Confessions of a Glue Sniffer
Don't worry, we have not picked up a new bad habit, a recent trip to the library had me opening up a new book, and the combination of the adhesives and paper gave off a smell that made me smile. If you can imagine that smell right now, then you might really enjoy this edition.
When it comes to summer reading, word of mouth seems important. We just don’t want to make a book purchase and end up with a dud. With that in mind this edition of Branches & Roots is focused on 12 book ideas for the 12 weeks of summer. We hope you find one of our selections interesting and that you find the time to read (or like many of us listen to the book) while the days are long and the nights are short.
We have divided up the recommendations into five categories:
Most of these books are not new but they all were worth the investment of time, money and enrichment a good book can bring.
Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono
De Bono has 57 books to his credit and at 85 years of age has spent a lifetime working on how humans think and communicate. Lateral Thinking is from 2015 and is an easy read, perfect for anyone who wants to balance the linear thinking taught in most schools or companies with a different discipline.
If you have children or grandchildren that are middle school age or higher, de Bono’s concepts may be timely.
YOU and OTHERS
Friend of a Friend by David Burkus
Burkus is making a great contribution to the current generation of college graduates and in this brand new book does a proficient job in helping the reader realize how to look at their relationships. A key insight from the book is to think of yourself as not owning a network of people, rather, we are all embedded in an network of relationships which is always changing.
We agree with his perspective and constantly attempt to seek ways to contribute to our network, and are consistently amazed by the outcomes.
A new college graduate might benefit from this book. As an aside, we serve the college graduate community with our “How to Land a Killer Job” out of college course at www.drewsanders.com/courses.
Measure What Matters by John Doerr
John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins fame shares the operating system that Andy Grove taught him while he was at Intel. He has used this framework with great success with companies like Google and The Gates Foundation. We found the book to be excellent, and the audio book amazing in that the people in the story read their own parts.
As you head into the summer and are looking for a way to have more of your front-line people and their managers think and act well, we can't imagine a better business read. Prior to this book we have been helping clients implement our Banyan frameworks for execution. Now with this work in the public domain we will be tweaking our templates in a 'tip of the cap' back to the mastery of Peter Drucker and Andy Grove.
This is a timely book for people who are leading others.
One Man's Meat by E.B. White
White, of “Charlotte’s Web” fame was a writer from the northeast who left Manhattan and moved to Maine to live on a small farm. He wrote about it for Harpers Weekly, and the collection of these essays “One Man’s Meat” has been in print for over 55 years.
This book is easy to have on the bed stand because the lifting is light in both subject matter and duration. Each essay is only 3-7 pages long. White’s reflections struck us as timeless. He is writing in the late 1930’s and into the early 40’s, a time of international tension. His efforts to run the farm and his ability to correlate those experiences into life for the reader amidst the current tension is applicable today.
If you aren’t sure the world is going to be around tomorrow, or know someone who is up in arms currently, this could be their perfect summer read.
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
Heat-Moon’s writing could create the beginning of at least ten songs per page. His observations of people and places and their interdependence astound. What struck us about his telling of what he saw and heard while driving the United States in the 1970’s was the practicality of the American public. Put these observations through the lens of 40 years of history and it could give those in a current state of flux a reason for hope. The writing is robust, his angst is present, but not overpowering, and the historical insight into our countries people is refreshing.
Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr
Luke Barr is the grandnephew of noted food writer M.F.K. Fisher. He stumbles across her journal of a trip to France in 1970 in a storage unit in Hayward, California and discovers that some of the people who changed food in America were all there together by chance. Julia Child and James Beard joined Fisher that winter. They were the leading voices in the American food world, and during that season in the South of France they charted a new course for cuisine.
Barr sets the stage for the encounter with the touch that only a family member can, and the direct quotes from Fishers journal reveal her grace and strong perspective. This book might be for the foodie in your life who wants to be connected back to a historical moment that, according to the author, changed our habits even to this day.
Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday
Conspiracy is an uncomfortable book. It dives into the current events and legal battle between Peter Thiel and Gawker Media. The first and fourth amendments have been getting a thorough cleaning by the lawyers in this case, and the ramifications can impact us all.
Not only is the legal battle of interest, the author is one of the leading influencers of young professionals and is an avid stoic. Holiday will be influencing professionals for decades with his growing following in the hundreds of thousands.
Read it, don't read it, but our laws make our rules, and the people who seek power like to change our laws. Questions that come out of this book are challenging. Should we conspire? Is it a bad word?
While this book is a look back at previous events, we view it as a look into our future, as the actions of a politically active billionaire in his 40’s might be viewed as a prologue.
The Four by Scott Galloway
Galloway is a successful early 50’s business school professor at NYU who also calls himself a serial entrepreneur. This book might be interesting to anyone who is using a smart phone, shopping online, socializing online, or searching online. Basically that is all of us.
Here is the twist. Galloway, while giving us the cool details about the companies, then comes out and suggests that we the public and the U.S. government have been giving them a business pass. He suggests we need to keep them in check, that they have gotten too big and we need to channel our inner Teddy Roosevelt and break these behemoths up.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal - Tech Titans Tiptoe Towards Monopoly - touches exactly on this subject and the historical similarities of previous monopolies with these modern giants.
Galloway likes to write things that make you ponder. This book does just that.
LEARNING FROM THE LIVES OF OTHERS
Boyd by Robert Coram
John Boyd is said to have changed the art of war in the sky. Author Robert Coram takes us deep into the mind and daily life of the famous fighter pilot turned airplane designer and Air Force pentagon politico. The historical look at how our government was assigning contracts and how the different branches of military were fighting for budget is an eye opener.
Another key learning from the book is the OODA loop that Boyd created and preached to all his followers. Observe, Orient, Decide, & Act was a matter of life and death for Boyd as a fighter pilot. He lived his extraordinary and chaotic life by the loop and the simple decision to do versus be as an Air Force officer.
Military buffs and business leaders will enjoy this book.
Scalia Speaks by Antonin Scalia
A medley of Antonin Scalia's speeches were compiled this year in the book "Scalia Speaks" and are presented by one of his sons. The chance to reflect on his life and his decisions is perfect during the summer. He thought well, wrote well, and loved people and America.
Would we all be so lucky to live like Justice Scalia and to make the contribution we were meant to make? This book is another light read as you are taken to a variety of locations and you can read a speech at a siting. The subject matter is actually lighter than you might think coming from a Supreme Court Justice, and his wit keeps you turning the pages with ease.
Personal History by Katherine Graham
This book is getting some fresh press with the success of the movie The Post with Meryl Streep playing Graham. Graham won a Pulitzer Prize for this book when it came out in 1998 and she died three years later. The 20 years have allowed her actions and leadership to come into a brighter light. History will be kind to Graham and she earned it.
Some of our insights from the book are that leading is a selfless and selfish act at the same time. Leaders and their followers, when in sync, are in a state of consensual interdependence. We think learning from Graham will help anyone aspiring to take up the charge of leading others.
Without Precedent by Joel Richard Paul
The story of our country's beginnings and the lives of its leaders becomes more astounding as we stack decade upon decade on their thinking and actions. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton have been receiving much of the attention.
Yet the low cousin of Thomas Jefferson might be worth our attention. The author Joel Paul makes the case that our three branch system might not have existed if not for the strong will and mind of John Marshall.
Marshall’s personal life and adventures are of interest, as are the feuds with President Jefferson as the courts grew from a group of traveling deciders into the keeper of the constitutional conscience.
Anyone interested in the history of law and our countries founding will enjoy this book.
We will be back in July with more leadership and team building insights. Until then happy reading....or listening!
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