5 Books for Leaders

The NYT has nothing on this! I’ve been reading since I was 5, saving up all my wisdom to bring you this listicle. Now, to be fair, most of these recommendations come from the last couple of years – but hey, maybe if I revisit ‘Go Dog Go’ I’ll realize there was some deeper meaning to be had. PS.. if you have any children’s books that HAVE turned out to be meaningful to you in business, I want to hear!

I gotta say, I’ve been a little dry on reading lately. So I decided to put this piece together for two reasons. One, to take the time to look back and consider the good things I have gained through books. And two, maybe to entice some thoughts from you all. I’d love to hear your musings, insights, and favorite books… Especially the unexpected ones.

It’s so simple, but so powerful. The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a simple idea brought to life through the storytelling of the Toltecs. From this ancient, Central American culture, Ruiz offers 4 considerations for us. Each one is a single line that is as powerful as it is simple. 

Be Impeccable With Your Word 
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Don’t Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best

To me, the beauty is that they can always be strived for. Something I don’t expect that I’ll ‘master’ anytime soon. And with that, they often bring meaning or perspective in challenging situations. 

In fact, the wallpaper on my phone is an image of these 4 Agreements. This is perfect because it’s there every single day – most days, I literally do not even notice it’s the background. But then, on the days when I really need to hear the message – it’s like I suddenly notice it.

Not to sound like some literature dummy, but the easiest explanation I have for Notes, is that it’s a book written by an old Russian dude (Dostoevsky). It’s super hard to follow and literally required me to read single pages over and over again to try to understand what was happening. 

The book was recommended to me by my coach at the time. And I wish I could even remember why – a text out to Coach Carlos asking about it came back with this:

I really love the book ‘Notes from Underground’. It has this cool quote about knowing yourself so well and believing in what you stand for, so much that it doesn’t really matter what other people say or think. This quote is about being your own person, understanding yourself, and dealing with pressure from all sides, but still standing strong and being true to who you really are and who you want to become. 

I like that message – at least Carlos’ version of it. Regardless, I’ll tell you what I actually learned from that experience. We all learn differently, and even though I consider myself a reader, taking on a book that was so difficult to understand was not enjoyable – nor was it useful. 

Because I struggled to follow along, there was no way I was going to grasp the deeper stuff. Ultimately, I gave up on it. And from that point on, I gave myself permission not to have to finish everything I commit to. Powering through that book would have been a waste of my time. 

Maybe I’ll go back another day… but no promises.

One of my original favorite books, and likely the first one I started buying extra copies of to give to people. (lame-o.. A guy who gifts books! hahaha). 

Greg McKeown, who also co-wrote Multipliers, offered me my first glimpse into the world of – what’s ACTUALLY important. The book makes for a great listen, but you’ll miss out on his fun doodles throughout. 

In addition to the doodles – Greg made the information really accessible through mini models and comparison charts. 

At the end of the day, here’s the funny thing. I don’t remember the details of what I took from that book – but I remember it was a big deal. Counter-intuitive? A little bit, maybe.. But hey I loved the book – even though I’d have to re-read it do a book report on it. 

Short answer – go grab a copy yourself, and maybe you can let me know why it was so good! Haha.

I had a stint of time where most of my reading was around Mindfulness and a little bit of Buddhism. Along that journey, I found The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner. Sterner, a piano technician, shares his ideas on a practice mindset with stories set in the music auditorium. 

As a self-described, band-nerd (not so much anymore.. but definitely my high school persona) the stories that revolved around music certainly helped pull me in. 

One in particular that’s never left me is about an experiment with himself where he sought to move as methodically as possible while tuning a piano. He shares the details of pulling out the tools one by one, never rushing, and always staying in the exact moment he needed to be. When he finally finished (two pianos, I believe), he looked up at the clock to see he’d done the work in less time than he thought possible. This story has stayed with me through other book reads (like Deep Work) as a great example of the power of mindfulness and giving your full attention to the task at hand.

Don’t anybody take this the wrong way – yes, Built to Sell is about a guy who builds up his ad agency so that he can sell it – that’s NOT why I loved this book. Being about an agency certainly made it relatable, but the message here was all about systems. 

I’d recommend this to any business owner, looking to sell or not. The sub-title says it best – “Creating a business that can thrive without you”. John Warrillow uses the narrative format to walk through the details that go into streamlining your business and making it so we can work ON the business, not just in it.

E-Myth was another big title around this topic, so maybe if you’re all about that one, have a read on this and let me know what you think.

Well, that was unexpected! The title of the article only suggested 5 books?!?

Paulo Coelho’s classic is about a shepherd boy who goes on an epic quest to find his treasure. The boy meets a variety of characters along the way, all who offer to teach him some important things – some learned the hard way.

For me, The Alchemist is an annual read. A break from my usual ‘non-fiction, self-help’ style stuff that still carries deep meaning. I won’t say too much, as to avoid the spoilers, but I suspect that its meaning to me might not even align with the cliff note versions.

Ps.. all the links provided are from our fabulous local bookstore, Aunties. If you can’t find it there, please consider a local store near you. Cheers, and enjoy the reads!