The Economist recently posted about former Groupon boss CEO Andrew Mason’s favorite business books and his issue on new workers without any business books under their belts. There are certainly plenty of reasons to avoid much of the garbage out there on the business book shelves. The Career News section of the Economist used this as an opportunity analyze the choices and list some other interesting books. This reminded me of a long-delayed post listing my favorite books for business school students, new graduates and anybody entering the workforce.
ANDREW MASON, Groupon’s ex boss, complained in a recent blog post that too few of the young people who joined his firm had read a single business book. This, he said, meant they “would arrive at orientation with minimal understanding of basic business wisdom”.
Are books a good way to learn about business? In some ways, recruiting people with a working knowledge of management literature is about correlation not causation. In other words, a firm might want to hire them because they are inquisitive enough to read about business strategy, not because the books themselves will have imparted much wisdom.
My top business books (or book series) for the last decade are as follows:
1. Any book in the Incerto Trilogy by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (or Pentalogy if you consider the two technical addenda)
2. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
3. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver
Bonus for law students is Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick. Should be mandatory reading in all law schools. No excuses for ugly fonts and poorly formatted documents.
These books look at conventional management or financial wisdom. Sometimes even skewering the fortune tellers that populate those industries. While extremely arrogant, everything by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is fascinating and thought-provoking. He has proved quite prescient over the years writing about business fragility right before the financial crisis. Tribal Leadership is simply the best book I have ever read on motivating and leading teams or groups of people. The book was so influential to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com that he bought the rights to distribute the e-book for free. The Signal and the Noise is Nate Silvers work on predictions and where they seem to succeed and fail. I should write a little more about each one but it is a busy holiday weekend approaching.
Happy Memorial Day weekend readers.