The Five Best Business Books I’ve Read and Presented in 2014


I’ve just sent my last business book synopsis handout for 2014 to our designer (she turns my Word documents into an attractive, much easier to read format). This month’s selection is The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. I’ve already blogged about it a few times, and am tempted to write a new post every day, from a different idea in the book, for about the next… oh, I don’t know, 365 days. It is a book that provides a true plethora of good ideas.

So, time for a “what are the best business books you’ve read this year?” thinking.

First, I will choose just from the books I have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis. Most of these were published in 2013-2104, but one was published in 1969, and was reissued, and the other was published in 2011.  That 2011 book is my selection for the most important book I’ve read this year.

Next, this is my list —my personal list. Are there better books? Books that I did not present, or even read. I don’t know – I did not read them. But I respect the opinion of others. And, as I write and say so often, “so many books, so little time…”

But I will say this – as I went back through the list, I was happy with my selections for 2014. There was not a bad book among these twelve – not one that I felt was not worth reading. (I have read a few such books through the years – even presented a couple that I felt like, after the presentation, “this was not worth reading or presenting”). So, if you have the time, I would recommend that you read all twelve of these books.

And, what do I mean by “best book?” I don’t mean “most enjoyable to read.” I mean, “dealing with an issue, or sharing some key insights, that really matter(s) – that are important to understand.” In other words, a book that makes a difference in some way.

So… here goes.

Willful BlindnessThe best book I presented this year was Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril by Margaret Heffernan. Walker & Company. 2011. Well written, incredibly important, this book warns us all of our willful, intentional blindness. We are blind to what harms us, and others. We are blind to the outright wrongdoing of companies and corporations. And our blindness is motived by greed, and money, and exhaustion, and complexity… And, what we are blind to can really hurt us.  (Here is my post with my takeaways from this book).

Next, these three books help us understand the way things have changed and are changing because of technology, and the way our companies and organizations need to change and adapt in this fast-changing world. If you asked, I would recommend that you read them in this order.

The InnovatorsThis book gives you the sweeping history of the Digital Age: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster; (October 7, 2014).

This book tells you how the technological changes are affecting just about… everything: The Second MachineSecond Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. W. W. Norton & Company; (2014).

FocusAnd this book helps you think about how our companies/organizations need to adapt and change in this ever-more-technological age: (XLR8) Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter. Harvard Business Review Press (2014).

And, I strongly recommend that you read Focus: The Hidden Drive of Excellence by Daniel Goleman. Just to think about your own work style, your own “empathy” (a key part of the book), and your own need to focus on what matters. I keep coming back to thoughts in this book time and again.

But, as I said, all twelve of these are good books, and worth reading.xlr8-by-john-p.-kotter

——————–

Here is the full list of twelve books I presented, in the order I presented them, in 2014.

(I have presented one business book synopsis a month, every month, since April, 1998, at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. My colleague Karl Krayer presents a book synopsis each month also. He presented books this year that are also worthy of consideration for your own reading list).

{And, our synopses are available for purchase, with our multi-page, comprehensive handouts, and the audio recordings of our presentations, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com).

Books presented by Randy Mayeux at the First Friday Book Synopsis in 2014 (January – December, in order)

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman. (Harper: 2013)

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley, Tom Kelley. (Crown Business: 2013)

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. W. W. Norton & Company; (2014).

(XLR8) Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter. Harvard Business Review Press (2014).

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 31, 2014)

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. (HarperBusiness, 2014).

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt (Author), Stephen J. Dubner. (William Morrow, 2014).

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril by Margaret Heffernan. Walker & Company. 2011.

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks {Weybright and Talley; First edition (1969) – Reissue: Open Road Media (August 12, 2014)}

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload Daniel J. Levitin (Dutton Adult, 2014).

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel (with Blake Masters). Crown Business (September 16, 2014)

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster; (October 7, 2014).

 

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