RECOMMENDED READING

We invite you to meet some of the authors and share in ideas that have shaped our thinking, or that we simply think make for great reading.  


Jeff's Bookshelf

 

 

The Power of Habit - Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg, © 2012

This is a crazy-good exploration of habits, their subtle and seductive power over us, and our ability to consciously reshape them for our own good – as individuals, communities and societies. Profoundly insightful, entertaining, and brilliantly simple. Also includes some powerful examples, including how a singular focus on safety transformed Alcoa and what enabled Rosa Parks to ignite a far broader civil rights movement. This will have me thinking a lot about keystone habits, how to identify their cues and rewards, and how to use them to be a better person, mentor and leader. Bravo! www.charlesduhigg.com  Buy>>

 

Mandela’s Way - Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage

Richard Stengel, © 2009

Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary man. Stengel, his authorized biographer, shares lessons derived from the beliefs and experiences that shaped Mandela’s views of the human spirit and enabled his achievements. Mandela’s extraordinary personal discipline and capacity for understanding and forgiveness, despite 26 years in jail, challenge us all to rise above ourselves. (The movie “Invictus” also gives a glimpse of Mandela’s singular leadership in uniting black and white South Africa in the aftermath of apartheid, and is more interesting to watch after having read the book.)  Buy>> 
 Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality

Scott Belsky, © 2010

Belsky, founder & CEO of Behance, has something to teach us all. This book was written for creatives but is helpful to anyone who wants to increase the adoption and impact of his or her ideas. Belsky is also right on the mark regarding leadership: “People who transform industries and change the world are people who have mastered what they love”; and all leaders have “both the opportunity and grave responsibility to create something of value – a value that is rewarding for [the leader] and enriching for all.” Highly recommended. More at www.makingideashappen.com. Buy>>

 The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage

Roger Martin, © 2009

Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, explains why “design thinking” allows upstart competitors to unseat established successful companies built to exploit efficiency. He also explains why human behavior and capital market influences lead companies to focus unduly on the short term, routinely underinvest in innovation, and overemphasize analytical thinking and reliability – even though it can imperil the company.  Rotman argues that, increasingly, competitive advantage will come from the speed with which a company can recognize or re-think opportunities (mysteries), develop valid rules of thumb (heuristics), and implement and codify replicable models that yield predictable returns (algorithms). It’s a quick, refreshing read, with numerous examples of firms and transformation programs that have gotten it right, including Apple, P&G, and Steelcase. Buy>>

 Purpose - The Starting Point of Great Companies

Purpose - The Starting Point of Great Companies

Nikos Mourkogiannis, © 2006

A brilliant treatise and thinker, and an inspiration. Mourkogiannis shows clearly how Purpose is the real source of enduring value-creation in organizations. The casual reader can skip the endnotes and bibliography, but they are also a treasure trove. See more at www.nikosonline.comBuy >>

 Firms of Endearment - How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose
Firms of Endearment - How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose

Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe, and Jagdish Sheth,
© 2007

A well-structured overview of what distinguishes leading firms that pursue a purpose beyond profit and have learned to align the interests of all their stakeholders. One might quibble with the writing style (a bit academic) or the methodology for measuring shareholder return data (which demonstrate that "FOEs" earned 8x more than the S&P 500 over a 10-year period!), but the authors nonetheless make a compelling case for enlightened, stakeholder-oriented leadership. The lessons and common-sense reminders in this book make it well worth reading. Buy >>

Its Not What You Sell, Its What You Stand For - Why Every Extraordinary Bus. is Driven by Purpose
It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For - Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose

Roy M. Spence, Jr., with Haley Rushing,
© 2009

Posits that the performance of any organization with sound management can be amplified by finding and articulating a clear, simple and noble purpose beyond profits - and provides a helpful how-to for doing so. While the premise is not original (Mourkigiannis's treatment is more expansive and profound), Spence brings the message vividly to life with stories from his work with such eminent and diverse organizations as Southwest Airlines, Charles Schwab, BMW
and AARP. An interesting read - and an inspiring speaker. Buy >>

Stirring It Up - How to Make Money and Save the World

Stirring It Up - How to Make Money and Save the World


Gary Hirschberg, © 2008


With missionary zeal, Hirschberg draws lessons from the creation and development of Stoneyfield Farms to celebrate how entrepreneurs can re-invent business in environmentally and socially responsible ways - to delight consumers, protect the environment, secure quality suppliers, build communities, and deliver excellent returns to shareholders. He backs his arguments with parallel examples from other businesses including Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, ZipCar, Seventh Generation, Honest Tea and TerraCycle. It's time that businesses everywhere take notice. Buy>>


Nudge - Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness
Nudge - Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein,
© 2008, 2009

An enlightening and entertaining guide to how people make decisions, and how they can be nudged to make decisions that are better for them, while preserving their freedom not to. The authors have a refreshingly unorthodox take on things. One is left wondering how such common sense approaches to identifying, understanding and solving problems could be so uncommon.
Mandatory reading for anyone in an advisory position, and recommended reading for everyone else - because everyone is a choice architect. Buy >>

Transparency: How Leaders Can Create a Culture of Candor

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor

Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and James O’Toole with Patricia Ward Biederman, © 2008, Jossey-Bass

A quick (120-page) and insightful read on the importance – and business benefits – of transparency, and why it is nonetheless often stifled by the behavior of leaders. Explores both the ageless ethical dimensions of speaking truth to power and why the expansion of information technologies will give increasing advantage to those who embrace transparency – and are willing to put both their beliefs and behaviors on display. One of the three essays sparked my post on how Truth and Profit go hand-in-hand. Buy >>

Crowdsourcing - Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business

Crowdsourcing - Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business

Jeffrey Howe, © 2008

A terrific account of how well-conceived crowdsourcing can create powerful, sustaining and virtuous circles that drive both innovation and efficiency. Explores some great stories, including iStockPhoto, threadless, InnoCentive and TopCoder. Ends with the author's "Rules of Crowdsourcing." Read it with unfettered imagination.  Buy >>

The Drunkards Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives

The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Leonard Mlodinow, © 2008

Provides the welcome assertion that our “ability to persist in the face of obstacles is at least as important a factor in success as talent.” Well worth reading, in order to better understand probabilities and biases in human perception. Bonuses: learn about Pascal’s wager, the Gambler’s Fallacy, and the inherent weakness of a 7-game series in determining the best team in major league baseball.  http://www.its.caltech.edu/~len Buy >>


The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, © 2007

Taleb is one of the most erudite and probing thinkers to have ever graduated from Wharton or any other MBA program. He turns conventional wisdom on its head.  Some of his advice for business and life:  tinker aggressively, avoid over-confidence, step away from the media, be open to the unexpected, invest in preparedness, maximize serendipity, seize opportunities. A fascinating read. See also www.fooledbyrandomness.com. Buy >>


The Laws of Simplicity – Design, Technology, Business, Life

The Laws of Simplicity – Design, Technology, Business, Life

John Maeda, © 2006

This is a quick, informal read by a master of design (now President of the Rhode Island School of Design), on his quest to define the laws of simplicity and apply them to his life and work. See the laws in brief at www.lawsofsimplicity.com. Buy >>


Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Made to Stick Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip Heath & Dan Heath, © 2007

Launches from the very first chapter into why, in order to stick, ideas must be framed for SUCCESS - i.e., be Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. Easy to read and understand, this can make your own ideas more powerful and compelling. Your remembered ideas will gain more importance than they deserve (read The Black Swan and you’ll understand why)!   www.madetostick.com  Buy >>


Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good – The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0

Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good – The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0

Sarah Lacy, © 2008

Provides a behind-the-scenes look into a variety of entrepreneurs, their startups, and their experiences with venture capital. An entertaining read, at least. www.sarahlacy.com Buy >>


Better - A Surgeons Notes on Performance
Better - A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

Atul Gawande
, © 2007

It's no wonder that Gawande is a MacArthur Fellow. It's heartening that his insights emanate less from pure brilliance than from a profound commitment to be diligent, to care about doing the right thing, and to eagerly try new things. Read Gawande. Strive to be a positive deviant. You'll be glad you did, and richly rewarded. Buy >>

Electric Universe – The Shocking True Story of Electricity

Electric Universe – The Shocking True Story of Electricity

David Bodanis, © 2005

You’re in good hands with Bodanis, who taught a survey of intellectual history at Oxford for years. He explains with brilliant simplicity the personal dramas and genius in the discovery and application of electricity, from the telegraph to Prozac. A great read, better than fiction.  www.davidbodanis.com Buy >>


E = MC2 – A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation

E = MC2 – A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation

David Bodanis, © 2000

David Bodanis has a gift for explaining in simple terms the most profound of scientific theories, while tracing its intellectual roots from before Einstein all the way through to the development of the atomic bomb and the discovery of black holes. A fascinating story, well worth reading.  www.davidbodanis.com  Buy >>


The Code Book – The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
The Code Book – The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Simon Singh, © 1999
This is a masterful and gripping account of the use of code-making and code-breaking throughout the last 500 years, from Mary Queen of Scots to modern computer encryption technologies. Particularly captivating is the account of breaking the Enigma Code in World War II. Caution: may become addictive. See a wealth of info at www.simonsingh.net. Buy >>
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