Episode 19 – The Breakfast (Book) Club

Welcome back to Episode 19, friends, and to our fairly blatant rip-off of Desert Island Discs. You can listen below or on your favourite podcatcher, where you can search “Support Breakfast” or follow one of these clickable links: Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play Music.

If you enjoy the episode, please do hit that subscribe button to keep us in your life. Already subscribed? Thanks – you’re the greatest! If you feel like leaving us a review in any of the platforms above, that would make us so happy.

This week we’re asking “what 2 books would you take to a desert island – where you still worked in support?”. Given the need for wifi to still do our jobs, maybe by “desert island” we mean The Isle of Wight. Or maybe we’d be doing the digital nomad thing and traveling light.

Dave and Conor both managed to stick to the assigned question, while Lisa managed to narrow it down to 13 books. Who needs more than 2 outfits on a desert island, anyway?

But first, breakfast:

  • Conor had beans on toast (and delicious coffee)
  • Lisa had some grapes and then a hot cross bun and then some Pringles. (She wins least healthy breakfast).
  • Dave had jam on toast and bowl of tea

Support stories

Lisa extols the virtues of Bluebird Tea Co. and their people, who replaced the tea that she dropped, and Conor speaks about how important it is to empower your employees to make decisions that allow them to offer great experiences for customers. Dave talks about how Buffer’s community team are empowering the happiness team to also give out swag to customers that have helped. And just because.

Jo Malone in St. Pancras station have a claw machine. Or they did when Lisa went past a few days ago.

Dave had a great experience with the helpful, friendly and cheerful people of EE.


We’ve had lots of tweets about our SUPCONF special episode. Thanks for your tweets, friends!

If you’d like to request one of our fancy stickers or to send us your feedback, greetings, selfies, topic suggestions, questions about customer support or gifs (preferably of animals doing adorable things), you get in touch via Twitter @supportbrekkie or email hello@supportbreakfast.com

And so to the books. I’m not going to tell you in these notes why we’ve recommended each one but I’ll let each book speak for itself.

Conor’s recommendations

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

Often the worst thing you can do with a difficult question is try to answer it too quickly. When the mind is coming up with What If possibilities, these fresh, new ideas can take time to percolate and form.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave, sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.

Bonus pick: The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun

What no-one could possibly know is at the click of a button from any of our web browsers, we could launch features that would instantly have an impact on millions of people around the world. Yet for anyone sitting nearby, for all they knew we were playing solitaire.

Dave’s recommendations

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

(Yes, we’ve used this quote before. What of it?)

The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu (You should start with book 1: The Three-Body Problem)

The Red Union had been attacking the headquarters of the April Twenty-eighth Brigade for two days. Their red flags fluttered restlessly around the brigade building like flames yearning for firewood.

Bonus pick: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The second cataclysm began in my eleventh life, in 1996. I was dying my usual death, slipping away in a warm morphine haze, which she interrupted like an ice cube down my spine.

Lisa’s recommendations

Meanwhile, Lisa is bringing a bag full of books (or maybe a kindle)

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

The problem was simple: I’d decided I was already a pretty good pilot, good enough that I didn’t need to fret over every last detail. And it’s true, you don’t need to obsess over details if you’re willing to roll the dice and accept whatever happens. But if you’re striving for excellence – whether it’s in playing the guitar or flying a jet – there’s no such thing as over-preparation. It’s your best chance of improving your odds.

The Organised Mind by Daniel J. Levitin (according to Goodreads, this book has a subtitle by my copy doesn’t and the subtitle feels misleading so I’ve left it out. This happens a few other times in this list of recommendations)

Numerous special-purpose modules in your brain are at work, trying to sort out and make sense of experience. Most of them are running in the background. When that neural activity reaches a certain threshold, you become aware of it, and we call that consciousness. Consciousness itself is not a thing, and it is not localizable in the brain.

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Remote work is not without cost or compromise. In this world, very few leaps of progress arrive exclusively as benefits. Maybe the invention of the sandwich, but that’s it.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organise our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.

The Silo Effect by Gillian Tett

People who are willing to take risks and jump out of their narrow specialist world are often able to remake boundaries in interesting ways.

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet

What happens in a top-down culture when the leader is wrong? Everyone goes over the cliff.

Lisa recommends this whiteboard video from inno-versity with L. David Marquet speaking about on Greatness. It acts as a good summary of the book. If you enjoy the video, read the book for more.

The excellent Support Ops Hangout podcast (if you’re listening to us, you should definitely listen to them) also spoke about this in more depth in one of their book club episode.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioural alchemy: They can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work. And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity and even upstanding behaviour toppling like dominoes.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

You cannot trace how you came to the belief that there is a lamp on the desk in front of you, or how detected a hint of irritation in your spouse’s voice on the telephone, or how you managed to avoid a threat on the road before you became consciously aware of it. The mental work that produces impressions, intuitions, and many decisions goes on in silence in our mind.

Do You Think What You Think You Think? by Julian Baggini & Jeremy Stangroom

The simple truth is that we can be horribly, tragically, painfully wrong about what is in our heads. Just think of the kinds of things people say all the time. I thought I was in love, but really it was just lust. I thought I had indigestion but actually I was pregnant. I thought I believed in socialism but when I saw my tax bill I realised that I didn’t.

Focus by Daniel Goleman

We think we are held up because of that traffic jam, but the jam itself emerges from the dynamics of highway systems. The disconnect between such systems and how we relate to them begins with distortions in our mental models.

How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott

The trouble is, the modern work paradigm gives us so little sense of completion or clear space that it feels like we’re constantly straining to see the light at the end of a long, long tunnel. And when the light at the end of the tunnel finally approaches, you realise it’s just some nasty bloke with a torch bringing you more work to do.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

You can’t treat your customers like family one moment and then treat them impersonally – or, even worse, as a nuisance or a competitor – a moment later when this becomes more convenient or profitable. This is not how social relationships work. If you want a social relationship, go for it, but remember that you have to maintain it under all circumstances.

And finally:

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

If it had not rained on a certain May morning, Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington’s engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it.

Complete with TERRIBLE cover:

The Blue Castle.jpg


  • Maybe you’d like to read some of the books we’ve recommended. You should definitely also get in touch to let us know which books you’d take to Support Island or if you’d like a book-themed spinoff.
  • Check out Conor’s Goodreads bookshelf The Year of the Female Author.
  • Watch the outtakes from Lisa’s book review video for Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve (from 4 years ago, wow time goes by fast).
  • Back SDX on Kickstarter while you still can. It’s going to be amazing.
  • Check out The Great Suspender Chrome extension to free your computer from the weight of all the Chrome tabs you’re probably using (if you’re anything like us).
  • Conor’s Twitter timeline is full of helpful and informative articles, which he uses Buffer to schedule.

As always, you can get in touch with us on hello@supportbreakfast.com, find us on the internet at supportbreakfast.com or tweet at us @supportbrekkie.

You can leave us a review on iTunes, preferably with 5 stars (and a book recommendation but we will love it even if it does not include this information).

As ever, our intro (and outro!) music is the brilliant Drops of H2O (The Filtered Water Treatment) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Airtone. It is not Drops of Jupiter by Train, but if you like that song, you can listen to it here. Nor is it by J.D. Lang.

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