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Steve's 5 Favourite Business Books

How do I define a favourite book? When I go back to it three times or more to reference its key messages.

How do I define a favourite book? When I go back to it three times or more to reference its key messages. And no…The Cat In The Hat did not make the list.

1. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

I’m a big believer in stealing successful ideas. This book examines 11 companies that made the good-to-great transition. The lessons contained are applicable to any organization. First Sentence: “Good is the enemy of great.”

2. Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, by Michael A. Ledeen

I first read this book 20 years ago and fully admit I’m a closet history buff. Niccoló Machiavelli was a 16th Century Italian political thinker and historical figure best remembered for his masterpiece, The Prince, written in 1513. First Sentence: “If you’re going to lead, you’ve got to fight.”

3. The One Thing You Need to Know, by Marcus Buckingham

This book has nothing to do with Curly from the movie City Slickers. Rather, this book helps you filter the many options, opportunities and pressures to focus on your best strategy. First Sentence: “Get me to the core.”

4. What Sticks, by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart

Why most advertising fails and how to guarantee your success. My favorite lesson from this book: in a business competition, culture will eat strategy for lunch. If you have a great strategy but a bad culture, you’ll lose. First Sentence: “Marketing is failing: CEOs sense it; top markets know it; and our research proves it.”

5. The Art of War, by Sun-tzu

I first read this book after seeing the movie Wall Street in the 80s. The original book has hundreds of translations and has spawned a number of books that analyze its contents. My edition was translated by Ralph D. Sawyer. The first sentence comes after 160-plus pages of introduction, historical background, summary of the Dynastic Periods and notes on the translation itself. First Sentence: “Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way (Tao) to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.”

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