Business books: our summer reading suggestions

Our inbox has been flooded with requests for summer reading lately. Our recommendations could be very different depending on your personal situation, but there are a few general themes that warrant the attention of just about everyone in business. So if you’re looking for suggestions, here’s some guidance for you.

Some time ago American entrepreneur Steve Siebold decided to do some research in the common characteristics of wealthy people. We could write an entire post on this topic alone, but one of the key findings was that all these wealthy people read. And not only that, they read for education, not just entertainment. Siebold’s findings are pretty regularly reinforced if you look at the likes of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk – all of whom are voracious readers, and talk openly about the role of reading in their success.

But what to read? There are thousands of great business books out there, so hopefully this list will help provide a little bit of context and guidance for your summer reads.

On ‘our time’

This sounds like a huge topic. And it is. We are currently experiencing what many have referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. If you are interested in reading more about the concept specifically, Charles Schwab has written a book on it. But if you are looking for more practical advice about how to embrace this era of exponential growth and change, there are two books I’d suggest.

The Signals are Talking

Signals are TalkingWe’ve talked about Amy Webb’s book a lot before. It offers super practical advice on how to ensure your business isn’t one left standing on the sidelines asking ‘what happened?’ as the technology revolution steams ahead.

Disruptive Technologies

This was our Editor’s Choice for June. Author Paul Armstrong is a straight-talking technologist who walks you through the basics of ‘disruption’. For more on this book, click hereDisruptive Technologies

On leadership

The best leaders never stop learning. But you might find that as you continue to learn and grow as a business leader it becomes more challenging to find new areas to address.

I’d specifically recommend two books for those looking to refine well-established leadership skills and push yourself to the next level of self-awareness.

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

MultipliersThere’s a new and improved edition of this book out and it is well worth a read. Liz was a senior executive at Oracle Corporation so knows the realities of leadership in a large organization, and her book is just as applicable to entrepreneurs. Her book is based on the (well-researched) premise that the best leaders can get 50% more out their people than poor ones. And the good news is that most of us who aren’t considered ‘the best’ managers are ‘accidental diminishers’. That’s to say that we may be depleting the energy of those who work for us without even realizing we are doing so.  Wiseman’s book gives you all the tools you need to identify your own shortcomings and provides really great practical tips to change your own behaviour.

And I know from personal experience that if you put these tools into practice, you will start to see change in those around you (for the better) almost immediately.

Wiseman also has a website with lots of free resources to support you in your learning as you read the book. Check it out.

The Schmuck in my Office by Dr. Jody Foster Schmuck in my office

Although workplace psychology has been covered almost endlessly by authors, I’ve never read quite as candid a take on it as this one. Dr. Foster explains the psychology behind certain behaviours and as a result offers insight way beyond the usual business book hyperbole. And she does it in a truly compelling way. I found myself gasping at some of the stories she recounts. If nothing else it’ll make you feel like some of the situations you might be facing aren’t as bad as they seem by comparison.

I also recommend this book because somehow it gives you permission to spot the potential weaknesses in your own character. Or at least to see how you might be perceived by others. Beware, though, there’s a danger you’ll feel compelled to start diagnosing those around you.

On curiosity

OriginalsI believe that when it comes to leadership, the most powerful – and most underused – leadership attribute is curiosity. As soon as we start believing we’ve ‘seen it all before’, we stop being curious. And that’s dangerous.  The book I am recommending on the subject isn’t specifically billed as being about curiosity. But I can guarantee that it will make you think differently and inspire you to ask one simple question far more frequently: ‘why?’.

Adam Grant’s The Originals is a fresh look at just about everything, from a well-known social scientist. Like Webb’s Signals are Talking, Grant also looks at the age of disruption and our potential to change the world, but from a different perspective. One driven primarily by curiosity.

On resilience

It will come as no surprise to regular visitors to our site that we feel compelled to include a book on resilience. At some point in an entrepreneur’s life (and usually more than once) your resilience will be tested to its limits. Until now we have been hesitant to recommend any particular book on the subject. But, with the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, that’s all changed. Check out our more in-depth review on this book here.

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