Book Recommendations if You Want to be Awesome

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

A fascinating book full of data on how some companies have deliberately chosen to remain small and keep growth manageable. In a world which tells us we always need to be doing more, this is a refreshing look at how some founders have decided to do business their way.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is a game changer, seriously there are few books you will ever read that alter your entire perception on life. This is one of them. Carnegie masterfully explains the things to do which will help you stand out in any crowd, be liked, and be a transformational leader. The book is a classic for a reason.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

I have a background in research and thoroughly appreciate and enjoy well-researched books. Collins is one of the leading experts in writing about businesses and leadership, and this might be his best work. Good to Great completely changed my perspective on leadership, thinking about longevity, and sometimes paradoxical data on how companies actually become great. Some of the insights will be completely opposite of your ideals of cultivating excellence.

Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation by Marc P. Cosentino

This is a reference book that contains valuable insights for readers, specifically those that wish to pursue a career in consulting. While Cosentino focuses on how to properly prepare and execute a case interview, I found the book to be helpful in teaching me how to break down problems, work collaboratively, and think broadly about solutions. This includes understanding the importance of “basic” solutions. Although simple, they may be exactly what a problem requires. If you are ever in a “non-traditional” interview, then you will be pleased that you have read this book.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

A book which should be read by anyone who wants to pursue a higher level position. Drucker is one of the seminal figures in management consulting and lists the most effective traits an executive can possess. The book was based on decades of work with some of the highest-achieving professionals of the past hundred years. Read the book and learn how to take back time, manage correctly, and become the executive people look up to.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

There are many positive aspects of Seth Godin and Tribes. The book cements the idea that we are part of multiple “tribes,” and groups are successful when they have a strong tribal identity. That said, I took away something completely different from the book, and that is to be creative in writing. The book is structured unlike others that I have read with phrases, short chapters, and unapologetically staying away from grounded thought in how a book should be written. Being creative is one of the most important contributions we can give to others and organizations; be creative in your tribe.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

This book was exactly what I needed as I left business school.  The book is masterfully written and goes into detail of how to set aside one's ego for greater fulfillment in life.  The lessons are endless as each chapter will teach you how to release stress and reduce you overall ego.  It is so good that I listened to it once and immediately started it again.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Now to my favorite field: marketing and advertising! Do not be discouraged by the age of the book as it was originally published in 1923. The lessons in this short book are timeless, as the grandfather of advertising gives a clear message to have goals, measure success, and failures, and adapted as needed in marketing campaigns. Many of the thoughts in this book are the foundations of marketing. It is shocking that some companies still refuse to use insights from this book when it comes to campaign goals and a system for identifiable metrics.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

This is one of the most creative books on leadership and team dynamics. Lencioni takes a unique approach as he writes a story about a CEO taking over a company and how she overcomes challenges in bringing her new team together. This is one of the easiest books to read and might be one of the most important for teams. I consumed this book in an afternoon because I could not put it down.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

One of my great weaknesses is doing too much and saying yes too often. In Essentialism, I felt I was reading a book directly for me as the author spoke about the need to take away unnecessary projects from life that will not add value to your life. This book has helped me say “no” to meeting requests, limit my e-mail responses, and realize that there are only a few things in my life that I truly care about - and those are the aspects that I focus on improving each day.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

If Claude Hopkins is the grandfather of advertising, then David Ogilvy is father of modern advertising. This book should be mandatory for all marketing majors because the author describes what true marketing is and what it is not. Here’s a hint: true marketing is not art. True marketing is a complicated dance between qualitative and quantitative data, with a skill for listening to others in order to create proper content. Some reviewers have commented that this book is outdated as it focuses on print, television, and radio advertisements, yet the underlying principles are the true value, as they can be used for any medium of marketing.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t and Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of the main reasons I went into business. His ability to weave anthropology, business, and leadership is second to none and can be seen in both of his books. Both books are on leadership yet take different approaches. How Great Leaders Inspire is more about the core of “why we do what we do,” and once you realize that, people will be more inclined to listen to you and follow your leadership. We crave authenticity in a world full of people trying to take from us, i.e. our resources, time, money, or happiness. Leaders Eat Last builds on the idea of inspiring leaders and provide principles to what it means to be a leader, including sacrifices required to be a great leader.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Wow!  What can you say about Peter Thiel?  Genius, visionary, contrarian, all of the above?  Zero to One completely shook my views on business.  One paragraph will not do the book, let alone the introduction within the book justice. Thiel explains how capitalism and competition are opposing forces, building a monopolistic company is the key to success, our education system is failing, and to really be innovative we must provide 10x the experience as established brands.  I could discuss this book for hours, yet the overall point is: if you are an entrepreneur this should be on your "must read list."  

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your Live Depended on it by Chris Voss and Tah Raz

A little secret about an MBA is there are few, if any, courses on sales. That creates an issue for entrepreneurs and really anyone as all of us are in sales.  We sell our personal brand, our company, or perhaps more directly with an actual product or service. Never Split the Difference should be your first stop to supplement your MBA and improve your sales techniques. The book is based on Voss' decades of experiences as a FBI negotiator. He has become world-renown as one of the best, if not the best, hostage negotiator in the world. This book provides a road map of how he negotiates. There is little theory, instead, the techniques are based on what works in real life. For example, how to disarm someone's position and create an atmosphere of trust is something that is rarely taught in a classroom but will come up routinely in a boardroom.  Buy this book when it is time to elevate your negotiation tactics.

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

News alert: business school and contemporary careers are stressful! There will be times when you do not want to network, complete projects, look for an internship/job, or read another case study about some business from fifty years ago. The stress of school, work, and family can become overwhelming. When I was a teenager I was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance which sends me into days, weeks, and months of depression. It is a battle I have dealt with for most of my life and shows up in times of high stress. Waitzkin’s book was a surprising relief to help cope with depression during my final semester school. His book is half autobiography and half instructional on how to perform at a world-class level. He is the real life chess prodigy from Searching for Bobby Fischer and describes what it took to compete at the highest levels. What I took from the book was an ability to relax and release stress effectively. I highly recommend this book while you are going through stressful periods in your program.

Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling by Wayne Winston

Professor Winston is considered one of the world’s leading experts in Microsoft Excel. I was assigned this book for two courses and was privileged to take Business Modeling with the author. This book is the essential Excel reference book and will help you in school and your career. Keep in mind that this is a reference book; therefore, use it as you need it to solve difficult problems and when you want to learn how far you can take Excel.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

You might wonder why I listed this book for professionals. However, a book like this is exactly what professioanls require as the authors take the reader on a path of thinking creatively to solve problems and to not take work too seriously. It is one of the most interesting books I have ever read and difficult to describe as each chapter could be read as a standalone section with advice on how to really push your limits and the way you view the world. It is no secret that businesses demand creative thinking and people who accomplish high-levels of success do things differently. This book will give you a head start on what it truly means to be a creative thinker in any profession.