My top 12 business books - and more

Over the years I have often been asked for a list of my top 10 business books. This is often from young people starting out at work who may not have any specific areas of interest and are only just learning about business.

This is quite a challenge! I have so many on my bookshelf and eReader that it is difficult to know where to start. I knew I wanted to provide a mix of biographies (for inspiration); broad business content (to give an overview of the business world) and specific topics (to find and spark a passion).

The following are a combination of ‘classics’ and more recent titles. I intend to do book review blogs with more recent titles. If you have a particular favourite I would be happy to share so please email me with any suggestions and your own comments.

NB: Links are to Amazon or personal web pages for ease of access. I am not affiliated or paid to promote any of these books nor any that I review in other blogs.

Biographies

I love biographies and am recommending three authors so you can learn about the ‘life behind the legend”.

Steve Jobs The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal.

Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry and Made Himself the Richest Man in America by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews.

… and anything by Richard Branson (very easy reading).

General business

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. A classic book that evaluates what it takes to make a great company and what traits business people need to lead them. Based on research into “6,000 articles … generating 2,000 pages of interview transcripts” Collins description of “Level 5 Leadership” has changed the face of modern business.

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. This book offers a new framework for assessing how businesses create and capture value by looking at how customers, distribution channels, partners, revenue streams, costs, and a business's core value proposition interconnect.

Strategy

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen teaches the theory of disruptive innovation and why great companies fail by ignoring disruptive products in their competitive space. Read by Bezos, Steve Jobs, and many others it challenges conventional wisdom on what businesses should focused on and when they should deviate.

Competition Demystified by Bruce Greenwald and Judd Kahn shows you how to analyse the competitive structure of any industry and use this to gain competitive advantage.

Leadership and management

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker. This is the classic management book highlighting on how to "get the right things done"  y executives. Identifying five essential practices to business effectiveness: "managing time, choosing what to contribute, knowing where and how to mobilize strength, setting the right priorities, and effective decision-making”.

Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner. This is a thought provoking book that looks at leadership, and supportive leadership, across literature, sport, politics and business. He shows how great leaders 'tick' and how even the best need support to do the 'heavy lifting'.

Marketing

Influence by Robert B. Cialdini. This book explains the psychology of marketing and persuasion. A classic and highly recommended.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Read this as a contrast to ‘Influence’. This book explains the importance of differentiation and of creating things that other people want to share.

Self-improvement

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. First published in 1936 this book is still a best-seller. The central point is that "the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people -- that person is headed for higher earning power." This was the book that inspired Buffett when he was 20.

What I wish I knew when I was 20 by Tina Seelig. I only found this book a couple of years ago when it was recommended by Daniel Pink. Seelig teaches students at Stanford University how to “make the difficult transition from the academic environment to the professional world, providing tangible skills and insights that will last a lifetime”. I have recommended this book to so many people as it is filled with practical and interesting information. And yes, I wish I had this book when I was 20!!

NB: leading on from the last book I will read anything by Daniel Pink!!!

This is just a tiny selection of books I have read over the years - I will write about more recent books (and other classics) in future blogs.

If you have any books that you recommend, whether practical, inspirational or educational, please let me know and I will do my best to read and review!