Books I’ve Read

Leaders are readers.  A brief description of the book so you can decide if it’s relevant for you.  I’ll continue to update  this list as I continue to read. 

Sorted by my top recommendations.

Sort by:
newest, or

Book Count: 61

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – by Steven Pressfield 

This book changed my entire perspective. Its short description of “Resistance” and playbook for defeating it will uncover an enemy you never knew you had. This is a book I try to read every year as it applies just a little differently each time I dig in.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – by Peter Theil

This book changed my perspective. It aligned my thinking to just how important and difficult going from 0 to 1 is. Such simple phrasing yet so profound. Taking nothing and creating something. I personally think this is our ultimate reflection back to a Designer. Regardless your industry or vocation, read this book and help create the world.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World – by William H. McRaven

I saw Admiral McRaven speak at Disney World for Nationwide’s national sales conference. The speech he gives has the same structure of his book. Make Your Bed is queue I use frequently. Although the book is short, it’s worth picking up.

The Alchemist – by Paulo Coelho

This book sent me into a tail spin of reading every story that Paulo Coelho ever wrote. I remember this story so vividly. Not the details of the story, but how the story made me feel and think. There is possibility in the writing and a mystique to the prose that will enchant you. This is a book I want to read in different locations just to experience it a little differently. This book will be different to everyone but, at the very least, I guarantee you will enjoy the story.

The Art of Possibility – by Rosamund Stone Zander

You will never look at possibility the same way again. Understanding how to look at different situations with possibility rather than a limited mindset keeps opportunity open. The audiobook is especially enchanting as it incorporates the Philharmonic Orchestra into the text.

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels – by Michael D. Watkins

I’ve read this book for my past two career transitions. The structure of the book is a checklist for business management role transition. While relevant to me, it certainly is not relevant to most. I use this book to speed up my transitions. If I were to transition away from an executive role at a large or mid sized company, I wouldn’t read this book.

Team of teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World – by General Stanley McChrystal

Not only did I think this book was insightful, it was applicable. I was a part of an organization that applied the thinking of this book into the actual org chart. It worked well. I don’t think this is a one size fits all approach but that’s not what Gen. McChrystal is proposing. If you are a leader of an organization or department, this is a must read to get a new perspective on teams.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – by David Allen

This book changed my professional and personal life. It really gave me my life back. As a driven individual, I constantly was considering open loops and hundreds of to do items in my head. The framework in this book helped me to become present. It’s been the framework that has helped me be a better father, husband, entrepreneur, and people leader. With concepts that are built from the cognitive psychology that governs us all, if it doesn’t help you, you didn’t really try it.

Ego is the Enemy – by Ryan Holiday

This is short, sweet, and a kick to the gut. Ego is something that is often overlooked as something only Gordon Gekko deals with. Truth is we all deal with Ego as Ego is in every single one of us. If we don’t think it’s there, Ego has done its job. I’ll be reading this one again, and will most likely purchase a few more Ryan Holiday books as I like his style and conviction.

The Lean Startup – by Eric Ries

This book is perfect for me. It blends my Six Sigma, process oriented background with my love for start ups. I love the approach in this book because it is bathed in humility. No one is fully aware of all the variables, twists, and turns that will occur when building something complex. Only through testing and developing can you create a flexible model. This book is foundational to building the next greatest company.

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist – by Brad Feld

I recommend anyone in or interested in business to read this book. Learning about venture capital gives you a picture into how all business work. VC deals for start ups is business amplified by information asymmetry, no liquidity, in a long term relationship. It’s helped me think about my own business and how I evaluate people, projects, and new ideas.

Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace – by Ricardo Semler

Although dated, I think this book will always be worth reading for perspective. This just goes to show you what can be done when creativity is mixed with wanting what’s best for your employees. Removing conventional wisdom to address real work problems with applicable solutions will always be a good idea and Ricardo spells out dozens of examples in this book. This is one of the few books that both makes a great story and a treasure trove of good ideas to try.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – by Charles Duhigg

Any work that has to do with the inner workings of our brain without being a medical journey, I am interested in. Aspiring to understand the root cause of why people do what they do I was intrigued by the stories and application that came of of this text. I think its remarkable to understand how you can reprogram yourself when you have a habit you’ve been wanting to change. I think its revolutionary to find a loop and set of instructions on how to change thing for a group of people and influence their decisions. With great power comes great responsibility.

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything – by Guy Kawasaki

This book is a checklist. It describes the intricate details of starting a company. This is a perfect example. There is a checklist in the back of the book of questions to ask potential investors. There is more detailed knowledge in that Q+A then in a majority of the other startup books I’ve read. If you are actively thinking about or starting a company, this book is a must.

Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America – by Garry Wills

A short book about a short speech that happens to be one of the most famous in American history. This book feels bigger than it actually is because of the massive appendix in the back. It’s packed with application as well as historical significance. It inspired me to use less words when I write and when I speak. It is vanity to do with more, that which can be done with less.

Surprised by Joy – by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is a master apologist. I love reading his works. Surprised by Joy is though provoking and beautifully written. Truly a classic.

The Pilgrimage- by Paulo Coelho

The Road to Santiago… This book really helped me understand the beauty of the journey. The best complement to this book is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. One of the most important concepts to a life of presence is the understanding that the journey is not a means to a destination.

The Performance Pipeline: Getting the Right Performance At Every Level of Leadership – by Stephen Drotter

This was a good example of a book read just in time rather than just in case. My friend Heath recommended this book right before my transition to Director. I read this book to help set expectations for myself as well as my team. There are amazing examples and a framework for building your own pipeline. Dry read but it’s worth pushing through to get to the framework down.

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – by Jocko Willink

War is a reflection of life, just amplified. I always have immense respect for leaders in our armed forces who share their wisdom with us. Jocko does an amazing job boiling down a concept to principles we can all apply to all our lives. I lead differently know that if something goes wrong, I’ll be the one to say “It was under my leadership, therefore, its my fault.” Apply extreme ownership in your life and it will change the way you lead.

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story – by Jerry Weissman

Presenting to win will resonate with anyone trying to communicate ideas to other in a compelling way. This is the book to create your presentation checklist to. Not only does it offer up a step by step approach to creating the best presentations, if gives your Jerry’s approach to building the content with a team and organizing it. There is a flexible methodology that makes this flexible to your needs. This is a manual for me.

The Fifth Mountain – by Paulo Coelho

A book about faith and living with life’s circumstances. This is a good one for those who want a story to help with life’s unexpectedness and how that weighs on faith.

The Devil in the White City – by Erik Larson

Devile in the White City was a wonderful get away from what I normally read. The story weaves between 2 depictions of the same time period. With a healthy mix of facts, figures, and storyline, I was intrigued until the very end. My wife and I listened to this over audiobook on a drive to the Adirondacks. I liked that format for this book.

The 4-Hour Workweek – by Tim Farriss

Regardless of what you want to do, this book is applicable to you. There are sections that are more or less aligned to your circumstance but it’s a good perspective shift. I know that this book isn’t for everyone though because most people are unable to chase their dream or get past their default status. If you have a perspective that you can change the world by first changing your world, read this.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions – by Guy Kawasaki

This is the first Guy Kawasaki book that I’ve ever read. I’m going to read a few others as a result. Enchantment wasn’t in my vocabulary before but it certainly will be now. Although the insights are not game changing, they certainly are important to remember. The book flows well and has a unique style that I really like.

The Meaning of Marriage – by Tim Keller

My marriage is extremely important to me. An investment in marriage does not seem to be important today as it’s almost expected to end badly. Tim does a great job laying out the groundwork and purpose behind marriage to set you and your spouse up well. If you know the purpose behind something, you can actually put daily actions together to pursue it. If you want to have a good marriage and pursue your spouse well, start here.

Secrets of closing the sale – by Zig Ziglar

I could listen and read Zig Ziglar all day and do just fine. As you read this book, the details will seem so simple, yet so profound. You’ll actually read it too fast because you will think you’re retaining it. You won’t be. This will take another read or 2 in order to pull everything from it. Zig changed my perspective on sales and how you approach selling.

My Share of the Task: A Memoir – by General Stanley McChrystal

I liked Team of Teams a bit more than this book. The stories in this book helped me to gain perspective on the war in Afghanistan. It also helped to understand the origins of a great military leader. The book was robust and detailed. If you like war biographies, this is a great one to read.

Value Proposition Design – by Strategyzer

This book is pretty specialized which is why I rated it a 5. For the general reader, there is no need to delve into this content. If you are looking for a book about documenting and brainstorming new business ideas for a startup, then this book is for you. Strategyzer does a great job of articulating business models and value propositions clearly and visually. I’ve used these concepts a number of times and they work well. Of course they don’t help with the hard work…executing.

Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) – by Salim Ismail

Having been a part of two organizations whose executive leadership has attended Singularity University, I’m continually impressed with Salim’s work. This book lays out the foundation for the new way of thinking about organizations. Without this foundational knowledge about how things should work, you’ll never know how to get to a future state that will be required for organizational survival.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance – by Josh Waitzkin

This is one I need to read again. This is a glimpse into a child prodigy’s brain to understand what he understand about learning. Not just sticking with what he grew up excelling Josh talks about going from chess to martial arts and the principles he used to excel in a sport that has close to no Western presence at the top. If I could absorb and apply this book, I would.

Disciplined Dreaming – by Josh Linkner

This is a quick read that tackles a real issue, creativity. I firmly believe that creativity will be THE crucial differentiator for meaningful work in the future. It’s also the key to success today. Josh walks through some really great examples of ways to spark creativity and walks through a process to go from 0-1 that anyone can follow.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think – by Peter H. Diamandis

Imagine a world with endless resources. A world where you didn’t have to worry about world hunger, impoverished nations, and global warming. Peter argues that world is on the horizon and it’s not as bleak as CNN would have you believe it is. This is a high level book that will inspire you to believe in humanity as solution developers and big thinkers. We may just be capable of more than you think.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – by Micheal Gerber

Few books on entrepreneurship have been referenced as much as Micheal Gerber’s E-Myth. A distinction to be made is that this book is not about start ups. This book is about creating a scalable environment for an entrepreneurial endeavor. It gives instructions on moving away from being a glorified freelancer to being an actual entrepreneur. This is the first place to start for small business owners and entrepreneurs who have ‘redlined’ and can’t get past a plateau. It’s a also foundational for corporate life as well.

Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders – by L. David Marquet

Intent based leadership. That’s the main concept of this book. There are a number of approaches that are explored and stories told of David Marquet’s experience turning the worst performing nuclear submarine into the best. Driving accountability through decentralized command and a military foundation makes this book couple well with Extreme Leadership.

Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done – by Mick Ebeling

I had the opportunity to meet Mick at a boutique wealth management broker dealer conference. This book is a gem and Mick’s work is worth reading about. The book is full of stories of how problems no one else could fixed, were conquered for the good of those afflicted by them. Do yourself a favor and buy this one, read it once and check out Not Impossible Labs.

Creativity Inc. – by Ed Catmull

We all tell stories. It’s mankind’s main means of communication whether you see it or not. Ed Catmull tells a beautiful story about creating stories and wrapping animation around it. This book is so applicable to life, its difficult to pull all the learnings out. Also, for an 80’s baby, it’s amazing to understand the back story to the movies I grew up loving.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a master of communication. He’s also wants you to disrupt the world. This book made a lot of sense to me at a transition point in my career. It gave me permission to not fall in line, but to stand out and lead. Not just lead by position, but lead through my work, my passions, and my approach. I felt comfortable taking ownership and making sure only the best was presented. It’s a one time read for me but it certainly did the trick.

The Diamond Age – by Neal Stephenson

What a work of art. This book is an amazing depiction of a futuristic world but that is not what makes it great. The technology and dystopian future doesn’t even compare to the story of a young girl who finds herself and changes the rules set before her. It’s a lesson in the power of subversiveness and how it can be used for good. I’m inspired to prepare my children in the art of changing the world, first through yourself.

Business Model Generation – by Strategyzer

Do you understand the difference between a business, a product, and a business model? If you don’t have that down, you’ll struggle to understand how to create any kind of income stream that isn’t predicated on your boss paying you for coming to work. The Strategyzer group creates an amazingly simple workbook to help build value and understand business models. Innovate on experience, don’t innovate on business models.

The Valkyries – by Paula Coelho

Paula Coelho is an amazing storyteller. I desire to be half the writer he is. This story didn’t resonate with me. The tale is meant to answer the questions “Why is it that we destroy the things we love most?” It may do that, but it didn’t for me.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – by Steve Krug

If you are at all interested in understanding User Interface design or User Experience, read this book. It gives a great description and beginners course on why user design in web application is so important. I love to look at well crafted designs so this book was extremely insightful into how UX folks do it.

House of Leaves – by Mark Z. Danielewski

This is a cult classic for any literature buff. I read this fiction book at the recommendation of a PhD in French literature as one of her favorite books. This was a project. The story winds around like the text sometimes does within the page. Fun fact, there is a song written from one block of the text; Poe – Hey Pretty.

Alexander Hamilton – by Ron Chernow

Understanding the present by looking to the past is a worthwhile endeavor. This work is heavy on the details and provides an enjoyable escape as you learn about the unlikely rise of one of this country’s early leaders. I appreciated reading this, even if it took me three months to get through it.

The Startup of You – by Reid Hoffman

An introduction into a new way of thinking about the workforce and managing your career. There are really easy to follow action items at the end of each chapter that make this book very easy to apply. I wrote each of the chapter action items down and put them in a list to work through in my own time.

Debt: The first 5000 years – by David Graeber

Remember the 99% marches on wall street, this is the guy that help orchestrate all that. I loved taking an anthropological view of money and finance. Biggest take away is that it’s all invented anyway so we should figure out a way to make finance work for us, not the other way around. I was inspired to start thinking about ways we can facilitate money management to the masses and help keep people out of financial dire straits.

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World – by Peter Diamandis

Bold is a well articulated playbook for inspiration. This is a tough one though because you must have a firm understanding of ‘think big, start small’ or else this will feel like eating an elephant. I have applied a few aspects of this book into ideas but I’ve yet to be in a position to exercise the full value of this advice. Peter is larger than life and this book will inspire you to be also.

America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve – by Roger Lowenstein

Cicero said that “A man who doesn’t know what happens before he was born goes through life as a child”. Being in the financial services world, I figured this was a good place to dig in. This is a pretty intense book as far as facts and dates goes. It does shed a lot of light as to how the modern banking system began and why it may not be as rock solid as we assume it is for the world we live in today.

Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century – by Stefan Heck

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love – by Richard Sheridan

There are a lot of parallels that you can take from the software design and engineering industry. Rich’s book outlines his story of creating joy in the workplace at Menlo. The stories were fascinating but I failed to take away any applicable lessons that I could apply to my workplace. Whether in a start up or in corporate America, a lot of what worked there doesn’t necessarily work for you. An enjoyable read none the less.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything – by Joshua Foer

The title really sells this book. It’s intriguing to understand just what it’s going to be about. This was a great story by someone who is used to writing articles about stories. I did appreciate the history of mnemonics and understanding what a memory palace is. Other than that, this is just a nice story about a guy who trained and competed in the USA memory championships.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In – by Roger Fisher

This was one of my Dad’s old MBA books. I read it in a time where I was in an intense battle internally that required a lot of high stakes negotiations. This book is built around principles but I’m not sure it’s all encompassing of negotiation tactics that work. This is a great example of a book to keep around for just in time information.

Warrior of the Light – by Paulo Coelho

This is a collection of passages set up as a manual. The writings are slightly abstract and thought provoking. I read this in 2 or 3 sittings and I don’t think its the best way to approach it. If I read this again, I will read a passage or 2 a day and have this at my desk or by my bedside to really think through each passage. It’s inspiring if you let it be.

Eleven Minutes – by Paulo Coelho

A story about the life of a prostitute as told be an amazing author. Not my favorite piece by Paulo Coelho but certainly one that exposed me to the emotional side of a world I know nothing about. As always, the story is intriguing and its a quick read.

The Witch of Portobello – by Paulo Coelho

This story was one I read quickly. It’s a story pieced together by accounts of various characters about a character that you never meet. The style is interesting and it’s a quick read so I would say it’s worth checking out.

The Plant Paradox – by Steven Gundry

The Plant Paradox is a book about lectins and how they are poisoning you. All of the research I have done and research I’ve looked into, points to a slightly less rigid than what this book prescribes. There isn’t a lot of research to back up the claims of this book outside of Dr. Gundry’s practice. This was the book that started me on a path to eat less meat, and for that I am grateful.

Exponential Groups: Unleashing Your Church’s Potential – by Allen White

Launching a new small group infrastructure at your church? This book may be right for you. I appreciated Allen’s different perspective on groups and all the ‘playbook’ advice he had. This books concepts were great but was not organized in a way that made it easy to digest. I’d recommend it to Small Group pastors but pass otherwise.

The Third Wave – by Steve Case- by Garry Wills

Steve Case is one of a few billionaires that walk the planet. He started AOL and has helped define a fair amount of public policy surrounding the internet in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. He wrote a book about all that and tried to pepper in some inspiration about what he has deemed the ‘Third Wave’ of the internet. I had high hopes for this book and was disappointed. If you want to know and be inspired about the big picture future, read Abundance or Bold.

Aleph – by Paulo Coelho

This is a struggle of faith and a personal depiction of Paulo himself. The book digs in deep and shows you a side of the author that was previously hidden. It’s an alright, quick read.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel of Forgiveness – by Paulo Coelho

I’m going to be honest and say I don’t remember much about this book. I did enjoy it from the side of getting a well rounded view of all an author’s works but the book itself wasn’t anything special to me

Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs – by Don Tapscott

This book was written in 2000 and doesn’t do a great job of describing the business webs. After reading it, I’m not even too sure what business webs are. The best thing about this book is it was the first book I read in 2016 that started my pursuit of reading. As bad as this book is, I’ll be grateful that it was my first step on a long journey.

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable – by Tim Grover

There should be a disclaimer that comes with this book It should say that, “If you want to give up everything that makes life worth living in order to chase a fleeting dream, read this book” What terrible advice offered by Tim Grover on how he trained Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. He talks about putting everything last behind your dreams. I’ve never heard worse advice in order to achieve something that’s not lasting. Do yourself a favor and skip this book.