5 business books to read this Summer

So the great Summer get-away has begun – and if you’re anything like me, it’s probably one of your only opportunities for some interruption-free reading.

You’ve probably already packed a few poolside blockbusters (or downloaded them onto your Kindle) – but what about adding a few business books to the mix?

When you’re relaxed and away from the daily distractions of work, it can be a great time to catch up on the latest management thinking, refresh your ideas and get yourself motivated for the second half of the year.

To date, 2016 has been a lively year in the business publishing world, with some ‘must-reads’ either already hitting the bookshelves or due to come out soon. Here are five that are on my reading list for the Summer:

1. that's not how we do it hereThat’s Not How We Do It Here: A story about how organisations rise and fall – and can rise again

John Kotter and Holger Rathberger

What’s not to like about a book that uses a story about meerkats to get across some sound advice about how organisations can tackle adversity and come out stronger the other side? Kotter and Rathberger (authors of the best-selling ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’), tell the tale of a clan of meerkats who live in a well-organised and efficient colony in the Kalahari. Everything in the garden (or the desert) is lovely – until suddenly a new type of predator comes along. Peace is shattered, everything starts to fall apart and the colony is forced to rethink its long-held structure and processes. The authors use this cautionary tale to examine why organisations often struggle and fall – even if they have been successful in the past – and what they can do to rise again.


ted talks2. TED Talks: The Official TED guide to public speaking

Chris Anderson – Head of TED.

Not many of us will get to walk onto the TED stage, but most of us will have to make a presentation at some time; whether it’s to convince the board of our latest proposal or to get staff on board with a new initiative. It’s a prospect that strikes fear into the heart of many. So, who better to learn from than Chris Anderson from TED (the organisation devoted to spreading new ideas through short, powerful talks). Anderson shares his five key techniques to presentation success (connection, narration, explanation, persuasion and revelation) as well as the three things you should avoid. The book includes presentation tips from some leading speakers and also answers some presentation FAQ’s, from ‘what should I wear’ to ‘how do I handle my nerves.’


the 100 year life3. The 100-year Life: Living and working an age of longevity 

Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott

Is the thought of working for 60 or 70 years depressing or exciting? As life expectancies rise, and changes to pension legislation start to hit home, people will be living and working much longer than ever before. As an HR professional, have you thought about the implications of what is rapidly becoming a four generation workforce? People well past conventional retirement age are working alongside today’s young digital natives.

In ‘The 100 year life’, Gratton and Scott look at how we all need to rethink our finances, education, career and relationships to create a fulfilling 100-year life. The book is a wake-up call not just for individuals, but also for firms and governments who will have to radically rethink the way work and society is organised.


grit4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth

I’ve long been fascinated by the work of psychologist Angela Duckworth, who has been leading cutting-edge research into who succeeds in life and work and why. In her book, she explains why naturally talented people often fail to reach their potential, while other far less gifted individuals can go on to achieve amazing things. The secret, she suggests, is not talent but passion and perseverance – in other words, ‘grit’.

The book argues that grit can be learned, regardless of your IQ or circumstances, and looks at how it is cultivated in the highest performing sports teams, companies and schools. For those who’d like to get more gritty themselves, you can find out more about her formula for success, which focuses on six key factors: hope, effort, precision, passion, ritual and prioritisation. Definitely one to read while you’ve got the sand between your toes.


How to thrive as a working woman5. How to Thrive and Survive as a Working Woman: The coach-yourself toolkit 

Fiona Elsa Dent and Viki Holton.

With apologies to male readers, I’ve added this book which aims to help women get more ‘career savvy.’ Authors Dent and Holton point out that women are so often focused on proving themselves and doing a good job, that they overlook the need to plan and manage their careers. Being more strategic and having a clear plan, they argue, will give you a better chance of realising your career ambitions and achieving a more satisfying working life. The book is deliberately not about getting to the top or breaking the glass ceiling, because that’s not what everyone wants. Lots of tools and techniques here to help the reader navigate challenges and barriers, fulfil their potential and work out what success looks like for them.

Have a great Summer – and happy reading!

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