It seems that lists are in these days so I’m putting my top 10 list for Business books that I have read over the past decade or so. This is not necessarily related to entrepreneurship but applicable to all business areas. Also, I do not have links set up to Amazon or other book sites.
1. Success Equation – Michael J. Mauboussin from Harvard Business Review Press. Mauboussin, the Managing Director and Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse, presents a great read about luck vs. skill research. In business, it gets one to think of the context they’re in and how much certainty or uncertainty exists and the role of management skill in influencing it. After reading it, one comes away with how much success or lack thereof is still at the mercy of luck (being in right place at right time).
2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – great read on decision making written by a Nobel Price winner. It’s a long read but provides great insight using in-depth research to support the content.
3. The Halo Effect: . . . and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers, by Philip Rosenzweig, a solid read on how the media, investors and analysts attribute success in companies to rather quickly and simplistically. It provides a lot of supporting research about the impact of managers on shareholder value. Using examples like Cisco in the 1990s where at one time it’s called the best managed company in the world and how a year or so later after the telecom collapse the trade publications cites all the wrong things Cisco did.
4. Stocks for the Long Run, Professor Jeremy Siegel. One of the most informative investment books that is easily understood for the lay person who has little or no finance acumen. I found it more valuable as a historical document than about recommendations of investment strategies, etc.
5. Managing for Results, Peter Drucker. Written in the 1960s but still effective to get managers to focus on the end results than on trying to control the process too much.
6. Effective Executive, Peter Drucker. a simple paperback that provides great insight for the executive who manages people and things. First, thing, track thy time for 30 days.
7. Anti-Fragile by Nassim Taleb, one could include his other books (Fooled by Randomness or Black Swan) but what I found valuable from this book was his focus on the many things in the world that actually survive and grow stronger with faced with stressors. One concept Taleb discusses is that of Post Traumatic Growth (positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event). We spend so much time studying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which is needed) but much focus can be added to PTG to understand why some beings actually benefit from stress.
8. The One Thing by Gary Kelly. Most recently read this summer (2015) about the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? The author spends a good deal time, as well, on the 80/20 philosophy and how trying to identify the one action or strategy that affects most other things can dramatically increase your professional and personal productivity.
9. Technological Revolution and Financial Capital by Carlota Perez. A classic that examines the role of technology in economics and how financial capital interplays with it. The author presents a framework that suggests the impact of 40-60 year technological/economic waves initiated by a single discovery or invention (e.g., the integrated circuit). Perez shows how society repeatedly benefits from such waves but always faces recessions and depressions when markets over heat and crash.
10. The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack. One of the great turnaround stories in modern-day American business. The author discusses how he and his team took over a ‘zombie’ engine remanufacturing business and developed a business philosophy making business into a game where financial literacy and empowerment were emphasized. Lots of great details on how they accomplished. it.
There are a dozen or so more that I could have included but these represent a good listing of books that have helped form my business and management philosophy over time.