When you stand inside somebody’s library, you get a powerful sense of who they are, and not just who they are now but who they’ve been …. It’s a wonderful thing to have in a house.
~ Lev Grossman
There are many, many good business books out there—far too many to list. However, here is a comparably short list that contains a number of excellent books we highly suggest you read.
For ease of browsing, the list has been broken into several sections:
Please enjoy, and let us know if there is a book you feel we overlooked.
While the book uses the story of Whole Foods as a timeline and framework, it is really an introduction to the Conscious Capitalism movement and its Four Principles:
- Higher Purpose
- Conscious Leadership
- Stakeholder Orientation
- Conscious Culture
Simon Sinek’s seminal work on the importance and power of an organization’s “Why?” has proved foundational for many. It also introduces his Golden Circle concept:
We should always act and communicate from the inside to the outside:
WHY ⇒ HOW ⇒ WHAT
There is a difference between those who have authority and those who are leaders. If we’re really lucky, they’ll be the one and the same individual. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many organizations in the world. In pursuit of shareholder profits, we’ve incentivized many of our executives to behave in ways that destroy the organization’s esprit de corps, thereby harming the organization in the long term.
Fortunately, we as leaders have a choice in the matter.
The world is full of uncertainty, chaos and luck. We see it everyday, and there’s much of it we can’t control. However, there are a number of approaches, as outlined in book, which can help us, as leaders, prepare for and weather the storms that are certainly going to assail any business.
When company’s adopt a holistic view of who their stakeholders are (i.e., not just shareholders), it changes how the company behaves for the benefit of all.
Trust is one of the most important, if not the most important, attributes any person or organization can possess. Trust often must be gained over a long period, but can be lost in an instant of poor judgement. This great book on the subject looks at trust in its many facets, and can help you identify areas where personally, professionally or as a firm needs attention in order to have the trust of others.
One of Seth Godin’s classic books, Tribes helps us break out of the mindset that we need to try to sell to everyone. Instead, we are looking for people who believe what we believe and who will form the base for our own tribe.
It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For
Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose
More and more, our world is becoming transparent. The advent of the Internet has brought us to a time where any duplicity between the boardroom and the pavement becomes glaringly obvious. More so than every, people are taking into consideration what a company does and stands for in their purchasing decisions.
It’s no longer just about price.
After providing a unique view into the different personality types that are often seen in start-ups, unlike many of the other books on this list, this business classic focuses on process. While some of its approaches are a bit outdated in today’s interconnected world, it provides important insight in the structuring of the day-to-day processes in a company.
Too often we decide to put off happiness, contentment and purpose in life until some unspecified point in the future—often retirement. However, there’s nothing to keep us from enjoying the pursuits we are on at the moment, especially when our organization has a purpose and WHY? that we believe in and want to see achieved.
Company Case Studies
The story of the Clif Bar is an exciting one, with highs and lows, great triumphs and bitter tears. Most importantly, it’s a true story of true success brought on by following one’s convictions and principles. Gary Erickson teaches us about his unique approach to business that had him turn down a $120 million buyout offer in order to work harder than he’d ever worked before. For him, there’s more to life than just money, and there’s much we can learn from him, his business and his love of cycling.
Zappos is known for their insane customer service. In fact, their company slogan is “We are a service company that happens to sell shoes. And handbags. And more…” Built on the idea the customer comes first, Tony Hsieh created a unique culture that has skyrocketed the company to success in an area no one would have thought possible: online shoe sales.
How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives
One of the powerhouses of the Conscious Capitalism movement, The Container Store has time and time again proved out the wisdom and importance of the Conscious Capitalism Principles. They are a shining example of how conscious business can thrive even in the most hostile of environments.
Bob Chapman, the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, started off approaching business the way many have done over the last several decades: it’s a numbers game to be played and won, and employees are pawns to be used and discarded. But, he found that didn’t work. Transforming himself and the company, he re-engineered the company to behave like a family where every single person truly matters.
Now, as the leader of a $1.7 billion manufacturing company grown largely through acquisitions, Bob shares the best practices for not only living the principles, but also bringing new people into this unique organization.
How do we overcome the five dysfunctions that attempt to beset and destroy many teams?
- Absence of Trust
- Fear of Conflict
- Lack of Commitment
- Avoidance of Accountability
- Inattention to Results
Change in this world is inevitable. However, our response to change tells a great deal about who we are. Any time a change happens, we have a choice on how to react, just as the mice in this book who find the cheese is no longer magically appearing in its accustomed spot in the maze.
DISCLOSURE: This page provides links to Amazon for the convenience of the reader. Additionally, if any materials are purchased via these links, Rysyr will get a small percentage of the sale.