When I first started working in strategic innovation, a Senior Vice President at a Fortune 100 pulled me aside at lunch. “You’re pretty quiet,” he said. That comment didn’t surprise me. I was 24 and working in a room full of Senior Executives at a large financial service company. Quiet was basically another way to say intimidated. What came next did. “When you do talk, you’re a human encyclopedia. Do you have any book recommendations?”
Now that I’ve built a career in an un-traditional industry, I often get asked for career advice. Here it is.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in anything strategic you need to start fueling your curiosity. Read good books. Listen to smart people. Watch great movies. The world is complex, but the complexity wilts away if you consciously develop a critical framework. The only way that happens is through work. To help, I’ve written a list of book recommendations.
A look back at the books that I read each year.
- Ranking the 40 books I read in 2020
- Ranking the 35 best books I read in 2019
- Ranking the 28 Books I Read In 2018
- Ranking the 29 best books I read in 2016
- Ranking the Best 34 Books I Read in 2015
- Ranking the 38 Books I Read in 2014
- Books about the impact of technology on societyThe following is a list of the five best books about the impact of technology on society.
- Book Review: Break ‘Em Up by Zephyr TeachoutA review of Break ‘Em Up by Zephyr Teachout. Published in 2020 it’s a worthwhile addition to the growing anti-monopoly movement.
- Reengineering Retail by Doug Stephens - A reviewReengineering Retail by Doug Stephens tries to lay out a theory that encompasses the future of retail. It fails, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a read.
- Review: The Curse of Bigness by Tim WuThe Curse of Bigness by Tim Wu succinctly distills a generation of anti-monopoly research into one easily digestible volume.
- Review: The Fall of Wisconsin by Dan KaufmanThe Fall of Wisconsin by Dan Kaufman, analyzes how conservatives utilized Dark Money, Gerrymandering, and Weak Democratic opposition to enact a radical and dangerous conservative agenda in Wisconsin.
- Review: Hit Makers by Derek ThompsonIn Hit Makers, Derek Thompson tries to explain why some ideas become popular and others fade away.
- Nixonland: How a book about Richard Nixon helps explains Donald TrumpIn Nixonland, Rick Perlstein looks at the origin, rise, and decline of the Nixon administration. His general view is that there was simmering white resentment underneath the optimism and change of the Kennedy Administration.
- Review: Devil’s Bargain by Joshua GreeneJoshua Greene’s Devil’s Bargain is ostensibly about Steve Bannon. However, the book is really about how three well-financed forces coalesced and resulted in the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States.
- Review: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel WilkersonWith a scope wide as it is personal, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns paints a historical picture of one of the largest, but least reported events in the 21st century: the mass northern migration of African Americans.
- Book Review: How Not to Network a NationHow Not To Network a Nation by Benjamin Peters provides an exhaustive look at one of the functional problems that plagued the Soviet experiment: information management.
- Book Review: The Most Powerful Idea in the World by William RosenThe Most Powerful Idea in the World is a surprisingly readable, insightful, and entertaining book about the steam engine and patent law.
- Book Review: The New Deal by Michael HiltzikIn The New Deal, journalist Michael Hiltzik, tells the story of the people, policies, and actions that shaped the nation.
- Classic Read: How Democrats Killed Their Populist SoulMatt Stoller’s How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul is the best political analysis I’ve read all year.
- Book Review: Rana Foroohar’s Makers and TakersForoohar’s book isn’t perfect–it goes on a bit long and only offers a few solutions—but it’s a well-meaning and well researched book on the modern economy.
- Book Review: Dawn of Innovation by Charles MorrisIn Dawn of Innovation Charles Morris argues that America’s economic dominance wasn’t driven by science, technology or ingenuity, but our commitment to mass production (scale).
- Jon Gerner’s The Idea FactoryIn his book The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner makes the case that nearly every single improvement in modern communications can be traced back to one lab, at one company—AT&T.
- Factory Man: The rise and fall of the American furniture industryIf they gave awards for the most comprehensive business books of the last ten years Factory Man by Beth Macy would be an unlikely–but worthy contender.
- At what cost was China’s development miracle?In Age of Ambition, Evan Osnos delivers the impossible. He answers the question, “At what cost was China’s development miracle?”
- Book Review: Peter Thiel’s Zero to OneEach year hundreds of thousands of business books are published. Peter Thiel’s Zero to One is arguably the best business book of the decade.
- Book Review: Eric Schlosser’s Command and ControlI can say this with certainty: Command and Control is without a doubt the most comprehensive book on the systemic risk of any nuclear weapons system.
- Book Review: “Young Money” by Kevin RooseFor three years New York’s Kevin Roose followed the careers of eight young Wall Street workers to research Young Money.
- Classic Reads: Simon Johnson’s “The Quiet Coup”In May 2009 The Atlantic Magazine published an article by Simon Johnson titled, “The Quiet Coup.” Today, “The Quiet Coup” stands as one of the watershed articles on the 2008 financial crisis
- Charlie LeBuff, Detroit: An American Autopsy, and a New Business ModelDetroit by Charlie LeDuff is an incredibly well written and heart felt exploration into the decline of one of America’s greatest cities.