Here are the best marketing / business / non-fiction books I read in 2019, loosely arranged by topic. Some were published in 2019, some are a bit older. I would love to hear your recommendations — I’m always on the hunt for the next good book. And, like Bill Gates, I believe that reading books is “absolutely essential to success in any field.”
Get inspired by other CEOs
Bloomberg by Bloomberg – Michael Bloomberg. Politics aside, this is an incredible story about a hardware / enterprise software startup that started with $10M of funding and reached $1B in revenue in 15 years. Bloomberg was founded in 1981, but there are a ton of relevant lessons for today’s founders.
The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger. A fascinating bio of rising to the top with no shortcuts, and a must-read for anyone in the media / publishing / entertainment industries (or in a startup selling to them).
Get Inspired by excellence
I have somewhat of an obsession with The Ritz Carlton – haven’t stayed in one yet, but read multiple books about what’s considered the best hotel chain in the world. Here are my 2019 additions:
The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company – Joseph A. Michelli. This book dissects Ritz-Carlton’s processes around customer experience and employee training and was written by the an author who had also wrote books about Starbucks, Zappos, Mercedes, and Airbnb.
Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise – Horst Schulze. Written by the co-founder and former COO and president of Ritz-Carlton, this is an inside look into Ritz-Carlton’s systems by the man who invented many of them, intertwined with a captivating personal story of a hospitality veteran who started working at hotels at the age of 14.
Education for a new workplace
In 2019 I did a lot of reading about new models of education. Two favorites:
A new U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College – Ryan Craig. In-depth primer on why the college model is broken and emerging alternatives. Ryan is also a VC in the EdTech space and publishes a weekly newsletter about similar topics.
The Coddling of the American Mind – Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. Academic-level explanation of the Zeitgeist of today’s college students. I highly recommend it to anyone working with recent grads (and to any parent).
Get to the Point!: Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter – Joel Schwartzberg. What it says on the tin. Be a better writer and speaker with smart, concrete recommendations.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin. I love the premise of this book, and its practical blueprint for improving through “deliberate practice.”
The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning – Scott Galloway. I like Scott in any format. I find Pivot, his podcast with Kara Swisher, entertaining, and his blog brilliant. This book is his most personal and offers his take on being a successful entrepreneur while also being a good human being.
And lastly, a non-non-fiction recommendation. The fiction I enjoyed most in 2019 was the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud read and a (somewhat ridiculous) education on life in Asia, check it out.