While no two situations are the same, it is often beneficial to understand the issues others have addressed in the past and draw on their experiences. The following books are just a few of the business books out there that I think are interesting and useful. I will add to my resources list, as I read more that I would return to and want to recommend.
Anyone Can Do It, Sahar and Bobby Hashemi – I was gifted my copy of this book by Sahar Hashemi at a talk she gave in North Wales in March 2005. I was struck by the simplicity of the slides and graphics which she used to tell the story of the burgeoning Coffee Republic empire. From that day forward, I have encouraged in others a less buttoned-up approach to business, to make it fun and actually quite cool.
Outliers: The story of success, Malcolm Gladwell – An excellent little book by the very well-known and prolific writer of books aimed squarely at the business community. Outliers is a somewhat academic piece, but one which lends valuable support to grafting businesspeople everywhere. Don’t be jealous of what looks like overnight success in others – put the hard yards in and you will guarantee yourself at least a shot at success. Citing the now famous research into the concept of 10,000 hours, we see that exceptional performance in any field whatsoever, owes less to innate talent and more to preparation.
The Satsuma Complex, Bob Mortimer – I’ve included this book for its positivity and insights into human nature, which are all the more instructive and inspiring for not being expected. Conversations with squirrels, which occur a lot in this book, are not well known for their relevance to business. Yet actually, they are useful food for thought for a leader seeking to connect in the widest sense. As the author himself tells us, poignantly, given the health circumstances occurring just before the book was written – ‘daydreams and flights of fancy inject a bit of balance and optimism into your life.’ Very often this is just what a business leader needs, far more than the ability to understand complicated spreadsheets or a set of accounts.
Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?, Ben Hunt-Davis and Harriet Beveridge – A brilliant book written by an athlete and a coach, thus providing a very readable blend of story and theory, put into practice, to work together. Personally, I think the link between success in sports and success in business is often misleadingly simplified, but there’s still a lot of value in here if you can make it relatable to you.
Alchemy, Rory Sutherland – Like it says on the cover, this book lets you into the world of magic, which can be created by original thinking. Get out of your mind-numbing conformity and shake yourself and others up!
Walking: one step at a time, Erling Kagge – How can this be a useful business book if it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other? Dip in and find out how brilliantly everyday actions open up a world of mindfulness, which in turn, opens the door to a level of mental agility anyone would be pleased to have.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R Covey – I couldn’t not include this one, if only for the ‘quadrants’ and ‘start with the end in mind’. Well worth getting past the slightly preachy sounding language of phrases like ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’ if you really want to understand the basis of deep rapport.