BLI Leadership | Business Strategy

The top 12 business books of 2011


"You will be a different person five years from now based on two things: the people you meet and the books you read." -- Charlie "Tremendous" Jones

"Feed your mind good stuff." -- Tim Sanders

"Out-read the other guy."-- Tom Peters

Today's post starts with an inspirational quote (and quite serendipitous) from my friend and colleague, Jackie Brown (COO of the MACPA). The serendipity is that Charlie "Tremendous" Jones was a student of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and talked about many of the same concepts that are in our first book on the list, Today We Are Rich, by Tim Sanders, one of our favorite authors.

Both Charlie "Tremendous" Jones and Tim Sanders talk about positivity, confidence, and gratitude as a powerful recipe for overcoming tough times. As we continue to face strong headwinds in this "Loch Ness Monster" economy, we all need a reminder about these timeless fundamentals.

If you have been a reader of CPA Success, you know one of our favorite sayings is this: To stay ahead of the competition in this turbulent economy, your L > C; your rate of learning must be greater than the rate of change (and your competition).

Our New Year's wish is for you to step up your reading and keep your L > C for 2012 and the future.

Here are our top 12 reads for 2012:

Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence, by Tim Sanders: Confidence, positivity, gratitude, and the wisdom of the ages refreshed with the latest research makes this a handbook to deal with this crazy economy and world we live in. As Tim says, it is rocket fuel for your career.

Leadershift: Reinventing Leadership for the Age of Mass Collaboration, by Emmanuel Gobillot: One of our favorite quotes from Emmanuel is this: "What got you here won't get you there." This book shows you why and how leadership is changing. A must-read for any leader or future leader.

The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence, by Tom Peters: Tom's latest is a great reminder of all things excellent. It is the kind of book you should have close to your desk, on your bedside, anywhere you can turn to a page and get some of Tom's pithy nuggets of wisdom. It is guaranteed to offer you plenty of great stories and quotes to inspire your team.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What motivates Us, by Dan Pink: The author of A Whole New Mind does it again with the latest book on what really motivates people and how you can rethink things like incentives and the "pay your dues" mentality. Dan offers a simple formula, AMP (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose) as the touchstones to a motivated workforce. It is the handbook for managers and leaders of all kinds.

Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?, by Seth Godin: How do you make yourself indispensable in a very competitive marketplace? Become a linchpin. Seth does it again with this remakable guide to adding value as an employee and becoming critical to your organization. Very relevant to today's downsizing, RIF environment.

Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Profesisonal Firms, by Ron Baker: Ron Baker finally delivers the how (and why) of value pricing in this "how to" book complete with plenty of examples and samples proposal letters. I think there is even a checklist or two to help you actually get moving on value pricing. 

Data Dynamite: How Liberating Information Will Change our World, by W. David Stephenson: David says, "Set the data free" in this book about data standardization, democratization, visualization, and analysis. Lots of examples from the government and private sectors. He does a great job of talking about XBRL and how it can help achieve a new level of transparency and accountability. An important book for theses times.

Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath: The Heath brothers offer a great read (backed by research) on how change happens (or doesn't) and a great metaphor to think about with the Elephant and the Rider. If you have to manage change, this is the bible.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh: How did Zappos go from near broke to a mega sale to Amazon in a year? Tony Hsieh talks about how he did it by investing in his people and the culture of Zappos. Think of it as a roadmap to building your organization in the new normal. Yes, I know -- CPAs are not online shoe retailers, but the lessons here apply to every organization, even CPA firms!

Strengths­-Based Leadership, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie: This is the core book we use in our Leadership Academy. Strengths-based leadership is the secret to increased trust and engagement, and much higher work satisfaction. The book includes a free online survey to get your own customized analysis of your top strengths. What I like about their approach is the application to business. Start the year off doing this for yourself and your team.

Managing in Turbulent Times, by Peter Drucker: Bob Bunting, former CEO of Moss Adams, recommended this book in 2008 and I just re-read it again. The handbook for turbulent times by THE business guru. You will want to keep this book close by at all times.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina: Don't you wish you had a user's guide to your brain? Well, now there is one. Medina writes about how our brain works and what we can do to use it and improve it. I don't know about you, but I need all the help I can get and this is a great read.

I have had the privelege of meeting the first seven authors on our list and following them on Twitter and their blogs. We will cover our interviews with them and ways to follow them in a future post. Happy New Year!

Now, start outreading (and out learning) your competition!

What are your best business books of 2011? Share them in the comment area below.