Non-fiction Books

May´s Book Club – It´s All About Business

May 31, 2020

After April´s book club being focused on non-fiction, psychological readings, I kind of felt like choosing novels this month. But then again, I always had a taste for non fiction books ,which I try to incorporate in my routine. And here´s something you might not know about me: I usually read three books at the same time – one novel, one business book and one book about science. I do this because depending on where I am or what I´m doing I might feel more inclined for one or the other. If I am in the subway, I won´t be able to focus on a book about science and might prefer a light novel for example. If I have total silence and can focus, I´ll enjoy a science reading. And if I have highlighters closeby, I´ll go for a business book. However, since I´ve started the monthly themed bookclubs, I have tried to stick to one category. And since last month on my Instagram the majority of you chose the business book theme, here we are.

Some of these books have been on my to read list for quite a while, others are new discoveries. All are exquisite and deeply educational and while some are labelled as self-help books (a term I am not very fond of), they are all deeply rooted in data and facts. So if you´re looking for some books where you´ll highlight a thought on pretty much every page, keep on reading…

See what I did there?

  • 1. Simon Sinek´s Start With Why

    This book was recommended to me by Sonia and I even had the priviledge to get her own copy of it, with highlights, underlinings and everything! It turned out to be a must read for people that lost sight of the meaning behind their work as well as for people that want to help others find said meaning. If you´re aspiring to be an influential and innovative leader, an extraordinary speaker or simply a charismatic human being, this is the book for you. I´m looking to do a retrospective at the end of the year of my favourite books and this one definitely makes the list. An absolute must read. If you´re not much of a reader (which would make your presence on this blog a bit odd), do yourself a favour and at least listen to one of Sinek´s most notorious TED Talks here.

2. Kim Scott´s Radical Candor

I can´t quite remember where I saw this book recommendation, but it was most likely in a HBR article. Kim Scott has 25 years of leadership behind her in roles at the biggest tech companies out there – Google, Apple and Twitter amongst them. Through her Radical Candor book (and website) she teaches people how to be kick-ass bosses without losing their humanity. Kim is fierce, unapologetic, but utterly human throughout it all. So if you´re looking for a strong, grounded and determined female role model, look no further. Her radical candid philosophy is a no-bullshit, feedback and feedforward approach to communication that will help you build stronger teams and more honest and deep relationships. While mainly directed at managers and leaders in tech companies, a lot of findings from this book can be applied to instances of every day life.

3. Daniel H. Pink´s Drive

A status quo challenging Daniel H. Pink explains motivation through an anthropological looking glass. In the first part of the book Pink speaks about the carrot-and-stick approach to motivating people and differentiates between this extrinsic motivation (Type X) and intrinsic motivation (Type I). In the second part, he writes about the three elements – autonomy, mastery and purpose – that help any leader motivate their team. He does it beautifully through data and case studies that will convince even the most cynical of people. Finally the third part of the book is the most practical one, serving as a toolkit for awakening your motivation and motivating others, as well as giving you some ideas on what books to read on the topic and what business people to follow. For someone who´s often struggled to stay motivated, this book has been utterly interesting and educational and I feel that its practicality makes it super useful!

4. Jim Collins´ Good to Great

A book that was five years in the making, it tries to answer the question of what it takes to turn a good company into a truly great one. Collins starts with identifying companies that made the leap from good to great results by looking at the evolution of their stock returns and comparing them to market averages (the pattern he looked for were companies with a fifteen-year cumulative stock returns at or below general stock market, followed by a transition point, then cumulative returns at least three times the market over the next fifteen years exceeding the tenure of most CEOs so that he can separate great companies from companies that just happened to have a single great leader). Next Collins and his team selected two sets of comparison companies – “direct comparisons” aka companies that were in the same industry and though they had the same opportunities they showed no leap from good to great (as Scott Paper is to Kimberly-Clark) and “unsustained comparisons” – aka companies that made a short-term shift from good to great but couldn´t maintain the trajectory. The result was: 11 good to great companies, 11 direct comparisons and six unsustained comparisons. Then followed a deep qualitative and quantitative analysis of each case, looking at different categories such as strategy, technology or leadership but also compensation schemes, culture or turnover. Finally came the chaos to concept phase aka a framework of concepts to serve any company that wants to go from good to great. To quote the back of the book – “Good to Great achieves a rare distinction: a management book full of vital ideas that reads as well as a fast paced novel.”

5. Eric Barker´s Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Two silly reasons why I love this book: the word game Barker used in the title and the fact that it was a gift from my friend Alina, one of the fiercest entrepreneurs I know. This tiny packed book is a Wall Street Journal bestseller which sets itself the mission to de-mystify success. It answers questions such as “what really produces success?” or “do nice guys finish last?” by comparing extremely successful individuals from the rest. Similar to “Good to Great”, this book follows pretty much the same theme, but this time it is applied to individuals as opposed to companies and organisations. I have only just started this one, but I have to say that its anecdotes and data-first approach have deeply captivated me so far!

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