A friend asked me recently to recommend a business book. Here are my top 10.
1. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
So, he’s basically my main man. I re-read this book every couple of years. Each time I gain different, fresh insights. The key takeaway, “Get the right things done.”
Personal story…he taught the first business class I ever attended. It turned out to be one of his last lectures. He was 93 at the time. He led the discussion from a wheelchair with a microphone propped on his shoulder. Afterwards, I had a short conversation with him. I mumbled and got flustered and generally did not make a good impression. Oh well…
2. Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker
Yep, him a again. This is a short read and free here. Questions it helps you answer: How do you learn? How do you work? What are your strengths? What are your values? What are your weaknesses? How can you contribute? What opportunities should you pursue? You can find my answers here.
3. The Tao of Leadership by John Heider
An updated, fresh translation of the Tao Te Ching, (the book of how things happen or work). It’s 81 little chapters. Some of the content is familiar (ex. a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step). There are three main concepts. First, natural law (or how things happen), second, a way of life or how to live in conscious harmony with natural law, and finally, a method of leadership that works with how things happen. You can flip to any random page and it will have something relevant to say. Even a few minutes of reading helps me to see things from a different, larger perspective.
4. Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
I’m not a sports fan. In fact, I have a sports ban. But that didn’t stop my friend Scott Stephen from recommending this book about leadership and teams. It’s a great read even if you don’t understand basketball (like I don’t). Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” –Phil Jackson. He proves it.
From the Amazon review: “He revealed how he directs his players to act with a clear mind–not thinking, just doing; to respect the enemy and be aggressive without anger or violence; to live in the moment and stay calmly focused in the midst of chaos; to put the ‘me’ in service of the ‘we’.”
5. Propaganda by Edward Bernays
Sigmund Freud’s nephew wrote this classic on communication in 1928. It’s still fresh. And he never backed down from the controversial title, Propaganda. He’s considered the father of public relations. It gave me a foundation for understanding the philosophical and practical side of PR. Thanks to Oliver Perrin for recommending it.
6. Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
This 1980’s short read on marketing helps me get into the prospect’s way of thinking. Invaluable. I re-read it every couple of years. The concept of the “creneau” alone is worth the read.
7. A Spy’s Guide to Thinking by John Braddock
This one is hot off the press. Released in May, 2015. An ex-CIA officer talks about decision making. It’s short and fun. We’re applying its concepts now.
8. A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine
This is how a Stoic philosopher tackles work-life balance and other challenges of contemporary life and work.
From the Amazon review: “Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.”
9. The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries
This is a book about trying things in order to learn. The world is hard to understand. This guide helps companies figure it out through the scientific method. Got an idea? Test it. Learn something. Then repeat the process.
10. Emily Posts’ Etiquette by Peggy, Anna and Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning
We’ll end for now with a Drucker quote: “It’s a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. Two human beings in contact with each other therefore always create friction. And then manners are the lubricating oil that enables these two moving bodies to work together…” And this is the best guide I know. It’s not fusty…it’s actually a good read.
What are some of your favorite business books? Drop in the comment section and let us know.