What Did You Feed Your Brain Last Year?
I was recently asked, “Out of the business books that you read in 2019, what were your favorites?” I field some variation of this question almost monthly. So, with the goal of elevating your game for this year, I’ve decided to share three of my favorite business books and three of my favorite fiction books from 2019. As a bonus for those of you who prefer listening over reading, I’m throwing in three of my favorite business-related podcast episodes, too. Enjoy!
My Favorite Business Books
Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins
This book is a companion piece to Jim Collins’s foundational work Good to Great. In January 2019, I had the privilege of hearing Jim speak at the annual Vistage Worldwide conference for Vistage Chairs. His concept of the flywheel applies to organizations of all sizes. If you’re interested in how to gain momentum, I encourage you to read this insightful book.
Prosperity in the Age of Decline: How to Lead Your Business and Preserve Wealth Through the Coming Business Cycles by Brian and Alan Beaulieu
Last updated in 2014, this book by the Beaulieu brothers bears news you can use regarding the cyclical economy and what to expect long-term. Their high rate of predictive accuracy makes the time you invest worthwhile. Despite letting this piece sit idly on my reading pile for several years, I’m glad I finally cracked the spine on it last year. I recommend that you learn more about it and consider giving it a go.
Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin
If any of your business depends on referrals, you will want to explore the concept of “giftology.” It’s exactly what it sounds like—a philosophy centered on how to give meaningful gifts of gratitude for quality referrals. It’s not a perfect read for everyone, but for the right business leaders and their organizations, it can be a game-changer. Take a moment to explore if it may be a good fit for you.
My Favorite Fiction Books
Killing Floor (Jack Reacher Series Book 1) by Lee Child
The Jack Reacher series has been on my radar for quite some time, but I only had the pleasure of acquainting myself with the series’ protagonist last year. Lee Child once remarked in an interview that he’d crafted Jack Reacher as a character who knew how to win against difficult odds. That freed the author to chart a path for the character that cut against the typical action story. I must say that Child has succeeded in doing that. I hope you’ll give the first novel a try! If you’ve seen any of the movie adaptations, prepare for an entirely different experience.
The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
John Grisham’s work has always appealed to me—probably because he ran screaming from his attorney training to follow a new career path. Regardless, he almost always spins an engaging tale with richly drawn characters. So, when the dust jacket on The Rooster Bar promised an adventure with three third-year law students attending an overpriced degree mill, he had my attention. Treat yourself to this compelling story.
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Series Book 1) by Marko Kloos
One of my guilty pleasures is well-written—or at the very least, entertaining—science fiction. If you like sci-fi yarns that are thinly veiled social commentaries, like Old Man’s War and The Forever War, then you’ll enjoy the Frontline series.
My Favorite Podcasts
How I Built This podcast episode “Dave’s Killer Bread,” with Dave Dahl
Guy Raz has a talent for finding fascinating entrepreneurs and drawing out their stories. His interview with Dave Dahl is no exception. Dave’s story is unique and tragically human. His path to success was most definitely not a straight line. Tune in to learn how Dave went from facing drug addiction and multiple prison terms to becoming an inspirational entrepreneur.
Fresh Air podcast episode with actor and producer Reese Witherspoon
There are an awful lot of interesting people out there that you can learn a great deal from. Terry Gross has been unpacking their stories for decades. Actor Reese Witherspoon is one of those captivating people. Her interview with Terry digs deep into how, when Hollywood typecast her, she created her own production company to create more and better roles for women. Listen in to learn more.
Hidden Brain podcast episode “BS Jobs: How Meaningless Work Wears Us Down,” with anthropologist David Graeber
In the never-ending race for talent, we often focus on hiring the “right” people and getting our culture dialed in. But what about the work we ask our employees to perform? In this excellent podcast episode, Shankar Vedantam dives into what makes work meaningful. He also sheds light on the epidemic of “BS” jobs that drive valuable employees away. You won’t want to miss this one, so check it out.
What are your favorite business books, fictional reads, and podcasts from last year? Drop me a line or weigh in with a comment below. I’m always looking for good recommendations, too!