Year after year, I gravitate to business books about people. I like hearing from those who have been-there-and-done-it versus some pseudo-scholar’s litany on rehashed business concepts. So it is no surprise that this year’s list revolves around people – two memoirs, two compilations, a biography, and a manifesto. And in the end, isn’t better business about people anyways?
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – As a junior high cross-country runner, I bought my first pair of Nike Zoom Waffle Racers for my burgeoning running hobby. It never crossed my mind to buy any other brand of spikes. Now, many miles and years later, there are many more players outfitting the feet of runners everywhere – including mine. But for better or worse, Nike still sets the pace in the sport of track and field. An intriguing memoir, for runners and non-runners alike. (For further reading on the Nike inception story, try Bowerman and the Men of Oregon)
- Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance – I know everyone is doing it, but it’s hard not to jump on the Musk fanboy (girl) bandwagon. He’s brilliant, driven, and totally crazy – just like all my favorite people.
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferris – Add Ferris to my fan-girl list as well. The minimalist in me was originally drawn to his first book, The Four Hour Workweek. And the voyeur in me is a frequent listener to his podcast interview series with the aforementioned “World-Class Performers.” This is the Cliff Notes guide to the podcast, but still overflowing with useful tidbits. Think of it as more of a supplement than a replacement. Listen to the podcast AND read the book. (P.s. Here’s my book review for the Four Hour Workweek)
- The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly – I discovered this book from Ferriss’ podcast, as I do many interesting content and people. I digested this one bit-by-bit via audiobook on my long runs which ended up being the perfect way to consume Kelly’s tech prophecies. Listen a bit, contemplate a lot.
- I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam – All working moms wish they had more time, more energy, and more girlfriends to commiserate alongside. Vanderkam empathizes but also encourages, sharing insight from the time logs of hundreds of busy women. I came away with some new tricks, making this book worth the time investment.
- Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons – My first reaction to this tech tell-all was annoyance. How dare Lyons mock my industry’s culture? After all, the tech industry conceived unlimited vacation time, generous family leave, and ping-pong conference tables. But Lyons’ outside-looking-in observations, often ring true. The start-up game can be ludicrous, and ageism and sexism are rampant. Candy walls are not always as sweet as they seem.
How does this worker-bee/soccer-mom/rickety-runner find time to read 50 books a year? This is my secret.