People, like us, love reading lists. No wonder many sites telling us what books, or movies, or cities we should have experienced before we die are a big hit. The website of Bill Gates continues to attract us because we always wonder: what books would he be reading or have read? Here are books that influenced, pushed, and shook us (in no particular order):
Business and Organization Books:
1. Know-How by Ram Charam (It’s as always, simple, insightful, practical approaches to business, reminding us that business is all about nuts and bolts, more than metrics or anything like that).
2. Pour You Heart Into It by Howard Shultz (How can criminally expensive coffee take over the world? Read this book and find out).
3. McDonald’s Behind the Arches by John Love (We thought this better than the autobiography of Ray Croc. But for us, whatever else are the failings of McDonald’s as a fat delivery device, Ray Croc is the greatest entrepreneur of all time, even more than Steve Jobs, who was great, but was also being swept and helped by the tide of the technological revolution). The franchising fever was made possible by Croc.
4. The HP Way by Packard. (Called the original tech start-up company, this book tells you why the United States, particularly Silicon Valley, is in the cutting edge of technology, in spite of the collapse of US politics and its economy).
5. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (The most hated figure in the world has got to be salesmen. Pink takes simple ideas, like selling, and shows us why this moves the world in positive and negative ways; but good ideas hardly have a chance if there are no salesmen. Everyone, almost everyone, artists, writers, inventors, revolutionaries, scientists are salesmen; and if they are any good, they and their ideas have a chance. Incidentally, the best theater on salesmen, of course is Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and the best film documentary is Salesman by the Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin, about door-to-door Bible salesmen. We always respect salesmen, as much as possible, and we return their calls even if we have to turn them down. Although we have met sleazy ones like when we bought our Kia truck from a Kia Manila Bay salesman. People like him give the word salesman a bad name).
6. People and Performance by Peter Drucker (The only Management Guru from the 1980s who is still read and respected in the 21st Century. He believed that businesses, enterprise, offer the world necessary service and innovation. This is something Marxist activists must learn from, if they are to convince the world to move out of capitalism, the most cut-throat system there is).
7. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (Steve Blank listed this in his essential books to read for entrepreneurs and did not know how to classify the book by a medical doctor who made the checklist compulsory for surgery. I thank Dr. Samuel Ang for introducing me to this author. We attempted to invite him to come to the Philippines for a fee, but realized, even if we were a behemoth pharmaceutical company, we would not be able to afford him).
8. The Empty Raincoat by Charles Handy (Usually simple and insightful about the changing nature of work and organizations).
9. The Road Ahead by Bill Gates (He wrote somewhere in this old book that he would hire people who came from companies that went bust, so that they could help him see if his company was on the wrong track. It certainly made us aware that even the best run companies should be aware that their best times could be their blindest moments).
10. Antifragile by Nassim Taleb (A simple and great concept, that one should be antifragile, written in an overly long book, but helpful nonetheless).
If you want to learn, feel, and enjoy invention, which makes innovation in technology, business, marketing, human relations possible, we say read great fiction.
1. The Bread of Salt and Other Stories by NVM Gonzalez.
2. The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
3. Drown by Junot Diaz
4. The Stranger by Albert Camus
5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
6. Death in a Sawmill by Rony Diaz
7. Distance to Andromeda by Gregorio Brillantes
8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
9. War Trash by Ha Jin
10. The Stories of John Cheever
11. Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
12. Cairo Trilogy by Mahfouz
13. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
14. Stories by William Trevor
We will try to mention a few books in the coming months, in the hope that you will find them helpful in your life and work.