People smarter than I have said the key to success is to always be learning. Smart sentiment. And while there are many ways to always be learning, one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most accessible is reading. Thus I urge you to make reading business books one of your resolutions for 2017.
Now, I get it. You are already stretched, and here I am telling you to commit more time something you don’t think you have time for. Am I right? But stay with me here a minute. The books on this list were chosen because of the immediate and measureable impact they can have on your success, your performance, your time management … you get the idea. And it’s not like I’m asking you to adopt Bill Gates’ strident reading schedule (he says he reads about a book a week, and I cannot imagine how he finds the time).
You can read like I do, a handful of pages at night before you go to sleep, or like a colleague of mine does—at lunch. It’s a great way to destress. You can also listen to audiobooks in the car or while you work (if you can multitask that way—I’m not very good at it). There is time. Make it. It will be worth it, I promise. I am recommending seven books today … let’s call that one a month for six months, plus a bonus title for overachievers. How does that sound? Good? Good. Enjoy!
(Book descriptions are from Amazon.com. Links are merely provided for convenience. All links go to each book’s Amazon Kindle page, from where it is one simple click to find the print version. These books, of course, are also available from retailers other than Amazon.)
1. SUPERBOSSES: HOW EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS MASTER THE FLOW OF TALENT by Sydney Finkelstein
What do football coach Bill Walsh, restauranteur Alice Waters, television executive Lorne Michaels, technology CEO Larry Ellison, and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren have in common? On the surface, not much, other than consistent success in their fields. But below the surface, they share a common approach to finding, nurturing, leading, and even letting go of great people. The way they deal with talent makes them not merely success stories, not merely organization builders, but what Sydney Finkelstein calls superbosses.
While superbosses differ in their personal styles, they all focus on identifying promising newcomers, inspiring their best work, and launching them into highly successful careers—while also expanding their own networks and building stronger companies.
2. TOOLS OF TITANS: THE TACTICS, ROUTINES, AND HABITS OF BILLIONAIRES, ICONS, AND WORLD-CLASS PERFORMERS by Tim Ferriss
From the author: “For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super and athletes to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to- three-hour interview. This unusual depth has helped make The Tim Ferriss Show the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads.
“Everything within these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some fashion. I’ve used dozens of the tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk
environments, or large business dealings. The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration.
“I created this book, my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools, for myself. It’s changed my life, and I hope the same for you.”
3. PAYOFF: THE HIDDEN LOGIC THAT SHAPES OUR MOTIVATIONS (TED BOOKS) by Dan Ariely
Every day we work hard to motivate ourselves, the people we live with, the people who work for and do business with us. In this way, much of what we do can be defined as being “motivators.” From the boardroom to the living room, our role as motivators is complex, and the more we try to motivate partners and children, friends and coworkers, the clearer it becomes that the story of motivation is far more intricate and fascinating than we’ve assumed.
Payoff investigates the true nature of motivation, our partial blindness to the way it works, and how we can bridge this gap. With studies that range from Intel to a kindergarten classroom, Ariely digs deep to find the root of motivation—how it works and how we can use this knowledge to approach important choices in our own lives. Along the way, he explores intriguing questions such as: Can giving employees bonuses harm productivity? Why is trust so crucial for successful motivation?
What are our misconceptions about how to value our work? How does your sense of your mortality impact your motivation?
4. PIVOT: THE ONLY MOVE THAT MATTERS IS YOUR NEXT ONE by Jenny Blake
Careers are not linear, predictable ladders any longer; they are fluid trajectories. No matter our age, life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes much more frequently than in years past. The average employee tenure in America is just four to five years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time. Our economy now demands that we create businesses and careers based on creativity, growth, and impact. In this dynamic world of work, the only move that matters is your next one.
Drawing from her own experience and those of other successful pivoters, Jenny Blake has created a four-stage process that teaches anyone how to seamlessly and continually:
If change is the only constant, let’s get better at it.
5. SCALING UP EXCELLENCE: GETTING TO MORE WITHOUT SETTLING FOR LESS by Robert I. Sutton
In Scaling Up Excellence, author Robert Sutton and colleague Huggy Rao tackle a challenge that determines every organization’s success: scaling up farther, faster, and more effectively as a
program or an organization creates a larger footprint. Sutton and Rao have devoted much of the last decade to uncovering what it takes to build and uncover pockets of exemplary performance, to help spread them, and to keep recharging organizations with ever better work practices. Drawing on inside accounts and case studies and academic research from a wealth of industries—including start-ups, pharmaceuticals, airlines, retail, financial services, high-tech, education, non-profits, government, and healthcare—Sutton and Rao identify the key scaling challenges that confront every organization. They tackle the difficult trade-offs that organizations must make between “Buddhism” versus “Catholicism”—whether to encourage individualized approaches tailored to local needs or to replicate the same practices and customs as an organization or program expands. They reveal how the best leaders and teams develop, spread, and instill the right mindsets in their people—rather than ruining or watering down the very things that have fueled successful growth in the past. They unpack the principles that help to cascade excellence throughout an organization, as well as show how to eliminate destructive beliefs and behaviors that will hold them back.
6. SMARTER, FASTER, BETTER: THE SECRETS OF BEING PRODUCTIVE IN LIFE AND BUSINESS by Charles Duhigg
At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much
done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane
pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.
They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways. They know that productivity relies on making certain choices. The way we frame our daily decisions; the big ambitions we
embrace and the easy goals we ignore; the cultures we establish as leaders to drive innovation; the way we interact with data: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.
7. NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE: NEGOTIATING AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT by Chris Voss
After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to- face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective principles—counterintuitive tactics and strategies—you too can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.
Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
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