Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Top Shelf

Last week, I received an email from the wife of an Axiom S.A. client, and in it, she explained that she was interested in picking my brain. The devoted woman began by saying that she had noticed just how interested in reading her husband had become, inasmuch as it was a part of his leadership development, and so, she wanted to help him in his efforts. For Christmas, she wanted to buy him a couple of additional books, and she asked, rather succinctly, Can you give me some ideas on books that really inspired you?

Well, um, this was a hard one, at first, but I did manage to assemble a good list for her--and for you guys, also. Here are the Top 25 most inspiring books on this consultant's bookshelf, mind you, in no particular order. And please keep in mind that, though I did not add them to my list, The Maxwell Leadership Bible and Atlas Shrugged are quite deserving of a mention here, also.

Okay, so, here you go:

  • When God Whispers Your Name (Max Lucado) -- a terrific book on discovering our spiritual purpose

  • World Class (Rosabeth Kanter) -- What's your city's strength? How can it face global competition?

  • Rise of the Creative Class (Richard Florida) -- another for the economic developer in you

  • The World Is Flat (Thomas Friedman) -- Columbia landed in America, and thought he found India; Friedman landed in India and swore he was in America.

  • Winds of Change (Eugene Linden) -- This is a compelling, anthropoligical treatise on the effects of climate flickering and its impact on our civilization.

  • Den of Thieves (James B. Stewart) -- Long before Worldcom or Enron, there were Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, and the Predators' Ball.

  • The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (David S. Landes) -- a good analysis of the Western world's rise to political and economic supremacy

  • The Origin of Wealth (Eric Beinhocker) -- This rethinking of economic theory will certainly find its place among the new classics. If for no other reason, read this book for its take on business strategy.

  • The House of Morgan (Tom Chernow) -- the lives and influences of the Morgan clan and their empire of finance

  • The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) -- an awesome piece of fiction that strikes every cord of your individuality

  • Future Shock (Alvin Toffler) -- When first published, this book put the future in very interesting perspective, as it told the coming stories of both business and society

  • Executive Orders (Tom Clancy) -- one of this author's most imaginative political thriller, but it is, most likely, also one those things that keeps George Bush up at nights

  • Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman) -- EQ over IQ any day of the week

  • Trust (Francis Fukuyama) -- why it matters so much to our prosperity

  • Against the God (Peter Bernstein) -- a historical look at the role of risk

  • The Prize (Daniel Yergin) -- the comprehensive work surveying the broad and historical impact of oil

  • Collapse (Jared Diamond) -- civilizations rise, and they often, rather unwittingly, destroy themselves in the process

  • The Black Swan (Nassim Taleb) -- expect the unexpected and the "unexpectable"

  • Spiritual Leadership (Henry & Richard Blackaby) -- a great look at leadership from a biblical perspective

  • The Leader of the Future (Drucker Foundation) -- an excellent compilation on leadership, management, and strategic planning

  • The End of Racism (Dinesh D'souza) -- a controversial, but no less thought-provoking, book on race relations in America

  • EBoys (Randall Stross) -- the story of the VCs from Silicon Valley's Benchmark Capital

  • The Great Deluge (Douglas Brinkley) -- the absolute best account of the worst catastrophe in the leadership of this state, and how that disaster enhanced a natural one

  • Coldfire (Dean Koontz) -- In this fictional work, something is causing Jim to see and intervene in the near-death experiences of random people, but no one knows what that something is.

  • Experience Economy (B. Joseph Pine, et al.) -- Whether you build industrial components, lay terrazzo flooring, or even serve chilled lattes, nothing matters more to your consumer than the experience during the sale.

  • The Hungry Spirit (Charles Handy) -- Did you know that being successful is not as important as we often think? Do you believe that money is just the means, and not the end, itself?

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