Forbes 30 under 30. Prior to founding The Muse, Alex was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company’s New York office. She graduated from Yale University and is an alumna of Y Combinator in Silicon Valley

[email_signup id="4"]
[email_signup id="4"]