Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Business reading: It's not just for breakfast anymore

Not long ago, I was speaking with one of our MBA graduates and he mentioned a book he'd read in one of his courses that really influenced his thinking. In turn, I shared a recommendation for a book I read as part of my Master of Education program.

About a week later, I was standing with some colleagues at a non-business-related function and someone recommended another book, the content of which has been rolling around in my head ever since. Although I've exchanged book recommendations with my friends and family members many times before, it has been particularly fun to talk books with others who actually get excited about business-related reading.

So, I thought I would share some book recommendations from my recent reading list. Given the way technology has changed where, when, and how we read, I also thought it would be fun to include the platform used to do this reading. Currently, the top five books that have influenced the way I do business include:

"A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. Any book that focuses on tapping into our inner creativity and valuing the creative among us works for me! I also really enjoy books that shed light on the different ways people think. With more than seven billion people in the world, it helps to understand a little more about where some of them are coming from. Platform: Kindle.

"The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. Although this one has been around for quite a while, I read it just last year and found it incredibly interesting and insightful. I enjoyed Friedman's many examples of how individuals and businesses are communicating and collaborating anytime, anywhere in a quest to solve problems, sell products, share information, and create even more amazing technological advances to further break down barriers of geography and time. Platform: Hardback.

"What Would Google Do?" by Jeff Jarvis. Speaking of technology, I actually listened to this book on my iPod while driving back and forth between our campus in Connecticut and our offices in Philadelphia. My key takeaways: The customer really is king and the king can reach more people faster than ever before, so take good care of your customers; social media is incredibly powerful (just ask Dell Computers); creativity is good; making mistakes and learning from them is also good; and being evil is bad. Platform: Audio Book.

"Drive" by Daniel Pink. Yes, Mr. Pink shows up twice on this short list. Understanding what motivates people has to be at the top of any manager's playlist. This is a short book that packs an awful lot of food for thought. Platform: Kindle.

"Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. As someone who's spent the past 20+ years in the communications field -- as a practitioner, teacher, parent, and spouse -- this book served as a welcome reminder of how to create stickier messages. Platform: Kindle.

Finally, if you're looking to have a little fun via a color-coded personality test, check out "Career Match" by Shoya Zichy. This book offers insight into personality types by grouping people into color groups such as red, blue, gold, or green. Have some fun and find out your dominant color!

It was hard to narrow this list down to just five, and if I were to have written this on a different day, there might be a different list.

What would be on YOUR top-five list of best business reads? Why? Add your recommendations to the comment section.