Some business books leave us with little to remember except a few lines that could have just as easily been compacted into a short post. The nine selections below are the real deal, written by experts who have spent years meticulously researching the facts and issues revolving around their particular topic. So get your highlighters prepped and remember one of the best ways to actually retain and use information from books is by going back over your highlights or notes every once in a while.
Here is the simple, and life changing advice: The greatest predictor of your future self is your behavior today. When you delay today, and promise you will change tomorrow, in a week or next month, you are assuming your future self will be different in the future. This is a common mind trick, assuming you will be superman in the future. In reality, it is highly unlikely that you will resist the chocolate dessert, the third glass of wine, or procrastinating on your goals unless you resist it today. Kelly McDonigal reminds us to
“View every choice you make as a commitment to all future choices.”
In How Women Decide, Therese Huston has delivered a guidebook to understanding the strengths women bring to decision making. If you have doubted your ability to make decisions, Therese offers research that shows men and women have an equally hard time making decisions. However, under specific conditions, the ways women and men make decisions can differ. When the pressure is on, research shows that men are more likely to go for large risks, while women are more likely to go for smaller wins, Therese says. These differences in gender behavior show us why gender balance is good for the bottom line, and not just a company’s diversity report. You can hear more on this topic in Therese’s I Want Her Job podcast.
Andy Grove’s book High Output Management is considered a top management book by insiders in Silicon Valley. As your read how Andy Grove managed Intel, you will be reminded of basic management responsibilities such as ensuring you have a process to fix problems at the lowest stage possible, thereby saving time and preserving resources.
This book comes from a popular undergraduate design class at Stanford led by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. One of the main themes is the suggestion to re-frame dysfunctional beliefs such as these:
Its too late to design a life I love
Your degree determines your career
To be happy I have to make the right choice
If you find yourself believing any of these statements, designing your life will help you re-frame your thinking and start taking small steps forward towards rapid prototyping of your life goals. We often hear the advice that you must follow your passion. For those of us with multiple passions, this book reminds us that 80% of people do not have a passion and it is actually perfectly normal to be passionate about many things. Instead of obsessing about the perfect passion, we should narrow down a list of possibilities, make a decision and start exploring. The objective is to get out of your imagination, and to start designing your way forward to a fulfilling life. If you are uncertain what life decisions you should keep following, consider this advice from the book,
“Your level of energy and engagement is your clue if you are moving in the right direction.”
Kevin Kelley’s book reminds us how rapidly our world is changing. Experts predict, before the end of this century, 70% of jobs will likely be automated. If this stat scares you, don’t worry yet, Kelley’s book suggests the creation of entirely new roles and industries to support automation. If you want a head start on where the biggest industries are headed, Kelley has dozens of ideas including a strong bet on the sharing economy. Kelley predicts the most profitable companies will share products and services in ways that have yet to be discovered. “Today, sharing something that has not been shared before, or in a new way, is the surest way to increase its value,” says Kelley.
Bryan Stephenson’s work in social and criminal justice is a must read story and example of how to lead change in massively difficult and heartbreaking circumstances. Bryan’s courage, kindness and resilience while working in situations that seem hopeless, is a model of how one person can lead tremendous change and save lives one case at a time.
7. The Road to Character by David Brooks
All around us, everyone says we need to find our true passions and seek out what truly makes us happy. If you are not following your dreams and passions, and you constantly read on every social network about the triumphs of people who are, it is quite possible to get a case of passion envy.
David Brooks suggests we remember the following,
“The world existed long before you and will last long after you, and that in the brief span of your life you have been thrown by fate, by history, by chance, by evolution, or by God into a specific place with specific problems and needs.”
Instead of asking what do I want, Brooks recommends we ask, “what does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do?” The Road to Character takes the reader on a journey by reviewing admirable people in history who were focused on living a life of service. By studying these giants of history such as Francis Perkins, Victor Frankl, Eisenhower, Dorothy Day and George Marshall, Brooks has written a roadmap to character, and ultimately happiness, since they are very much connected.
Have you ever felt down because your life has not followed the traditional path of school, college, great career, marriage, kids, etc? Todd Rose, failed class after class, dropped out of high school with a 0.9 GPA, held minimum wage jobs to support a wife and son, and earned a reputation as a troublemaker. Today, Todd is on the faculty at Harvard Graduate school. In his book, Todd walks us through his own story and presents research that indicates there is no such thing as an average brain or an average life path.
If you are interested in viewing your life differently, remember this suggestion from the book “There is no single pathway, for any goal in our life there are varied paces and sequences to reaching our goals.”
Have you ever wished you could work with your friends and run a business based on truly shared values? For employees of Zappo’s, this place is real. In Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh leads us through the risks he took and how his devotion to building an authentic company culture paid off, in billions. Some say culture eats strategy for breakfast and after reading the Zappos’ story you may strongly agree. Zappo’s has already proved the model works; it is up to the rest of us to create the world we want to live in.
If you are managing people, you are likely to find some great advice in this book. Based on research studies from 80,000 manager across 400 companies, the information in this book will help you prioritize where you spend your time, select the right people for the right roles, and motivate people on your team. Lori Goler, Facebook’s VP People, gives this book to new managers.