I asked the members of the Intentional Reading Panel which books made the greatest impact on their business or life. Stephen Lynch answered by pointing me to this list which he included in his award-winning book, Business Execution for RESULTS, where he called it “Books I would recommend to my younger self.” Here it is.
I have read literally hundreds of business books (I hesitate to say more than a thousand, but I must be getting close). These days it seems to be an exercise in diminishing returns, with the same information being recycled and repacked in different ways, but I am still keen to pick up every nugget of wisdom I can. I consume a vast number of business end technology blogs and articles, and still try to read at least one book a week every week.
Below are the books I would recommend to my younger self if I had the opportunity to go back in time. If I had been exposed to this information at the beginning of my career, I would have learned to be a better person and a business leader sooner, and saved myself a lot of failures and heartache along the way!
I begin with some of the books that formed the foundation of my thinking on leadership, strategy and execution – and to whom I owe the authors a great debt. As the list progresses, I move into a selection of books that opened my mind to different ways of thinking. The world never looked the same after I read them.
The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker (actually anything by Drucker)
I go back to this book once a year. If you only read one book on business, this is it.
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Pat Lencioni
Building on the work of Drucker. How to create teams that can argue productively.
First Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham
Research on what the world’s greatest managers actually do to manage their people.
Top Grading – Brad Smart
No more hiring mistakes.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
For me, this is rehashed Drucker, but so well-known that you still have to read it.
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – Verne Harnish
The importance of quarterly planning and regular meetings and how to run them.
What Really Works (The 4 + 2 formula for sustained success) – William Joyce et al
Better quality research than more well-known books from Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) or Jim Collins (Built to Last/Good to Great). What successful companies really do.
Crossing the Chasm – Geoffrey Moore
The technology adoption curve, and why some companies make it, and some don’t.
The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christensen
Nothing lasts forever. A great model to understand industry disruption.
Marketing Warfare – Al Ries and Jack Trout
How to win your marketing war depending on where you currently sit in the industry.
The Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Learn how to stand out from the crowd in a meaningful way.
Jump Start Your Business Brain – Doug Hall
A scientific approach to marketing. Take the guesswork out of your marketing messages.
Permission Marketing – Seth Godin
People don’t care about your advertising anymore. Learn how to cut through the noise.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries and Jack Trout
A marketing classic. You will see the world very differently once you read this.
Influence – Robert Cialdini
As per the song from “The Who”, after reading this, you “Won’t get fooled again”.
The Hero and The Outlaw – Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson
Understanding brands and archetypes at a deeper subconscious level.
Create Your Own Future – Brian Tracy
Learn what successful people do. Apply that to your own life.
First Things First – Stephen Covey
Better than The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. How to put what really matters first in your life.
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The best book on sales ever written. Timeless. Read it once a year.
Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
Deeply moving. Those that endure have a clear reason “Why?” What’s yours?
That’s Stephen Lynch’s list of the books that have had the greatest impact on his life. What books are on your list?
Check out Read Like a Leader to learn more about Intentional Reading and the bios of the Intentinonal Reading Panel. Reading is an important part of self-development. The 347 tips in my ebook can help you Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.