Over the years we’ve found several excellent books that have helped clients reach their goals. We thought it would be useful to share the books we recommend with clients here on this web page.
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Summary: According to Pink (A Whole New Mind), everything we think we know about what motivates us is wrong. He pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems. What motivates us once our basic survival needs are met is the ability to grow and develop, to realize our fullest potential.
Why Jim Recommends It: Managers tend to make decisions based off of personal experience, but what Daniel Pink realizes is that our perceptions on how employees are motivated are often incorrect.
Unless you know the true motivations of the people who work for you, your apt to put together pay schemes and incentive packages that aren’t effective. Human beings have far more complex drive than to just be motivated by money. You have to appeal to different people different ways.
Summary: People can learn how to lead. This was the position John H. Zenger and Joseph R. Folkman took when they wrote their now-classic leadership book The Extraordinary Leader—and it’s a fact they reinforce in this new, completely updated edition of their bestseller.
When it was first published, The Extraordinary Leader immediately attracted a wide audience of aspiring leaders drawn to its unique feature: the extensive use of scientific studies and hard data, which served to demystify the concept of leadership and get readers thinking about the subject in a pragmatic way.
Why Jim Recommends It: What makes this book so interesting is that a bunch of management gurus went out and researched what makes a superstar leader. What they found is that the top 20% of leaders can be identified one of two ways.
First, they produce incredible benefits to their organization through higher customer satisfaction, employer satisfaction, lower turnover and higher return on assets. Secondly, extraordinary leaders have 5 or 6 talents that they focus on and develop. Leaders that don’t do well have no identifiable talents.
Summary: For every organization that’s ever reached beyond its own borders for top leadership only to have those high-profile, high-salary top leaders bungle and exit as abruptly as they appeared, this smart, substantive, and clear-eyed book is a godsend. Written by three genuine experts in management development (one of them helped design GE’s deservedly famous succession-development process), The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company finally shows organizations how to undo the knots and clogs in their in-house “leadership pipeline” so they can constantly groom the best people at every level to move up to the next rung of leadership.
Why Jim Recommends It: As someone moves through generic corporate jobs from individual contributor to knowledge worker, you eventually become a manager. Then you become a manager of managers, then a functional manager, then a business manager, then a group manager all the way up to the CEO.
Each succession requires you to change a little about what you value, how you use your time, and a couple of additional skills because they weren’t required for the level below.
This book is great because you can read just the chapter pertaining to the move you are making. You can also find tips and worksheets for how to be successful in those transitions and avoid common failures.
Summary: The era of easy money and easy jobs is officially over. Today, we’re all entrepreneurs, and the tides of change threaten to capsize anyone who plays it safe. Taking risks is the name of the game-but how can you tell a smart bet from a stupid gamble?
Andy Kessler has made a career out of seeing the future of business, as an analyst, investment banker, venture capitalist, and hedge fund manager. He evaluated the business potential of the likes of Steve Jobs and Michael Dell before they were Steve Jobs and Michael Dell. His eye for what’s next is unparalleled.
Now Kessler explains how the world’s greatest entrepreneurs don’t just start successful companies-they overturn entire industries. He offers twelve surprising and controversial rules for these radical entrepreneurs.
Why Jim Recommends It: There’s a really simple premise behind this book. It’s that the real game changers that make the biggest difference in business life and drive the productivity and wealth behind it are the people that dramatically change how business works. The idea of this book is that when you eliminate people you create great productivity and thereby wealth flows to everybody. Now some people will find it to have a high tech bent, but the principles behind this really fit a lot of places and any business executive or young person going into business and wants to make a radical difference should read this book.
Summary: We’ve all seen it…and it’s devastating when it happens…employees who are physically present but who have mentally checked out. Let’s face it. No one takes a job planning to fail. Likewise, no one hires with the intent to eventually fire. Both parties want to succeed. So, what happens between an employee’s first day and their last?
I Quit, But Forgot to Tell You examines the virus of disengagement and provides some real-world antidotes to prevent this plague from contaminating your entire organization. I Quit, But Forgot to Tell You can transform your management team and the way they motivate their team members. Loaded with ideas and recommendations, this book will enable your management staff achieve the goals of your organization…and more! It can make a difference in employee morale, motivation and your bottom line!
Why Jim Recommends It: If you are a senior C-Level executive this is a book you ought to read because there is no longer the sense of loyalty between employees to companies or companies to employees. A lot of times with the stress of downsizing, layoffs, and changes you think that the people still working there are aligned and working with you, but in many cases there is a significant percentage of the population that work for, that actually have already quit. It’s just they didn’t tell you, they are just getting by.
This book tells you how to get around that problem as well as tools for how to measure if you have this problem. Engaged employees have a radical difference and impact on the profitability and productivity of an organization.
Summary: America’s most sought-after executive coach shows how to climb the last few rungs of the ladder.
The corporate world is filled with executives, men and women who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic. But only a handful of them will ever reach the pinnacle — and as executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shows in this book, subtle nuances make all the difference. These are small “transactional flaws” performed by one person against another (as simple as not saying thank you enough), which lead to negative perceptions that can hold any executive back. Using Goldsmith’s straightforward, jargon-free advice, it’s amazingly easy behavior to change.
Executives who hire Goldsmith for one-on-one coaching pay $250,000 for the privilege. With this book, his help is available for 1/10,000th of the price.
Why Jim Recommends It: Goldsmith is one of my favorite authors. He’s a very experienced senior level coach. He wraps up all of his experiences with executives and others and captures this idea that many executives have certain talents and attributes that get them to a certain level, but they actually aren’t what will get them to the next level. It helps you understand what got you to your point of your career and what will hold you back from getting to the next level. A lifetime of careers is a series of steps, and you have to value different things and gain different capabilities at each of these steps to succeed.
Summary: When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter, living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar. Those cartoons eventually led to a popular blog – gapingvoid.com – and a reputation for pithy insight and humor, in both words and pictures.
MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person?
Now his first book, Ignore Everyone, expands on his sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice.
After learning MacLeod’s 40 keys to creativity, you will be ready to unlock your own brilliance and unleash it on the world.
Why Jim Recommends It: This is a fascinating and quick read that you could finish on a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles. So often we get dragged down by people telling you, you ought to do it this way, you ought to do it that way, but the most creative people ignore all the nay-sayers. They ignore “just stick with the pack” and “do it the way we’ve always done it”. Hugh does a great job of capturing how standing out, being different, and being able to come up with your pathway is the technique that is really required if you want to stand out. This is particularly relevant to the young people going forward the next 20 or 40 years that they will grow their careers.
Summary: Announcing the paperback edition of Younger Next Year, the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestseller, co-written by one of the country’s most prominent internists, Dr. Henry “Harry” Lodge, and his star patient, the 73-year-old Chris Crowley. These are the books that show us how to turn back our biological clocks—how to put off 70% of the normal problems of aging (weakness, sore joints, bad balance) and eliminate 50% of serious illness and injury.
The key to the program is found in Harry’s Rules: Exercise six days a week. Don’t eat crap. Connect and commit to others. There are seven rules all together, based on the latest findings in cell physiology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and experimental psychology. Dr. Lodge explains how and why they work—and Chris Crowley, who is living proof of their effectiveness (skiing better today, for example, than he did twenty years ago), gives the just-as-essential motivation.
Both men and women can become functionally younger every year for the next five to ten years, then continue to live with newfound vitality and pleasure deep into our 80s and beyond.
Why Jim Recommends It: The research captured in this book says there’s no reason our physical activity, our energy levels, our abilities to contribute to the world should drop off before we are well into our 80’s. But there are some tricks dealing with diet, exercising and other things because you do have to treat yourself differently at 60 than you did at 40 if you are going to have the same energy levels and commitment to life. What I think is so exciting is that when you study accounting the first half are accidents the back half is mis management. This book is how you can manage the back half like an actuary table and get back the 20 or 30 years of life to feel that energy and excitement.
Summary: The workplace of the future is being shaped today by Web 2.0—a collection of breakthrough social media technologies—and by the Millennial Generation, people born between 1977 and 1997. The convergence of these emerging workplace trends has created a generation of hyperconnected workers who are placing increased pressure on employers to overhaul their approach to talent management. In The 2020 Workplace, human resources experts Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd offer a practical game plan companies can use to attract and keep these employees, and, in doing so, transform their organizations; achieve compelling business results, such as increased innovation and improved customer connectedness; and compete more effectively in the global marketplace.
Why Jim Recommends It: When I started working years ago, you joined a company and if you were lucky, you staid for essentially your career. What’s interesting now is people are working longer and new people are coming, the whole generation mix is crazy. Over the next ten years you may have 3 or 4 different generations working together. Each of these generations have entirely different attitudes and ideas about what priorities are. If you really want to understand people, manage people, get along well, and thrive you should read this book.
Summary: “You can have the finest moves in the talent contest, you can boast a trophy speed-dial list on your iPhone, you can possess the single-mindedness of Paul Revere and be as self-assured as Muhammad Ali . . . and you still won’t nail the job unless you know how to mold and merchandise your personal pitch. If this is true when times are booming-and it is-you can only imagine how true it is in times like these.”
Harvey Mackay, Fortune magazine’s “Mr. Make- Things-Happen,” has written five New York Times bestsellers, including one of the most popular business books of all time-Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. Now he returns with the ultimate book on how to get, and keep, a job you truly love whether you’re twenty-one, fifty-one, or seventy-one.
The average person will have at least three career changes and ten different jobs by age thirty-eight. In this era of downsizing and outsourcing, you can never be sure your job will still exist in five years- or five weeks. So you’d better think of your career as a perpetual job search. That demands a passion for lifetime learning and the skills for relentless and effective networking.
Mackay shows you how to be at your best when things are at their worst.
Why Jim Recommends It: Harvey Mackay wrote this book in response to the recession to help people looking for jobs. What’s amazing about the book is that it’s an absolute “How to.” You can read a chapter here or there where you see fit. It’s full of strategies to build relationships that will empower your future. True, he has it organized as a job seeker’s book, but once you get half way through and start thinking about it, you see that this applies to absolutely everybody who wants to reach their ultimate potential.
Summary: This is great book for anyone interested at being successful in sales or selling internally inside their organization. It also builds off of his book “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door”. Although that book was framed as guide to getting a job, its real power was in the ideas for building a network that will support an individual’s goals.
From the opening pages about the early bird getting high productivity (page 7) to the end section on two views of building and selling custom homes (page 299) this book is filled with practical stories and ideas that can stimulate your thinking about how to improve your sales capability. Salesmanship drives real progress inside a company as well as between customer and company. Harvey gives practical advice on making this work for you.
Jim Likes This Book Because: I love the bite sized sections. This is a book you can pick up when you have a break, open it anywhere, and catch a few good ideas. Sales organizations are driven today with sophisticated systems, processes and tools but this book reinforces the grounding we all need to have that it’s the human touch that really makes the difference. In the end, people want to buy from friends they know and trust.
The book is filled with links to other experts and availability of information and tools. This is definitely a reference guide for anyone wanting to become better at getting things done!
We are also going to be able to leverage this book with our team building events because many of our success tools like confidence generation fit perfectly with the messages.
Summary: A great book for any executive, entrepreneur or leader wanting to build a world class organization. It is based on a premise that who you hire for a position is the biggest determinant of success. But this is no quick easy fix set of ideas. It gets the heart of the problem. You can hire extraordinary people for specific roles but you need to do the tough work:
- Define the job well so you can match and motivate
- Scan and qualify candidates so you only invest significant time in high potential l
- Personally invest the time needed to make good decisions
- Have a plan to sell the Top candidate on taking the job.
Success is when an executive personally invests the effort to hire his direct support team and then ensures they do the same. There is no simple way to let some other corporate function or system do this for you. It also clearly points out why people and organizations hire so poorly today and at such a long term cost to business results.
The suggested system will not work effectively if you are hiring young people with very limited work experience. Here an assessment based approach would be better.
Why Jim Recommends This Book: This book is easy to read and makes its points in a straight forward way without excessive theory.
It makes a compelling point, which I believe, that hiring an “A” team is a line executive and manager responsibility. The authors’ approach is completely compatible with the assessment and support processes we have been using to help clients for the last 10 years. My wakeup call is we have not been forceful enough with our clients to have them see the importance of making the upfront investment.
Summary: This ‘take no prisoners’ view of success secrets is not for the faint of heart. It is also not for the people who are looking for magic bullets and success secrets that they implement while on the couch watching TV.
It reminded me of the quote: “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” All that said this is a great read for people with dreams who are wrestling with why they don’t seem to be achieving everything they know they are capable of accomplishing. It is a great leader hand book as well to help you assess what your team needs to do to ensure your organization achieves its potential.
A heads up for skim readers who often only read the first ½ of a book to get the main ideas: A great deal of the learning gems you can apply are in the last 25% of the book.
Why Jim Recommends This Book: The principles in this book are a great complement to our team and individual coaching tools found in our Quantum Leap series. I totally agree with the author’s premise that you need to have 10X big goals and you need to motivate yourself. However success can come not just by exercising enormous amounts of energy and sacrifice. The use of the right tools can dramatically increase your success output with the same effort. The Egyptians may have used a lot of labor to build the pyramids but they also used the inclined plane.