Best Books I’ve Read for 2016

I’m a fairly avid reader. I love books and wish I could read even more than I do but time is somewhat of a constraint.

Since reading can be a bit of a hit and miss, I’ve compiled my list of the best books I’ve read this year.

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve dove into audiobooks which I resisted at first but eventually got into. I listen while I run daily and I read on my Kindle before bed. This has certainly helped increase my reading production.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge advocate of reading. Unfortunately I feel most humans read very little, certainly much less than they should. Reading compounds and it’s a habit that pays off in many ways throughout life. It can be challenging to get into the rhythm of it at first but when you push through the first few pages to get in the motion of it and you do it consistently, it tends to get easier and becomes part of your lifestyle.

These are the best business related books I’ve read over the past 12 months that I highly recommend:

Extreme Ownership — Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The core idea throughout this book is as the title suggest, taking extreme ownership for situations and outcomes in business and life. The authors are ex-Navy SEALS that have an incredible story to tell that pulls from their experience in the field and from their consulting practice. They detail how to apply these concepts in the real world. I really enjoyed this one and reflect on it often and use it daily.

Leading — Alex Ferguson

I played soccer (football in the UK) growing up and enjoy watching it but never really intensely followed or watched it as a fan. I’m always attracted to leadership and similar topics so I saw this title and decided to read it. This book is fantastic. Sir Alex Ferguson walks you through what he’s learned from coaching Manchester United. He’s considered the greatest soccer coach of all time and knows a thing or two about the topic. There’s direct parallels to business as coaching relates to leading and managing. If you happen to grab the Audible version, you’ll enjoy the Scottish narration.

Elon Musk — Ashlee Vance

I just finished reading this one recently and really enjoyed it. I’ve always felt compelled to follow people with great accomplishments so I can pull from their experience and get as many takeaways as possible that are useful to my own company and life. Elon Musk doesn’t disappoint here. It’s important to understand how people like Elon tick and the story behind what they’ve done, and this book does a good job to reveal that.

Chaos Monkeys — Antonio Garcia Martinez

I read this one this past summer and found it fun and interesting. It details the story of a start-up entrepreneur that sells his company to Twitter and goes on to work for Facebook. It walks the reader through the inner workings of these companies and does a good (and funny) job at depicting Silicon Valley.

Who Say’s Elephants Can’t Dance — Lou Gerstner

Great, great story about how Lou Gerstner turned IBM around in 1993 from what would have inevitably been a disaster to getting it back on track and moving out of hardware and mainframes to software and services. Really a valuable story to read or listen to. These days CEO’s like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos etc get a lot of spotlight but in terms of sheer competency, I would absolutely rate Lou Gerstner among the best.

How the Mighty Fall — Jim Collins

I honestly wasn’t a Jim Collins fan a few years back but I saw him speak at an Inc 500 conference and agreed with most of what he said and it prompted me to start reading his books from the beginning. I’ve since read them all and they’re incredibly well researched. Jim goes all in on studying and doing his homework for each book and I’ve found his research incredibly helpful. This book is another great one. It’s shorter than the others but hard hitting and provides need to know info for anyone in business.

Team of Teams — General Stanley McCrystal

After I read Extreme Ownership I moved on to this one to continue my military leadership theme. It was a fascinating read. It’s incredible to be able to peer into what goes on in the military and during war from someone who has deep knowledge and experience with both. There’s definite business parallels that can be applied. I’ve also found that books like these are a reality check for regular civilians like myself who don’t realize what truly goes on behind the scenes. While providing great insights for business, this book also gave me a great sense of gratitude and respect for all people serving in the military.

Deep Work — Cal Newport

This was an unusual read for me based on what I’m typically attracted to but I’m fascinated with anything to do with focus and concentration and I’m always striving to improve in that area so I thought this would make an interesting read. It was. Cal has done great research to compose this book and present useful insights that will help you focus on what’s important to get more done but more of what’s truly valuable.

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I’ve always felt that reading helps me stay focused, innovate and challenges me to constantly improve what I’m doing. I also feel that knowledge tends to compound and when problems come up, once you’ve read enough, you tend to know the answers to most things in greater or lesser degree.

If there’s any incredible books that I’m missing, feel free to share in the comments so I can check them out.

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