January 23, 2009

News & Opinion: The First Five Books for Those New To Business

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 5:38 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

There was a post in Twitter last week with someone asking what five business books should be recommended to someone entering the workforce. I wasn't able to go back and find the post, but the question has been lingering with me as we approach the launch of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

Where to start? It depends on so many things. What newcomers to the world of business lack is not knowledge, but experience. That can makes books a problematic choice for green, just out of the gate graduates, brimming with academic theory.

As I think about it though, the best business books relate stories and through those stories the experiences of others. The good ones also provide context, putting the pieces together in a different way or providing narrative that helps us see the things we already know in a new light.

The five books below provide wisdom for those starting their careers in business. They may also be a good reminder for the rest of us:

  • Financial Intelligence - The authors describe financial information as the nervous system of any business and newly minted grads understand debits and credits, while missing the broader point of the matching principle. Financial Intelligence is the book to help anyone understand accounting and its implications on business, much needed context for anyone who wants to be successful.
  • What The CEO Wants You To Know by Ram Charan - This books covers some of the same ground but at a much higher level. You may even want to read it before Financial Intelligence for its 50,000 foot view of the really big ideas in business. The book is also small and short, making for a quick accessible read. Jack recommends two handouts for new employees: the company manual and What The CEO Wants You To Know.
  • StrengthFinder 2.0 - Focus on what you are good at, says the folks at Gallup. The book comes with a code for the online test that assesses you and provides your top five strengths with descriptions of what you can further do to improve and embrace them. I think this is a great step toward finding your personal purpose.
  • Influence and Made To Stick - You are always trying to convince someone of something in business, whether its the hiring manager or customer who just isn't sure. Both of these books are required reading. I will say no more.
  • Six Thinking Hats - Have you ever been in a conversation and realize that the other person is not have the same conversation you are? The both of you arrive at that point with different concerns. Edward De Bono is good at showing us new ways to look at things and he says there are six ways of thinking. And if you are in a team meeting, you need to all be in the same mode. The basis of everything is communication and if it is not happening, nothing is happening.