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Ask More

By Frank Sesno 2017, American Management Association, New York, NY.

Reviewed 28 Jun, 2017

Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change, by Frank Sesno.

This is a terrific book for both personal and business conversations. There are a wide range of suggestions on how to prepare for, engage in, and create conversations in both business and your personal life. Those suggestions are simple, practical, and backed with plenty of interesting stories. A great read. Thanks to Chris M. for suggesting this one.

The Performance Manager

By Roland Mosimann, Patrick Mosimann and Meg Dussault, 2007, IBM Corporation, Ontario, Canada

Reviewed 28 Jun, 2017

The Performance Manager: Proven Strategies for Turning Information into Higher Business Performance by Roland Mosimann, Patrick Mosimann and Meg Dussault.

I met one of the co-authors at an event recently and decided to get his book. I’m glad I did. We often get asked to help companies develop a dashboard of key metrics in a particular area of pricing, sales, or business in general. This is the most complete listing of possible metrics I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for some, this is where to get them.

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy

By Mervyn King, 2016, W. W. Norton and Co., New York, NY

Reviewed 20 Feb, 2017

OK, I have to qualify this book with the following question: do you have a strong interest in the global monetary and banking system? If not, don’t read it. But if you do, this is extremely well written and loaded with historic facts and insights. It does a good job of tearing apart the current global monetary system and proposing modifications for the future.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks

By Joshua Cooper Ramo, 2016, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY

Reviewed 20 Feb, 2017

This book is all about the implications of living in our connected age. It does have at its base a thread of Buddhism, but that is just in helping people to develop a model to understand the possibilities due to those connections. It’s about how to stay ahead of the technologies. This is an important, but not necessary, look into thoughts, technology, and networks or yesterday, today, and possibly tomorrow.

Extreme Ownership: How U. S. Navy Seals Lead and Win

By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, 2015, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY

Reviewed 26 Jan, 2017

Military/leadership analogies are favorites for me. But hey, the military has some great leaders and a need to continue to develop new leaders. In the military, leadership means the difference between life and death. In business, usually it doesn’t. That means that “leaders” can lead without the detail and precision needed to lead in the military. But business leaders can learn a lot about leadership from the military. This book is one of the best I have read on leadership with great stories and a very simple and specific application to business. One of my top five books from 2016. Sorry it took me until 2017 to read it!

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

By Phil Night, 2016, Scribner, New York, NY

Reviewed 26 Jan, 2017

You have to understand how I read books. They will usually come from recommendations, but sometimes I’ll find a list of recommended books….this one from a list this past summer came from a bunch of CEO’s. I selected ten books from the list and put them in a pile. Clearly, I’m still wading through the pile. This is one I actually avoided reading….it’s about another rich guy….who needs to hear about that? Was I wrong. This is a book about a regular guy, one with a passion, and a big idea. Someone who started with nothing and worked his heart out to see it happen. He wasn’t a great leader. You could argue that he was a lousy one. But he and his wife Penny overcame obstacles that boggled my mind. Yes, they are among the 20 richest people in the world today. The two of them earned it. This is a terrific book.

Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership: Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving

By James W. Sipe and Don M. Frick, 1989 and 1993, Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey

Reviewed 15 Dec, 2016

This is one of those books that has already been read by good leaders, and while there are some who do this type of thing naturally, there are those that will never read it but should. It’s a good book to review the ethical basics of how a leader wants to be seen by her people and how she needs to support her people for better results. I felt that the actual management of people to get things done was very weak, but we’ll probably find another book that talks about that. It’s an old but reasonable read.

Ego is the Enemy

By Ryan Holiday, 2016, Portolio, New York, NY

Reviewed 20 Oct, 2016

OK, this is one of those books where those who have to read it won’t and those who don’t will. While I found some of the discussion quite interesting, it didn’t hold together with well-organized and fundamental lessons. Interesting read but not recommended.

Own The Room: discover your signature voice to master your leadership presence

By Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, 2013, Harvard Press, Boston, MA

Reviewed 20 Oct, 2016

This book is about more than “owning the room.” It’s about how to establish the right presence and subordinant/peer connection in your organization. It is especially valuable for people climbing the corporate ladder and how to think about both yourself and others for the benefit of the firm. A good read.

The Euro: How a common currency threatens the future of Europe

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY

Reviewed 22 Sep, 2016

After Brexit and the implications to both the European Union, the Euro and the global economy, I decided to see what this Nobel Prize winning author had to say about the future of the Euro. While just a bit technical, this book had some great insights into problems with the current system. He gets into considerable detail about how the Euro is set to lead to disaster for the individual countries and Europe as a whole. It gave some good insights as to why attempts to solve the problems of the failing countries like Greece are just going to make the problems worse and what needs to be done to get the EU working well again.

Leadership and Self-Deception: getting out of the box

By The Arbinger Institute, 2010 Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., Oakland, CA

Reviewed 22 Sep, 2016

This book is about how you can either inhibit or enhance your relationship with others by the way you think about those relationships. It is done in story form and quite interesting. I liked the way they bridged the gap between work, home, and personal relationships. A good read. Thanks to Kellie R. for the book.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended On It

By Chris Voss with Tahl Raz, 2016, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY

Reviewed 25 Aug, 2016

Since it was written by a top-notch ex-FBI negotiator, I couldn’t resist this book. I wasn’t disappointed. The author does a great job moving beyond the old, well established and somewhat creaky rules of negotiating. Instead, he presents lessons he learned and how he learned them over the years. It gets to important areas of how to pose questions, mirror conversations, and how to look for that elusive Black Swan. Well worth the read.

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

By Robert H. Frank, 2016, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Reviewed 25 Aug, 2016

OK, you know that I like to read. This book came off a list of books that leading CEO’s are reading (Thank you, McKinsey). I’m glad I read it. Here’s the problem. While interesting, it isn’t a compelling book. I didn’t take any notes or action items from it. So my suggestion is that if you like reading about game theory and irrational decision making, go for it. But for the rest of us, go find something a bit more compelling.

The Distribution Trap: Keeping Your Innovations from Becoming Commodities

By Andrew R. Thomas and Timothy J. Wilkinson, 2010, ABC-CIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA

Reviewed 26 Jul, 2016

First let me apologize. This book is out of print, but it is available from used book sites like Alibris.com. It really makes a number of good points that make it worth the effort. The authors do a great job of pointing out the pitfalls of working with the big box stores like Walmart and Home Depot and the subsequent outsourcing that occurs to allegedly keep your costs down. I do wish they had covered some of the newer legal issues and control issues in distribution. If you find yourself going down this dangerous path, this is a must read.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

By Ashlee Vance, 2015 Harper Collins Publishing, New York, NY

Reviewed 26 Jul, 2016

For the first half of this book, I thought it was about another smart rich guy, but after the second half, I realized that it was about more, much more. The real measure of a leader is how they deal with adversity, and believe me, this guy has seen plenty. Whether he is the next coming of Steve Jobs is still up in the air, but he certainly has done a great job rewriting the books on car manufacturing and space travel. I’m sold….a very worthwhile read but caution: it’s going to make you want to buy a Tesla.