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Kevin Rustagi

Thanks so much for this wonderful resource Professor!

I've been swapping book titles with friends and I'm so glad that you mentioned 'Give and Take' and 'Made to Stick'. Give and Take has become one of my absolute favorites, and I think Adam Grant did a phenomenal job. I really need to get on top of my stuff and read Thinking Fast and Slow and Influence - keep hearing about those.

One book that I've been sharing a lot (besides Give and Take) is 'The Dip' by Seth Godin. I also really enjoyed 'How Will You Measure Your Life' by Clay Christensen - perhaps your students might like that one?

Can't wait to take your classes next year - just paid my deposit!

All the best,
Kevin Rustagi, GSB '16.

Thank you for maintaining this list! Would you say that there is not a lot of overlap between what is covered in "Creativity Inc." and "The Pixar Touch"? I have not read either yet, I am wondering if I could get most of the story by reading one of the two.


Lori Polachek

Great list, Bob- Thanks!

I would add to the list Judith Glaser's Creating WE and The DNA of Leadership- as road maps, with Inspiring case studies, for dynamic, aspirational, thriving "WE-centric" cultures and leadership-



Deborah Starling

Thank you for these great book suggestions! I have recently started my very own business and I am always searching for ways to effectively lead my staff, balance my work and play, and become successful (obviously!). In my research I was lucky to come across the book by author Bill Sims Jr. Green Beans & Ice Cream ( The author is well known for designing behavior-based recognition and reward programs for companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Disney. He explains the best and the worst ways to motivate people, how to use positive reinforcement correctly, and most importantly how a behavior change can turn around your whole business. The author backs up these practices with anecdotes, examples, and official research. This book is so enjoyable and so inspiring,truly made for all up- and-coming leaders like you and I :) It's helped me a lot and I'm sure you'll enjoy it

Alan Platt

“This runs counter the belief in the business book world at the moment that all books have to be both short and simple.” Your quote, Bob. And it’s so refreshing to read that.
It leads nicely into a new book that to my mind addresses this whole subject of ‘entertaining’ versus ‘meaningful’. I thought you might like to comment on that. Well, you did ask us to pitch in on your list – a great list, by the way.
I just picked up a book with a really boring title, "Street Smart Disciplines of Successful People". It has a subtitle even more sleep-inducing. "7 Indispensable Disciplines For Breakout Business Success". Wow. Pretty snappy.
But I ordered it because the reviews said that it’s written by two guys who actually did it - made a killing in business, then they ran an advisory group for years. Not theorists. Do-ists. A nice change.
And, yes the book is a bit dull. But, like you, I don’t mind that. Like you, substance is what I care about. Seth Godin these guys are not. Clearly they’re not out to entertain or inspire you. Frankly, they don’t even write so well. But what they say is priceless, for my money.
It’s less a book than a manual - two guys telling you how it’s done out there in the real world. It’s not a book to be read and savored – but to be flipped through and referred to. They’ve condensed a ton of wisdom accrued from many sources into those seven ‘disciplines’. And I can’t disagree with any of it. I intend to keep it to hand.
Do you think there’s a place for something like this on the shelf? I do. My feeling is that after you’ve gotten a good kick in the pants from these ‘inspirational’ type books, then what? How do you monetize that? How do you run it?
I would like to think that this book may be part a shift towards more honesty in business writing. I sure hope so. Am I being over optimistic here? I’m tired of glib, clever biz books that are fun to read but…
Anyway, I’d be interested to hear what you think about this. Is old-school the new wave? Is honest tough advice the new slick? I’d love to think so. Your Hard Facts leads in this direction, doesn’t it?


Thanks for the list Bob. I've actually missed quite a few this year -- and your rec's are being added to my Christmas list!

One of my favorite series of business books -- and authors this year is Michelle McQuaid.

She is a spitfire from Australia who is now taking the US by storm. I've already seen her work pop up in Forbes, Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal.

Her two great reads on Amazon are: "What Good Is Positive Business?" and "5 Reasons to Tell Your Boss to Go F**k Themselves."

McQuaid is witty in her approach and she provides invaluable insight into the benefits of using positive psychology in the workplace to get what you want and deserve. I'm living proof it works!


Hi Larry,
While you don't put much stock in organizational research, do you have any favorite books by practioners or leaders that you've found useful in navigating the trenches? I've been reading Deming's Out of the Crisis and front-line experience/skill is something he has emphasized numerous times in the first third of the book. Would be interested in your thoughts (or anyone else's for that matter).


Bob -- I love your blog and I have read all of the books on your list - all superb. I read about 100 to 120 business books a year, and have every year since 1989 - recently I was asked for a list of business books that are the most useful for running a business well. Not theoretical or philosophical -- but more on the practical side -- here is that list:

** In no particular order**

1. In Search of Excellence -- Tom Peters
2. The Little BIG Things – Tom Peters
3. Good to Great -- Jim Collins
4. Built to Last -- Jim Collins
5. What Really Works -- Joyce, Nohria, Roberson
6. The Leadership Challenge -- Kouzes and Posner
7. Authentic Leadership -- Bill George
8. Indispensable – Joe Callaway
9. Becoming a Category of One – Joe Calloway
10. The Discipline of Teams -- Katzenbach and Smith
11. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team -- Patrick Lencioni
12. Team Building (fourth edition) -- Dyer, Dyer and Dyer
13. Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter -- Paul Clarke
14. Kiss Theory Goodbye -- Bob Prosen
15. Mavericks at Work -- Taylor and LaBarre
16. On Becoming a Leader -- Warren Bennis
17. The Great Game of Business -- Jack stack
18. The Starbucks Experience -- Joseph Michelli
19. The New Gold Standard -- Joseph Michelli
20. Customers for Life – Carl Sewell
21. At America's Service -- Karl Albrecht
22. The Northbound Train -- Karl Albrecht
23. Leading People -- Robert Rosen
24. The Definitive Drucker -- Elizabeth Edersheim
25. What the Best CEOs know – Krames
26.Teaching the Elephant to Dan ce -- James Belasco
27. If Aristotle ran General Motors -- Tom Morris
28. The Rockefeller Habits – Vern Harnish
29. The Orange Revolution – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
30. All In – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
31. Nobel Enterprise – Darwin Gillette
32. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
33. Primal Leadership – Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
34. The Leader of the Future – Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith and Richard Beckhard
35. Execution – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
36. Love is the Killer App -- Tim Sanders
37. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
38. Up Your Business -- Dave Anderson
39. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time – Jack Covert and Todd Stattersten
40. Simply Better – Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan
41. Referral Engine – John Jantsch
42. Duct Tape Marketing – John Jantsch
43. Managing with a Conscience – Frank Sonnenberg
44. Six Disciplines Execution Revolution – Gary Harpst
45. Repeatability – James Allen and Chris Zook
46. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
47. The Thank You Economy – Gary Vaynerchuck
48. Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk
49. Firms of Endearment - Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, Jagdish N. Sheth
50. Leading in a Culture of Change- Michael Fullan

I could easily recommend 75 or 80 more, but I think that if you were to read these books they would give you the best overall view on how to build, lead and grow a highly successful organization. If you do not see one of your VERY favorites, please send me a note in case I have not read it yet.


Organizational research is an oxymoron. Having spent 30+myears in the trenches, nonof these books matters. Sorry, Bob.


Thank you for sharing this recommended reading list! As mentioned by someone else, I would absolutely include the Heath brothers' Switch in the list as implementing change is, in many ways, the essence of leadership. They borrow Jonathan Haidt's metaphor of the elephant and rider to illistrate how vital it is to clearly and simply specify the steps to change and to make an emotional connection to the change.
Another book that I've really enjoyed recently is Your Brain at Work by David Rock. I generally avoid "business fiction" but again, I find his metaphor of the actors and stage to be very helpful in diagnosing breakdowns in my own and other's thinking and chock full of practical tips for increasing resilience and effectiveness.


In the same vein as The Path Between the Seas, Richard Rhodes' magisterial The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a gripping, endlessly fascinating account of innovation on the largest scale imaginable.

General Groves and the engineers and scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project built an industry larger than the auto industry in just a few years. Breathtaking.


OMG, I can't believe #6 Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie made the list! AWESOME! I had the pleasure of seeing him present at a corporate function and he was simply brilliant. Maybe even beyond brilliant. Hard to describe, as you mention. But anyone that can create an entire department, within a rather large organization, that no one else knew about is clearly creative! (I have a signed copy of his book -- priceless.....)

Stacey Mason
Mason On Leadership

Chris Sinclair

I would add to this list The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Joseph Kellard

I would recommend the Isaacson bio on Steve Jobs. Here is my review:

Bob Sutton

George, I hope it isn't unclear, I meant it as dig at the The Wisdom of Teams, which I didn't like. I said: "If you want a light feel good romp that isn't very evidence-based, read The Wisdom of Teams."

Thanks! Bob

George Lehman

Bob, did you really wish to call Hackman's book a "light feel good quick romp" or is there perhaps a typo?

- mike

I've found that all of these excellent choices have roots in Peter Drucker's writings. Was he always right? Nope. Do I always agree? Nope.

But most of what he said and wrote is the basis of what came after.

Account Deleted

Thank you, Bob. The good news is it's a great list the bad news is I've a lot of catching up to do.
- Satindra.



This is a great list and thanks for the shout-out to The 100 Best.

Merry Christmas,


Dan Winters

Thanks for the list. My "To be Read" stacks will be growing again. Another book by David McCullough that has tons of lessons for innovation, leadership, and learning is "The Great Bridge". Aso just started reading "Columbus" by Lawrence Bergren. Columbus reminds me a lot of Steve Jobs - so far most lessons are of the what not to do variety.

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