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October 20, 2008

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Favorite Books

  • Jim Collins: Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    Jim Collins: Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
    Jim Collins' first business classic. It's the cost-of-entry to any successful business career. Don't ask questions... ...Just Do It. (*****)

  • Marcus Buckingham: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

    Marcus Buckingham: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
    Probably the best general management book you can ever read. This book, written by former Gallop statisticians, takes a very scientific approach to understanding what separates good managers from bad managers. An absolute must read for anyone in a management role of any kind. It will open your eyes to some new ways of thinking about management. (*****)

  • Jim Collins: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

    Jim Collins: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
    One of the all-time great business books. An modern classic. Jim Collins has proven to be the Charles Dickens of business literature and Good to Great is his Great Expectations. This book is a must read for any and all business people, no matter how big, no matter the role. The concepts in this book are essential for any business person to have in his business vocabulary. For those who love business, Good to Great is like a great romance novel... (*****)

  • Felix Dennis: How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets

    Felix Dennis: How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
    What could easily be a vapid, ghost-written autobiography from an out-of-touch millionaire, is actually a fast, fun and helpful read. I recommend it. (****)

  • Kerry Patterson: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

    Kerry Patterson: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
    An interesting read for anyone interested in the way psychology can be applied to business and management. The book presents a simple framework for the way influence strategies work and can be applied. With that said, it doesn't offer enough examples of these strategies applied in business settings. The book is heavy in psychological and sociological examples and data. None-the-less, there are several lessons that are useful for managers and/or business leaders. (****)

  • Tom Connellan: Inside the Magic Kingdom : Seven Keys to Disney's Success

    Tom Connellan: Inside the Magic Kingdom : Seven Keys to Disney's Success
    A fun book for customer service-based organizations. Obviously, the book preaches the virtues of the "Disney ways" as created by Walt himself. There are some good anecdotes in here and it's a good book to pass out to employees in a customer service role. (***)

  • Jack Welch: Jack: Straight from the Gut

    Jack Welch: Jack: Straight from the Gut
    Look, I don't know how anyone couldn't be a fan of Jack Welch. The guy is the best. As a Boston businessman, I simply relish in Jack's candid personality and his instincts for simplifying complicated management issues. Jack is Jack. While I liked Winning a lot, I thought this post-GE issue was even better. I could read the Candor chapter once a week and never get sick of it. (*****)

  • Verne Harnish: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm

    Verne Harnish: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm
    A good read for many business leaders although it reads more as an instruction manual for putting management systems in place at your company. While I thought its advice was good (and his recommended systems very effective), I didn't think the content was presented as simply as it could have been. I don't think many managers would be able to execute on the plans in this book very quickly or easily. In fact, I think most business leaders would find the content to be a bit overwhelming. And where were all those Rockefeller habits? This book was much more about Verne Harnish (author) than Rockefeller. With that said, it's a book that most CEOs should read and keep in his/her library. (***)

  • William C. Taylor: Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win

    William C. Taylor: Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win
    Surprisingly, this was a great read. I was a bit suspicious about this book when I first bought it, but I ended up reading it in one weekend. It is filled with great anecdotes about bold, interesting, groundbreaking companies that built a great deal of value by focusing on being different (or what I call, differentiation). The companies featured in this book are the companies that build an incredibly loyal (rabid?) customer base by focusing on delivering them unique benefits -- benefits they couldn't find elsewhere. I definitely recommend this book to all Mavericks (and wanna-be mavericks)... (****)

  • Marcus Buckingham: Now, Discover Your Strengths

    Marcus Buckingham: Now, Discover Your Strengths
    A life-altering book. Based on research by former Gallop statistician, this book sets the foundation for the "Strength Revolution" that continues to sweep through organizations of all kinds, including the US Army which has restructured its ranks based on the teachings of this book. This is a must-read not only for business leaders, but for everyone. My future wife and I even used the results from its Strength Finder assessment to better understand each other and the underlying motivations behind our personalities. It sounds weird, but it was very helpful and a fun exercise for us as a couple. I couldn't recommend this book more... (*****)

  • Daniel Goleman: Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence

    Daniel Goleman: Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence
    This is a great book for any business leader. Actually, it's a great book for any leader. In fact, it may be my favorite book on leadership. While it is not a book written specifically for business, its leadership theories are spot on and very applicable to any situation. The book focuses on the power of Emotional Intelligence (EI) -- an important area of study for the past decade. It contends that Emotional Intelligence is the most important intelligence measure for leadership. It breaks down the components of EI in a very effective, logical and organized manner. The basic components of EI include: 1. Self Awareness 2. Self Management 3. Social Awareness 4. Relationship Management Each of these component are then broken down further to form a very compelling argument for all leaders -- Work on your EI and improve your leadership abilities. It's not a quick read, but definitely worth it. (*****)

  • Timothy Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

    Timothy Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
    This is a fun business read for any small business owner or for those who dream about building a successful small business. It's also a great book for those that view life as an adventure and have a long "To Do" list of things to do before you die. Especially if that list includes adventurous, international travel excursions. While Mr. Ferriss' recommendations in this book are a bit far-fetched and not exactly executable by the average person, there is an underlying lesson that is very valuable for many business people. That lesson is: Organize your life/work for maximum productivity and efficiency. Business leaders and managers should take-away some ideas about maximizing productivity through well-disciplined organization. There is a great deal of wasted time in business today and this book offers some good ideas for eliminating that waste. Overall, it's a quick, fun read. I recommend taking it on a flight to a warm destination. It certainly gets you in the mood for sunshine and rum drinks... (****)

  • Seth Godin: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

    Seth Godin: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
    My review here: http://phase2strategy.typepad.com/p2_business_strategies/2008/12/book-the-dip-by-seth-godin.html (****)

  • Michael E. Gerber: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

    Michael E. Gerber: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
    This book does a very effective job at helping small business owners and entrepreneurs understand the things about themselves and their personalities that may prevent them from building a successful business. It is a simple read, but contains some good lessons. This is a book for most, but not all, entrepreneurs. It is an essential read for a technician, engineer or functional specialist without much business knowledge or experience who starts and tries to grow a business. (***)

  • Marcus Buckingham: The One Thing You Need To Know: ...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success

    Marcus Buckingham: The One Thing You Need To Know: ...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
    Another great book from Marcus Buckingham. This book, like the rest of his books, takes a very scientific look at simplifying the One Thing that people in specific roles need to know in order to be in alignment with the most successful people in those roles. It presents a very effective discussion about the differences between business management and business leadership. I love the way in which Marcus distills and simplifies success into a single piece of knowledge. A great book and just another essential read from Mr. Buckingham. (****)

  • Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

    Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
    This is a must read for anyone in marketing. This book is based on the concepts and factors that lead to "epidemic" growth or products, concepts and even illnesses. The concepts are very interesting and some are even executable in many consumer businesses. Again, this book is most valuable for those in marketing. But it's a fun read for everyone else as well. (****)