Work Life


A Whack on the Side of the Head

Roger von Oechs

Note that this is a “25th Anniversary Edition”. Few non-fiction books need one of those. Helping yourself or someone else be more creative is always worthwhile and this is the best book on the subject. von Oech starts by helping the reader get past self-limiting beliefs about being creative and then goes on to suggest lots of ways to start thinking differently. The author has spent his life teaching corporate groups this material for big bucks. The book’s a true bargain. Buy two, you’ll want to share it with a friend.


Difficult Conversations

Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen

This book could have as easily been in the Real Life section of the store since the experience of finding certain conversations excruciatingly difficult seems to be universal. This book helps you recognize that the difficulty is inside of you and really has little to do with the inherent nature of the subject or the person you are trying to communicate with. You’ll find this understanding and the books prescriptions immensely helpful at both work and home.


The Art of the Long View

Peter Schwarz

Most reviewers refer to Peter Schwarz as “a” or “the” leading futurist. He got there though his work in planning at Royal Dutch Shell which, uniquely, forecast the Arabian oil embargo. The approach used here is the construction of richly detailed scenarios for the future to help business plan its place in the future they portray. Being right in your construction of the future is wonderful but not as important as the flexibility detailed long-range planning can bring to your business. This is a good way to learn some of the tools of the futurist’s trade.


Spin Selling

Niel Rackham

No, this isn’t about selling by putting a “spin” on what you tell the client. SPIN is an acronym for the research that supports this unique book. Most books on selling come from lessons learned in low-dollar or purely consumer sales. They espouse lots of presenting and pitching until the client is battered into buying. This author’s approach, derived from high-ticket business-to-business sales, emphasizes intelligent and highly structured questioning to accomplish everything from qualification to closing. One well-conducted SPIN call will change the way you sell forever.



Gino Wickman

An engineer’s view of how to run a business (yes, I know Wickman isn’t actually an engineer). Good for small business leaders with a rational and numerical view of the world. 81% 5 star reviews. Proposes a computer software analogy for business operations called the Entrepreneurial Operating System and then tells you how to review and reset your business. As one reviewer points out it “works best if wholly understood and implemented unilaterally.”



Roger Dooley


Great place to pick up useful marketing ideas grounded in current academic research. Dooley provides a great bridge between often difficult to comprehend research and real world tasks. 90% 4 star or better reviews. Overlaps Predictably Irrational – more actionable while less descriptive of the background to the ideas presented.


Predictably Irrational

Dan Ariely

If you’re unfamiliar with Behavioral Economics this book will be a revelation to you. Less prescriptive than Brainfluence but more descriptive of the research underlying the tricks. I you have any remaining notions about your customers behaving in a rational way, a must read. The good news is the truth will set you free to make more money.



Niraj Dawar

If you can’t beat them with your product beat them with your attention to customers. Truth is, its best to do both and this book will help you think about your customers in a new light. This isn’t another “great customer service” book. You have to have that too but with everyone else improving service there’s little opportunity for differentiation there. Rather this is a book that should lead you to research and think deeply about the results. Why do your customers buy from you? What else do they need? What problems does buying from you create that you could solve? Importantly, if you use this book, do the research, don’t just guess.


Predictable Revenue

Aaron Ross

A practical education in lead generation. Great for small and medium size businesses unfamiliar with well-organized sales processes. The author did this kind of stuff for SalesForce and his hands-on experience shows. If you care about sales at all you will learn something in spite of the sloppy editing.