2015 Year in review – A Baker’s Dozen Business Books, with Lessons and Takeaways, from the 2015 First Friday Book Synopsis

In 2015, I presented synopses of 13 business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis. (One a month, plus a second book in December while Karl Krayer was away at a conference).

Extreme OwnershipIf you make me choose the best book, well… a tough choice. I will say this – there have been years when I looked back over the books I presented and I thought there were some choices barely worth including. This year, each book was worth reading, worth presenting, and worth recommending.

In other words, though I’m going to name three, the others are all worth reading. Seriously, every one of these is worth reading!

So – best book? I’m going with three, in the order I presented them.

  • Exponential Organizations to help understand how Moore’s Law and the ongoing march of technology is challenging and Team of Teamschanging organizations. (A good companion volume is Bold).
  • Team of Teams to help us understand that no one team can act alone; it is “good teams” working with other “good teams” to make the larger Team of Teams.
  • Extreme Ownership – the best book on leadership, and more, that I’ve read in quite some time.

(And, if you only have time to read one of these, read Extreme Ownership. It is the book that I bought as a Christmas gift for a small business owner/leader this year. I buy him one business book a year).

Each month, I write a blog post with my lessons and takeaways from the books. Here are the books I presented, and links to my blog posts with my lessons and takeaways, from each book:


Exponential OrganizationsJanuary, 2015 — Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail: with Michael S Malone and Yuri van Geest Diversion Books (October 14, 2014).

Exponential Organizations – My Lessons and Takeaways

February, 2015 — The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moses Naim. Basic Books; Reprint edition. (March 11, 2014).

Here are My Five Takeaways from The End of Power by Moisés Naím 

March, 2015 — Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter by Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie. Harvard Business Review Press (2014).

Here are My Five Lessons and Takeaways from Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter

April, 2015 — Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamindis and Steven Kotler. Simon & Schuster (February 3, 2015).

Go Big; Go Bold – Here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways from Bold by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

May, 2015 — Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader– Crown Business (March 24, 2015) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli.

“Company” as Means to Greater End; “Product” – My Six Lessons & Takeaways from Becoming Steve Jobs

June, 2015 — No One Understands You and What to Do About It by Heidi Grant Halverson, Harvard Business Review Press; (2015).

Misunderstanding Comes Easy; Understanding Takes Work – Here are my Lessons & Takeaways from No One Understands You by Heidi Grant Halverson

July, 2015 — Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. Ecco (2015).

My Six Lessons and Takeaways from the book Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

August, 2015 — Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell, Portfolio (2015).

Here are My Lessons & Takeaways from Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal – (with a nod to “Alphabet,” the new “Google”)

September, 2015 — Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives by Kip Tindell, with Casey Shilling and Paul Keegan. Grand Central Publishing (2014).

Start with the Golden Rule – My Lessons and Takeaways from Uncontainable by Kip Tindell (CEO of The Container Store)

October, 2015 — Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin, Portfolio (2015).

Here are my lessons and takeaways from Humans Are Underrated by Geoff Colvin 

November, 2015 — Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer. HarperBusiness (2015).

Leadership BS by Jeffrey Pfeffer – My Six Lessons and Takeaways

December, 2015 — Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015).

What “Rules” Have You Established, and Actually Follow? – Here are my 5 Lessons and Takeaways from the book Simple Rules


Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. St. Martin’s Press (2015).

Here are my 8 Lessons and Takeaways from Extreme Ownership by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


All of my synopses are available for purchase on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, and the audio of my presentation.

(You can also purchase a subscription, and get access to all of our synopses plus the coming 24 new synopses for the 12 months following your purchase).

15minbb150My colleague, Karl Krayer, also presents a synopsis each month. His synopses are also on our companion 15minutebusinessbooks.com site.


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