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The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,221 ratings  ·  353 reviews

Foreword by Laszlo Bock, the bestselling author of Work Rules! and former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google

An inspiring guide from Dolly Chugh, an award-winning social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business, on how to confront difficult issues including sexism, racism, inequality, and injustice so that you can make the world

Kindle Edition, 325 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by HarperBusiness
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Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Well, I am not really unbiased ;-)
Jerome Kern
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although peppered with engaging personal anecdotal stories, “The Person You Mean To Be,” by Dr. Dolly Chugh is, at its core, an evidence-based recipe book for getting over the psychological inertia that keeps you at rest, helping you move from “thinking about how to be a better person” to actually “becoming a better person.”

I like to think of myself as a good person. We all do, right? Recently, though, it has become harder for me to square that self-image with my lack of tangible action against
Robin Schachter
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
POW! This book hit me between the eyes, in the heart and in the gut. Dr. Chugh combines wit and wisdom to help all of us notice - and start to SEE - the myriad inequalities, oppression and imbalances people in our world experience. And then, with stories, hints, suggestions and questions, all grounded in her up-to-the-minute research, she teaches us how to LEARN and start to ACT in ways that can make a difference. This book's clear writing style and the author's personal perspective makes the wo ...more
Jeff Wilser
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for anyone between the ages of 13 and 90. That’s not a joke. Every day, it seems like there’s an even more depressing story in the news. Racism. Sexism. Religious intolerance. Real people are being hurt. These are tough, uncomfortable topics, and as a straight white guy who wants to do the right thing, I’m never really sure what, exactly, I should be saying or doing.

Dolly Chugh’s fascinating, smart, thoughtful book is a welcome light in this darkness, and it has
Kris Patrick
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m sorry, friends. I won’t be lending this one. It stays on my desk.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up. There is some GREAT info in here, no doubt. Lots of research and it's put together well. My issue comes from some twitching I did at various parts - just opportunities in some of the anecdotal stories that could have educated the reader more and centered BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices. For example, there's a story of a woman using the n word and a Black woman overhearing this White woman use the slur. The slur was reported and the White boss, who was the fo ...more
Rob McQueen
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read this as part of a book club. As a book-club book, it opens the conversation to topics that might not otherwise reveal themselves. In this way, I'd recommend the book.

However, I found the book itself to be too simplistic in its arguments. It presupposes what it means to be "good" and argues from the outset that we all want to be good people. It further argues that we should aim to be on the right side of history. Such statements are devoid of normative content. The Nazis said the same thi
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Person You Mean to Be is an extraordinary book that helped me answer questions I’ve been grappling with for a long time. I am a true believer in equity, diversity and inclusion but have often found myself paralyzed by fear, discomfort and/or the sheer enormity of the problems facing the world. As hard as it is to admit, I have let too many opportunities slip by having done nothing to be a part of the solution. The Person You Mean to Be helped me stop beating myself up about it and showed me ...more
Lorri Perkins
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That feeling. When a bunch of fragmented, private thoughts and uncomfortable conversations come together and suddenly begin to make sense… that is this book. Dolly Chugh did an amazing job of combining stories, research data and her insight to help me see things in a different light.
This book is not a lecture. This book is an accomplished thinker and builder extending her hand to help us all. If you’ve ever thought that our societal, systemic issues of bias are overwhelming and bigger than you,
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m the target audience for this book- a white, good intentioned woman. In this book, Chugh moves through the good intentions and biases that people carry and explains the negative impact on people of color using anecdotes. I repeatedly thought: I do that, I do that...and she gave growth inducing feedback of how to grow. It allowed some incredible self reflection. I’m so grateful I read it.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"I had hoped that [good people] would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress."*

Martin Luther King wrote those words in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail in 1963. More than 50 years later, many of those same dams still exist - and even though many of us think of ourselves as good people, if we're honest, we're often much more focused on ou
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a time where bias, privilege, marches and riots have become part of our day to day lives, Dr. Dolly Chugh has come along with a “how to” book to navigate this very complicated world in which we live.

I have thought of myself as empathetic to those who fall into minority groups. However, in my reading of "The Person You Mean To Be," in which Chugh illustrates, through a series of interviews and vignettes, how bias and privilege affect even the most tolerant of us, I have learned that even thos
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this for a book discussion at work and really enjoyed it. Chugh adeptly weaves together personal stories with psychological concepts, and does so in a way that is engaging, accessible, and non-threatening (an important tone if you want to bring a book into a primarily white workspace).

I found her distinction between "light" and "heat" to be helpful, as well as the idea of "ordinary privilege" (as opposed to "white privilege," which many people find threatening). The description of gatewa
Ramya  Pratiwadi
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read many books and articles about overcoming bias. Dolly's book is by far the most compelling, informative, and well-written book! What makes this book so great is that it weaves together personal stories, research, and great narrative to keep the reader engaged and interested in fighting bias. A must read for all! ...more
Mike Zickar
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, self-help
One of the best books I've read on how to fight bias within yourself and others. It's based on psychological research which the author does a great job explaining in easy to understand language and completed with a large numbers of case studies, historical information, and anecdotes.

This is a great book for white people to read to help fight our own biases. . .
Tracey March
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm recommending this book to everyone I know! Accessible, informative, evidence-based, and with concrete advice on how to fight bias and deal with the facts that it can be uncomfortable and you will make mistakes (that you can learn from) along the way. Can't say enough about this one. ...more
John Crippen
Katy Milkman's How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be led me to this title. She and Dolly Chugh were grad students together and big fans of Max Bazerman. This title focuses on using a growth mindset to overcome biases. The whole book, an easy but thought-provoking read, was worth it for me just for her way of explaining the difference between diversity (a gateway) and inclusion (a pathway). ...more
Feb 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I needed to read this book for school. I think this is the best book I’ve read for school. It was a great way to understand some of the barriers to DEI and gave great tips for how to be a better person and business leader. The examples were readable and it was very easy/enjoyable to read. I highly recommend!
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Person You Mean to Be grounds an understanding of bias and how it manifests in psychology research. I especially appreciated Chugh's reframing from a fixed mindset and binary good vs. bad people to a growth mindset and "good-ish" people who are trying to get better. The focus of the book is much more on the biased working on their biases, rather than the impact on those who are biased against—a valuable perspective, but limiting at times. ...more
Catherine Price
Jul 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
An evidence-backed, well written guide describing how we can become less biased and more inclusive, both as individuals and as a society. Practical and enjoyable to read!
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening take on how to be more inclusive. I especially liked (and was pained by) the bits about the tailwinds many marginalized groups face. Also liked the encouragement to think of myself as a work in progress, and when I stumble to look at ways to improve.
Natalie Park
Jul 31, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
4.5 stars. Chock full of great information and how-tos that makes me think. I’ll probably revisit the information somewhere down the road as I’m sure I’ll keep learning and will see other gems with a new perspective.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help

I give some serious kudos to a book that made me rethink some of my long standing beliefs. For example, Dolly Chugh made the best argument I've heard for slave reparations and really made me rethink my blind spots to my own privileges.

I would call this book disturbing, in a great way. Yeah, my head is now less clear with the waters muddier ... and makes me doubt if it's possible to be a good, or goodish person. I get that ideally we should be looking at each person at humans with their own battl
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This culmination of research and interviews is an approachable, evidence-based work that does a good job of coaxing the reader into awareness without judgement or reprimand. The aspirational undertones of fighting bias and making the world better for marginalized people is substantiated with tangible action items and relatable examples from different walks of life. Understanding that there is a gap between who "good people" are and who "good people" want to be is foundational to this book; but a ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Dr. Dolly Chugh reveals the how all of us "good people" view others through our own unconscious biases, which causes our well-meaning actions to not be as beneficial as we had intended. There is so much to be learned from this book, and the lessons she provides expertly combine evidence-based research with real-world examples from people she has interviewed, and from her own life.

The result is an engaging, fascinating, and eye-opening guide to improving how you think about and exp
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are you wondering on this MLK holiday, what you can do to honor the legacy of Dr. King? Read this book, then buy a copy for someone else.

If, like me, you ask yourself just about every day, what should I be doing, please read this book. If you want to be a better ally, use your privilege, get a few realistic ideas on how you can be just a little bit closer to the person you mean to be, please read this book.

Dolly Chugh identifies as a "female, foreign-born, person of color" who teaches at NYU St
Spela Trefalt
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! For anyone who cares about diversity and inclusion, this is a must read! The book is really engaging and pushes us to move beyond thoughts to actions. Important for me, Dolly Chugh gives very specific and doable suggestions at times when I struggled to come up with some on my own, suggestions on how to keep becoming a better person, one that not only has good intentions but does good deeds. I cringed and I smiled and I hugged the author in my thoughts many times for sharing her own struggle ...more
Eliza Armstrong
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing and important book, and I could not recommend it more. The mix of stories and science and action-steps makes it incredibly compelling. Dolly Chugh helps us understand why there is a space between the people we are and the people we mean to be, and she gives actionable steps we can take to close that gap. Her willingness to be humble and honest about her own life made it easier for me to see myself in both the stories and the science. I really do feel like Chugh and her book is ...more
Charnjit Singh
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With all of the chaos in the world around us, especially with respect to issues of bias in race, gender and sexual orientation, Dolly Chugh elegantly sheds light on how we can and should get involved and be the people we mean to be. It is rich with references to social science research and easily engaging anecdotes teaching us how we can be "doers" and not just believers. The book will challenge, teach and inspire us to embrace a growth mindset to be better people as we fight our biases.
It is a
Vivek Upadhyay
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wear many hats: oncologist, husband, son, and householder. These hats, combined with my passion for continuous learning, reading, and politics, fill my life with questions. How do I help educate others on the latest news in politics from the books I've read? How do I have difficult conversations with my patients and their families? How do I live my life without letting my own biases affect my decision making? Insights from this book helped me think about answers. Most importantly, I learned to ...more
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