Everyone loves a good book recommendation, so here’s a list of current favourites from some of our Business Doctors. Inspirational biographies feature strongly, from IT pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley to England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward. Journalist, broadcaster and former table tennis pro Matthew Syed gets a mention, as does young entrepreneur James Sinclair.
Sandra Murphy, Business Doctor for the Sussex Coast, has two recommendations:
Let IT Go: the memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley
(Richard Askwith 2012)
Dame Shirley started her own software business in the 1960s, at a time when women weren’t allowed to open bank accounts without their husbands’ permission. She was one of the first people to recognise that software sold separate to hardware was the future. Stephanie employed only women looking to return to work after having children, on a freelance or job share basis, effectively flexible working at a time when it was unheard of. She had to start employing men in the 1970s when the discrimination act of 1975 became law. She used to sign her sales letters Steve Shirley rather than Stephanie Shirley because she got a better response if people thought she was a man and gave away her fortune to good causes long before Bill Gates. What’s perhaps the most incredible part of all this is that she did all of this while bringing up a severely autistic son with little or no recognition of what the condition was or help available.
Playing Big: Find your voice, your mission, your message
(Tara Mohr 2014)
This is essentially a book written for women, but any man who employs women should be forced to read it! Playing Big tackles how women often hold back their own career progression through lack of self belief and by being overly self critical.
It’s one of those books that every woman I know who has read it comes away saying “has she been living inside my head listening to all my thoughts, doubts and insecurities for the last 20/30/40 years”
Lincolnshire & Rutland Business Doctor David O’Brien says he has been entertained and inspired by two stories about people from different spheres who think differently, champion innovation and have the determination to challenge and change the way things happen: Elon Musk and Sir Clive Woodward.
“Musk is a visionary big picture thinker who is able to translate sci-fi style ideas into concrete actions to achieve amazing things. Woodward had one clear goal (to win the rugby world cup) and used his business background to kick aside the status quo and reach his target – with a gripping final scene,” he says.
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future is a 2015 biography by Ashlee Vance. This book charts how Musk started out as a bright kid in apartheid South Africa, followed his dream to North America, made a dotcom fortune from Paypal and invested it in electric cars and consumer space travel, when both of these ideas seemed the stuff of dreams. The story gives a fascinating insight into the mind and behaviours of a true entrepreneur who wants to change the world – and probably will.
Winning by Sir Clive Woodward was published in 2004 and I re-read this book every couple of years. It always brings new context to what I am working on at the time. Winning is a mix of the sporting autobiography of a maverick and a business template for creating successful teams. Woodward’s quest for new knowledge and new ideas is mixed with a rare attention to detail and a stubbornness of purpose, which created a winning formula that took England to the pinnacle of world rugby. The lessons of teamship, CNE’s (critical non-essentials), T-CUP (thinking correctly under pressure) and the power of doing 100 things one percent better are transferable to any business environment.
The Millionaire Clown: The rules for making it in business, entrepreneurship and leadership by James Sinclair (2015) is the top read of David Hill, Slough & Maidenhead’s Business Doctor. He says: “This book has a lot of no nonsense, practical yet achievable tips on building a business from someone who has ‘trodden the path’.
“Written by someone who has built a successful business empire, it relates real lessons from his own journey over the last 10 years and I found I could identify with many of his thoughts, some of which I use to help other business owners now.
Andy Mee, Business Doctor for Oxfordshire & North Buckinghamshire has this to say about Matthew Syed’s 2015 classic Black Box Thinking:
“In his pivotal second book, Syed pulls apart organisational culture and emphasises how important it is to create a culture of learning from your mistakes. He compares and contrasts how the airline industry does everything it can to learn from plane crashes as opposed to healthcare, where the culture is more one of cover up.”
Finally, Leeds and North Yorkshire Business Doctor Simon Monaghan suggests people check out the Blinkist app if they are interested to digest bite sized summaries of the biggest business reads, in audio or text format. You can read one book a day for free, or pay a subscription of $49.99/year for unlimited access.