Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Reading Gladwell is like watching a movie and reading an academic journal all at once. Your brain is exercised and entertained, your perspective changed. In Blink, Gladwell explores how first impressions affect decisionmaking.
Hardball by George Stalk and Rob Lachenauer
Some of the world’s preeminent business strategists lay out a bold, some may say harsh, vision for success in this age: Hardball players do what it takes to win.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
You have a choice: Continue in a bloody battle of diminishing returns against your competitors or innovate and find a “blue ocean” where the market is yours to dominate. Our story on Cirque du Soleil illustrates this strategy beautifully.
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
The brilliantly contrarian book that made economics cool.
The Flight of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
Luring scientists, engineers, artists, cultural creatives, managers, and professionals is the key to vital communities that produce tremendoous wealth. And the United States’ recent policies and actions, says Florida, may be driving them away. We recently put the spotlight on some up-and-coming Fast Cities around the world–and in the U.S.
A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
The best hedge against having your job offshored is exercising your right brain. Creativity isn’t easily replaced, and Pink shows us how to develop those muscles.
Return on Customer by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
The deans of customer relationship building argue that we need a new metric to make sure that customers aren’t shortchanged when short-term pressures lead to compromising our customer-centric focus.
The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
Is your boss a psychopath? Here’s how to find out.
The 10 Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman
The general manager of leading design firm Ideo tells you how to develop the right people-centric tools, talents, or personas for innovation.
Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom
What’s your brand smell like? Thinking of branding as five-sense proposition is a provocative way to rethink how you present your product or company in the world.
Smartbomb by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby
The videogame industry is full of colorful characters–and always has been. If you can’t get your hands on an XBox 360–or even if you can–some perspective on how and why videogames became big business is worth the time spent away from the console.
Get Them On Your Side by Samuel B. Bacharach
Many of the books on this list help you come up with the great idea. This book helps you get that idea to see the light of day. A powerful primer on succeeding politically in the workplace.
The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman
In the next iteration of globalization–or “Globalization 3.0,” as Friedman calls it, what matters most is the empowerment of individuals to both collaborate and compete across geographies, anytime and all the time. Software and telecommunications has made us all both next-door neighbors and intimate rivals. This is as true for IT programmers in Silicon Valley and Bangalore as it is for terrorists in
Pakistan. That’s a prospect both electrifying and terrifying.
Brand Hijack by Alex Wipperfurth
What if your marketing plan doesn’t actually involve any marketing? A surprising consideration of what truly makes your brand successful: Getting others to do your marketing for you.
In the Bubble by John Thackara
As much as we’re living in the age of a design renaissance, we’re also awash in a lot of bad design. A compelling manifesto against the “schlock of the new” and a passionate argument for more simple, but powerful design.
Candyfreak by Steve Almond.
Hey, if I’m putting this up here, allow me my favorite fun book of the year. Part memoir, part picaresque journey into the fringes of the candy business, it’s a telling exploration of why we don’t have as much local flavor in our product choices as we used to. You can also read it as a study of how to compete in the shadow of giants. But don’t strain yourself too hard that way or you’ll miss all the fun.
Word Spy by Paul McFedries.
A smart, fun look at how new words enter our culture.
The Allure of Toxic Leaders by Jean Lipman-Blumen.
We’re sick of having to call out toxic leaders and if we as a society did a better job of identifying them early and not putting books by them #5 on their best books of the year list, then work life for so many people wouldn’t be so awful.
Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need by Pamela Danziger.
One of the smarter books on understanding and predicting consumer behavior this year.
Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin.
If you read Purple Cow and wanted to make a remarkable product of your own but needed some guidance, this is the book for you.
Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill.
Another deft exploration of our retail realm, this time our fortresses of specialty retail, department store dinosaurs, and food courts.
The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.
It’s just plain common sense folks: Put your heads together.
Unstuck by Keith Yamashita.
Just a simple, well-designed book that can help anyone or any team rethink how they got in a rut and what they can do to get out of it.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
It’s not a leadership book, per se, but it’s the best study of leadership this year.
Managers Not MBAs by Henry Mintzberg.
The management theorist strikes a nerve in this critique of B-school education and our overreliance on it. We certainly got a lot of angry letters from MBA candidates who might have had to wait a moment to ponder if they were throwing away two years of their life.
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad.
Simply the most important book of the year. There’s so much poverty in the world, and by doing good, we have the potential to do well.