THE FIVE READS: Essential Business Books—Your Summer Reading List from Chip Conley, Daniel Pink, Jim Collins, Jason Fried and Peter Gruber

I’m often asked what are my most prized business books in my library. I answer with a list of the books I most reference in life and in business, and the books I have re-read the most times. They are the books that motivate and inspire—and are worth the 200-page plus read. I hope you’ll have a chance to pick up these books (five of my favorites, and one bonus book) this summer, and devour their learnings, creative thought, and inspiration.

“Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”

by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras (2004)

Jim Collins is author or coauthor of six books including the bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall, but it is Built to Last that I find myself referencing, re-reading and quoting most often.

"This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies." So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time. Go here to buy >

“Rework”

by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson (2010)

I often say, most good business books contain 45 meaningful pages—the rest is filler. Rework, from the founders of 37 Signals gives you bite-sized advice on “…a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of "downsizing," and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages. You can pick it up here >

"Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story”

by Peter Gruber (2011)

Once you grasp the idea of the concept of “storytelling”—creating compelling ways of communicating is an essential component to business, you’ll have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers, and employees to action. Author Peter Gruber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, has been a force in the entertainment industry for over thirty years and knows a thing or two about story telling. Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.  And this book tells you how to do both. This is one of the most well-written business books I’ve read in a long time. It was so compelling, I actually read it cover-to-cover in a single weekend. Find the book here >

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”

by Daniel Pink

Here’s another book that I re-read all the time. It is also one of the most-often read books by my most innovative clients. Pink’s premise is that most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money--the carrot-and-stick approach. But he believes that is a mistake, and asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction--at work, at school, and at home--is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Pick up the book here >

"Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow”

by Chip Conley (2007)

A couple of years ago, I was asked by a bigwig Venture Capitalist to come in for a discussion. He had one request before our meeting—“I want you to read Chip Conley’s book Peak.

After following his request, I understood why. The idea of turning to famed psychologist Abraham Maslow's iconic Hierarchy of Needs Maslow's theory and applying it to to what Conley identifies as the key Relationship Truths in business with Employees, Customers and Investors is powerful stuff—and worth a read by anyone who wants to understand how to foster better relationships and build an enduring and profitable corporate culture. Pick up Peak here >

Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson (2011)

While billed as a biography, and released shortly after Job’s death last year, the lessons Isaacson uncovers from more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs and more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues give a glimpse into the management style, and business approach that allowed him to revolutionize six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted. It is filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values. You can buy the book here >

Happy reading!

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The Featured Five