Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) – Every so often you come across a book that is of such significance that it changes the “group think” of the time. Good to Great, 7 habits and The World is Flat are among those books that create such a ripple that they are referenced through other works for years. Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow explores how we as humans think and process the world. He explains the two systems of thought: system 1: the slow, deliberate system and system 2: the active responsive system. This is a MUST read.
The Power of Habit (2012) – Charles Duhigg’s study of human habit is deep and fascinating. Outside of logic and processing, humans are subject to what Duhigg describes as The Habit Loop…”This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which behavior to use. The there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is the reward . . .” There is obviously a very natural connection to marketing in this book, but it is also great for any executive to understand the response of human behavior.
Start with Why (2011) – I have written multiple times about Simon Sinek’s book great explanation of “the golden circle.” Since reading this book, Start with Why has become a staple of my consulting with corporate retreats establishing core ideology. After using Jim Collins and Verne Harnish’s approach to core ideology for years to help companies establish their Core Values, Core Purpose and Brand Promise, Sinek’s explanation simplifies the communication rubrik for clients at every seat at the table quickly understand. In addition, I have found great application of the golden circle to my personal life.
Getting Real The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application (2009) – 37 signals wrote this how-to guide for software development, but many of the theories covered in this book can be applied to any business. They cover the business model they used to build Basecamp – a project management software that Eluminare uses – so the book is chock full of practical information. Read it online for free.
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (2007) – Thomas Friedman’s explanation of the changing environment of the global economy first opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of virtualization, outsourcing, and efficiency in the “new” business environment.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007) – This is a marketing major in less than 500 pages. Probably the best review of marketing that I have ever seen.
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync? (2007) – Godin’s latest treatment of the paradigm change in marketing. Is your business using whip cream and sprinkles to sell meatballs? How many businesses do you know that use old means to sell new products?
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) (2007) – See above.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (2007) – Timothy Ferris’s explanation of leveraging the new economy to grow a successful business (through loopholes). Whether you want to work four hours per week, or you just want to enter into the new, flat world, this is a must read. The section on outsource resources is an especially excellent listing.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (2004) – Obviously, Stephen Covey’s magnum opus belongs in any business canon. I listen to this unabridged audio book every year–you have to “sharpen the saw.”
Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas (2006) – This book was was critical to the sea change in my thinking. Basically, Small is the New Bigset the foundation for looking at how small businesses could think about the business world through a new lens.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable (2003) – Purple Cow and The Dip work very well in tandem. In Purple Cow, the importance of creating something remarkable is the cornerstone of success. In The Dip, you product and service must be “the best in the world.” By virtue of being remarkable one tends usually to be the best in the world. Don’t pleasure this gross oversimplification, check out the book.
Good to Great (2001) – What can you say? Collins set a standard with Good to Great that not only created a foundation of business and leadership, he also created microbusinesses throughout the world.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (1995) – Michael Gerber’s book about business creation is a crash course in starting your own business (and making it successful). Many of the principals in this book establish the foundation and structure for organizations. The key to his theory is what I call the build your business like it is a franchise model.