Books are a fantastic way to re-orientate thinking, accrue wisdom, and visit different times and places without leaving your house. So, what better way to spend your holiday than by getting the fireplace roaring, uncorking the mulled wine and delving into a good book? You’ll return a changed person come the New Year, horizons broadened and ready to apply fresh ideas.
But what to read? There’s a universe of books out there and you don’t want to get stuck into something you ultimately regret. Reading is an investment. And you want that investment to pay off.
To give a steer, we’re offering a list of 10 books. They’re wide-ranging, including everything from biography to autobiography, fiction to life advice, but all aspire to infuse you with tools and tips, and new ways of looking at things to build a stronger business.
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future – Ashlee Vance. In a world short of extreme competence, it’s useful to understand the background and vision of a man that consistently gets it right. Who is that man? Elon Musk. Involved in rocketry, energy and transportation, Musk has persevered through great difficulty, pioneering solutions to a host of the world’s greatest problems. Key lessons for any businessperson – the necessity of enthusiasm and the determination to battle on. Whether or not he ultimately succeeds, he’ll have left the world better than when he found it.
All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class – Tim Shipman. Not a day goes by when the ‘B’ word – Brexit – is absent from the news headlines. No doubt it’s a huge change to the country’s destiny, much like a latter-day version of the Reformation when Henry VIII severed ties with Rome, and is shaping a lot of your investment decisions. But how did the Referendum come about, who were the key players in the campaign and after, and how did Vote Leave overturn virtually every Establishment force to claim victory? Tim Shipman’s acclaimed account lays it bare.
Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft – Paul Allen. Think of Microsoft and chances are one name screams out at you – Bill Gates, world’s richest man. But what of the co-founder, Paul Allen? Worth a cool $21 billion in his own right, Allen is man of many interests. He owns a 126m long exploration yacht, Octopus, sports teams and an impressive collection of WWII planes. And he’s also established foundations to investigate brain ageing and AI. Idea Man is not only a fascinating account of Microsoft’s foundation and Allen’s relationship with Gates, but how immense wealth can help further human knowledge.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries & Jack Trout. Marketing’s hard to master. More qualitative, governed by shades of grey, than quantitative and black and white, guides that point the way to marketing success are invaluable. So, step forward The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. We liked its optimistic tone – that although you might not be the first in the market, it’s still possible to capture the minds of consumers with such know-how as dominating a new category, or owning a word. We’re certain that if you only implement one of the laws, your marketing will be stronger.
Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger – Peter Bevelin. You’re not the first person to live their life. Millions have been there before, some with tremendous success. Fortunately, rather than dying with their secrets, many of them have been recorded. And with Peter Bevelin’s Notes on Seeking Wisdom, brought together so we can build on the shoulders of giants. Two characters that really shone for us were investing duo Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, whose advice doesn’t so much extend to achieving the extraordinary, but going that much further just by avoiding simple mistakes.
Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell. Wisdom’s a key ingredient to success, but what else? That’s the big question Malcolm Gladwell tackles in Outliers. Leaping from The Beatles to father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Gladwell discovers a common factor is experience – that 10,000 hours, the equivalent of 20 hours per week for 10 years, is required to become an expert in any area. But that practice is not all – beyond wisdom, we also need others. Others to grant access to resources, people and opportunities that would otherwise be denied to us.
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World where Facts Don’t Matter – Scott Adams. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams gave Donald Trump 90 per cent odds of winning the presidency way back in 2015 when others thought his candidacy was a joke. So, what did he see that others didn’t? Adams, a trained hypnotist, recognised Trump’s talent as a master persuader. Agree with his views or not, Adams argues Trump, through his many years in the spotlight, has perfected an impressive toolkit to get voters onboard. A toolkit that relies less on fact, than on hefty doses of exaggeration, visualisation and ‘linguistic kill shots’ (think how the slur ‘Low Energy Jeb’ derailed Jeb Bush’s campaign). A toolkit you can use to succeed in business – or anything else where you need to bring people with you.
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder – Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If you want to build something that lasts, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile is for you. We’re all familiar with that which decays over time – look no further than yourself and think about ageing – but in Antifragile, Taleb unlocks the secrets of objects and organisms where that which doesn’t kill them really does make them stronger. A little bit of chaos, he concludes, can be a good thing. And it’s a lesson easily applied in your life, from the business you manage to the software you write.
B2B eCommerce MasterPlan: How to Make Wholesale eCommerce a Key Part of Your Business to Business Sales Growth – Chloë Thomas. We enjoy tuning in to marketing specialist Chloë Thomas’ podcast and it was a real pleasure hosting her at our first ever Khaos Con! But podcasts and talks aren’t all she does, her knowledge is also written down in books, the latest and greatest of which is her BCB eCommerce MasterPlan. Guiding you through the four stages to B2B eCommerce success, it’s crammed with easy-to-follow pictures, diagrams and the space to make notes. A must have for anyone looking to sell to businesses.
The Beach – Alex Garland. And finally, if you’re not heading to warmer climes physically this Christmas, go there mentally with Alex Garland’s The Beach. It’s an enthralling tale about a backpacker in Thailand that discovers a mysterious beach, free of tourism and filled with fellow travellers hoping to build a dream society. A dream society founded on the beach’s secrecy, its separation from the rest of the world. But with the backpacker’s arrival, and more on the way, how long will beach utopia survive?
In closing, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! If cut off dates for Christmas delivery are on your mind, head on over to our post here. And be sure to tell us if you read anything from this list and liked it!