12 Business Books to Start the Year

12 Business Books to Start the Year
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The start of a new year gets many of us thinking about what we want to change or improve in our lives.

Then February arrives. At this point many of us find ourselves, shall we say, reevaluating our priorities and goals for the year. Or, as one of my brothers says, February is a time to look forward to at the gym because by then all of the New Years resolution people have cleared out, and there’s room to work out again.

Let’s not be one of those one-month gym folks when it comes to our professional lives.

Something that helped me immensely last year professionally was reading a variety of materials, many of which were recommended to me by colleagues, friends, and professors (some of whom ended up recommending the same or similar books). So, it occurred to me: “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have a ‘best of’ list of recommendations like that at the beginning of the year?”

Well, I decided to provide my own recommended reading list for all of you, and here’s how I’ve designed it: The first six books are the ones I recommend reading first, and they are accompanied by descriptions to give you a sense of what I think you can get out of them. Six is a rather manageable number, and I want to keep it that way because it makes it easier to stay on track. Also, all of us have different schedules and experiences. The first six are so different in terms of writing style and subject matter that I think you’ll find a good mix of things that you disagree with and things that resonate with you. You’ll also have a broader cultural and organizational foundation with which to tackle, better understand, and enjoy the next six.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

1st batch of books:

The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

Innovation is one of those terms that has become so widely used that its meaning is rarely questioned. This book challenges some of the common assumptions that are often tied to our understanding of innovation, and Berkun does it in a way that is accessible.

The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley

This book is a valuable tool both for folks who are currently employed or looking for a job. The book is about gathering ideas; persuading, supporting, and understanding others; and creating spaces and enabling others to develop spaces in which those around us can be encouraged to be open to accepting new ideas. I think that overall the lessons learned from this book can be applied to a variety of professional situations. Employees at any level of an organization can learn something about how to move ideas forward in an organization.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steven Gary Blank

Reviewed in this magazine, The Four Steps to the Epiphany is an informative read for anyone interested in startups, business models, marketing, sales, product development, and more. It’s an informative read that got me thinking critically about the way businesses are run and evaluated.

Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead by Barry Barnes

This is an easy, fun read (recommended before or after reading dense books like The Four Steps to the Epiphany!).

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Like many, I had heard this book discussed a lot last year. It got people talking. It elicited strong reactions. Read it yourself, and see what you think. It’s worth it.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This one’s a classic.

2nd batch of books:

The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson

The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Do you have your own recommended reading list? Tweet it to us at @rockonink, and let us know what you think of this list.


*Photo by Maria de Leon

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