It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
A year when some commuted to the office while others worked from home. A time when jobholders and seekers yearned for comfort and growth. Whoops — this isn’t a modern version of Dickens, it’s a holiday gift list for the workers in your life.
Cameras on laptops stink and are hard to position to make you look great. The ones on smartphones are only a little better. So, gift a webcam. Razer’s Kiyo line includes the Kiyo Pro, Kiyo and Kiyo X with prices from $49.99 to $99.99 and, depending on which one you choose, offer features like auto-focus, studiolike lighting and more. An added plus: These can be used for gaming, too.
Lumina ($175) is another option. Its interface not only makes it easy to adjust your images but, if you’re so inclined, you can simply say “auto,” and its AI will do it for you.
For those who look gray as a cinder block on conference calls, gift Lume Cube’s videoconference lighting kit ($79.99) which offers settings for brightness and color and mounts to your screen or a tabletop stand.
For the creative in your life, there’s also the Razer ring light ($79.99), which is especially good for close-ups (think podcasts and TikTok) with its white diffuser that ensures that your image gets the kind of lighting found in professional studio settings.
Becoming a billionaire wasn’t Bernie Marcus’ first thought when he got canned from his job as a retail manager in 1978. The Newark, NJ, native was 48 and unemployed with a family to support. Yes, he was worried, but he also had an idea for a new kind of home-improvement business.
It became Home Depot.
Marcus’ business memoir, “Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself” (William Morrow, $29.99) is full of stories and humor, and begins: “The start of Home Depot sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: ‘Two Jews and an Italian decide to build a new kind of hardware store…’ ”
Marcus is a storyteller with some exciting friends; Pitbull wrote the book’s foreword. Isaac Herzog, president of Israel, is among the notables who praised it.
Have someone on your team, or in your life, who is always asking for help with correspondence? Or maybe they don’t ask and deliver an embarrassment. There’s no need to talk to them about their shortcomings; you can give them the gift of Grammarly Premium instead ($12 per month).
This app will not only point out and correct subject and verb disagreements, but also help an individual address writing clarity, vocabulary and tone improvements. And when it comes to wordy emails and project reports, they can be made more concise.
According to Gallup, only 15% of us feel engaged in our work, which means that Marcus Buckingham’s newest book “Love + Work” (Harvard Business Review Press, $28) makes an appropriate gift for 85% of the people you know.
Buckingham is a friendly guide who insists you find love in your work, because without it, the other parts of your life will suffer, as will your co-workers and loved ones. “You are not a sectioned being, with one slice over here balanced out with one slice of personal life over there,” he writes.
In other words, the lack of love in your work life bleeds over into your personal life and the lives around you. If Buckingham is right, this book will return love to you through the person who reads it and takes its suggestions seriously.
Résumés are a necessary evil. They demand that you reduce the entirety of your work life onto a few sheets of paper, highlighting your most impressive accomplishments. If you’re like most people, you second guess yourself on every fifth or sixth word, not sure if you sound like you are boasting or you are underselling yourself. And what about the font?
If you care about someone who is tortured like this, the gift of résumé assistance may bring great relief. Gift cards from services like TopResume are available, and packages start at $149 and include a subscription to Career.io, a new, all-in-one career management platform.
Other résumé-assistance providers include Resume as a Service, or RaaS, (a $24 per month digital subscription) which helps you optimize your CV for specific positions. Interview coaching ($149) is also available.
Work can be a lonely place, regardless of where you are and how many people you interface with. In “Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All In” (McGraw Hill, $28) authors Ryan Jenkins and Steven Van Cohen write that 72% of global workers feel lonely monthly, and 55% feel lonely at least weekly.
“Loneliness shaves 15 years off a person’s life,” they write, adding that “Loneliness should be as important to managers as it is to therapists.” Worry not, the authors aren’t preachy, and they offer simple exercises like speaking last when you’re in a meeting and listening to understand rather than to respond, with illustrations to help you visualize what the authors are saying. This makes a great gift for anyone who wants to go from feeling isolated to all in.