Tomorrow, I will present my 7th synopsis of the year the First Friday Book Synopsis. We have been meeting once a month for over 18 years (since April, 1998). It’s time for a mid-year reflection.
Recently, on a LinkedIn discussion group, a member posted a discussion starter on why business books fail. I responded in part with this:
There is always a bell curve — good books, bad books. But I am reading excellent business books these days. Many, many excellent business books! I do think that overall, business books today are better than they were back when we started our event in April, 1998.
So, I would say that your premise is wrong; focus on the good books, and they do not fail. Now, readers who do not implement the lessons from these books – that’s a different matter. Maybe your premise should tackle “Why do business book readers fail?”
A few thoughts; business books are not intended to be great literature. But, in recent years, the writing has become, in my view, much more engaging. Charles Duhigg; Malcolm Gladwell; Cal Newport; Katty Kay and Claire Shipman; and many more, are terrific writers. In addition, there is more and more solid research within many business books.
But, how do business book readers fail? Simple: they read, but they do not “do.” They do not implement what they read. The old “knowing-doing” gap. The purpose of reading a business book is not to say “I’ve read that book.” It is to learn how to think, act, do, differently. And in my view, there are plenty of good books that will help the ready-to-learn-and-implement reader make progress…
So, in thinking about the books I have presented this year, my first comment is this: 2016 has been a very good year for business books. None of my selections were anything less than a really good book. Good=useful, a book that helped me expand my understanding, and/or a book that helped me do my work more effectively.
And, some of my selections this year have been written by terrific writers, like Michael Lewis (I selected The Big Short, though not new, because of the popularity of the movie), and Charles Duhigg.
And, four of the books I have presented have absolutely helped me do my work better: Deep Work by Cal Newport, Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg, Originals by Adam Grant, and Peak by Anders Ericsson (which I will present tomorrow).
And I think I understand the modern business climate and world better after reading The Third Wave by Steve Case, and Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you read the books I have presented so far this year, your understanding would deepen and, if you implemented the lessons, your work would improve.
Here’s my list of books I have presented so far this year, with my selections for the next couple of months also listed.
(And, of course, my colleague Karl Krayer has also presented one book a month. Tomorrow, he is presenting Grit by Angela Duckworth).
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis, W. W. Norton & Company; (2010).
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford. Basic Books, 2015.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Grand Central Publishing (2016).
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (Author), Sheryl Sandberg (Foreword). Viking (2016).
The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case (Dan Weston – “invest for impact, not for profit”) Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2016).
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (2016)
The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo. Little, Brown and Company (2016).
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (2016).
Admittedly, with my once a month presentations, I only scratch the surface for good business books. Let me recommend that you bookmark Bob Morris’ blog, bobmorris.biz. He posts occasionally here on this blog, but posts daily on his own blog. He reviews many, many business books, and his reviews will help you identify business books that provide what you need.
And, our synopses are available for purchase. Each synopsis comes with a comprehensive handout, and the audio recording of my presentations. Click on over to 15minutebusinessbooks.com for our synopses.