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Business book ideas for your gift list

Pierre Battah checks out some of the best-selling business book titles

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A respected colleague told me recently that you can read some business books at the airport news stand while standing … scan it for the one big idea and get on your flight. His premise is that many business books have one really good idea or the author is re-packaging a previous bestseller. 

So in his honour, I suggest the following books, mostly released in 2014, that appear to have surpassed the airport bookstore test by offering several notable concepts and have compelling examples as well as applicable content:

  • Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well - Even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly you’re not in the mood, by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen (March 2014) Given my interest in human resources management, a book on feedback was bound to draw my attention especially since the co-authors are from the Harvard Negotiation Project and coauthors of the widely acclaimed book Difficult Conversations.  It is applicable to performance reviews, parenting advice from in-laws, comments from customers and well beyond. It’s a deep dive on the topic and well worth the 300-plus pages.
  • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell (October 2014). I saw and heard the very prolific and very entertaining John Maxwell outline this book just before it was published. It explores the questions leaders need to ask themselves and their teams and then explores the questions he has been asked when mentoring leaders. True to his usual style, this book is highly personal, conversational and another in a long line of Maxwell books where he reveals his particular insights on leadership.
  • Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life by Stewart Friedman (Oct 2014). Full disclosure, I am a Stew Friedman fan. The Wharton School of Business professor and host of Sirius Business Radio’s Work and Life Show devotes his recent research to balancing life and work. He presents six individual case studies from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to Michelle Obama and even Bruce Springsteen. He then provides a workbook styled exposé of the skills needed to pull it all off. A great follow-up to Total Leadership - Be a Better Leader Have a Richer Life.

Other notables:

  • Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing In The New Game Of Work by Liz Wiseman (Oct 2014). The curse of experience and regaining the learning capability of a newbie is fleshed out in interesting fashion.
  • How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg (Sept 2014). Making lots of best business books lists and it’s about a boundary pushing global icon…a must read.
  • Leadership-Driven HR: Transforming HR to Deliver Value for the Business by David S. Weiss (Jan 2013). I hung out with David recently, great insight, rich Canadian content especially for my HR pals.
  • The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World's Greatest Management Thinker by William A. Cohen (Nov 2013). Drucker’s student writes (again) about the father of modern management. Drucker’s wisdom is still relevant.
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (Dec 2011). The corresponding TED talk is one of the most viewed of all time.
  • How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World's Most Inspiring Presentations, by Jeremey Donovan (Oct 2013). Great presentation skills primer whether you present one on one, in meetings or from a platform.
  • The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin (Aug 2014). A practical and fascinating read by the McGill neuroscientist and author of the bestselling This is Your Brain on Music. 

So many books … Happy Holidays