Birthdays do funny things to our minds, especially as we get older. In my case, I started revisiting my past. What was I doing twenty years ago? Ten years earlier? And then five. Five years ago. That seemed like ages ago until I looked at the books I read in 2017. Seemed like yesterday.
2017 Was a Great Year
As I started going down my list, I realized my brain must have grown slightly. Some of the titles I devoured will stand the test of time. Here’s my list of favorites in the order I read them:
- It’s Not About Me by Robin Dreeke. I love this little book, and I hope to interview the author. This is the book you read as a follow-up to Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
- From Worst to First by Gordon Bethune. This one is a classic, but I believe it’s becoming a fogotten go-to book for leaders trying to turn around their poor-performing businesses. Airlines used to tank (as in bankruptcy) as often as NFL teams do today to get those high draft picks. Another bankruptcy for Continental Airlines would have spelled the end of the organization. With a new sheriff in town, we get a front-row seat as to how he and his team made that airline profitable in a matter of months. It’s one of the greatest comeback stories of all time.
- A Class With Drucker by William Cohen was poignant, yet full of gems sprinkled throughout the book. Highly recommend if you like Drucker.
- I liked Cohen’s book so much, I then read Art of the Strategist. Good, not great. It’s still an enjoyable read if you spend time in the strategy space.
- I laughed out loud at times as I was reading Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. Her examples in the book are outstanding. This is the type of book that you cannot just read one time.
- My Forty Years With Ford is probably my favorite book on Ford. It’s by the one-time friend of Hentry Ford, Charles Sorensen. If you’ve read Ford’s book, you need this one for the full story on the iconic automaker.
- The Phantom Tollbooth was one of the few novels I read in 2017. My grown kids thought it was cool that I read it because if was one of their favorites when they were young.
- The Prime Movers by Edwin Locke is a fascinating book if you like the writing of Edith Penrose. Locke’s book is also similar to Good to Great. The biggest difference is that Locke uses simple terminology as did Churchill with his writing and speaking. Locke is also the industrial psychologist who gave us one of the most important research papers on the theory of goal setting.
- Extrordinary Circcumstances by Cynthia Cooper is one of the best accounting books I’ve ever read. It’s in my top ten of best narrative non-fiction. I even liked it better than Bad Blood.
- I’m a big fan of Stacey Barr, so I read Prove It! when it came out in 2017.
- Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin was recommended to me long before I read it in 2017. If you’ve read Range, then I’d skip this one.
- The Management Myth by Matthew Stewart – f’ing brilliant. Sorry, I can’t help it. Every young financial leader should be required to read this before reading their first business book.
- American Icon by Bryce Hoffman. Wow!! One of my favorite business books of all time. I had already listened to it twice in 2017. Reading it allowed me to take notes. Hoffman’s book also caused me to read other similar titles which are listed below.
- Working Together by Lewis was mentioned in American Icon. It’s probably the best book on project management I’ve ever read.
- I used to serve a large client in the Boston area, so We Are Market Basket looked good. It’s an all too familiar business story of family members not staying united in the organization. This story shines its light on the strong leadership of Arthur Demoulas in this suprisingly good book.
- I have enjoyed helping B2B organizations improve their sales processes. Accordingly, Cash Machine by Klapholz and Klarman is okay, not great. It’s written in the form of a novel. If you liked Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross, then Cash Machine will make a ton of sense. I spotted a few minor flaws in the discussion on sales stages. Still, the execution is not bad if you work in sales management.
- The Whiz Kids belongs in my CFO Library Hall of Fame. This book was inspired by the Hoffman book mentioned above. If you like business history, find a used copy.
Interesting. Dalio’s Principles did not make my list above. Way too long. I liked parts of the book, and maybe I should have stopped reading it at some point. Do you consider Principles a great book?
2017 Audio Books
I listened to forty-seven audiobooks in 2017. Yet, my list of books that I really liked and recommend is very short.
- The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig is oustanding and is on par with The Management Myth mentioned above. You could possibly change your mind about Good to Great after listening to this one.
- My Life and Work by Henry Ford was excellent, but if you want a balanced view on him, you need to read the Sorensen book mentioned above.
- American Icon by Hoffman was phenomenal. I’ve already mentioned it above. I listened to it first. I listened again later in the year. Mulally is proably one of the greatest CEOs of all time.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport was one of those books I was able to listen to during a drive to Minnesota. Highly recommend. You’ll see his name again below this title.
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You should be listened to by every independent consultant, and it’s the other book by Newport I read in 2017. Which of the two is best. Sorry, I’m stalling. Just read both.
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is still a book I remember well, and this fictional piece is based on a true story of orphans being sold to families of means during the 1930s. Powerful storytelling.
- I was doing a lot of country walking in 2017, so there were two other works of fiction I enjoyed–Fried Green Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel and Bonfire of the Vanities. Just a suggestion, read and listen to more fiction.
- Building a Story Brand was good. My kids loved Donald Miller when they were younger (Blue Like Jazz), so I’ve always been familiar with the author. As a premium member of Copyblogger years ago, I heard him on one or two webinars, so I was already aware of his marketing framework that he outlines in this book. But I still recommend it if you like marketing strategy.
- Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Hey, it’s by a comedic genious. Five stars, baby.
- Good luck in not letting your emotions get the best of you with Unscripted by Ernie Johnson. That guy is a hero. Only 479 ratings? At least the average is 4.8.
- A Man Called Ove is halirious. More.
- Anthing You Want is a book I recommend in my CFO coach training at Free Agent CFO™. It’s short, and it’s a mini-version of Shoe Dog. You won’t be listening to this one just once.
2017 was a good year for reading even though my audio picks were slim on the 5-star books. I do not want to tell you what to read. But please keep raising the bar with your book selections. Keep your mind fresh and include fiction whenever possible.