Beach Reads for Business

As you read this I am on vacation, sitting on a beach and doing very little that resembles my normal work routine. In fact, my primary goal for this trip can be summed up in the simple goal of using technology solely to enhance my vacation, and not to distract from it.

To that end, I came armed with six books to read. Mind you these are not electronic versions to be read on a Kindle or iPad, but true ink and pulp versions. I almost grabbed a seventh today when I was browsing a store and found Sheryl Sandberg’s memoir “Lean In” on clearance next to “Dora Learns to Count.” I could not settle on whether to indulge my professional or personal interests so I left empty-handed.

In the spirit of vacation and recharging through learning, I offer up five books (with Amazon descriptions) worth the time for business readers. Each has a place on my office bookcase and provides a different perspective on the business of self- and professional- improvement.


“Nudge” is about choices – how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make (ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources) and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions. In the tradition of “The Tipping Point” and “Freakonomics,” “Nudge” is straightforward, informative, and entertaining; a must-read for anyone interested in our individual and collective well-being.

Wooden on Leadership

John Wooden’s goal in 41 years of coaching never changed. Namely, to get maximum effort and peak performance from each of his players in the manner that best served the team. “Wooden on Leadership” explains step-by-step how he pursued and accomplished this goal. Focusing on Wooden’s 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, it outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization, and shows you how to develop the skill, confidence, and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed” – and teach your organization to do the same.

Leadership and Self-Deception

Through a story everyone can relate to, about a man facing challenges on the job and in his family, the authors of this book expose the fascinating ways we can blind ourselves of our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve success and increase happiness.

The Back of the Napkin

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem.”

So writes Dan Roam in “The Back of the Napkin,” the international bestseller that proves a simple drawing on a humble napkin can be more powerful than the slickest PowerPoint presentation. Drawing on 20 years of experience and the latest discoveries in vision science, Roam teaches readers how to clarify any problem or sell any idea using a simple set of tools.

He reveals that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can’t draw. And he shows how thinking with pictures can help you discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights.

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders

Warren E. Buffett first took control of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a small textile company, in April of 1965. A share changed hands for around $18 at the time. Forty-eight letters to shareholders later, the same share traded for $134,060, and compounding investor capital at just under 21 percent per year – a multiplier of 7,448 times.

This book compiles the full, unedited versions of every one of Warren Buffett’s letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. In addition to providing an astounding case study on Berkshire’s success, Buffett shows an incredible willingness to share his methods and act as a teacher to his many students.

There are hundreds of books about Buffett’s life, advice, and methods. These are his actual letters – word for word – a “lesson plan” of his views on business and investing. You can find most of the letters for free on Berkshire’s website, but this compiles them into a well-designed, easily readable format.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.