Most Impactful Books of 2019
If you know me, there is a good chance that I've given you a book suggestion. After reading about fifty books last year, here's a short summary of the five books that were the most influential.
As in past years, my 2019 reading list was skewed heavily towards leadership and contemplative practice. The year was full of new challenges and opportunities: I bought the entirety of a company from my former partner, brought on a new partner, bought a house, and got engaged. With so many things changing, it was immensely helpful to find literature that addressed my problems, both personally and professionally. While I rarely read books more than once, there are a few books on the list below that I immediately re-read. If these books provide you a fraction of the value that they have provided me, I'd love to hear about it!
15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership - Dethmer, Chapman, & Klemp
This book skillfully synthesizes Eastern wisdom (specifically mindfulness and nonduality) with the best practices in leadership. After reading 15 Commitments, I immediately ordered copies for the Green Hill team and it became my most gifted book of 2019. Personal, professional, and spiritual alignment can be hard to come by and this book is an excellent guide. It's packed full of intuitive, useful paradigms that can be quickly applied. In addition to 15 Commitments, the Conscious Leadership Group has a website with a plethora of free resources. Check it out at conscious.is.
Traction - Gino Wickman
Over the past three years, I've read dozens of books on leadership, marketing, finance, and management. Traction put all of those lessons together in a digestible format and provided a roadmap to incorporating those best practices. After reading Traction, I immediately started implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System, which is taught in Traction, at Green Hill. We hired a professional implementer, Paul Levering, and it was probably the best professional decision I made in 2019 (I'd be in trouble if I said it was the best overall decision, considering I got engaged). If you're in a small to midsize business, especially a new venture, this book is worth its weight in gold. If you dig the EOS model, there are a number of other great books from the same folks: Rocket Fuel, Get a Grip, How to Be a Great Boss, and What the Heck is EOS?
The Four Virtues of a Leader - Eric Kaufmann
Here is another resource that skillfully blends Eastern wisdom with best practices in leadership. I was introduced to Eric Kaufmann by The One You Feed podcast and his definition of conscious leadership hit home: Conscious leadership is combining an unrelenting commitment to results with an unyielding regard to spirit. The Four Virtues of a Leader helped me understand the importance of overcommunicating vision, the difference between leadership and management, and the value of intentionally cultivating emotional intelligence. Kaufmann repeatedly stresses the value of asking, “What am I creating?” This simple question, which I ask myself dozens of times daily, has had a profound impact on my life.
The Surrender Experiment - Michael Singer
Michael Singer's first book, The Untethered Soul, is the book that sparked my interest in the internal world and served as a catalyst for my personal growth and development. The Surrender Experiment is a memoir of Michael's life and the story is truly remarkable. Whether or not you completely buy into the idea of surrendering to the "universal flow," this book is a fascinating look into a remarkable man's life. I've found that just reading one of the short chapters can have a profoundly calming effect. It greatly helped me find peace during a trying financial period professionally and I typically start my day by reading one of the chapters.
The Rosie Result - Graeme Simsion
This is the third book in the Rosie trilogy and like its predecessors, it made laugh, cry, and experience every emotion in between. While I'm not a big consumer of fiction, I found The Rosie Project on one of Bill Gates' reading lists and I decided to give it a read. I read The Rosie Result, like the previous books in the series, in a single day -- it's tough to put down. I'm hoping to take a more leisurely approach to reading in 2020 -- reading for enjoyment, not just because I want to learn something new. The Rosie Result reminded me that reading for fun can be a great way to de-stress and recharge.
Getting Things Done - David Allen
The Coddling of the American Mind - Jonathan Haidt
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind - Shunryu Suzuki
First up in 2020:
Stillness is the Key - Ryan Holiday
The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts - Shane Parrish
The Dark Forest - Cixin Liu