It’s that time of year again – the time to reflect on the past 12 months, and ask yourself, what does your company (or you) want from the next 12?
Maximize your personal and business growth in 2023 and beyond with this list of recommendations for startup CEOs, founders, innovators, and tech leaders. Read on for a mix of favorites, go-to industry classics, and the brand new, organized by what you might want to get done this year.
If you want to…
…supercharge your thinking:
- Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Modes by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann – Mental modes are essential for problem-solving and decision-making. We use them all the time – whether we know it or not – to organize, prioritize, and strategize. But we might not always be using the best, or quickest, way of reaching our end-goals. This book lays it all out in an easy-to-understand, illustrated format filled with information vital to any leader or startup. If you just read one book this year, make it this one.
- Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke – This book will help you make better decisions. The author was once a World Series of Poker champion and is now a business consultant who guarantees that the key to long-term success is to get comfortable in uncertainty and, as the title suggests, to think in bets.
- The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli – Dobelli gives us the 100 ways (in 100 bite-sized chapters) in which humans act irrationally, and then gives us the tools to overcome that irrationality. And while we might not be equipped (yet!) to fully cope with the ever-changing modern world, we can train our brains to make better decisions. This book, perfect to consume in short bursts or on the go, will help.
…sharpen your message and enhance your communication:
- Unleash the Power of Storytelling by Rob Biesenbach – People crave stories and narratives; they’re essential to your business. Biesenbach believes anyone can tell a good story, and with a good story, you can do almost anything: land a client, strengthen relationships, build trust, and so much more. I’ve read a lot of books on the art of storytelling, but this one is the only one that gives you a no-nonsense, step-by-step approach to telling your story and getting results.
- The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh – A classic for a reason, this is the go-to book for many on learning to better communicate, with insight that spans personal, professional, and political relationships.
- Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch – For the first time ever, language is changing not through the way people speak it, but through how people write it. If you’re a linguist, this is huge. If you’re a marketer, this is still huge. This book will give you a deeper understanding of how language works, how ideas and memes spread, and how to take this information and use it.
…build an innovative workplace:
- Why We Work by Barry Schwartz – A concise read that packs a punch. Do incentives lead to better work? Do people only work for the paycheck? Shwartz argues that much of what we assume about why people work is plain wrong, but he offers invaluable insights and advice on building a workplace where people can find meaning and actually deliver their best work. Who doesn’t want that?
- Culture Code by Daniel Coyle – Struggling to motivate or build a collaborative workplace community? Culture Code is an essential how-to for running a successful organization, pulling from studies of some of the most efficient, well-run groups in the world – ranging from comedy groups to sports teams to the Navy SEAL. Coyle argues that culture is at the core of any successful group, no matter the size.
- Cultivating Culture: 101 Ways to Foster Engagement in 15 Minutes or Less by Brad Federman – Can you change your culture and your team in just 15 minutes a day? This book says, yes. In the book, Federman writes “Culture and values, just like the mission of the company, must live and be experienced regularly, if not everyday,” and then he shows you exactly how you can do that at your company. This isn’t your average corporate culture book.
…be a more effective leader:
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard – Written by Patagonia’s founder, this inspiring memoir is a great read for anyone who wants to change the world. Filled with indispensable advice and guidance on management, product design, marketing, and how a business can give back. Chouinard has also just led a fascinating life full of adventure, which makes this book hard to put down once you pick it up.
- Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara – A national bestseller in the US in 2022, Guidara shares how he took a two-star restaurant and turned it into Eleven Madison Park, now named one of the best restaurants in the world. Sharp, funny, and direct, Guidara might be a restaurateur but his experience transcends industry and will help you answer for yourself: how can we be #1?
- How to Be a Leader by Plutarch – Learn from one of the greatest leaders of antiquity. Accessible and perfect to pick up and put down whenever you have a spare moment, Plutarch offers timeless advice on leadership, organization, law, and more. If you think the ancients have nothing to offer today’s leaders and CEOs, this one will surprise you.
Whatever you want out of the next year, these books can be a powerful tool to help you get it. Happy New Year and happy reading!