I receive requests for a list of recommended business books on a regular basis. If my parents knew that folks were coming to ME for a reading list they would be rolling over in their graves. Growing up, they were big on the classics and I was more into Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Anarchists Cookbook. There are PLENTY of great lists out there put out by a lot of smart people so I tried to take a different spin on it.
Not your traditional list
It isn’t your traditional list of MBA reading material. The attitude that I used in putting together this list is that it would provide insight into what other execs are reading. It would also provide some background on the terms that executives use like “10,000 hours”, “bottom 10%” and “KPI’s”. I also included some personal favorites that showcase a dedication to a craft and next level commitment. HRNasty’s list of reading material is here.
One book I would add to this list is FYI, For Your Improvement by Lominger. I seem to be talking about this book a lot lately and everyone that has picked it up after our conversations has appreciated it immediately. It is expensive but really worth it. It is so expensive, I recommend folks buy an earlier used edition which is what I have been working on for the past 10 years. My birthday was a few weeks ago and a longtime friend and colleague just gifted me the most recent edition. I couldn’t believe it! I want to just carry it around and perpetrate that I am a ballah’ and a shot callah’/HR nerd just to show off. This book is my new pair or Louboutin’s. Thank you, Lotus!
FYI lists out specific business skill sets and what they look like when they are demonstrated effectively AND ineffectively. It is a great resource if you want to improve or help someone improve business skill sets like professional courage, active listening, communication, etc. Highly recommended.
Lastly, I would add a subscription to the Harvard Business Review. It is common knowledge that a lot of folks subscribe to this magazine so they can look smart and name drop the rag. But I read this before I read 4WD and Flyfishing Magazine every month. It is that good. This magazine not only contains business articles but case studies as well. HBR informs me on what I should be paying attention to. I blogged about the HR issue of the Harvard Business Review HR issue here.
In the new age of the interwebs, I am updating the book list with a few business podcasts that I am addicted to. I have an hour commute to work every day so this is the perfect time to for me to keep up to date, learn about entrepreneurs and expand my knowledge. I may sound like my parents recommending the classics, but I wish I listened to them earlier in my career. Hopefully, I can inspire the reader to “THINK” about expanding the knowledge base. I have listed a few of my favorites but I would love to hear what others are listening to.
How I Built This
How I built This is hosted by Guy Raz and an NPR based podcast. Each episode is about 35 minutes and each episode, Guy interviews a successful entrepreneur. I have listened to every episode and even enjoyed listening to the sessions of entrepreneurs I wasn’t familiar with. Recent episodes include interviews with folks like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban. But they also include episodes with the founders of RentTheRunway.com and Toms shoes.
I have shared the Rent the Runway episode a half a dozen times because of all the learnings on tenacity. The trend that I have noticed is that all of these entrepreneur’s sound like really nice people. For the most part, they are humble, have a positive outlook on life and entertaining. Guy asks a consistent question to each of the guests. How much of your success was intellect, hard work or luck? I won’t spoil the fun.
20 minute VC
The 20 Minute VC is a business podcast which discusses the VC world. The host, Harry Stebbings interviews well-known VC’s. At prior roles, I held the role of head of HR for a company that did a lot of M&A work. More recently I held a COO role where we raised a number of rounds of capital and conducted M&A work. I just find these sessions really interesting. Harry has an English accent and is energetic so it doesn’t sound stuffy or stiff upper lip. Harry also edits the interviews with these VC’s so you hear what I would imagine is an hour-long interview condensed to 20 – 25 minutes.
There is very little pause between the question and answer. Harry has edited it out. Think speed listening instead of speed reading. Even if you are NOT involved in M&A this is a good one. VC’s consistently share the WHO, WHAT and WHY they invest in.
Joe Rogan Experience
Joe Rogan is probably more famous for being the host of the reality television show Fear Factor and most recently a commentator for the UFC. Don’t let that turn you off. This guy goes DEEP and WIDE. When I talk about the Joe Rogan Experience with my colleagues, they say they don’t listen to him, but their kids do. Each podcast is close to 3 hours and I just listen to them in chunks. He interviews a wide range of individuals from conspiracy theorists, to theoretical physicists, to ex CIA cover agents to coffee experts. Even when I don’t think the podcast is going to be interesting based on the preview, I always find myself listening to the entire episode. The guy is VERY smart and very articulate. He just interviewed the GOOG engineer Jame Damore. Yes, I am a big fan.
Hardcore History with Dan Carlin
Dan goes DEEP into a series of events in history and his podcasts are really well done. It may not sound like your traditional business podcast but what we learn from the past we can apply to the future. Dan is articulate. He knows how to speak with credibility.
I just listened to the series Khan of Khans. This series is in 5 parts and part one is 2 hours long.
We all learned about Ghengis Khan in school and we all saw the movie about Kubala Khan at some point in time. Dan goes deep and behind the scenes so you understand not just the story but the WHY. He explains the mentality and the beliefs of the people at that time which puts the history into perspective. This is one of the few podcasts I pay for. Each session is about 1.99 and well worth it! I am not a history buff and my past doesn’t show me paying for history lessons. Money well spent!
Dirt Bag Diaries
The Dirt Bag Diaries isn’t a podcast which focuses on entrepreneur’s per se. This is more of a storytelling podcast, but I really the enjoy the format AND what they are doing here. O know many of these stories could be shared with corporate America during a motivational speaking event. For those of you who are wondering what “dirtbag” means, let me explain.
A “Dirtbag” in the outdoor lifestyle is a person who dedicates her or his entire existence to the pursuit of climbing. They are barely making ends meet. A dirtbag will get their food out of a dumpster, get his clothes from a thrift store, and live in a tent or vehicle to save money. They don’t have a job because they would rather climb. The vehicle of choice is a Subaru Outback, never knew, but a later vintage. Big enough to sleep in full-time and easy on the gas as dirtbags travel to cool destinations. Often found living near major climbing destinations the dirtbag is a rebel with a cause who finds happiness in nature.
There are a number of dirtbags that have left successful corporate jobs and exchanged the cubicle walls for the mountain cliff face.
Every outdoor sport has their version of a dirtbag. I love the outdoors and my outdoor passion is steelhead fly fishing. A few years ago, I took a year off from work with a dream of being a fly-fishing dirtbag but couldn’t quite pull it off. I found I needed a regular hot shower, hair conditioner and didn’t want to eat rehydrated food, let alone eat out of a dumpster.
I missed my Origin face moisturizer and Clinique face scrub. #FirstWorldProblems to be sure, but doesn’t mean I don’t have a passion for the lifestyle.
The Dirtbag Diaries has a format where listeners submit their personal stories and share adventures. The host tells their story through narration and mixes in soundbites from an interview with the “dirtbag”. Usually, the stories involve an adventure that inspired personal growth or overcoming a challenge. This podcast has a bit of an outdoorsy, hippie vibe. It sounds professionally done and holds big-name sponsorship. I can relate to most of the stories because the fly fishing lifestyle has similar challenges and offers a journey of personal growth.
It’s a new era
It’s not just books any more peoples! It’s a new age and Barnes and Noble is no longah! Learning about new business podcasts and news sources is a great topic when networking.
What business podcasts are you listening to? Anyone listening to a podcast that interviews restaurant chefs? Please leave your recommendation’s below!
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.