Books for Breastfeeding Executives, Social Entrepreneurs & Advocates

 Today’s the last day you can get free 2-day shipping on Amazon, so if you’re wondering what book to get your favorite breastfeeding advocate or breastfeeding non-profit executive, we’ve put together a list of some of our top picks.   Mind you, these are NOT breastfeeding books – the Motherwear blog already put out a stellar list of breastfeeding books to get for your expecting or new friend or relative, or if you want to brush up on the latest breastfeeding science. 

These books are different.   The books we’ve listed below have influenced us as we’ve brainstormed how to truly transform the breastfeeding movement and build the “mother of all causes” in the footsteps of Susan G. Komen, the American Heart Association’s Red campaign or the March of Dimes.   Breastfeeding is still underappreciated in our culture, and is certainly woefully underfunded, so we need a sea change if we want breastfeeding as an issue and a cause to take it’s rightful place, as the mother of prevention, at the table.   We need true social entrepreneurs (as defined by the Ashoka Foundation) to work with us to develop innovative solutions if we want moms and babies to achieve their breastfeeding goals without being booby-trapped, and if we want breastfeeding rates to rise. 

Here are some of the books that have fascinated and inspired us:

How to Change the World:  Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein.   My husband gave me this book six years ago and I cried when I read it because I finally felt like I wasn’t crazy (well, the jury is still out on that one).  It is an incredibly accessible and riveting book; if you want to know how to change the breastfeeding infrastructure or make the world a better place, start here.   The explanation of true social entrepreneurship and the stories of ordinary individuals who transformed the world are mesmerizing.  Read about ordinary people  who were obsessed with a problem, envisioned a new solution, built organizations to protect and market that vision, and who had the energy to overcome inevitable resistance until that vision went from being a marginal idea to the new norm.  

Money Well Spent:  A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy, by Paul Brest and Hal Harvey.   What “How to Change the World” is to inspiration, “Money Well Spent” is to tactics and a solid game plan.   Written by the President of the Hewlett Foundation and the President of the Climate Works Foundation, respectively, this book is densely packed with everything anyone with a checkbook needs to know before donating a dime, conversely, it is enormously instructive to non-profits seeking grants and wanting to create sustainable organizations.   I love that it opens with some of the biggest philanthropic failures (like the $500 million Annenberg education flop) and impresses how precious and critical the relatively tiny pool of foundation grants is in solving the world’s problems.   Bill Gates wrote the cover endorsement.  We’re particularly proud that Best for Babes is mentioned favorably on page 208, and that we contributed information about Baby-Friendly hospitals and the “Babies were born to be breastfed” campaign (p.210).  I also happen to really like the cartoons, and this book is my #1 choice to finish reading and re-read in 2011.   

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.  We talk a lot about reaching a tipping point in breastfeeding; this book breaks down how the behavioral changes of a few influencers, connectors and knowledge-spreaders can spread like viruses to become an epidemic.   I thought the explanation of how violent crime dropped in New York to be particularly interesting, and there are lots of applications to the work breastfeeding advocates do throughout the book.   There’s a reason it’s been a bestseller for so long, it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to change the breastfeeding culture.

Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  This book was recommended to us by Nicole Green at Frank About Women, the advertising & marketing firm that designed our stellar pro-bono advertising campaign.   It is invaluable for understanding why breastfeeding myths prevail but decades of evidence-based science struggle to penetrate human consciousness.   Since much of the breastfeeding movement is made up of scientists and health professionals, this is an excellent book for helping all of us change the way we communicate about breastfeeding so that our messages resonate in the mainstream and “stick” in people’s minds.

Freakonomics:  A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner.   Put it this way: if we could get the authors of this book to explore the freakonomics of breastfeeding, we might reach a tipping point!   I couldn’t put this book down, and Chapter 6 is a must read, as it explains why we parents worry about the wrong things. 

Robin Hood Marketing:  Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes by Katya Andresen.   I bought this book at the United States Breastfeeding Committee Annual Conference that we presented at last January, because the author gave an excellent presentation.   I hope that every one of the 41 member agencies represented purchased it too, the first chapter should be required reading for every executive director of a breastfeeding non-profit.   For 2 years, Danielle and I have been  like a broken record whereever we go; explaining that it’s not the benefits we should be talking about, it’s the barriers, and that we don’t need more breastfeeding science, we need more and better marketing.  After all, the formula industry spends $2-$3 billion – that’s one-third of it’s budget – on marketing.  No matter how small our breastfeeding organizations are, if we’re not dedicating a substantial portion of our resources to marketing, we’re dead in the water.   Translation: we need fewer conferences, and more ad campaigns, celebrities, cause marketing, social media and public relations outreach (and I’m sure I’m missing a few).  The good news is that Katya Andresen shows how it can be done for less $$$ and greater impact  in the non-profit world.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W.Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.   I admit I haven’t read this book, but Danielle did after a breastfeeding non-profit executive told her it was what we were doing:  persuading companies to stop the fighting over a shrinking profit pool of the small percentage of  mothers who succeed at breastfeeding (a bloody “red ocean”) and instead help us beat the booby traps™ so that more mothers breastfeed, creating a larger “blue ocean” of more mothers succeeding and a larger market sector. It’s on my desk to read this year.   

Have you read any of these and did you like them?  Any books we missed?

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