Books | Leadership

Looking for something to read this summer? Start here.

Summer's here. That means vacation season is here. That means reading season is here. That means we're all looking for good stuff to read.

My boss and I have a few ideas.

First, a caveat: Read whatever you want. Just read. As Tom Peters likes to say, leaders are readers. Whatever gets your juices flowing and helps you become a better person, go for it.

But if you need a few suggestions, here you go.

Bill's summer reading list

The Excellence Dividend By Tom Peters

There’s not a lot new here. It’s just Tom Peters reminding us about the things that really matter — trying new stuff, making mistakes and learning from them, culture, people, excellence, and execution. My favorite line from the book: “No. 1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day. No. 2. Do them.” It’s the Nike creed: Just do it.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company By Bryce G. Hoffman

This 2012 Wall Street Journal best-seller reads more like a thriller than a business book. Author Bryce Hoffman knows how to tell a great story. As an added bonus, it’s nothing short of a blueprint for how to run a great business.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing By Daniel H. Pink

How you do stuff is only part of the equation. When you do it is hugely important. Students perform better on exams if they take those tests in the morning. Earnings calls that are scheduled in the afternoon have a temporarily negative impact on stock prices. If you need surgery, make sure you schedule it for early in the day. Pink's book is full of fascinating insights on how timing impacts results.

How to Be a Great Boss By Gino Wickman and Rene Boer

The author of the transformative book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, Wickman lays out a blueprint for how to lead: How to find great people, how (and when) to delegate, how to create accountability and discipline in your organization, and —perhaps most important — how to spend more time working on your business rather than in it.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike By Phil Knight

This is simply a wonderful story about a guy who built an athletic empire out of passion and persistence. As a bonus, it reads more like a novel than a memoir. A wonderful book.

The Outsider By Stephen King

This is my Big Mac for the summer of 2018. It ain't good for me, but lord, does it taste great. A beloved local coach is accused of a horrific crime. All of the physical evidence says he did it ... but he has an iron-clad alibi. Stephen King knows how to draw you in, and then refuses to let you go.

Tom's summer reading list

Managing in Turbulent Times By Peter Drucker

This is a classic, first referred to me by former AICPA chairman and retired Moss Adams managing partner Bob Bunting. Drucker is amazing in his understanding and analysis of the modern corporation. This book is full of advice on leadership, innovation, and leading in turbulent times.

The Excellence Dividend By Tom Peters

Peters is one of my favorite management gurus, not only because he is from my hometown of Baltimore, but because he gets it. He likes to say the "hard is soft and the soft is hard," referring to what we all think of as essentials like metrics and strategy. In fact, he says the "soft stuff" like culture and relationships are the true differentiators.

The Anticipatory Organization By Daniel Burrus

Of course, you would expect me to put this book on my list. Friend, mentor, and global futurist Dan Burrus is back with a book that accompanies the learning system that is taking the CPA profession by storm. “One person with the confidence to anticipate the future and arrive at decisions with great confidence is a powerful thing," he says. "That same mindset shared by the leadership and management of an entire organization creates an essential advantage to both survive and flourish in a future where great opportunities exist for those who can see them.” Read this book and learn how to see through the fog of uncertainty and anticipate the future.

Crushing It By Gary Vaynerchuk

I first met Gary at the Reset Business Conference in New York City in 2010 (along with Tom Peters, Seth Godin and Michael Eisner). He had just written "Crush It," which offered a roadmap to social media. One of his key examples was an accounting firm. Several books later and he’s back with a sequel — an updated business case for social media, chock full of examples and the latest tools like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Advantage By Patrick Lencioni

You can’t go wrong with any of Patrick Lencioni’s numerous books, from Getting Naked to The Five Dysfunction of a Team. But in this age of exponential change and transformation, The Advantage offers a roadmap for building a cohesive leadership team and a super-strong culture. Lencioni challenges us to focus on organizational health and culture. He says healthy organizations will get smarter over time while smart organizations who are not healthy will decline faster.

Do you see a theme here? Peter Drucker summed it up years ago when he said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." That was when the 1980s seemed like turbulent times! As Dan Burrus likes to say, we are in the "Big Deal" phase of the exponential curve, where there are tremendous opportunities. These books will help you create a proactive, future-focused culture and give you some new tools.

Tom and I hope you will find these books as inspiring and useful as we do. The winners going forward will be those whose rate of learning is greater than the rate of change ... and greater than your competition. So read on ...


William D. Sheridan