This is a whole lot of late, and I’m doing it in a Starbucks (at least I’m sitting by the fireplace, natch!) so it will be a little messy.
The Obvious Choices
Linchpin by Seth Godin.
The Little BIG Things by Tom Peters
Switch by the Heath brothers.
Rather than review/gush all over these individually, I will just say that Seth and Tom have become institutions. Seth has finally written the book he was always hinting at in all his others (message: stop following my instructions and just figure it out! It’s a mystery, but it’s not impossible to figure out). Which may or may not be a killing of the golden goose for him (he could have spent his life pounding out books that walk you through marketing ideas until he was too senile to write them himself; he could have become the Dear Abby of the marketing world. Instead he threw the curtain back, revealed that you were your own wizard, so stop your bitching and get to work). Seth, I know you read this (I attended your seminar in Chicago), so let me say this: keep writing these big books! Stupid like pamphlets and workbooks are for the lesser minions to write. You need to to write bigimportantthoughtprovoking books! Pease!
Tom is coasting, but Tom coasting is like most of us sprinting for miles. He has lived at this level so long, it doesn’t even look revelatory anymore. I mean, can anyone ever top the simple idea that The Work Matters? Not going to happen. He reminds us that we are people and that they way we spend our time should not be about personal profit in the financial sense, but more about pride and love and passion, out of which financial success will come. The press release, the blog post, the web page, the memo, the spreadsheet, the project sheet, all these things we make can be more than just following the rules, it can be magic and love and excitement and interest. If the work really matters, then why the he’ll are you doing this crap?
The Heath brothers, who made a name for themselves with the “this is how a lay person should think like a marketer” book Stick, have switched to a new word: Switch. How to change. Yourself, your office, your coworkers, your relationships, your habits, the nature of how we make changes is that minor topic they cover. They cover it well, with a smattering of persuasion psychology, lizard-brain neurobiology, and rules of thumb. The remind us yet again that work like is part of life, not some separate thing that happens eight-ten hours a day we would like to forget after it’s done, but that it’s all connected, so take the lessons you learn outside work and use them inside it and vice versa.
Books I Loved This Year That I’m Too Lazy to Look at what Date They Were Published
How Did That Happen? By the guys who brought you the “set expectations and validate them” books Oz and Emerald City, comes a book with a lot less gimmick and a lot more real. No need and reread the first two, just skip to this one which summarizes the first two in about ten pages (re-confirming that most business books are 90% filler to part you from your money). The main idea is that we need to stop blaming and start working. Ironically, the person who suggested the books to me is probably most in need of adopting the lesson. Of course, who knows what some of you would say about my book suggestions.
Reread Art of Possibility and Three Laws of Performance. I think I’ll read these annually. I need to re-hear these messages constantly.
Tribal Leadership. The book Logan and team wrote before three laws of performance. More case studies, smaller ideas, but more “doable.”. It’s the book I would recommend to pele who weren’t ready for the big ideas in three laws.
Winning by Jack Welch. I agree with every nasty thing Tom peters has ever said about jack welch. He’s the devil’s project leader, as far as I can tell (sorry Jack Donaghy). But this is a peek inside his warped mind. The tools can and should be used for good, not evil. I expected to scan it, but instead read every word. Totally not the self-aggrandizing crap the first book was, this one is really a workbook on how to get the most of of teams, assuming you don’t care about them as people.
Rework. I suggested this to my boss and he seems to have missed the point. To paraphrase his response: if you’ve started a small business, this is all 100% obvious. Yes, but if you are a cubicle worker, and haven’t learned these lessons, they are invaluable.