Six Categories, for Learning From the Best Business Books – To Help You Plan your Own Learning Schedule

Life is best understood in chapters, wrote Elton Trueblood many years ago.

Maybe so, but your work life may be best understood in “categories.” And, in the years that we have led the First Friday book Synopsis, Karl Krayer and I have presented our synopses of business books, 2 books every month, 12 months a year, for over 18 years. That’s a lot of business books!

Click on image for full, printable view
Click on image for full, printable view

I have tried quite a few times to “categorize” such books. Recently, I’ve come up with a new set of descriptives; my current categories. Here’s a document you can print out for yourself (you can make it your personal “work sheet” as you plan your own development).

So, notice the categories. (I have put the title of a recent book I have presented below each category):

Books on Personal Productivity

  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Books on Corporate Productivity (including Communication)

  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World 

Books on Leadership – Strategic Thinking and Planning, Finding and Developing People

  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

Books on the True “Big Picture” — Major Trends and Developments

  • Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

Books on Sales and Marketing

  • To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others by Daniel Pink

You could come up with more titles for each category. And Karl Krayer and I have each presented many books which fall within each of these categories.  (I’ve left so many good books out from this short list: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg; Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; the list is long, and ever-growing).

Here are two things you can do with this list of categories:

#1 – Use these categories to help you decide what to read (and learn) next. Where are your interests? And, where are your weaknesses? Pick the most obvious category, and get to work.

#2 – Have we got our categories right? We may not. What categories would you change; remove; add? I’d love to know.

Good luck with your reading, and your own efforts at constant improvement in your own work understandings and life.


15minadWe make our synopses available at our companion site Each synopsis comes with our comprehensive handouts, plus the audio recordings of our presentations. It is a fast way (not a “shallow” way, but a fast way) to learn the key concepts, and the lessons and takeaways, from many excellent and useful business books. Check it out.


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