5 books for a CTO I’ve enjoyed in 2017

Michał Kurzeja
Dec 29, 2017 · 4 min read

One of my goals for 2017 was to start reading more books. I planned to finish 10 books during this year, and I achieved this goal (11 completed, 2 books in progress). The bigger goal for me is to become the best possible CTO I can be, and reading books is one of the ways to achieve it — together with listening to podcasts, talking, meeting new people and learning on mistakes. My trick to accomplish the reading goal was to build a habit around reading — f.e. I always listen to an audiobook when I prepare a dinner, go running, etc.

This year was not much about technology for me — at least when it comes to books. It was more about management, feedback, sales and similar. I believe a good CTO should have proper knowledge about those topics, so the list below is also composed of such books.

In random order:

1. Extreme Ownership — Jocko Willing

I was not sure if I should put this book on this list . On the one hand the ideas presented in the book are mostly simple, and if you have some leadership experience you will probably know all those things, but on the other hand — I enjoyed the way the book introduces the topics, and it served me as a great reminder.
Besides the remarkable military narrative — the book was an enjoyable read as it allowed me to compare the concepts used in Navy SEALs with the new
self-management approach.


2. Reinventing Organizations — Frederic Laloux

If you haven’t heard about self-management or the only thing that comes to your mind when talking about it is Holacracy — you should read this book.
Some concepts were already in my mind when I finished Daniel Pink’s Drive, but this book put me on a different level. It starts with an excellent introduction into how management evolved and then it describes the possible next step — self-managing organizations. The book contains a lot of real-life examples that show that the idea can be implemented in many different ways. The author also tries to select the most important aspects — the common approaches or tools that the described companies share with each other.


3. Radical Candor — Kim Scott

I’m currently reading this book, but I already learned a lot. I like the idea behind the book, and how it puts communication and feedback into an easy to implement framework. The great thing about the book is it shows how to be friendly, and have excellent relations with your employees, yet how to give them good, actionable feedback that will allow them to learn and improve.
I recommend to read this book — even if you are not a manager, it will help you and your team to achieve the true mastery in the field you work.


4. Thinking, Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman

The downside of this book is it is a bit too long ;) But it is good to know how your mind works and how to spot flaws in your reasoning. The book contains a lot of good examples and visualizes how easy it is to trick your brain. By reading it, you can learn at least two things: how to make better decisions and not get played by someone (or something) and how to convince people of your ideas ;)
I’ve read this book somewhere in the middle of the year, and already two other books mentioned the concepts from it.
Undoubtedly, a great read.


5. Never Split the Difference — Chris Voss

You probably noticed — when you are a manager you have to negotiate all the time. Even in personal life — you negotiate very often, so I think it is wise to learn some basic techniques and implement them.
This book describes dozens of techniques that combined will make your negotiations easier. I tried to implement some of them, and it seems it worked! Another good thing is the way the book is written — besides the theoretical part, each chapter contains a real-life story. I found each story exciting and reading the book was truly delightful thanks to that.


This is it — the best five books for a CTO that I have read in 2017. I hope you will give them a try and share your thought with me. What are the best books you have read in 2017?

My wish for 2018? To read even more interesting books, and I wish you the same :)

Michał Kurzeja

Written by

CTO and co-founder of Accesto with 8 years experience in leading technical projects. Co-founder of Wroclaw Symfony Group.

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