Monthly Bookmarks –
137th Edition – October 3, 2021
CEOs are at risk of giving business writing a good name.The Economist, How Bosses Should Write Books
1. The CEO Memoir
Drama, family issues, overcoming the impossible, running out of cash, never giving in.
Those are many of the ingredients found in any CEO memoir, and I was pleased to see a brief write-up on this topic at The Economist.
I also like CEO memoirs better than leadership books. Story, plot, key players, strategy, systems, competition – we typically get all of these in a great memoir by a leader. And I’m not referring to the self-aggrandizing sort of books we’ve read.
Here are five to add to your wish list if you like this genre:
- Made From Scratch by the late Kent Taylor. I just finished it last week, and I give it 5 stars.
- Wild Company by Mel and Patricia Ziegler was so real to me – I could relate to it because it was a mirror of the small businesses I’ve worked with over the years. If Mel and Patricia don’t ring a bell, they are the founders of Banana Republic.
- I still don’t think How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban gets enough credit. As a young 20-something, nothing was working for him. Persistence was his greatest asset.
- One of the first books I read in this genre was Father, Son & Co. by the son of the founder of IBM. This book is easily in my Top 100 of business books.
- How can I leave out Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers. Every start-up entrepreneur should read this short book.
2. The Growing Gig Economy
According to Forbes, “The gig economy is a rapidly growing market of laborers who provide freelance work or work through short-term contracts.”
Are you a part of this economy? I was recently asked for five book titles that freelancers would enjoy. Here’s my list:
- Free Agent Nation by Dan Pink
- Platform and/or Beyond Booked Solid by Michael Hyatt
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis
- The Business of Expertise by David C. Baker
- The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns
Incidentally, any start-up founder is just like a freelancer working in the gig economy. The titles above are applicable.
3. The Psychopathic CEO
Have you ever worked for a psychopathic CEO? If you haven’t, chances are, you will according to Jack McCullough who has just released his newest book, The Psychopathic CEO.
Psychopaths – such an intimidating term. But here’s what’s scarier … the top career choice for psychopaths is CEO. I’m not kidding. Lawyer is second, media is third. Also in the top ten are police officer, clergy, and chef which I find a bit odd.
Jack does a great job in layperson terms in describing psychopaths and some of the other terms we use that are similar to these personalities. Here’s what I want to know. Can a psychopath truly change? Definitely a fascinating read that I was not expecting to be so intriguing based on about two pages of notes.
4. Financial Topics – Getting Back to the Basics
I’ve been writing this newsletter for more than two years, and I appreciate the positive feedback I receive weekly through emails and messages on LinkedIn.
I’m also fully aware of the concept of the curse of knowledge. Because you are a financial leader, I automatically assume you know everything that I do. While that might be true, I rarely mention financial books in this newsletter. Let’s change that by mentioning 5 books for your library on this topic:
- Entrepreneurial Financial Management: An Applied Approach. I’m a long-time fan of one of the co-authors, Jeffrey Cornwall. You won’t read this book from cover to cover, but it’s a handy reference book for those wanting to master entrepreneurial finance. Yes, it’s very practical.
- Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs by Berman and Knight. I’m betting you’ve read this book or a different one in the series. Still, it’s a great companion book to the one mentioned above. The biggest difference? You can actually read this one from cover to cover.
- Managing by the Numbers by Kremer, Rizzuto, and Case. I love this book, but it’s dated. It’s dated because it’s geared toward businesses that are asset-intensive. We need a similar guide for SaaS-based and professional services businesses. Still, the concepts are solid.
- Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements: The Search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage by Mary Buffett and David Clark. This is the book every new or young CEO should read.
- Never Run Out of Cash by Campbell deserves a mention on this list. I once spoke to a group of CEOs in Boonville, Missouri. I gave away a few copies. Everyone wanted a copy because they loved the title. This book is probably more geared for controllers than CEOs and general managers.
How about a bonus selection, and it’s a book you’ll rarely see mentioned on book lists by financial writers. My honorable mention is Discovery-Driven Growth by Rita Gunther McGrath. Better yet, bundle this book with another she released in 2019, Seeing Around Corners.
5. Looking for That Next Great Book?
In about a week, I’ll start reading (and maybe listening too) This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race (1.5k ratings at 4.6 stars) by Nicole Perlroth.
Looking for some other good suggestions? Here are a few titles I’ve stashed away for the future:
- Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863 -1869 by Ambrose (.9k ratings at 4.6). What was easier, putting man on the moon or building the transcontinental railroad? I’m two chapters in, and I’m hooked.
- The Secret Life of Groceries by Lorr (.7k ratings at 4.4). I thought this book would be rather dull and an updated version of Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle. That’s not a stretch comparison, but the stories are readable and moving.
- The Design of Everyday Things by Norman (3.5k reviews at 4.6 stars). I’ve read many positive reviews from different news outlets, and I hope to read soon.
- The Lost Bank by Grind (less than 200 ratings at 4.4). I enjoy narrative non-fiction, especially by great WSJ writers. In this very readable book about the fall of Washington Mutual, I’m realizing that growth for the sake of growth is a perilous game. The author will be joining us for a future episode on the CFO Bookshelf podcast.
- Fully Staffed by Chester (less than 100 ratings at 4.8). I came across this book after reading the story of Texas Roadhouse. I’m sure it will be a quick read, and I can tell from the index that this book is more than just a few short-lived tactics to stay fully staffed in these challenging times.
September’s CFO Bookshelf Podcast Playlist:
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