The Top 10 Books of 2016
I’ve been lucky enough to read some great books this year, mixed in with some total duds.
Buying books can feel like a gamble, but the winners make it all worthwhile.
Here are the ten standouts – books that I highly, highly recommend, and which have been worth so much more than what I paid for them.
This Christmas, treat yourself to one or two that catch your eye, or give one to a friend (and ask to borrow it when they’re done).
10. The Ideal Team Player – Patrick Lencioni
Patrick’s new book is centred on the three attributes that make someone great to work with (Spoilers; you need to be Humble, Hungry and Socially Smart).
Told as one of his famous fables, he demonstrates the power of each attribute, and what happens when one is missing.
A practical, memorable lesson, his words have stuck with me all year.
9. Widgets – Rod Wagner
Rod cuts through the traditional HR fluff and bureaucracy, and replaces it with insightful, common sense approaches to the challenges of every workplace.
The book focuses on treating people like people instead of assets or resources, and it’s hard to fault Rod’s thinking.
A great book for those who are currently scaling up their organisation.
8. Design A Better Business – Patrick van der Pilj et al.
If you asked me about what it’s like to work and teach at The Difference Incubator, I would tell you to read this book.
The content is fantastic, albeit brief.
I highly recommend the approach and the tools that are outlined, then suggest you pick your favourite parts to research in more detail.
The team have captured the essence of business model design and the creative process, and added in a whole stack of tools you won’t have seen before.
7. Crazy is a Compliment – Linda Rottenberg
This was a delight to read: a whole stack of stories about startups and entrepreneurs across the world.
Some are famous, some aren’t, both are great.
Genuine implementable wisdom, and a book you’ll actually finish – an excellent combination. Perfect for the social entrepreneur.
6. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
A book that hits you right between the eyes.
Jocko and Leif are former Navy SEALS who now teach leadership practices across the world – and they’re great storytellers.
If you only want to read part of it, read the first 1/3rd of the book, the concept of “absolute ownership” is remarkable and will change how you think about your work.
5. Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
It’s rare that a book keeps me up until 1:30am on a weeknight, but Shoe Dog was so entertaining and gripping.
A raw, funny, honest autobiography from the creator of Nike, a brand I used to disdain but now love.
A contender for the best business biography ever written, a joy to read.
This would be a great present for entrepreneurs, runners or sneakerheads.
4. Keating – Kerry O’Brien
I heard Jordan Shanks recount a Paul Keating story (about the time Keating “freestyled” a new policy during Parliament) and I was immediately intrigued.
I knew nothing about Keating going in, and learning about what he did for our country left me stunned.
I’d now rate him up there Churchill and Obama, a bold visionary leader.
I also started with a dislike for Kerry O’Brien, but his interview style is so engaging, and the way he calls Keating out throughout the book is excellent.
Highly, highly recommend for Australians between 21 and 30, especially if you’ve have a slight interest in politics and development.
3. Universal Principles of Design – William Lidwell et al.
One of the most captivating, fascinating books I’ve read.
This is a book that explains the subtle forces that shape our decisions and our lives.
It will change how you think, and will give you some good ideas about how to improve your business, your house and your communications.
This would make a great coffee table book, easy to pick up and hard to put down.
2. The War of Art/Do The Work – Steven Pressfield
I loved The War of Art and its sequel, and highly recommend them as a set.
The first half of The War of Art is one of the most profound books on the creative process I’ve encountered, and Do The Work is an inspirational guide for how a professional gets things done. Steven Pressfield is brutal, honest and encouraging, and his books are ideal for creatives, writers and entrepreneurs.
1. Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
My favourite book of 2016.
Ryan packs so much wisdom into quite a small book, with each principle demonstrated with captivating historical examples.
Ryan argues that our egos derail our noblest plans, and he makes a compelling case.
I suspect this is one of the rare business books that will stand true for the next 50 years.
It will make you a much more effective leader, and is a pleasure to read.