Business Book Reading List




Over the past couple years I have developed an appetite for reading business books. And when I say “business books” I mean books about managing people, leadership and entrepreneurialism and I thought I would share the best of the books I have read here in case it is useful to others.

I started on this quest when I came to terms with the fact that I had zero formal training in how to run a business or manage and lead a group of human beings…and felt somewhat responsible for filling that gap. I think for a long time I assumed that one needs to learn these things by doing and though I certainly think that’s true…it has become clear to me that there is much to gained by studying some theory and digging into the stories and experiences of people who have had to row this river before and found some measure of success.

So with that…I give you my list:

Built to Sell
This book was recommended to me as a good read on the virtues of taking a business that is a traditional client services oriented model and molding it to be more of “product-focused” framework. Some good insight here on how to avoid some of the inevitable land mines associated with having clients and keeping a team motivated and happy.

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
The (long ass) title does a good job of explaining the premise….it’s a great read on understanding how little cliques form within your larger team/company and what is at the root of breaking those walls down.

The One Thing You Need To Know…About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
I heard this guy speak once and then ran out and got all his books. He studies leaders very carefully and then does a good job of explaining what seems to be behind their success. The audiobook is good too because he reads it and has a good voice for it.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
I know…not exactly on the same shelf as Jack Welch’s books…but trust me…a great read. I read this more for fun (I’m a giant nerd history buff) but took away some good lessons on leadership. After all…you don’t come to conquer more land in 25 years than the Romans conquered in 400 years by not understanding how to lead and set up a meaningful and logical infrastructure for your organization.

Eleven Rings
This is NBA coach and noted transcendental meditation guru Phil Jackson’s take on what motivates people to achieve and win. It’s written a little too ghost-writer-y to really get into it but I took away some lessons about how to manage “superstars.” He has had to contend with getting players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil (all legends in their own time) to congeal with a larger team dynamic and help those guys want to help their teammates be better and perform as a unified squad. And there are some juicy stories about crazy behind-the-scenes locker room stuff…which is nice.

The Snowball
Warren Buffet must know something the rest of us don’t. And he does. Plenty. Really interesting to see how is personality informs his approach to business so fluidly. And just a really interesting story of a dude that kept on doubling down over and over again.

Great by Choice
Pretty much any book by this guy (Jim Collins) is a winner but this the best one. He has mountains of data that support his findings and he does a really good job of mixing that (sometimes dry) empirical data with really compelling narrative stories.

Team of Rivals
There are two things that become very clear about Abraham Lincoln after reading this book: 1) The guy was incredibly magnanimous. It’s as though he had no human ego at all and could levitate over pettiness or pride effortlessly. It just didn’t affect him. 2) He was a master at building alliances and allegiance among groups of people with very different agendas. One informs two…and the book is really well written.