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July 23, 2007

News & Opinion: What Books CEOs Read

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:09 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture


Harriet Rubin wrote a piece for the Saturday New York Times titled C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success.

Rubin says that people at the top read things other than business books:
If there is a C.E.O. canon, its rule is this: "Don't follow your mentors, follow your mentors' mentors," suggests David Leach, chief executive of the American Medical Association's accreditation division. Mr. Leach has stocked his cabin in the woods of North Carolina with the collected works of Aristotle.

Forget finding the business best-seller list in these libraries. "I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction," [Michael] Moritz said. "I rarely read business books, except for Andy Grove's 'Swimming Across,' which has nothing to do with business but describes the emotional foundation of a remarkable man. I re-read from time to time T. E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom,' an exquisite lyric of derring-do, the navigation of strange places and the imaginative ruses of a peculiar character. It has to be the best book ever written about leading people from atop a camel."

The libraries of Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, and Sidney Harman all make appearances.

Harriet is also a great person to write this story, having created the Currency imprint at Random House.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.