I generally cannot go anywhere without someone asking me what I’m reading. Or, I’m getting peppered with questions on what they should be reading or listening to. Accordingly, the list below might give you some reading and listening ideas for the months ahead.
The Most Boring Book of All
I’m an avid reader of the Farnam Street blog, and many of their readers are fans of Richard Feynman. Accordingly, I finally got around to reading Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character.
Mr. Feynman was certainly a character, but I don’t get the appeal at all. He was intelligent and worked on some important projects over his career. I was expecting more than the numerous frat-boy-like stories.
The Best Leadership Book Ever Written
I’m now officially a fan of the Arbinger Institute, the authors of a leadership trilogy.
I read the last book in the series, and that’s a great starting point. I’ve listened to the first book in the series just recently, and you will not be missing anything if you read Leadership and Self-Deception first.
Get it, I highly recommend it, especially if culture is important in your company. However, I’m calling it a book for individuals as readers will find out if they are in or outside the box. It’s not a feel-good read, and you will be challenged.
The Big 3 of Retail, History, and Explosive Growth
Retail is one of my favorite industries, and I enjoy history and biographies.
When the book by the former CEO of Dollar General caught my eye, I snatched it up immediately. I even dropped what I was currently reading to read Cal Turner’s, My Father’s Business The Small-Town Values That Built Dollar General into a Billion-Dollar Company. Cal is the son of the founder.
If you liked Sam Walton’s book, you’ll like this one too. Plus, the Turners were way ahead of their time in terms of marketing, merchandising, and putting the customer first.
Thumbs up to this book.
I try to read one work of history each month, so I grabbed a book from the bookshelf, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.
If you are a fan of Erik Larson, you might like this book. I still give the edge to Larson in the way he can weave two seemingly disjointed historical events into one narrative reading like fiction.
May we all be thankful for modern medicine. Imagine being shot and your physician feeling around ‘inside’ before washing his or her hands. Incidentally, a big bow to President Garfield’s stamina, grit, drive, and the desire to always do what was right when no one was working. Flawed? Yes, we all are. But he’s a great leader to emulate.
Ahem, A Horse Biography
Yes, a horse biography. Isn’t a CFO allowed to enjoy one every so often?
Seriously, Seabiscuit: An American Legend has been in my Audible library for years. I started listening to it one Saturday while working outdoors, and I did not want to stop working.
One of the truly good guys in the book was not the sage-like trainer, both jockeys, or the horse itself, but the owner of Seabiscuit.
Laura Hillenbrand has made an art form out of narrative non-fiction. I felt as though I was watching the races as she told the story of each contest. I just wish she would write more, but her health probably keeps such projects to a minimum.
I’m not sure what genre sub-category this book belongs to, but I’m calling The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth an excellent title if you work in consulting.
Incidentally, the author is one of the co-hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, 2Bobs.
The Subscription Economy
Tien Tzuo is the CEO of Zuora and my key takeaway is that traditional business models such as manufacturers are part of the subscription economy too, at least we are seeing that shift based on the author’s examples.
Accordingly, this book is not just for SaaS-based businesses which is why I waited to read it. You’ll enjoy his take on financials for the subscription model (okay, not great), how certain businesses are creating customer stickiness (such as Fender, the guitar maker), and the adaptation from a product-centric to a customer-centric culture.
Remember Bernie Ebbers, the disgraced CEO of Worldcom?
Let’s say he passes away, and then wakes up. When he does, he’s 21 years old and back in college. He’s the same person. It takes him a few days to figure out what has happened.
Does he replay his life? Does he make changes?
So he’s relived his life and dies on the same day as he did the first time he died and of the same causes. Oops, he comes back again–same person but just a few weeks later this time around.
That’s the gist of Ken Grimwood’s Replay which is considered a sci-fi classic in some reading circles. If you need a beach read for the summer, it’s a quick read. I still like 11-22-63: A Novel by Stephen King a bit better, another story where the protagonist goes back in time.
So you don’t have time for fiction? Neither do I, but I’m working hard to read at least one work of fiction monthly, and I’m slightly ahead of schedule.
This book has heavy themes in family despair, cruelty, judging others, learning, and so much more. Part of the book even reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird. If you know much about the early years of the 16th President of the United States, there are some similarities with the story’s protagonist Kya who is known as the marsh girl.
Where the Crawdads Sing is also the third book this year that my wife and I have both read. I will not recommend it, but if you liked Educated, this is a good rebound book.
What’s on Tap Next Month?
Did you love the book Moneyball? Did you know the Moneyball era is all but dead?
Moneyball was about finding hidden and discarded value. The post-Moneyball era is about using analytics to develop value/talent. That’s why I can’t wait to read The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players.
Baseball owners have gone from using new tools to finding hidden value to developing value using data and algorithms. That’s continuous innovation inside a 20-year time window. Why is it that some businesses never innovate over a lifetime let alone during a 20-year time period? The MVP Machine will be more than just a baseball book.
It’s Your Turn
I’ve shared my list. Now it’s your turn. What were you favorite books last month?