An influential reading list that has strongly influenced my thinking, my behavior, my compass, and my practices. The following books have been tremendously influential in my professional and personal life. I’m sorting them by usefulness for people who are looking to invest in themselves.
The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh. This book highlights my personal approach to leading teams. Teams where the “network of people” who are aligned to a company’s objective for a “tour of duty” all focus on the task at hand and their future together. It helps explain why Pushing up People and Speed of Trust fit into Silicon Valley’s success paradigm.
Pushing Up People by Art Williams. This book was required reading by my USAF supervisor in 1985. It revolutionized my thinking, how I approach life, and how I approach people. I’m very thankful to SSGT Joseph Smith for forcing me to read this book.
The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything – by Stephen M.R. Covey. Prior influences shaped my thinking on trust. Speed of Trust offered a method to bring others into the joy of a working life where trust dominates the culture.
Speed of Trust is a “must-read” book for anyone working in the cybersecurity field. The principles around the creation of “security trust groups” are based on principles in the Speed of Trust.
SAVVY! The Young Woman’s Guide to Career Success – by Alice Nagle & Luanne Tierney. This is an easy read and guide for all MEN (and Women). Success in business means leveraging 100% all the best talent. That means clearing the path for success for everyone on your team. I’m using this as a checklist of how I’m putting a check on the unconscious biases that creep into my daily interactions with my teams, my peers, and my general interactions.
Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think – by Forrest E. Morgan. Sensei Morgan was the one who shaped my martial discipline. I was privileged to be part of his evolution, be a student of his wisdom, and benefit from his friendship.
After the Warming (James Burke) was broadcasted in 1989, long before the full consequences of climate chaos. This was my wake-up call to what needs to happen, with an intense interest in furthering the cause of the Internet as a tool to interconnect people. This led to work to help with the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, where scientists from all over the world used the Internet to collaborate and realize … this is really bad. The videos are on Youtube (below). Remember, this was produced in 1988-89. It is dated but resonates with what we’re experiencing today.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins. An essential guide for anyone trying to transition, transform, or overhaul an organization. Jim Collins lays out key elements that need to be instilled in the organization. This work has been used in my work in Cisco, Juniper, the Operational Security Communities (the ones battling cybercrime), ISC, and all other organizations I work with. The “toolkit resonates back to the professional leadership training provided by the USAF.
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen. The follow-on book to Good to Great. It adds to the Jim Collins tool kit. Ready Good to Great and Choose to be Great back to back.
Great by Choice was the inspiration behind the “fix broken things” approach for change instigators inside of a large organization.
The Marine Corps Way: Using Maneuver Warfare to Lead a Winning Organization by Jason Santamaria, Vicent Martino Eric Clemons. Lots of companies say we need “strategy.” But, there are hundreds of “strategy books” on the market. The consequence is that organizations cannot align on a single term of “strategy.” That results in people talking past each other, thinking that they are communicating, but in essence, missing each other points as they each from a different “strategy paradigm.” The Marine Corp Way was a book and methodology selected to solve this problem in Cisco Systems in 2006. Its approach works for companies that thrive on aggressive go-to-market sales strategies that require a multi-factored approach.
The Marine Corps ways combined with the Challenger Sales are the core elements of today’s sales success. People ask when I was in Akamai how two people can turn a negative 7% y/y declining product into a positive 10% – 13% positive y/y growth. The tactics in the Marine Corp Ways, the customer interaction with the Challenger Sales, and the “fix broken things” inspired by Jim Collin’s books are the heart.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras. The #1 essential rule book that transformed Singapore Telecom from an “anti-Internet” institution into an organization where all parts embraced the Internet for profit and growth. Chang Wai Leong and I used the lessons in Built to Last and Thriving on Chaos as core tools for SingNet/STIX success. This was my first encounter with the team around Jim Collins. Built to Last’s format was very actionable, allowing the SingNet team to read a section of the book, consult on how we would use it in our efforts, and execute. Other groups in Singapore Telecom would laugh, but they ignored their single-digit y/y growth compared to the double-digit y/y profitable growth built on the Built to Last principles.
The core testament to the lessons in Built to Last is the long-term continued success long after Chang Wai Leong and I moved on to the next challenge. Singapore Telecom’s Internet transformation was “built to last.”
Thriving on Chaos by Tom Peters. The second of three books that were used at Singapore Telecom to instigate the Internet Transformation (i.e. SingNet/STIX). The Internet in 1994 was a chaos-disrupting element throughout the whole world economy. In 1994 people didn’t realize how big of a disruptor the Internet would be to everything. Tom Peter’s business observations of organizations that thrived on chaotic disruptors hold lessons that were used to adapt and thrive in the “Internet Chaos.
One of the core elements Tom Peter’s pointed out in Thriving on Chaos is the power of “big D” and “small d” DIVERSITY. We leveraged diversity at all levels to build a powerful multicultural team where our diversity enabled quick team response and reaction. Tom Peters talks more about this video: STRATEGY: Diversity Wins by Tom Peters.
Principle-Centered Leadership – Stephen R. Covey. One of the three books I used at SingNet/STIX from 1994 to 1997. All of Stephen Covey’s work is impactful and useful to Singapore Telecom’s transformation. Singapore Telecom had all the executives go through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People program in 1994. I choose Principled Center Leadership as a tool to apply in the horizontal and vertical integration of the Internet during a time when everyone in telecom opposed the Internet.
Connections – by James Burke. Connections was a BBC series in the early 80s. James Burke opened my eyes to how networks of interconnected people influence innovation. Collaborative instigation of innovation was learned through James Burke’s creative journey of “connections.”
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel. Reality check – OVER HALF THE HUMAN POPULATION OF THE PLANET IS FEMALE! Impactful success means that us all resources to their fullest. Lois Frankel’s book is a must for anyone who leads people. It highlights the thing your staff will do that will hold each other back and hold themselves back.
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson. Recommended by someone who knew how I liked to build go-to-market plans, “The Challenger Sale” is a better codification of how I approached industry transformational campaigns.
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. This process has become as common as a SWOT analysis. It is more useful than a SWOT, requiring more introspection, research, and understanding of the inter-relationships in business. It can be used for business development, competitive intelligence, business processes, and a range of other activities. People who know how to guide people through BMG are seen as highly connected and respected. Take the time to learn.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. I’ve been through a lot of organizational optimization workshops and processes throughout my carrier. But for the most effective and productive are the guidance in this book. It has evolved over the years, from the workshop by the Covey organization to the detailed consulting today. The best news is that it is compatible with the Agile development approach. The focused approach in 4Dx is a tool for the Agile product owner and scrum master to explain to their executives without having them get lost in scrums and sprints.
Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi & Tahl Raz. Humans are social creatures. You cannot be successful hiding behind E-mail and social media. You need to get out and invest in professional social interactions.
Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.
This would be the first book for learning how to use presentations as powerful communications and transformation tools. All of Nancy’s work is worth studying and pulling into your skills.
Business Model You: A One-Page Method For Reinventing Your Career – by Timothy Clark, Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur. This is a book to get you thinking about yourself, your real value in the market, and to realize you – yourself – have your own “business model.” It also introduces the Osterwalder, approach to business models.
Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want (Strategyzer) – The principles are currently part of the Akamai Edge DNS/GTM transformation from -7% y/y decline to a +10% y/y growth. New features, functions, and capabilities are incremented forward to validate the customer pull (value proposition).
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