Category: What Tom's Reading

Escape into a Book

Everyone needs a getaway from time to time. Tom and Susan are spending a month in Santa Barbara. They're enjoying the change of pace from New England.

Taking a break, doing something new, changing your mindset can lead you to innovate and create more unique work product. Try to change your mindset occasionally–whether it's a stay someplace sunny or a warm bath with a great book.

Tom has long contended, "Great fiction beats professional tomes when it comes to management instruction. Why? Enterprises are nothing other than canvases upon which human dramas are enacted."

Here are Tom's most recent recommendations for fiction reads:

  • Anthem, by Noah Hawley
  • 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr
  • The Daughters of Mars, by Thomas Keneally
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
  •  
    Tom's current recommendations for non-fiction may include some professional tomes, but also art, history, meditation, and other topics:

  • This Is How They Tell Me How the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race, by Nicole Perlroth
  • The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
  • The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
  • Bruegel. The Complete Paintings. 40th Edition. by Jürgen Müller
  • The B Corp Handbook: How You Can Use Business as a Force for Good, by Ryan Honeyman and Tiffany Jana
  • Liars: Falsehood and Free Speech in an Age of Deception, by Cass R. Sunstein
  • Meditation Now or Never, by Steve Hagen
  • Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes a Difference, by Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli
  • Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham
  • The Excellence Dividend Book List

    Our thanks to a reader who took it on himself to collect the long list of books mentioned by Tom in The Excellence Dividend and send it to us! Throughout his book, Tom quotes from books he's read, makes recommendations of books for you to read, and lists books as sources on his favorite topics. He has read most of the books he mentions, though certainly not every one! Here's the list, which we put into alpha order by chapter with complete titles, subtitles, and authors' names. We hope you can use it as a resource and maybe compile your own reading list from among its many titles.

    The Excellence Dividend Book List

    Excerpt from The Excellence Dividend

    Profit Through Putting People First Business Book Club

    Business by and large has a lousy rep, and management books by and large focus on things that are broken and how to fix them. Yet there is also a robust body of "good news by putting people (REALLY) first" books—e.g., the informal list below. How about a year-long ... "Profit Through Putting People First Business Book Club" for you and/or your leadership team?

    [CM: The Excellence Dividend is available for pre-order at ...
    Amazon logo    Barnes & Noble logo    Indie Bound logo]

    LEADERSHIP/MANAGEMENT/”PEOPLE FIRST” BOOK LIST

    My niece, who is at the Tuck business school, asked me for a list of best leadership and management books. I put the list below together in haste. Despite the hastiness, I thought you might be interested.

    Herewith:

    LEADERSHIP

    Jeff Pfeffer, Leadership BS
    Robert Sutton, Good Boss, Bad Boss
    Robert Sutton, The No Asshole Rule
    Dov Frohman, Leadership the Hard Way
    Richard Branson, The Virgin Way
    Robert Cialdini, Influence
    Adam Grant, Give and Take
    Edgar Schein, Helping
    Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, The Power of Small
    Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, The Power of Nice
    Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, Grit to Great
    John Kotter, Leading Change
    Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross, The Wisest One in the Room
    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
    Sally Helgesen, The Female Advantage
    Warren Bennis, Leaders
    Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader
    Susan Scott, Fierce Leadership
    Betsy Myers, Take the Lead
    George Kohlrieser, Hostage at the Table
    Max Bazerman, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See

    MANAGEMENT

    Rich Karlgaard, The Soft Edge
    Henry Mintzberg, Mintzberg on Management
    Henry Mintzberg, Managers Not MBAs
    David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!
    Mike Abrashoff, It's Your Ship
    Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman, Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic
    Dan Pink, To Sell Is Human
    Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution
    Susan Cain, Quiet
    Frank Partnoy, Wait
    John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, Conscious Capitalism
    Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All the Rules

    PROFIT THROUGH PUTTING PEOPLE (REALLY) FIRST BUSINESS BOOK CLUB

    The following related list comes from a draft of my new book [Ed.: work in progress], The Excellence Dividend:

    Business by and large has a lousy rep, and management books by and large focus on things that are broken and how to fix them. Yet there is also a robust body of "good news by putting people (REALLY) first" books—e.g., the informal list below. How about a year-long ... "Profit Through Putting People First Business Book Club" for you and/or your leadership team?

    Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In, by Peter Shankman with Karen Kelly
    Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, by Kip Tindell, CEO Container Store (Container Store is the #1 U.S. company to work for/Fortune)
    Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia
    Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, and David Wolfe
    The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, by Zeynep Ton
    Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations
    Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job, by Dennis Bakke, former CEO, AES
    Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down, by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies
    The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'Em Kick Butt, by Hal Rosenbluth, former CEO, Rosenbluth International
    Patients Come Second: Leading Change By Changing the Way You Lead, by Paul Spiegelman & Britt Berrett
    It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold
    Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level, by L. David Marquet
    Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham
    Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (#1 "management guru"/Germany)
    Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin
    The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes
    Everybody Wins: The Story and Lessons Behind RE/MAX, by Phil Harkins & Keith Hollihan
    The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
    Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, by Tony Hsieh, Zappos
    Camellia: A Very Different Company
    Fans, Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World, by Vernon Hill
    Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School, by Richard Branson
    Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, by Mihaly Csikszentmihali
    Enough. The Measures of Money, Business, and Life, by John Bogle
    An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

    Humanity: Quotes Collected by Tom

    "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"—Mary Oliver

    "If you ask me what I have come to do in this world, I who am an artist, I will reply: I am here to live my life out loud."—Émile Zola

    (Get the PDF)

    "[The novel] traced the very ordinary life of a very ordinary woman—a life with few moments of high drama, but which was also remarkable. The extraordinary in the ordinary. It was a theme I often discussed with my students—how we can never consider anybody's life 'ordinary,' how every human existence is a novel with its own compelling narrative. Even if, on the surface, it seems prosaic, the fact remains that each individual life is charged with contradictions and complexities. And no matter much we wish to keep things simple and uneventful, we cannot help but collide with mess. It is our destiny—because mess, the drama we create for ourselves, is an intrinsic part of being alive."
    —Hannah, from State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy

    "Make each day a Masterpiece!"—John Wooden

    "Make your life itself a creative work of art."—Mike Ray, The Highest Goal

    "Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional."—Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factor

    "The only thing you have power over is to get good at what you do. That’s all there is; there ain’t no more!"
    —Sally Field

    "Self-reliance never comes 'naturally' to adults because they have been so conditioned to think non-authentically that it feels wrenching to do otherwise. ... Self Reliance is a last resort to which a person is driven in desperation only when he or she realizes 'that imitation is suicide, that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.'"
    —Lawrence Buell, Emerson

    "For Marx, the path to social betterment was through collective resistance of the proletariat to the economic injustices of the capitalist system that produced such misshapenness and fragmentation. For Emerson, the key was to jolt individuals into realizing the untapped power of energy, knowledge and creativity of which all people, at least in principle, are capable. He too hated all systems of human oppression; but his central project, and the basis of his legacy, was to unchain individual minds."
    —Lawrence Buell, Emerson

    "All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves we were all self-employed ... finding our food, feeding ourselves. That's where human history began. ... As civilization came we suppressed it. We became labor because they stamped us, 'You are labor.' We forgot that we are entrepreneurs."
    —Muhammad Yunus

    "We make our own traps.
    "We construct our own cage.
    "We build our own roadblocks."
    —Douglas Kennedy, State of the Union

    "... the delight of being totally within one's own element—of identifying fully with one's work and seeing it as an expression of one's character ... this affection must be so strong that it persists during leisure hours and even makes its way into dreams ... the mind knows no deadlines or constraints and is open to its inner energies ..."
    —Robert Grudin, The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation

    "To have a firm persuasion in our work—to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time—is one of the great triumphs of human existence."
    —David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

    "This is the true joy of Life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one ... the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
    —G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman

    "All of our artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work. Life is a creative, intimate, unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else—and our life and our work are both the result of the way we hold that passionate conversation."
    —David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

    "If I can reduce my work to just a job I have to do, then I keep myself safely away from the losses to be endured in putting my heart’s desires at stake."
    —David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

    "When was the last time you asked, 'What do I want to be?'"
    —Sara Ann Friedman, Work Matters

    "Strive for Excellence. Ignore success."—Bill Young, race car driver

    "Do one thing every day that scares you."—Eleanor Roosevelt

    "HAPPINESS" & "LEISURE" PER ARISTOTLE:

    HAPPINESS: Eudaimonia ... well-doing, living flourishingly. Megalopsychos ... "great-souled," "magnanimous." More: respect and concern for others; duty to improve oneself; using one's gifts to the fullest extent possible; fully aware; making one's own choices.

    LEISURE: pursue excellence; reflect; deepen understanding; opportunity to work for higher ends. ["Rest" vs. "leisure."]

    Source: A.C. Grayling, The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life

    "The antidote to exhaustion is not rest, it is wholeheartedness."
    —David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

    "It's no longer enough to be a 'change agent.' You must be a change insurgent—provoking, prodding, warning everyone in sight that complacency is death."
    —Bob Reich

    "Distinct ... or ... Extinct"—Tom Peters

    "Nobody gives you power. You just take it."—Roseanne

    "Well-behaved women rarely make history."—Anita Borg, Institute for Women and Technology

    "To Hell With Well Behaved ... Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? 'Keep her,' I replied. ... The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me."
    —Anna Quindlen

    "You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not."
    —Isabel Allende

    "It's always showtime."—David D'Alessandro, Career Warfare

    "Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."
    —Henry Clay

    "Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."
    —Churchill

    "We do no great things, only small things with great love."
    —Mother Teresa

    "I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble."
    —Helen Keller

    "Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness."
    —Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
    —Henry James

    PROFITABLE BUSINESS

    K = R = P
    Kindness = Repeat Business = Profit

    K = R = P
    Kindness = Employee Retention = Profit

    —Tom Peters

    "One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody of everything every night right before going to bed."
    —Bernard Baruch

    "The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated."
    —William James

    "Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth."
    —George W. Crane

    "The two most powerful things in existence: a kind word and a thoughtful gesture."
    —Ken Langone

    "One kind word can warm three winter months."—Japanese Proverb

    "Employees who don't feel significant rarely make significant contributions."
    —Mark Sanborn

    "Every child is born an artist. The trick is to remain an artist."—Picasso

     

    "My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of Unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child—let alone our child—receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he had refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating 'grade-level motor skills.'"
    —Jordan Ayan, AHA!

     

    "How many artists are there in the room? Would you please raise your hands. FIRST GRADE: En mass the children leapt from their seats, arms waving. Every child was an artist. SECOND GRADE: About half the kids raised their hands, shoulder high, no higher. The hands were still. THIRD GRADE: At best, 10 kids out of 30 would raise a hand, tentatively, self-consciously. By the time I reached SIXTH GRADE, no more than one or two kids raised their hands, and then ever so slightly, betraying a fear of being identified by the group as a 'closet artist.' The point is: Every school I visited was participating in the systematic suppression of creative genius."
    —Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball

    "The key question isn't 'What fosters creativity?' But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything."
    —Abe Maslow

    "The purpose of professional schools is to educate competent mediocrities."
    —Peter Drucker

     

    EXUBERANCE: THE PASSION FOR LIFE, BY KAY REDFIELD JAMISON

    "The Greeks bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language—the word enthusiasm'—en theos—a god within. The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys it."
    —Louis Pasteur

    KRJ: "Exuberance is, at its quick, contagious. As it spreads pell-mell through a group, exuberance excites, it delights, and it dispels tension. It alerts the group to change and possibility."

    "A leader is someone who creates infectious enthusiasm."
    —Ted Turner

    KRJ: "'Glorious' was a term [John] Muir would invoke time and again ... despite his conscious attempts to eradicate it from his writing. 'Glorious' and 'joy' and 'exhilaration': no matter how often he scratched out these words once he had written them, they sprang up time and again ..."

    KRJ: "To meet Roosevelt, said Churchill, 'with all his buoyant sparkle, his iridescence,' was like 'opening a bottle of champagne.' Churchill, who knew both champagne and human nature, recognized ebullient leadership when he saw it."

    "At a time of weakness and mounting despair in the democratic world, Roosevelt stood out by his astonishing appetite for life and by his apparently complete freedom from fear of the future; as a man who welcomed the future eagerly as such, and conveyed the feeling that whatever the times might bring, all would be grist to his mill, nothing would be too formidable or crushing to be subdued. He had unheard of energy and gusto ... and was a spontaneous, optimistic, pleasure-loving ruler with unparalleled capacity for creating confidence."
    —Isaiah Berlin on FDR

    "Churchill had a very powerful mind, but a romantic and unquantitative one. If he thought about a course of action long enough, if he achieved it alone in his own inner consciousness and desired it passionately, he convinced himself it must be possible. Then, with incomparable invention, eloquence and high spirits, he set out to convince everyone else that it was not only possible, but the only course of action open to man."
    —C.P. Snow

    "We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm."
    —Churchill on Churchill

    "Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. To convince them, you must yourself believe."
    —Winston Churchill

    "The multitudes were swept forward till their pace was the same as his."
    —Churchill on T.E. Lawrence

    "He brought back a real joy to music."—Wynton Marsalis on Louis Armstrong

    "If you want to build a ship, don't gather people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but instead teach them to long for the sea."
    —Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting 'GERONIMO!'"
    —Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer

    "The object of life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, 'Holy Shit, What a Ride!!!'"
    —Mavis Leyrer (feisty octogenarian, living in Seattle)

    HTSH/HANDS THAT SHAPE HUMANITY: ENGAGE!

    "Commit! Engage! Try! Fail! Get up! Try again! Fail again! Try again! But never, ever stop moving on! Progress for humanity is engendered by those in any station who join and savor the fray by giving one hundred percent of themselves to their modest or immodest dreams! Not by those fearful souls who remain glued to the sidelines, stifled by tradition, awash in cynicism and petrified of losing face or giving offense to the reigning authorities.

    "Key words: Commit! Engage! Try! Fail! Persist!"

    Source: HTSH/Hands That Shape Humanity, Tom Peters’ contribution of "most important advice"—for display at a Bishop Tutu exhibit in South Africa

    "In Tom’s world, it's always better to try a swan dive and deliver a colossal belly flop than to step timidly off the board while holding your nose."Fast Company, review of Re-Imagine!

    Reading!

    The interviewer at strategy+business magazine, Theodore Kinni, got more than he'd asked for when he called Tom to talk about his four favorite books. The result is a roadmap for your reading strategy en route to business acumen and, ultimately, success: "Tom Peters Wants You to Read."

    PODIUM BANGERS

    I BANG (!!!!!!!!) EIGHT BOOKS (heavy load!) ON THE PODIUM DURING MY SPEECHES.

    They fall into two categories:

    The first set of four makes it clear that there is more to life than the giant firms the “gurus” focus on (I’m often guilty). There are a ton of excellent/amazing/super-cool mid-sized businesses out there to emulate. Many are in "boring" industries. My name for them is "Small-ish/Mid-sized Niche Dominators." THEY ARE THE BACKBONE OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC EXCELLENCE. (Poster children: Germany's Mittelstand—until recently, Germany was the world's #1 exporter, courtesy their mid-sized dynamos; one report called the mittelstanders "agile creatures darting between the legs of the multinational monsters.") The slogan that captures the nature of these firms best comes from George Whalin in Retail Superstars: "Be the best. It's the only market that's not crowded."

    The next three books focus on the so-called "soft stuff"—e.g., putting people (REALLY) first. The Soft Edge in particular is a gem among gems. (Soft Edge is particularly near and dear to my heart. I've long said that In Search of Excellence can be captured in just six words:"Hard is soft. Soft is hard." The so-called "hard" stuff—such as the plans and the numbers—are really the soft, squishy, and often fictional stuff. The so-called "soft" stuff—such as the people and culture and relationships—are the true "hard" Bedrock of Excellence.)

    The last, The Second Machine Age, is simply the best book written to date on the implications of the tech tsunami that is rolling in.

    Read 'em!
    (Please.)

    To wit ...

    Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham

    Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin

    Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (said by some to be Germany's #1 "management guru")

    The Future Is Small: Why AIM [Alternative Investment Market] Will Be the World’s Best Market Beyond the Credit Boom, by Gervais Williams

    The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes

    The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits?, by Zeynep Ton, MIT

    Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations

    The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, MIT

    (more…)

    Profit Through Putting People First
    (“Good Guys”) Business Book Club

    Most business books focus on what's broken. This selection focuses on organizations that work & shine—by (actually, far beyond lip service) "Putting People First." Why not a book club? I've known organizations where such groups had very high impact.

    Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In, by Peter Shankman with Karen Kelly
    Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, by Kip Tindell, CEO Container Store (#1 company to work for USA)
    Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia
    Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, and David Wolfe
    The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, by Zeynep Ton, MIT
    Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations (enterprise software)
    Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down, by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies
    The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'Em Kick Butt, by Hal Rosenbluth, former CEO, Rosenbluth International
    It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold
    Turn the Ship Around; How to Create Leadership at Every Level, by L. David Marquet, former commander, SSN Sante Fe (Nuclear sub)
    Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham
    Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (German Mittelstand companies)
    Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin
    Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job, by Dennis Bakke, former CEO, AES Corporation
    The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
    The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes
    Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hseih, CEO Zappos
    Camellia: A Very Different Company
    Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World, by Vernon Hill, former CEO, Commerce ("Wow") Bank
    Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School, by Richard Branson

    Reading List 2012

    I am trying my damnedest to get a tenuous grip on the extraordinary-revolutionary-earthflipping change that surrounds us and which is accelerating madly. Below is an idiosyncratic reading list I've pulled together. In addition to nonfiction, there are a handful of well-researched ultra-sane sci-fi novels by the likes of David Wilson and Neal Stephenson. Also you'll find a couple of my favorites on the financial crisis; and a Cold War collection that is here because it is the ultimate study of leadership with consequences amidst uncertainty and ambiguity. A few others touch on decision-making and the typically faulty interpretation of cause and effect—and the power of being wrong. (And, of course, there's a duo on the eclipse of men!)

    Etc.

    Herewith, 55 books with my "14 Musts" in boldface:

    The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend BiologyRay Kurzweil

    How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed—Ray Kurzweil

    Redesigning Humans: Choosing Our Genes, Changing Our Future—Gregory Stock

    Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell—Dennis Bray

    Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life—Nick Lane

    Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century—P.W. Singer

    America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and WarfareJoel Brenner

    Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It—Richard Clarke & Robert Knake

    Worm: The First Digital World War—Mark Bowden

    Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—From Personal Computers to Personal FabricationNeil Gershenfeld

    Makers: The New Industrial Revolution—Chris Anderson

    The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production—Peter Marsh

    The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs—Michael Belfiore

    Makers—Cory Doctorow

    AmpedDaniel Wilson

    Robopocalypse—Daniel Wilson

    Freedom—Daniel Suarez

    Kill Decision—Daniel Suarez

    REAMDE—Neal Stephenson

    Cryptonomicon—Neal Stephenson

    Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the EconomyErik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

    The Coming Jobs War—Jim Clifton

    Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age—Steven Johnson

    Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era—Henry Chesbrough

    The Power of Co-Creation: Build It With Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and ProfitsVenkat Ramaswamy & Francis Gouillart

    Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World—Tony Wagner

    Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us SmarterSteven Johnson

    Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning—James Paul Gee & Elisabeth Hayes

    Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World—Jane McGonigal

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter—Tom Bissell

    The Social Conquest of EarthE.O. Wilson

    Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships—Dario Maestripieri

    The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined—Steven Pinker

    The End of Men and the Rise of WomenHanna Rosin

    The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family—Liza Mundy

    The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don't—Nate Silver

    Ubiquity: The Science of History ... Or Why the World Is Simpler Than We ThinkMark Buchanan

    The Ambiguities of Experience—James March

    The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the PublicLynn Stout

    Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present—Jeff Madrick

    Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk—Satyajit Das

    Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and LifeJohn Bogle

    Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the HumanitiesMartha Nussbaum

    Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting BetterDoug Lemov, Erica Woolway & Katie Yezzi

    The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills—Daniel Coyle

    Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong—Alina Tugend

    Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error—Kathryn Schulz

    Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas—Natasha Schüll

    Redesigning Leadership (Design, Technology, Business, Life)—John Maeda

    The Plentitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff—Rich Gold

    The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate—Robert Caro

    Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth—Frederick Kempe

    Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World—Evan Thomas

    Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War—David Nichols

    Bonus:

    Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate ConductP.M. Forni

    [The list is also available as a PDF.]

    The Wisdom of David Ogilvy

    At an event in Manila sponsored by Ogilvy & Mather, I received as a gift D.O.: The unpublished papers of David Ogilvy—a selection of his writings from the files of his partners. I am a longtime fan of Ogilvy, and found it to be a sterling gift. Here are a few of the gems I unearthed:

    On what matters to Clients:

    It is not enough for an agency to be respected for its professional competence. Indeed, there isn't much to choose between the competence of big agencies. What so often makes the difference is the character of the men and women who represent the agency at the top level, with clients and the business community. If they are respected as admirable people, the agency gets business—whether from present clients or prospective ones.

    From a summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

    A Nice Place to Work

    Some of our people spend their entire working lives in our agency. We do our damnedest to make it a happy experience. I put this first, believing that superior service to our clients, and profits for our stockholders, depend on it. ...

    [TP: note the extraordinary "put this first."]

    More from D.O.'s summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

    Raise your sights!
    Blaze new trails!
    Compete with the immortals!

    [TP: characteristically soaring aspirations from D.O.]

    On the quality of people O & M seeks:

    Wanted by Ogilvy & Mather International

    Trumpeter Swans

    [TP: Do your HR folks use language like this? FYI, the department store chain Nordstrom does use similar language regarding every hire for even the most mundane slots.]

    On leaders:

    I believe that it is more important for a leader to be trained in psychiatry than cybernetics. The head of a big company recently said to me, 'I am no longer a Chairman. I have had to become a psychiatric nurse.' Today's executive is under pressure unknown to the last generation.

    [TP: If only we would get this!]

    On general behavior:

    Never send a letter on the day you write it.

    [TP: If only we would apply this standard to email!!]

    Quite a haul, eh?