Today, books that have intrigued/helped/motivated me….
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins
- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
- Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen E Ambrose
- The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty, by David Harris
- The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
Good to Great is a great look into the working of companies. Don’t take it as a business book though. Its idea apply to any organization. Why do groups, teams and companies succeed? The two things that really stand out to me are the ideas of ‘First Who, Then What’ and the ‘Hedgehog Concept’. The first one is so simple I went all face palm on myself. It says, ‘Get the right people on the bus and then figure out where you’re going’. Or, don’t fit the people to the system, fit the system to the people. The ‘Hedgehog Concept’ asks three questions… What makes you money? What can you be the best in the world at? What lights your fire? Really a powerful read, still makes me think everyday.
What has it been, 3000 years? No matter when it was written, The Art of War is still the preeminent book written on strategy and conflict resolution (warfare). I read it at least twice a year and so should you.
What’s not to love about the story of the opening of the American west? Undaunted Courage is a history of the Lewis and Clark expedition based on their journals. There has never been a better historian sitting behind a keyboard than Ambrose in my estimation. Google a list of his titles and you’ll understand. This book is my favorite because I love the exploration and pure discovery of the whole endeavor, no white man had seen the places and things they did. The personal nature of the journals makes it very human, not something typically said of history books.
The Genius is wonderful and I did a long write-up on it here, no point in rehashing. Let’s just say I learned a lot and Bill Walsh is a BAMF.
Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power is kind of a cross between Good to Great and The Art of War. It takes the questions about what make people and groups great and using historical examples provides 48 laws that make people powerful. Some are nice, neat and polite. Many are decidedly not, similar to parts of Sun Tzu’s work. Really cool thoughts on what takes people to the top as well as what brings them down. The examples show that Greene isn’t just spouting his theories but has facts to back them up.