Best Business Books of 2014
(Value Walk) – Whether you are looking for something to buy with that Christmas gift card or whether you simply have some extra time on your hands this week because of the holidays, a new book may be the answer. We have put together a round-up of some of the best business-related books of this past year to serve as your inspiration.
These seven books offer first-hand experience and tips by real business leaders and entrepreneurs. All are insightful, interesting and educational.
Business books – Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspirationby Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
With storytelling and humor, Catmull and Wallace tell the story of Pixar, one of the world’s most innovative companies. You will learn secrets (such as the fact that “Toy Story” was originally slated to be a musical) and will take an amazing look at the inner workings of this creative company and how it has made some of the best-loved movies of all time.
Favorite Quote: “The thesis of this book is that there are many blocks to creativity, but there are active steps we can take to protect the creative process…I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know – not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with to learn the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear. Moreover, successful leaders must embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.”
Business books – The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Rich Karlgaard
Successful companies have great ideas, strategies and execution, but Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard says they also have something else – a soft side that keeps them above the competition. Karlgaard, himself asavvy entrepreneur, explores five keys that comprise this valuable “soft edge.” They are: Trust, Smarts, Teamwork, Taste and Story.
Favorite Quote: “A strong soft-edge culture won’t end budget fights. It can’t stop the eternal battle between the sexes. It won’t entirely reverse the disdain of C.P. Snow’s two cultures. But a soft edge will establish priorities in your company. It will give you the right language to discuss these differences. it will give you strong values to bridge them. It will keep ego-driven conflicts from damaging your company’s performance.”
Business books – Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
In this important and timely book, Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, asks us to rethink the traditional measures for success — money and power. After suffering from the debilitating effects of extreme exhaustion herself, Huffington realized that well-being often takes a backseat to performance when it comes to being a successful businessperson. In this book, she shares scientific and academic research plus her own experiences to help us learn to make time for well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
Favorite Quote: “I’m convinced of two fundamental truths about human beings. The first is that we all have within us a centered place of wisdom, harmony and strength. This is a truth that all the world’s philosophies and religions… acknowledge in one form or another… The second truth is that we’re all going to veer away from that place again and again and again. That’s the nature of life. In fact, we may be off course more often than we are on course.”
Business books – The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson
Self-made billionaire Richard Branson has much to share about his life as an entrepreneur, and his positive, fin-loving nature is a big part of the lesson. Here’s a book on leadership by a dyslexic high school drop-put who admits to never having read a book on leadership in his life. Never one to shy away from the unconventional, Branson offers a fun look at his amazing 40 years in the international business world.
Favorite Quote: “If you’re someone who believes in going your own way and having a lot of fun doing it, then you’re already on the right track and there’s probably very little anyone can say to modify your course more than a few degrees. I’d just urge you to do a lot more listening than talking, don’t be afraid to wear your passion on your sleeve for all to see, and when in doubt, trust your instincts.”
Business books – Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
As a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel is someone who is known for his good business instincts. Here, by way of his former student Blake Masters, Thiel shares his business philosophies in plain and simple fashion. Clear, concise and very readable, this book serves as a how-to manual for any entrepreneur.
Favorite Quote: “When we think about the future, we hope for a future of progress. That progress can take one of two forms. Horizontal or extensive progress means copying things that work – going from ‘1’ to ‘n.’ Horizontal progress is easy to imagine because we already know what it looks like. Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things – going from ‘0’ to ‘1.’ Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something no one else has done.”
Business books – How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
How has Google been able to create a work environment for its employees that is fun, rewarding and efficient? This book by former CEO and current chair Eric Schmidt and former Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg gives us a look inside the Google magic. With tips on how to hire team players, how run effective meetings and how to foster creativity, it’s an interesting read.
Favorite Quote: “When we contrast the traditional knowledge worker with the engineers and other talented people who have surrounded us at Google over the past decade-plus, we see that our Google peers represent quite a different type of employee. They are not confined to specific tasks. They are not limited in their access to the company’s information and computing power. They are not averse to taking risks, nor are they punished or held back in any way when those risky initiatives fail. They are not hemmed in by role definitions or organizations structures; in fact, they are encouraged to exercise their own ideas. They don’t keep quiet when they disagree with something. They get bored easily and shift jobs a lot. They are multidimensional, usually combining technical depth with business savvy and creative flair. In other words, they are not knowledge workers in the traditional sense. They are a new kind of animal, a type we call a ‘smart creative.’”
Business books – The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun
This book is first and foremost a great story. It tells the story of a young man who begins with a mere $25 and ends up helping more than 20,000 students around the world. Adam Braun was well on his way to a successful Wall Street career when he met a young boy who was begging on the streets of India. When the boy responded with “a pencil” when asked what he wanted most in the world, Braun was motivated to change his career path. In 2008 he launched Pencils of Promise, an education non-profit organization. Since then, the group has built 200 schools around the world, and,in this book, Braun shares how he has made an incredible difference in the lives of many young people.
Favorite Quote: “I didn’t have a lengthy career to prove I would succeed. Nor did I have millions of dollars in financial backing. I was just a regular guy with $25 who wanted to prove that regardless of age, status, or location, every person has the capacity to change the world. So I used that small amount to open a new account in hopes of one day building a school. Everything that came after was a result of that first step. That leap of faith rippled outward, spanning cultures and continents.”