Around 1990, Ken Boyd and I were talking about books. At the time, we were doing field audit work for KPMG at a small television station in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
During that discussion, Ken stated his favorite business book was Barbarians at the Gate. Ultimately, I got, read it, and loved it.
However, I was always studying in those early years. That meant reading and working in public accounting didn’t seem to go together very well.
When I left public accounting, my reading habits changed. But I needed conduits in the form of people who cared and took an interest in my professional growth. A brilliant guy named Stuart Varner had me read The Goal in 1992. That same year, Melody Sparrow (one of the best controllers and CFOs I’ve ever known) handed me Relevance Lost by Johnson and Kaplan. “Mark, read this,” as though it seemed just like yesterday.
Those two titles alone have had the greatest impact on how I face problems and opportunities of any kind. The foundational content led me to have a healthy sense of professional skepticism toward all potential solutions in the areas of strategy, marketing, selling, operations, and financial performance.
That’s what reading does to us–it shapes and strengthens our moldable minds. We never need to fear mental atrophy as long as we’re reading good books, even bad ones too.
I Love to Read
I used to believe everyone should read. Not anymore. All of us learn in different ways.
Leonardo da Vinci possessed one of the most gifted minds we have ever studied. When he needed to solve problems, he had few if any peers to talk shop. Nor did he have many books he could turn to for help and ideas. Instead, he learned mostly by observation. That could be your best way of learning.
While you don’t need to be a reader, I do believe you always need to be growing the mind. Otherwise, your mind will stagnate. Is that what you want?
For those of us predisposed to reading, CFO Bookshelf is a place for financial leaders to learn, be inspired, and occasionally be entertained. Most of the time, this will occur through book reviews and posts about reading in general.
I do have a day job. I run a solo consulting practice named G3CFO. I also coach and mentor other CFOs as time permits through Free Agent CFO™.
When I’m not working, keeping up with the St. Louis Cardinals, and hanging out with family, I’m reading (a lot). I listen too–in my truck, when mowing, and while enduring torturous walks on my NordicTrack each evening.
The New Kid on the Block
CFO Bookshelf has only been around for a few years. Feel free to let me know what you think of the site through a LinkedIn connection. If you do, I have one request. Tell me what you are reading and 5 of your favorite books.
Keep reading, keep learning, keep growing.