If you’re looking for a great gift to place under the tree or stick in a stocking for a passionate leader or military professional – 3×5 Leadership is here to help! Below are our favorite items of 2020 – a year marked with many changes in lifestyle and working habits – and the things on our own gift lists. We hope these can help you show the working professional in your life how much you care and make their life a little easier.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We hope you and your family are safe and well.

The Professional in the Workplace

Levenger 3×5 Index Card Leather Holder. This is still our favorite 3×5 index card holder that we continue to use. The intent behind the name of 3×5 Leadership means that we are always ready to learn and jot down any lessons or ideas. This leather carrier is a great way to keep index cards readily available for any moment. Military personnel can also check out the Rite in the Rain carrier for a more austere field environment.

Levenger Bomber Jacket Briefolio. Whether in the workplace or working from home, we have found that we tend to need to keep a number of items with us as we travel from the office to meetings or just to stay organized, even at home. We can easily be carrying a tablet, legal paper pad, meeting notes or references, etc. at any given time. We like to keep those consolidated and organized in this convenient and beautiful bomber jacket.

WriteyBoard Whiteboard. If you’re like us, a whiteboard is a must-have in any working space. Honestly, we’d just love to have all of the walls in our workspaces to be floor-to-ceiling whiteboards. Short of that, the new WriteyBoard is an amazing resource. The WriteyBoard whiteboards are rollable, transportable, and super simple to use. These can help make any table or wall space a great brainstorming or collaboration location. When we learned about the WriteyBoard this year, we immediately bought two.

2020, The Year of Physical Training at Home

With limited to no access to gyms, many of us had to get creative with our physical training (PT) resources. It was even more challenging for those of us without a basement or garage. Here are some items that made PT feasible in our new COVID-restricted environments. The beauty of many of these items below is that they can all be kept in the back of a truck or in a trunk for use anywhere.

Training Sandbags. So versatile for a wide range of exercises. Definitely the best PT equipment we bought for 2020.

Other Supplemental Training Equipment. If unable to purchase or create a full workout gym at home, we loved keeping pullup bars, kettle bells, an ab wheel, and a training slam ball at the house or in the car.

Army Combat Fitness Test Training. For our Army readers, though delayed, the ACFT was and is still happening; training and preparation cannot wait. We found this MTI limited equipment training plan was an outstanding 7-week ACFT training program to use with limited or no access to gyms or other training resources. With an 80-pound sandbag (above), 8-feet of rope, a 10-pound training slam ball (above), and access to a pullup bar and flat running route, this proved to be an outstanding training program amid limited access to other resources.

Self-Development Resources

Audible Subscription. We like to emphasize the use of audiobooks to continue pouring into our self-development while engaging in routine, mindless activities (commuting, chores around the house, walking the dog, and even running). We like Audible because it has the most robust resource of titles available. You can give the gift of Audible book credits or a monthly subscription. You can also check out a Kindle membership for those who enjoy a digital reading platform (tablet, Kindle, etc.).

Harvard Business Review Subscription. HBR is still our favorite professional development subscription resource. We like the digital and print subscription because you get the bi-monthly magazines and access to their massive digital library of articles. We sign-up for the daily alert emails to get rollup emails of new articles, which can be tailored to your preferred content and topics.

Apple AirPods (or other wireless headphones). Non-standard gift recommendation here, we know, but hear us out. We recommend the standard type, not the new pros, because they enable you to still hear your surrounding environment and they hold up just fine under hours a week of PT. They are great for listening to audiobooks or podcasts while running, mindless chores, walking the dog, or even middle-of-the-night parent duties (if you’re a new parent like us). You can use with only one headphone in if needed, as well. We’ve just found these to help enable our own continued self-development so much each day. We used to have Bluetooth headphones where the ear pods were connected via wire and it proved to be too cumbersome. These AirPods made developmental listening much easier.


While not all new books in 2020, these were our favorite books that we read this year.

Leading with Gratitude, by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton. Our favorite book of the year on a topic that we are very passionate about. We enjoyed the stories, leader examples, and the application offered throughout.

Leadership is Language, by L. David Marquet. Great second book from L. David Marquet (first was Turn the Ship Around!) exploring the importance of language as a leader – showing us what we say, how we say it, and even what we don’t say is critical to team development and performance.

Burn-In, by P. W. Singer & August Cole. Wonderful new science fiction story on the future of the robotic revolution by two of our favorite sci-fi authors.

Welcome to Management, by Ryan Hawk. Built from over 350 podcast interviews, Ryan Hawk summarizes his greatest leadership and management insight sourced from the best in the world. Simple read, interesting stories, and relevant lessons throughout. This is certainly a book we wish was published and we had read a decade ago as we started our own leadership journeys.

Made to Stick, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Very helpful model to help think through how to craft messages as a leader.

Bonus Gift Idea: Self-Care Is For Everyone Clothes

So, this may be way out in leftfield for many, but Self-Care Is For Everyone was our favorite clothing brand of 2020. Their clothing items are just great ways to more easily model some of our favorite leadership topics like psychological safety and empathy. They have a large selection of designs, but some of our favorite t-shirts and sweatshirts included the messages of “Feelings are okay,” “It costs $0.00 to be a kind human being,” and “You are safe, you are loved, it will be okay” (actually wearing this last one as a sweatshirt as I type this). We just think these can be a unique gift, maybe for the high-EQ leader in your life!

Affiliate Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites; some of the links contained on this post are affiliate links. If you click on an Amazon link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission. This revenue is used to offset the continued personal costs associated with maintaining 3×5 Leadership. I only recommend products and services I use and believe will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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