10 Jul 10 YEARS, 10 BOOKS
For this post we had a look at our library shelves at the office, with almost 1000 books, in order to choose ten. We grabbed some very obvious ones immediately. Then, at some point, all the books we were carrying on our arms were all obvious choices… They are 13 books, but we could not leave any single one of them out.
Therefore, with a view to keep the idea of a 10-books list, we decided to first highlight 3 out of those 13 we selected, and call them the TITANS. These three books have in common a more biographical angle and are all three absolutely unmissable. Then, our list of ten super inspiring and enriching books, all tackling different angles and areas, will follow. And thus we surpassed another challenge of the series of 10 posts of our 10th anniversary!
In random order, here are our titans.
Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage
By Richard Stengel
For sure, one of the best leadership books we have in our library. Mandela’s principles of thinking and action inspire all of us for a grander leadership style, making sure we know that sometimes one leads from the front row, others from the back row. Mandela’s way makes us understand when to speak up, when to listen, when to fight, when to let it go and wait for the best chance to move forward.
‘We long for heroes and have too few. Nelson Mandela (…) is the closest thing the world has to a secular saint. He liberated a country from a system of violent prejudice and helped unite oppressor and oppressed in a way that had never been done before.
Now Richard Stengel, the editor of Time magazine, has distilled countless hours of intimate conversation with Mandela into fifteen essential life lessons. For nearly three years, including the critical period when Mandela moved South Africa toward the first democratic elections in its history, Stengel collaborated with Mandela on his autobiography and traveled with him everywhere. Eating with him, watching him campaign, hearing him think out loud, Stengel came to know all the different sides of this complex man and became a cherished friend and colleague. […]’
Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
By Ashlee Vance
Absolutely fascinating biography of an absolutely fascinating titan of our time – Elon Musk. This is the book that keeps us awake at night and more, it makes us wake up in the middle of the night just to read a few more pages… Unmissable. We love Elon.
‘There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as science fiction fantasy.
In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. […]’
Straight from the gut
By Jack Welch with John A. Byrne
From the corporate America to the corporate world, Jack is for sure a CEO of the 20th century and beyond. He puts up the best team, he plays the game, he is incredibly realistic and brave and he truly believes there’s a better way every day. Jack loves to win and he inspires everyone to win – that’s the way! In this honest biography, Jack shares the ups and downs, inflexion points, decisive moments, turning points, inspirations, visions and companions of a life full of challenges and triumphs. 40 years at GE, of which 20 as Chairman and CEO, Jack and his super team, as he always says, transformed this global conglomerate into one of the most valuable corporations of the 20th century.
Absolutely inspiring. Absolutely honest and human.
‘They called him Neutron Jack. They called him the world’s toughest boss. And then Fortune called him “The Manager of the Century.” In his twenty-year career at the helm of General Electric, Jack Welch defied conventional wisdom and turned an aging behemoth of a corporation into a lean, mean engine of growth and corporate innovation. In this remarkable autobiography-a classic business book and runaway New York Times bestseller now updated with a new afterword by the author-Jack Welch takes us on the rough-and-tumble ride that has been his remarkable life. From his working-class childhood to his early days in G.E. Plastics to his life at the top of the world’s most successful company, Welch tells his intensely personal story with his well-known fire and candor. And although it chronicles billion-dollar deals and high-stakes corporate standoffs, Jack is ultimately a story about people-from a man who based his career on demanding only the best from others and from himself.’
THE 10-BOOKS LIST
Still in random order, straight from our office shelves, here is our 10-books list.
1. REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS
By Frédéric Laloux
‘The way we manage organizations seems increasingly out of date. Deep inside, we sense that more is possible. We long for soulful workplaces, for authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.
In this groundbreaking book, the author shows that every time, in the past, when humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness, it has achieved extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration. A new shift in consciousness is currently underway. Could it help us invent a radically more soulful and purposeful way to run our businesses and nonprofits, schools and hospitals?
A few pioneers have already “cracked the code” and they show us, in practical detail, how it can be done. Leaders, founders, coaches, and consultants will find this work a joyful handbook, full of insights, examples, and inspiring stories.’
2. THE ART OF POSSIBILITY
Transforming Professional and Personal Life
By Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander
An amazing, thrilling and must-read book for all who are between 15 and 100 years old! Yes, that it: we are talking about the art of possibility and Ben and Roz bring the motto as no one else!
‘The dynamic product of an extraordinary partnership, The Art of Possibility combines Benjamin Zander’s experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with Rosamund Stone Zander’s genius for creating innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment.
The authors’ harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life. Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us all to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world.’
3. DELIVERING HAPPINESS
A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose
By Tony Hsieh
‘[…] After debuting as the highest-ranking newcomer in Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.
In DELIVERING HAPPINESS, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business, through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Fast-paced and down-to-earth, “Delivering Happiness” shows how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success-and how by concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own.’
4. THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS
Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures
By António Damásio
‘From one of our preeminent neuroscientists: a landmark reflection that spans the biological and social sciences, offering a new way of understanding the origins of life, feeling, and culture.
The Strange Order of Things is a pathbreaking investigation into homeostasis, the condition of that regulates human physiology within the range that makes possible not only the survival but also the flourishing of life. Antonio Damasio makes clear that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells; that our minds and cultures are linked by an invisible thread to the ways and means of ancient unicellular life and other primitive life-forms; and that inherent in our very chemistry is a powerful force, a striving toward life maintenance that governs life in all its guises, including the development of genes that help regulate and transmit life. In The Strange Order of Things, Damasio gives us a new way of comprehending the world and our place in it.’
The hidden driver of excellence
By Daniel Goleman
Focus, Psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, author of the #1 international best-seller Emotional Intelligence, offers a groundbreaking look at today’s scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention.
Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to survive in a complex world.
Goleman boils down attention research into a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. Drawing on rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business, he shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, and explains how those who rely on Smart Practices—mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and recovery, positive emotions and connections, and mental “prosthetics” that help them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain greatness—excel while others do not.
How to go big, create wealth and impact the world
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
“A visionary roadmap for people who believe they can change the world—and invaluable advice about bringing together the partners and technologies to help them do it.” —President Bill Clinton
A radical, how-to guide for using exponential technologies, moonshot thinking, and crowd-powered tools, Bold unfolds in three parts. Part One focuses on the exponential technologies that are disrupting today’s Fortune 500 companies and enabling upstart entrepreneurs to go from “I’ve got an idea” to “I run a billion-dollar company” far faster than ever before. The authors provide exceptional insight into the power of 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, networks and sensors, and synthetic biology. Part Two draws on insights from billionaires such as Larry Page, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos and reveals their entrepreneurial secrets. Finally, Bold closes with a look at the best practices that allow anyone to leverage today’s hyper-connected crowd like never before. Here, the authors teach how to design and use incentive competitions, launch million-dollar crowdfunding campaigns to tap into tens of billions of dollars of capital, and finally how to build communities—armies of exponentially enabled individuals willing and able to help today’s entrepreneurs make their boldest dreams come true.
We love this book!
7. THE ATTACKER’S ADVANTAGE
Turning uncertainty into breakthrough opportunities
By Ram Charan
‘The forces driving today’s world of structural change create sharp bends in the road that can lead to major explosions in your existing market space. But exponential change also offers exponential opportunities. How do you leverage change to go on the offense? The Attacker’s Advantage is the game plan for winning in an era of ambiguity, volatility, and complexity, when every leader and every business is being challenged in new and unexpected ways.
Ram Charan, harnessing an unequalled depth and breadth of experience working with leaders and companies around the globe, provides tested, practical tools to help you:
•Build the perceptual acuity to see around corners and detect, ahead of others, those forces—especially people, who are the catalysts of change—that could radically reshape a company or industry;
• Have the mindset to see opportunity in uncertainty;
• Commit to a new path forward despite the unknowns, positioning your business to make the next move ahead of competitors;
• Break the blockages that can hold your company back;
• Know when to accelerate and when to shift the short-term and long-term balance;
• Make your organization agile and steerable by aligning people, priorities, decision-making power, budgeting and capital allocation, and key performance indicators to the new realities of the marketplace.
The Attacker’s Advantage provides a stark and simple challenge: stay in a legacy world of incremental gains or defensiveness, or be an attacker by creating a new world, scaling it up quickly, ahead of the traditional players.’
8. GREAT BY CHOICE
Uncertainty, chaos, and luck – why some thrive despite them all
By Jim Collins
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous and fast-moving times. This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data-driven and uplifting.
As the authors put it:
‘We cannot predict the future. But we can create it.
Think back to 15 years ago, and consider what’s happened since, the destabilizing events — in the world, in your country, in the markets, in your work, in your life — that defied all expectations. We can be astonished, confounded, shocked, stunned, delighted, or terrified, but rarely prescient. None of us can predict with certainty the twists and turns our lives will take. Life is uncertain, the future unknown.
We began the nine-year research project behind this book in 2002, when America awoke from its false sense of stability, safety, and wealth entitlement. The long-running bull market crashed. The government budget surplus flipped back to deficits. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, horrified and enraged people everywhere, and war followed. Meanwhile, throughout the world, technological change and global competition continued their relentless, disruptive march. It led us to a simple question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? When buffeted by tumultuous events, when hit by big, fast-moving forces that we can neither predict nor control, what distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well from those who underperform or worse?
We don’t choose study questions. They choose us. Sometimes one of the questions just grabs us around the throat and growls, “I’m not going to release my grip and let you breathe until you answer me!” This study grabbed us because of our own persistent angst and gnawing sense of vulnerability in a world that feels increasingly disordered.
Yet some companies and leaders navigate this type of world exceptionally well. They don’t merely react; they create. They don’t merely survive; they prevail. They don’t merely succeed; they thrive. They build great enterprises that can endure. We do not believe that chaos, uncertainty, and instability are good; companies, leaders, organizations, and societies do not thrive on chaos. But they can thrive in chaos.
To get at the question of how, we embarked upon an ambitious journey to identify and study a select group of companies that had done just that. We set out to find companies that started from a position of vulnerability, rose to become great companies with spectacular performance, and did so in unstable environments characterized by big forces, out of their control, fast-moving, uncertain, and potentially harmful. We then compared these companies to a control group of companies that failed to become great in the same extreme environments, using the contrast between winners and also-rans to uncover the distinguishing factors that allow some to thrive in uncertainty. (…)’
Worth reading. One is great by choice.
9. THE JOY OF LEADERSHIP
How positive psychology can maximize your impact (and make you happier) in a challenging world
By Tal Ben-Shahar & Angys Ridgway
‘The difference between flourishing and floundering is 10X. The difference between quantity and quality is a factor of 10. The difference in levels of engagement is exponential. People functioning at the highest level are what the authors call 10x leaders. Research on these leaders consistently brought up five major strengths. This book teaches readers to become a 10x leader using these five key areas, the SHARP framework.
- Strengths: 10X leaders stop trying to eliminate weaknesses and learn to focus on their strengths
- Health: 10X leaders stop trying to eliminate stress and learn how to integrate periods of restoration
- Absorption: 10X leaders stop waiting for the lightning of focus and creativity to strike and learn how to achieve consistent engagement and presence
- Relationships: 10X leaders stop trying to exert power and control and learn to cultivate healthy relationships through positivity and authenticity
- Purpose: 10X leaders stop grinding out tasks and learn how to find meaning and commitment in everything they do
The 10X elixir of peak performance comes not from focusing on just one of these areas, but from learning to light the fire of all five aspects of SHARP and functioning naturally with them on a daily basis. If you just cultivate one or two aspects of leadership skills you are unlikely to succeed. If one of the five isn’t taken care of it affects the performance of the whole. But if you focus on all five areas, you will not only be more likely to find what helps you most, you have the best chance of enjoying the synergy of performance multiplication.’
10. START WITH WHY
By Simon Sinek
What an inspiring book, the one that helps us to focus on purpose.
‘In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY — the third most popular TED video of all time.
Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?
People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.
START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.’