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March 5, 2018

New Releases: Business Books to Watch in March

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 11:15 AM – Filed under: Big Ideas & New Perspectives, Current Events & Public Affairs, Innovation & Creativity, Leadership & Strategy, Management & Workplace Culture, Marketing & Sales, Narrative & Biography, Personal Development & Human Behavior, Publishing Industry

We've never had more than 20 books on any monthly books-to-watch list. It is often challenging to pare it down to 20, but never impossible—until now.

March is a monster month in business book publishing this year. It was a challenge to keep this list to 28 titles, and some very worthy books had to be left off. 

In order of their release dates, here are the books we're hoping to become more acquainted with this month. (Remember this post for the leaner publishing months of summer.)

Clarity First: How Smart Leaders and Organizations Achieve Outstanding Performance by Karen Martin, McGraw-Hill

Award-winning business performance improvement and Lean management expert Karen Martin shows today’s leaders how to eliminate ambiguity, and embrace transparency, truth, and tenacity to optimize performance at every level.

Throughout her global consulting work, popular book tours, keynote speeches, and work with thousands of leaders and improvement leaders, Karen has been hearing the same questions: How can we achieve our organization’s performance goals more easily? How can we align the organization around a single strategy? How can we, as leaders, provide better context and establish a clear call to action? The answer is Clarity First, a practical and powerful approach to operating a business in a way that eliminates the ambiguity and confusion that makes work more difficult than it needs to be, creates a poorer customer experience, and hurts the bottom line.

With simple but sharp-focused clarity, Martin shines a much-needed light on the most common business management and leadership problems that can hamper performance, offering specific solutions and field-tested strategies that can dramatically improve your operations and overall performance. Leaders will learn how to gain the clarity they need to make better decisions and lead more effectively, and how to be more direct, decisive, and purposeful when communicating so that their teams will be more clearly inspired to follow their lead. When it comes to achieving organizational excellence, every great leader needs Clarity First.

The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders by Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell, and Tahl Raz, Currency

Based on an in-depth analysis of over 2,600 leaders drawn from a database of more than 17,000 CEOs and C-suite executives, as well 13,000 hours of interviews, and two decades of experience advising CEOs and executive boards, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell overturn the myths about what it takes to get to the top and succeed. 

Their groundbreaking research was the featured cover story in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. It reveals the common attributes and counterintuitive choices that set apart successful CEOs—lessons that we can apply to our own careers.

Much of what we hear about who gets to the top, and how, is wrong. Those who become chief executives set their sights on the C-suite at an early age. In fact, over 70 percent of the CEOs didn’t have designs on the corner office until later in their careers. You must graduate from an elite college. In fact, only 7 percent of CEOs in the dataset are Ivy League graduates—and 8 percent didn't graduate from college at all. To become a CEO you need a flawless résumé. The reality: 45 percent of CEO candidates had at least one major career blowup.

What those who reach the top do share are four key behaviors that anyone can master: they are decisive; they are reliable, delivering what they promised when the promise it, without exception; they adapt boldly, and they engage with stakeholders without shying away from conflict.

Based on this breakthrough study of the most successful people in business, Botelho and Powell offer career advice for everyone who aspires to get ahead. Based on research insights illustrated by real life stories from CEOs and boardrooms, they tell us how to:

  • Fast-track our career by deploying the career catapults used by those who get to the top quickly.
  • Overcome the hidden handicaps to getting the job we want.
  • Avoid the 5 hazards that most commonly derail those promoted into a new role.

For everyone who aspires to rise up through the organization and achieve their full potential, The CEO Next Door is an essential guide.

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames, Harper Business

The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans, Portfolio

If you loved Hidden Figures or The Rise of the Rocket Girls, you’ll love Claire Evans’ breakthrough book on the women who brought you the internet—written out of history, until now.

“This is a radically important, timely work,” says Miranda July, filmmaker and author of The First Bad Man. The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers—but from Ada Lovelace, who wrote the first computer program in the Victorian Age, to the cyberpunk Web designers of the 1990s, female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation.

In fact, women turn up at the very beginning of every important wave in technology. They may have been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don’t even realize, but they have always been part of the story.

VICE reporter and YACHT lead singer Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the internet what it is today.

Seek inspiration from Grace Hopper, the tenacious mathematician who democratized computing by leading the charge for machine-independent programming languages after World War II. Meet Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler, the one-woman Google who kept the earliest version of the Internet online, and Stacy Horn, who ran one of the first-ever social networks on a shoestring out of her New York City apartment in the 1980s.

Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. This inspiring call to action shines a light on the bright minds whom history forgot, and shows us how they will continue to shape our world in ways we can no longer ignore.

Welcome to the Broad Band. You’re next.

Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First by Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey, Harvard Business Review Press

Radical Advice for Reinventing Talent—and HR.

Most executives today recognize the competitive advantage of human capital, and yet the talent practices their organizations use are stuck in the twentieth century. Typical talent-planning and HR processes are designed for predictable environments, traditional ways of getting work done, and organizations where "lines and boxes" still define how people are managed. As work and organizations have become more fluid—and business strategy is no longer about planning years ahead but about sensing and seizing new opportunities and adapting to a constantly changing environment—companies must deploy talent in new ways to remain competitive.

Turning conventional views on their heads, talent and leadership experts Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey provide leaders with a new and different playbook for acquiring, managing, and deploying talent—for today's agile, digital, analytical, technologically driven strategic environment—and for creating the HR function that business needs. Filled with examples of forward-thinking companies that have adopted radical new approaches to talent (such as ADP, Amgen, BlackRock, Blackstone, Haier, ING, Marsh, Tata Communications, Telenor, and Volvo), as well as the juggernauts and the startups of Silicon Valley, this book shows leaders how to bring the rigor that they apply to financial capital to their human capital—elevating HR to the same level as finance in their organizations.

Providing deep, expert insight and advice for what needs to change and how to change it, this is the definitive book for reimagining and creating a talent-driven organization that wins.

3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop's Multibillion-Dollar Rise by Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Little, Brown and Company

Tracing the careers of hip-hop's three most dynamic stars, this deeply reported history brilliantly examines the entrepreneurial genius of the first musician tycoons: Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z.

Being successful musicians was simply never enough for the three kings of hip-hop. Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z lifted themselves from childhood adversity into tycoon territory, amassing levels of fame and wealth that not only outshone all other contemporary hip-hop artists, but with a combined net worth of well over $2 billion made them the three richest American musicians, period. Yet their fortunes have little to do with selling their own albums: between Diddy's Ciroc vodka, Dre's $3 billion sale of his Beats headphones to Apple, and Jay-Z's Tidal streaming service and other assets, these artists have transcended pop music fame to become lifestyle icons and moguls.

Hip-hop is no longer just a musical genre; it's become a way of life that encompasses fashion, film, food, drink, sports, electronics and more—one that has opened new paths to profit and to critical and commercial acclaim. Thanks in large part to the Three Kings—who all started their own record labels and released classic albums before moving on to become multifaceted businessmen—hip-hop has been transformed from a genre spawned in poverty into a truly global multibillion-dollar industry.

These men are the modern embodiment of the American Dream, but their stories as great thinkers and entrepreneurs have yet to be told in full. Based on a decade of reporting, and interviews with more than 100 sources including hip-hop pioneers Russell Simmons and Fab 5 Freddy; new-breed executives like former Def Jam chief Kevin Liles and venture capitalist Troy Carter; and stars from Swizz Beatz to Shaquille O'Neal, 3 Kings tells the fascinating story of the rise and rise of the three most influential musicians in America.

Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality by Hector Macdonald, Little, Brown and Company

For fans of Nudge, Sway, and The Art of Thinking Clearly, a fascinating dive into the many ways in which "competing truths" shape our opinions, behaviors, and beliefs.

True or false? It's rarely that simple. There is more than one truth about most things. The Internet disseminates knowledge but it also spreads hatred. Eating meat is nutritious but it's also damaging to the environment. When we communicate we naturally select the truths that are most helpful to our agenda.

We can select truths constructively to inspire organizations, encourage children, and drive progressive change. Or we can select truths that give a false impression of reality, misleading people without actually lying. Others can do the same, motivating or deceiving us with the truth. Truths are neutral but highly versatile tools that we can use for good or ill.

In Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality , Hector Macdonald explores how truth is used and abused in politics, business, the media, and everyday life. He shows how a clearer understanding of truth's many faces renders us better able to navigate our world and more influential within it. Combining great storytelling with practical takeaways and a litany of fascinating, funny, and insightful case studies, Truth is a sobering and engaging read about how profoundly our mindsets and actions are influenced by the truths that those around us choose to tell.

WEconomy: You Can Find Meaning, Make A Living, and Change the World by Craig Kielburger, Holly Branson, and Marc Kielburger, Wiley

Purpose and profit are powerful human motivators. Combined, this power can change the world.

WEconomy is your guidebook to the greatest evolution in business since the assembly line. Discover the secret to achieving purpose with profit in your career and company, all while driving positive impact. Do you crave more meaning in your job? This book is your roadmap. Are you seeking to inspire employees? CEOs are discovering that purpose is the key to increasing productivity and retaining top performers. If you’re in sales, unleash the power of purpose to inspire customers to be passionate brand ambassadors. If you are an aspiring social entrepreneur, learn how to massively scale your mission.

Get paid to change the world—who wouldn’t want to be the person doing that?

Uncover the methods of megastars like Oprah Winfrey, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Sir Richard Branson, who make the world a better place through purposeful—and highly successful—business strategies. The stellar authorial team share in candid detail the setbacks and achievements they experienced building successful enterprises and charities—with purpose.

With the tips inside this book, you, your business, or your charity can:

  • Find a cause that drives you and your career goals to new heights
  • Create a job that you love and be celebrated by your peers, boss, and industry
  • Inspire brand fanatics to stay loyal to you, your company, and your cause
  • Add a halo to your product, grow your geographic reach, innovate for “the next big thing,” engage Boomers to Gen Z, and much more!

This is your blueprint for living by your personal values, achieving career success, and changing the world.

Extraordinary Influence: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others by Tim Irwin, Wiley

The age-old question for every leader—how do we bring out the best in those we lead? Anyone who has run a company, raised a family, lead an army, or coached a team struggles to find the key to help others excel and realize their potential. It is surprising how often we resort to criticism vs. an approach that actually results in a better worker and a better person.

What if we could speak Words of Life that transform those under our influence and ignite fires of intrinsic motivation? What if those we lead found great purpose in what they do and worked at their jobs with all their heart? Isn’t that what leaders, parents, and teachers really want? Ultimately, don’t we hope to foster intrinsic motivation so that the individuals we lead become better employees, better students, or better athletes? Recent discoveries of brain science and the wisdom of top CEOs that Dr. Tim Irwin interviewed for this book give us the answers we’ve long sought.

In most organizations, the methods used to provide feedback to employees such as performance appraisal or multi-rater feedback systems, in fact, accomplish the exact opposite of what we intend. We inadvertently speak Words of Death. Brain science tells us that these methods tend to engage a natural “negativity bias” that is hardwired in us all.

Science in recent years discovered that affirmation sets in motion huge positive changes in the brain. It releases certain neuro chemicals associated with well-being and higher performance. Amazingly, criticism creates just the opposite neural reaction. The most primitive part of the brain goes into hyper defense mode, compromising our performance, torpedoing our motivation and limiting access to our higher-order strengths.

How do we redirect employees who are out-of-line without engaging our natural “negativity bias?” Leaders must forever ban the term, “Constructive Criticism.” Brain science tells us that we can establish a connection between the employee’s work and his or her aspirations. This book calls for a new approach, called Alliance Feedback, to align workers with an organization’s mission, strategy, and goals. 

Unlocking Greatness: The Unexpected Journey from the Life You Have to the Life You Want by Charlie Harary, with Mark Dagostino, Rodale Books

A guide to successfully clearing a pathway from the life you have to the life you want by changing your perspective, discovering your ideal self, and controlling how you experience life.

You have the extraordinary capacity to transform your life. And it’s easier to do than you might think—in order to get what you want, to achieve that sense of life satisfaction, all you need to do is change your relationship to what you already have.

Charlie Harary, business executive, professor, speaker, and radio host, combines the wisdom of science, spirituality, and personal growth in a way that is both understandable and practical. Based on the latest research into the brain’s neuroplasticity, analysis of ancient wisdom, and exploration of the practices of today’s greatest achievers, Harary offers guidance, inspiration, and instruction on taking the life you have and making it the life you want. More often than not, our own mental obstacles are holding us back from the joy, fulfillment, and meaning that we all crave; by rewiring our views, we can gain the ability to see the path toward the life we truly desire.

To help you on the road to getting the life you want, Harary asks provocative questions and provides tools like visualization techniques to show you how to break through the clutter and confusion of your life and find your true purpose. Based on Harary’s popular “Principles of Success” course and Unlocking Greatness podcast, Unlocking Greatness is an uplifting guide to discovering your Ideal Self—and your Ideal Life.

Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to You and Me by Andrew Santella, Dey Street Books

An entertaining, fact-filled defense of the nearly universal tendency to procrastinate, drawing on the stories of history’s greatest delayers, and on the work of psychologists, philosophers, and behavioral economists to explain why we put off what we’re supposed to be doing and why we shouldn’t feel so bad about it.

Like so many of us, including most of America’s workforce, and nearly two-thirds of all university students, Andrew Santella procrastinates. Concerned about his habit, but not quite ready to give it up, he set out to learn all he could about the human tendency to delay. He studied history’s greatest procrastinators to gain insights into human behavior, and also, he writes, to kill time, “research being the best way to avoid real work.”

He talked with psychologists, philosophers, and priests. He visited New Orleans’ French Quarter, home to a shrine to the patron saint of procrastinators. And at the home of Charles Darwin outside London, he learned why the great naturalist delayed writing his masterwork for more than two decades.

Drawing on an eclectic mix of historical case studies in procrastination—from Leonardo da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, and from Old Testament prophets to Civil War generals—Santella offers a sympathetic take on habitual postponement. He questions our devotion to “the cult of efficiency” and suggests that delay and deferral can help us understand what truly matters to us. Being attentive to our procrastination, Santella writes, means asking, “whether the things the world wants us to do are really worth doing.”

China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle by Dinny McMahon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A stunning inside look at how and why the foundations upon which China has built the world’s second largest economy, have started to crumble.

Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong. 

In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow banking system, have all become a regular fixture in the press in recent years, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.

Through the stories of ordinary Chinese citizens, McMahon tries to make sense of the unique—and often bizarre—mechanics of the Chinese economy, whether it be the state’s addiction to appropriating land from poor farmers; or why a Chinese entrepreneur decided it was cheaper to move his yarn factory to South Carolina; or why ambitious Chinese mayors build ghost cities; or why the Chinese bureaucracy was able to stare down Beijing’s attempts to break up the state’s pointless monopoly over the distribution of table salt.

Debt, entrenched vested interests, a frenzy of speculation, and an aging population are all pushing China toward an economic reckoning. China's Great Wall of Debt unravels an incredibly complex and opaque economy, one whose fortunes—for better or worse—will shape the globe like never before.

How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind by Leah Weiss, PhD, HarperWave

A practical guide to bringing our whole selves to our professional work, based on the author’s overwhelmingly popular course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

In today’s workplace, the traditional boundaries between “work” and “personal” are neither realistic nor relevant. From millennials seeking employment in the sharing economy to Gen Xers telecommuting to Baby Boomers creating a meaningful second act, the line that separates who we are from the work we do is blurrier than ever.

The truth is, we don’t show up for our jobs as a portion of ourselves—by necessity, we bring both our hearts and our minds to everything we do. In How We Work, mindfulness expert and creator of the perennially-waitlisted Stanford Business School course “Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion” Dr. Leah Weiss explains why this false dichotomy can be destructive to both our mental health and our professional success.

The bad news, says Weiss, is that nothing provides more opportunities for negative emotions—anxiety, anger, envy, fear, and paranoia, to name a few—than the dynamics of the workplace. But the good news is that these feelings matter. How we feel at and about work matters—to ourselves, to the quality of our work, and ultimately to the success of the organizations for which we work.

The path to productivity and success, says Weiss, is not to change jobs, to compartmentalize our feelings, or to create a false “professional” identity—but rather to listen to the wisdom our feelings offer. Using mindfulness techniques, we can learn how to attend to difficult feelings without becoming subsumed by them; we can develop an awareness of our bigger picture goals that orients us and allows us to see purpose in even the most menial tasks. In How We Work, Weiss offers a set of practical, evidence-based strategies for practicing mindfulness in the real world, showing readers not just how to to survive another day, but how to use ancient wisdom traditions to sharpen their abilities, enhance their leadership and interpersonal skills, and improve their satisfaction.

Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World's Greatest Companies by Denise Lee Yohn, Nicholas Brealey

Internal culture + External brand = FUSION.

For years, leaders at companies like Southwest, Starbucks, and Google have done something differently that's put their organizations at the top of "the most admired companies," "best brands," and "great workplaces" lists. They don't often talk about that "something" specifically in terms of brand-culture fusion, but, as author Denise Lee Yohn reveals, aligning and integrating their brands and cultures is precisely how they've achieved their successes.

Independently, brand and culture are powerful, unsung business drivers. But Denise shows that when you fuse the two together to create an interdependent and mutually-reinforcing relationship between them, you create organizational power that isn't possible by simply cultivating one or the other alone. Through detailed case studies from some of the world's greatest companies (including Amazon, Airbnb, Adobe, Nike, and Salesforce), exclusive interviews with company executives, and insights from Denise's 25+ years working with world class brands, Fusion provides readers with a roadmap for increasing competitiveness, creating measurable value for customers and employees, and future-proofing their business.

The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results by Rasmus Hougaard & Jacqueline Carter, Harvard Business Review Press

Join the global movement that's making corporations more people-centric to achieve great results.

The world is facing a global leadership crisis. Seventy-seven percent of leaders think they do a good job of engaging their people, yet 88 percent of employees say their leaders don't engage enough. There is also a high level of suffering in the workplace: 35 percent of employees would forgo a pay raise to see their leaders fired.

This is an enormous waste of human talent—despite the fact that $46 billion is spent each year on leadership development.

Based on extensive research, including assessments of more than 35,000 leaders and interviews with 250 C-level executives, The Mind of the Leader concludes that organizations and leaders aren't meeting employees' basic human needs of finding meaning, purpose, connection, and genuine happiness in their work.

But more than a description of the problem, The Mind of the Leader offers a radical, yet practical, solution. To solve the leadership crisis, organizations need to put people at the center of their strategy. They need to develop managers and executives who lead with three core mental qualities: mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion.

Using real-world inspirational examples from Marriott, Accenture, McKinsey & Company, LinkedIn, and many more, The Mind of the Leader: shows how this new kind of leadership turns conventional leadership thinking upside down. It represents a radical redefinition of what it takes to be an effective leader—and a practical, hard-nosed solution to every organization's engagement and execution problems.

Organize Your Team Today: The Mental Toughness Needed to Lead Highly Successful Teams by Jason Selk & Tom Bartow, with Matthew Rudy, Da Capo Lifelong Books

Following up the popular peak performance book Organize Tomorrow Today, a new plan to motivate, set priorities, and lead any team to optimal achievement

Watch a triumphant speech after a sports championship or business milestone and you'll almost always hear some variation of this catchphrase: "It couldn't have happened without the great team we have." It doesn't matter if you're the owner of a 10,000-employee Fortune 500 company or running a small business, you're a part of a team. With a combined 50 years of experience building, managing, advising, and troubleshooting teams in both the business and sports worlds, Jason Selk and Tom Bartow now reveal the common DNA that links the highest performing teams.

In Organize Your Team Today, Selk and Bartow show how it takes collective mental toughness to win, developed only through a clear understanding of the goals, limitations, roles and personalities on your team. Great leaders respect and embrace channel capacity, Selk and Bartow explain, which means they don't overload their teams with blizzards of tasks and responsibilities. They bust the "focus" and "relationship" fallacies, as those words are meaningless for teams unless they are byproducts of activities that really matter. And Selk and Bartow teach how to manage expectations, since doing so creates a level of respect between the leader and the team—and among the team members—that is a catalyst for peak achievement.

A Great Place to Work for All: Better for Business, Better for People, Better for the World by Michael C. Bush & The Great Place to Work Research Team, Berrett-Koehler

From Great Place to Work, which produces the popular Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For ranking, comes a new definition of what it takes to make an organization great FOR ALL—for business, people and the world.

Today’s business climate is defined by speed, social technologies, and people’s expectations of “values” besides value. As a result, leaders have to create an outstanding culture for all, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. This groundbreaking book, from the creators of the gold-standard Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list, shows how it’s done. Through inspiring stories and compelling research, the authors demonstrate that great places to work for all benefit the individuals working there and contribute to a better global society—even as they outperform in the stock market and grow revenue three times faster than less-inclusive rivals. This is a call to lead so that organizations develop every ounce of human potential.

Work: The Last 1,000 Years by Andrea Komlosy, Verso

Tracing the complexity and contradictory nature of work throughout history.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the general Western conception of work had been reduced to simply gainful employment. But this limited perspective contrasted sharply with the personal experience of most people in the world—whether in colonies, developing countries, or in the industrializing world. Moreover, from a feminist perspective, reducing work and the production of value to remunerated employment has never been convincing.

Andrea Komlosy argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts. Globalizing labour history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, she sheds light on the complex coexistence of multiple forms of labour (paid/unpaid, free/unfree, with various forms of legal regulation and social protection and so on) on the local and the world levels. Combining this global approach with a gender perspective opens our eyes to the varieties of work and labour and their combination in households and commodity chains across the planet—processes that enable capital accumulation not only by extracting surplus value from wage-labour, but also through other forms of value transfer, realized by tapping into households’ subsistence production, informal occupation, and makeshift employment. As the debate about work and its supposed disappearance intensifies, Komlosy’s book provides a crucial shift in the angle of vision.

Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It by Chris Clearfield & András Tilcsik, Penguin Press

A groundbreaking take on how complexity causes failure in all kinds of modern systems—from social media to air travel—this practical and entertaining book reveals how we can prevent meltdowns in business and life.

A crash on the Washington, D.C. metro system. An accidental overdose in a state-of-the-art hospital. An overcooked holiday meal. At first glance, these disasters seem to have little in common. But surprising new research shows that all these events—and the myriad failures that dominate headlines every day—share similar causes. By understanding what lies behind these failures, we can design better systems, make our teams more productive, and transform how we make decisions at work and at home.

Weaving together cutting-edge social science with riveting stories that take us from the frontlines of the Volkswagen scandal to backstage at the Oscars, and from deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico to the top of Mount Everest, Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik explain how the increasing complexity of our systems creates conditions ripe for failure and why our brains and teams can’t keep up. They highlight the paradox of progress: Though modern systems have given us new capabilities, they’ve become vulnerable to surprising meltdowns—and even to corruption and misconduct.

But Meltdown isn’t just about failure; it’s about solutions—whether you’re managing a team or the chaos of your family’s morning routine. It reveals why ugly designs make us safer, how a five-minute exercise can prevent billion-dollar catastrophes, why teams with fewer experts are better at managing risk, and why diversity is one of our best safeguards against failure. The result is an eye-opening, empowering, and entirely original book—one that will change the way you see our complex world and your own place in it.

Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It by Jeffrey Pfeffer, Harper Business

In this timely, provocative book, a Stanford business professor contends that many modern management practices are toxic to employees—hurting engagement, increasing turnover, and destroying their physical and emotional health—and to company performance, as he offers ways to build human sustainability at work.

You don’t have to do a dangerous job—in a coal mine or on a construction site, commercial fishing boat, or an oil rig—to endure a health-destroying, possibly life-threatening, workplace. Just ask the manager in a senior finance role whose immense workload, once handled by several employees, required frequent all-nighters—leading to alcohol and drug addiction. Or the dedicated news media producer whose commitment to getting the story resulted in a sixty-pound weight gain thanks to having no down time to eat properly or exercise. Or the marketing professional prescribed antidepressants a week after joining her employer.

These individuals are not exceptions—they are too often the norm. Every industry is filled with similar horror stories, and the costs, to both employees and their companies, is enormous—and worsening. In Dying for a Paycheck, Jeffrey Pfeffer exposes the infuriating truth about modern work life: even as organizations allow management practices that literally sicken and sometimes kill their employees, those policies do not enhance productivity or the bottom line. Instead, they diminish employee engagement, increase turnover, reduce job performance—and drive up health costs.

Exploring a range of important topics, including layoffs, health insurance, work-family conflict, autonomy, and why people remain in toxic environments, Pfeffer offers guidance and practical solutions all of us—employees, employers, and the government—can use to enhance workplace wellbeing. We must wake up to the dangers and costs of today’s workplace, Pfeffer argues. Dying for a Paycheck is a clarion call for a social movement focused on human sustainability. Pfeffer makes clear that the environment we work in is just as important as the one we live in, and with this urgent book, he opens our eyes and shows how we can make our workplaces healthier and better.

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI by Paul R. Daugherty, H. James Wilson, Harvard Business Review Press

AI is radically transforming business. Are you ready?

Look around you. Artificial intelligence is no longer just a futuristic notion. It's here right now—in software that senses what we need, supply chains that "think" in real time, and robots that respond to changes in their environment. Twenty-first-century pioneer companies are already using AI to innovate and grow fast. The bottom line is this: Businesses that understand how to harness AI can surge ahead. Those that neglect it will fall behind. Which side are you on?

In Human + Machine, Accenture leaders Paul R. Daugherty and H. James (Jim) Wilson show that the essence of the AI paradigm shift is the transformation of all business processes within an organization—whether related to breakthrough innovation, everyday customer service, or personal productivity habits. As humans and smart machines collaborate ever more closely, work processes become more fluid and adaptive, enabling companies to change them on the fly—or to completely reimagine them. AI is changing all the rules of how companies operate.

Based on the authors' experience and research with 1,500 organizations, the book reveals how companies are using the new rules of AI to leap ahead on innovation and profitability, as well as what you can do to achieve similar results. It describes six entirely new types of hybrid human + machine roles that every company must develop, and it includes a "leader’s guide" with the five crucial principles required to become an AI-fueled business.

Human + Machine provides the missing and much-needed management playbook for success in our new age of AI. 

Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World by Robert Mckee & Thomas Gerace, Twelve

Based on the hottest, most in-demand seminar offered by the legendary story master Robert McKee—Storynomics translates the lessons of storytelling in business into economic and leadership success.

Robert McKee's popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation. The list of alumni with Academy Awards and Emmy Awards runs off the page. The cornerstone of his program is his singular book, Story, which has defined how we talk about the art of story creation.

Now in Storynomics, McKee partners with digital marketing expert and Skyword CEO Tom Gerace to map a path for brands seeking to navigate the rapid decline of interrupt advertising. After successfully guiding organizations as diverse as Samsung, Marriott International, Philips, Microsoft, Nike, IBM, and Siemens to transform their marketing from an ad-centric to story-centric approach, McKee and Gerace now bring this knowledge to business leaders and entrepreneurs alike.

Drawing from dozens of story-driven strategies and case studies taken from leading B2B and B2C brands, Storynomics demonstrates how original storytelling delivers results that surpass traditional advertising. How will brands and their customers connect in the future? Storynomics provides the answer.

In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business by Charlan Nemeth, Basic Books

An eminent psychologist explains why dissent should be cherished, not feared.

We've decided by consensus that consensus is good. In In Defense of Troublemakers, psychologist Charlan Nemeth argues that this principle is completely wrong: left unchallenged, the majority opinion is often biased, unoriginal, or false. It leads planes and markets to crash, causes juries to convict innocent people, and can quite literally make people think blue is green. In the name of comity, we embrace stupidity. We can make better decisions by embracing dissent. Dissent forces us to question the status quo, consider more information, and engage in creative decision-making.

From Twelve Angry Men to Edward Snowden, lone objectors who make people question their assumptions bring groups far closer to truth—regardless of whether they are right or wrong. Essential reading for anyone who works in groups, In Defense of Troublemakers will radically change the way you think, listen, and make decisions.

Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today by Mark Penn, with Meredith Fineman, Simon & Schuster

Ten years after his bestseller Microtrends, Mark Penn identifies the next wave of trends reshaping the future of business, politics, and culture.

Mark Penn has boldly argued that the future is not shaped by society’s broad forces but by quiet changes within narrow slices of the population. Ten years ago, he showed how the behavior of one small group can exert an outsized influence over the whole of America. His bestselling Microtrends highlighted dozens of tiny, counterintuitive trends that have since come to fruition, from the explosion of internet dating to the recent split within the Republican Party.

Today, the world is in perplexing upheaval, and microtrends are more influential than ever. In this environment, Penn offers a necessary perspective.

Microtrends Squared makes sense of what is happening in the world today. Through fifty new microtrends, Penn illuminates the shifts that are coming in the next decade. He pinpoints the unseen hand behind new power relationships that have emerged—as fringe voters and reactionary politics have found their revival, as online influencers overshadow traditional media, and as the gig economy continues to invade new swathes of industry. He speaks to the next wave of developments coming in technology, social movements, and even dating.

Offering a clear vision of the future of business, politics, and culture, Microtrends Squared is a must-read for innovators and entrepreneurs, political and business leaders, and for every curious reader looking to under­stand the wave of the future when it is just a ripple.

Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change by Leonard Mlodinow, Pantheon

From the best-selling author of Subliminal and The Drunkard’s Walk comes a groundbreaking look at the psychology and neuroscience of change, and at how tapping into elastic thinking will help us thrive in the modern world.

Drawing on cutting-edge research, Leonard Mlodinow takes us on an illuminating journey through the mechanics of our minds as we navigate the rapidly changing landscapes around us. Out of the exploratory instincts that allowed our ancestors to prosper hundreds of thousands of years ago, humans developed a cognitive style that Mlodinow terms elastic thinking, a unique set of talents that include neophilia (an affinity for novelty), schizotypy (a tendency toward unusual perception), imagination and idea generation, and divergent and integrative thinking. These are the qualities that enabled innovators from MaryShelley to Miles Davis, from the inventor of jumbo-sized popcorn to the creators of Pokémon Go, to effect paradigm shifts in our culture and society. In our age of unprecedented technological innovation and social change, it is more important than ever to encourage these abilities and traits.

How can we train our brains to be more comfortable when confronting change and more adept at innovation? How do our brains generate new ideas, and how can we nurture that process? Why can diversity and even discord be beneficial to our thought process? With his keen acumen and quick wit, Leonard Mlodinow gives us the essential tools to harness the power of elastic thinking in an endlessly dynamic world.

The Deals That Made the World: Reckless Ambition, Backroom Negotiations, and the Hidden Truths of Business by Jacques Peretti, William Morrow

Filled with startling observations and though-provoking findings, an award-winning BBC investigative reporter’s compelling and informative look at twelve business deals that have transformed the modern world.

While the laws that guide our lives are written by the politicians we elect, much of the world around us—from the food we eat to the products we buy to the medications we take—is shaped by private negotiations and business deals few of us know about.

In The Deals That Made the World, Jacques Peretti takes us inside the world of the powerful dealmakers who influence our daily lives as he examines a dozen groundbreaking business deals that have transformed our society. Peretti reveals how diet company executives engineered an entire industry built on failure; how PayPal came to conquer the online payment world (and the specific behavioral science that underpin its success); and the plan concocted by pharmaceutical executives to successfully market medications to healthy people.

For twenty years, Peretti has interviewed the people behind the decisions that have altered our world, from CEOs of multinational corporations to politicians, economists, and scientists. Drawing on his vast knowledge, Peretti reveals a host of fascinating and startling connections, from how Wall Street’s actions on food commodities helped spark the Arab Spring to the link between the AIDS epidemic in 1980s San Francisco and the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008. He proves a sure guide, combining both eye-opening on-the-ground reporting and a narrative flair that makes esoteric financial and business concepts clear and understandable.

Like Steven Levitt, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Brad Stone, Michael Lewis, and Malcolm Gladwell, Peretti takes the ordinary and turns it inside-out to give us a compelling new perspective on our lives and our world.

Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future by Hemant Taneja, with Kevin Maney, PublicAffairs

Unscaled identifies the forces that are reshaping the global economy and turning one of the fundamental laws of business and society—the economies of scale—on its head.

An innovative trend combining technology with economics is unraveling behemoth industries—including corporations, banks, farms, media conglomerates, energy systems, governments, and schools—that have long dominated business and society. Size and scale have become a liability. A new generation of upstarts is using artificial intelligence to automate tasks that once required expensive investment, and "renting" technology platforms to build businesses for hyper-focused markets, enabling them to grow big without the bloat of giant organizations.

In Unscaled, venture capitalist Hemant Taneja explains how the unscaled phenomenon allowed Warby Parker to cheaply and easily start a small company, build a better product, and become a global competitor in no time, upending entrenched eyewear giant Luxottica. It similarly enabled Stripe to take on established payment processors throughout the world, and Livongo to help diabetics control their disease while simultaneously cutting the cost of treatment. The unscaled economy is remaking massive, deeply rooted industries and opening up fantastic possibilities for entrepreneurs, imaginative companies, and resourceful individuals. It can be the model for solving some of the world's greatest problems, including climate change and soaring health-care costs, but will also unleash new challenges that today's leaders must address.

Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do by Daniel M. Cable, Harvard Business Review Press

Poll after poll has confirmed that an astonishing number of workers are disengaged from their work. Why is this happening? And how can we fix the problem?

In this bold, enlightening book, social psychologist and professor Daniel M. Cable takes leaders into the minds of workers and reveals the surprising secret to restoring their zest for work.

Disengagement isn't a motivational problem, it's a biological one. Humans aren't built for routine and repetition. We're designed to crave exploration, experimentation, and learning—in fact, there's a part of our brains, which scientists have coined "the seeking system," that rewards us for taking part in these activities. But the way organizations are run prevents many of us from following our innate impulses. As a result, we shut down.

Things need to change. More than ever before, employee creativity and engagement are needed to win. Fortunately, it won't take an extensive overhaul of your organizational culture to get started. With small nudges, you can personally help people reach their fullest potential.

Alive at Work reveals:

  • How to encourage people to bring their best selves to work and use their greatest strengths to help your organization flourish
  • How to build creative environments that motivate people to share ideas, work smarter, and embrace change
  • How to enhance people's connection to their work and your customers
  • How to create personalized experiences that help people feel a deeper sense of purpose

Filled with fascinating stories from the author's extensive research, Alive at Work is the inspirational guide that you need to tap into the passion, creativity, and purpose fizzing beneath the surface of every person who falls under your leadership.


 

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.