Although I read voraciously, I’ve never been a big consumer of business books. With a few exceptions, they seem to get to the point in three chapters and then repeat themselves ad nauseam until they fill 200 pages, so most business books in my house only have their spine 1/3 cracked.
But there are five incredible books, business books all (pretty much), which I finished. Not only that, each of them, in their own way, changed my business and my life. Reboot
Written by a former VC turned executive coach, Jerry Colonna’s manifesto on startup leadership and how to live a life has quickly become a classic among the early stage startup world.
I still remember the first time I read it, feeling, perhaps for the first time, that someone really understood the challenges I was going through as an early stage CEO.
So much of success in leadership is built on a foundation of self-awareness, and Jerry’s magnum opus does as good a job of teeing up a journey toward self-inquiry for readers as anything I’ve read. The Second Mountain
I started a book club over a decade ago, in which a group of leaders (CEOs, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, pretty much the gamut of perspectives) would read and discuss a new book every month.
Looking back, The Second Mountain was the moment the book club transformed. So many CEOs start out their career trying to get somewhere (rich, famous, successful), only to realize upon getting there that it was an incomplete goal all along.
My newsletter, The Second Mountain explores the evolution of meaning-making in the life of a leader, from the Self-Oriented-Success of the first mountain to the Community-Oriented-Purpose of the second. A critical read for accomplished leaders looking to dive deeper into purpose. The Meaning Revolution
The last decade has revolutionized the art and discipline of building and getting the most out of teams. In that time we’ve moved from a wholesale expectation that a complex stew of carrots and sticks would drive behaviors to a realization that people yearn to dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves, what author Fred Kofman calls “immortality projects,” if only their work was worthy of that commitment.
In The Meaning Revolution, Kofman, the former head of culture at LinkedIn, provides a cutting edge analysis of the power of purpose in a modern organization, as well as tools to find the reader’s own purpose and integrate it throughout their organization, perfect for leaders of second-stage companies looking to bust through a ceiling. The Artist’s Way
Most founders that I work with look back at the early stages of their company as a time of tremendous innovation, when they were free to take risks and innovate.
But the constant demands of running a company have a way of beating the creativity out of founders if they’re not careful, which can turn even paradigm-shifting companies stagnant. Julia Cameron wrote The Artist’s Way to help stuck people rediscover their creative spark.
For a leader this can be the key to unlocking previously inaccessible levels of growth, as founders are simply artists working at scale. This book, designed to be read and workshopped over 12-weeks, is perfect for leaders looking to introduce or expand their creativity and innovation. The Advantage
The most useful “how to run a business” book I’ve read, Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage lays out a blueprint for company operations that leaders can use immediately to transform their organizations (and their relationship to those organizations).
In The Advantage, Lencioni distills the highlights from his other groundbreaking works (Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, etc) into a single volume that was foundational to how we rebuilt our corporate culture at VNN, aligning a 100-person team with only a few key structures. For entrepreneurs leading companies >20 people, this book is gold.
By Ryan Vaughn. Ryan is an executive coach and founder of Second Mountain Startup This piece was originally published on his blog