I take my recommendations extremely seriously and stand by each of these for the reasons listed!
Business books I like to recommend:
The Platform Revolution – the seminal book on platforms. To understand the businesses that have become enormous today, you have to read Platform Revolution.
Crossing the Chasm – Ground yourself and understand who early adopters are. How to sell B2B. The theory is here.
The Good Jobs Strategy – It turns out that you can treat people with dignity and a business will thrive. A great case study that includes the beloved Trader Joe’s, a convenience store chain in the south, and a famous Spanish grocer. This one is pretty easy to rip through.
The Luxury Strategy – Take whatever you’ve learned about branding and marketing and shred it. This is part anthropology, part business, and if it doesn’t make you want to try your hand at launching a luxury brand, I’d be surprised. It’s a longer book and you’ll basically get the gist of it a third of the way in. It’s a true textbook in that it’s fairly detailed, but it also means that you can flip around to the parts that are most interesting to you.
Powerful – By Patty McCord, former head of HR at Netflix. There was a famous slide deck about Netflix culture that got passed around. This is the expansion pack. Fundamentally about transparency and treating people like adults at a business, I come back to this book over and over again when I think about organizational development. Some days I think the Netflix way is the answer. Some days I think it is too brutal.
The Great CEO Within – This is a weirdly practical book. I am not remotely a CEO, but it is loaded with practical advice for running things like to do lists, meetings, organizing functional departments, and more.
Capitalism Without Capital – the Rise of the Intangible Economy – Exactly what it sounds like. Forget about Price to Book. These days, it’s useless. Given that accounting hasn’t really caught up to the valuation of intangibles, this book explores these issues and suggests frameworks. I have an outline that I’ve been planning to post at a later date…
The Art of Short Selling – If you’re a finance student or even a dilettante, read. this. book. It is the definitive book on short selling. More than that, it’s about making investments with a critical eye.
Tangentially related to the world of business book recommendations:
The Golden Passport – If you’re going to business school or thinking about going to business school, read this book. There are plenty of knocks here, but I think the history of THE business school (HBS) and its relationship to large corporations and particularly consulting firms should be unpacked and critically analyzed. You should know what you’re getting into.
Shape of the New: Four Ideas that Shaped the Modern World- My hit rate with this book is 100%. I recommend it, someone reads it, they love it. It’s an even handed book about the ideas (and the people behind those ideas) that have shaped modernity. It is admirably thoughtful and yet non-ideological. For those of us who yearn to have a transparent, thoughtful, open minded discussion about society, this is for you.
Entangled Life – Link to blog post here.
Bad Blood – An outstanding read that feels like a thriller. It does make your stomach drop when you see the people who tried to blow the whistle, in particular the young, courageous man who was shunned by his grandfather. There are some pretty good con men (and con women) out there.
Exxon Mobil: Private Empire – The title is reflective of the thesis here. This is a company that is such a multi-national entity that to an extent it behaves like its own state. The book explores various issues that cropped up for XOM over the past several decades, and the management of those issues. It’s nuanced but frequently damning. The author also wrote a great book about conflicts in Afghanistan, from when the Russians left to 9/11 (Ghost Wars) that I highly recommend.
Nickel and Dimed – It’s the 20 year anniversary of this book, but the issues still stand for the minimum wage worker (speaking of which, we should raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour). Plenty of people think the gig economy and the passion economy or whatever it’s rebranded to these days is some kind of wonderful innovation. Please. So long as the wages are as low as they are, people are living on the margin. Instability, uncertainty about the future, and despair are not a good combination of attributes for this country’s working class.
Master of the Senate –
Empire of the Summer Moon – Link to blog post here.
The Future is History – Link to blog post here.
Good Fiction (non classics)
My Year of Rest and Relaxation – If I have to recommend one non-classic book of fiction, it’s this one. I have read few books that explore alienation and end in peculiar triumph. I have read fewer books that end on a crescendo
Into the West
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Writers & Lovers