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Leaders are Readers

The original quote from President Harry S. Truman was, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

I believe President Truman knew what he was talking about. Almost every single business leader I speak with has a book they want to rave about, or often asks for recommendations for a future read.

I’ve even found that asking a job candidate for the last book they read as an interview question, quite revealing. If they can’t name a book, that may tell you that they don’t possess the kind of curiosity and drive you are looking for.  But that’s a whole different topic.

This time of year is a great time to reflect on the past year and to plan ahead for 2024.  What great books have you read?  As of today, I have read 95 books exceeding my goal of 85+ books for the year.

As I have in the past, I am happy to share my list of “highly recommended, best reads” for your consideration.  Before I share the list, you may be asking yourself, how in the world does Karen have time to read that many books.  Well, has become my best friend.  A few years ago, when a book I wanted to read was ONLY available on Audible I downloaded the app.  And over the past few years I’ve found that listening to a book during a long drive, while I am taking my daily walk, or on a long flight are all great examples of optimized multi-tasking.

Even for my friends who say they like to read and touch the pages of an actual book, they realize that listening to a book during the drive to a meeting can be a good use of time.  And, with Audible, you can listen at 1.5 – 2.0 X speed, which can be a big time saver.

So, back to my recommendation list.

Business-ish Books (not in any particular order)

  1. Mindset, by Dr. Carol Dweck – I just reread this last week, great refresher on “it’s all in your attitude and you get to decide your attitude”.
  2. Relentless, by Tim Grover – the coach of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and other top athletes.  I reread this book at least once a year – it is that good.  Discipline + attitude + vision = relentless
  3. Competitive Advantage, by Jaynie L. Smith.  If you want to stand out from your competition, you need to know, or develop your unique stand-out quality or service.  Bet you don’t know yours.
  4. Fans First, by Jesse Cole – owner of the Savannah Bananas, an exhibition barnstorming baseball team.  Think how the Harlem Globetrotters made basketball fun, back in the day.  I plan to see the Savannah Bananas in person in 2024 – their “customer first” approach is a game changer for business.
  5. The Secret Lives of Introverts, by Jenn Granneman – if you’re an extrovert like me, you will find this so enlightening to explain why some people don’t respond the way you do….to anything and everything. Great help in both personal and business life.
  6. Hyper Sales Growth by Jack Daly – after I heard at least a dozen people this year rave about how this book changed their company and helped create explosive sales growth, I decided it was time for a re-read after 20 years.
  7. Barbie and Ruth by Robin Gerber. After the Barbie movie came out, this book was released on Audible, even though it was originally published in 2010.  It’s the actual story of how Ruth Handler started Mattel and all the challenges she faced in the business.  It is a solid book on grit and creativity.  She and her husband Elliot worked together creating Barbie, Chatty Cathy and Hot Wheels.
  8. Leading with Heart by Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski of Duke fame).  For those of you who are consumed with March Madness, this informative and inspirational book is full of stories of how Coach K coaxes peak performances from his team. If sports teams are run better than most businesses, then you can learn from this record-setting coach.
  9. Happy Sexy Millionaire by Stephen Bartlett. I met Stephen when he spoke in Belfast, Ireland two months ago about how he bootstrapped himself from humble beginnings (born in Botswana) moved to England at age 2, dropped out of college after one lecture, then created and grew his company Social Chain, merged it, went public and exited at a value of more than $200 million. He thought being “sexy and a millionaire” would make him happy.  Read this book, and his second one, too, The Diary of a CEO. So many great lessons here. Plus his British accent adds to the experience.

Not business books

  1. Die with Zero by Bill Perkins – Will force you to think, at what point should you honestly stop working (it’s a math equation) and encourages you to give gifts and donations sooner rather than later!
  2. Outlive by Dr. Peter Attia – #1 New York Times Bestseller – he challenges conventional medical thinking on aging. He is the leading longevity expert.
  3. Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy – initially, I read this after hearing how my daughter Alex “worked magic” with her 3 year old son Eli when he was misbehaving. She said this book changed her parenting style for the better. And after I read it, I have even used her approach in many adult conversations….and it works!
  4. What happened to you? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry. Another #1 New York Times bestseller on how childhood and other trauma affect our behavioral patterns. Completely changed my relationship with my closest family members.
  5. I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys – Winner of the Carnegie Medal, it is an eye-opening historical thriller about communist Romania in the 1970s.  It was a book we read in my book club this year – and was especially eye-opening for me, as my post-college trip to Europe included time in communist Romania.

Well, that’s it for now.  I hope you will be inspired to take your love for reading to a new, higher level in 2024.  I would love to hear what great books you recommend.

Here’s wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and exciting New Year!

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