In a recent podcast interview my guest, Doug McGeachie, recommended several books that he found particularly inspiring and that helped him develop the skills that have made him so successful. As usual, I shared the key books in the podcast notes. After the interview, Doug kindly shared his larger reading list with me. This article contains all the books that he recommends reading. So here we go!
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. This is an all-time classic and I have read it several times. In summary, the seven habits are: Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind, Put first things first, Think win/win, Seek first to understand then be understood, Synergise, Sharpen the saw. The book provides a principal-centred approach to dealing with both professional and personal challenges.
Legacy by James Kerr. There is a parallel between success in sport and success in business and we can learn many things from successful sportspeople and teams. While this is not the only book that uses the success of the All Blacks rugby team to convey powerful lessons, it is highly recommended.
What It Takes To Be #1 by Vince Lombardi, Jr. Vince Lombardi was an American Football coach who led the Green Bay Packers to victory in Super Bowl I. He is considered by many to be the greatest coach in American Football history. This book is written by his son (a writer and professional speaker) and explores the leadership qualities that his father considered as essential to win.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. TED speaker and author of Start with Why, Simon Sinek, investigates how great leaders create a safe space for their teams by putting their interests (and sometimes safety aside) to protect their teams. In another TED video, Sinek draws on an incident in 2009 when a US Army Captain, William D. Swenson, put his life in danger to rescue several wounded men under his command. This incident demonstrates the messages that this book shares.
The Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort. The real-life Jordan Belfort, popularised by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Wolf of Wall Street, shares his sales and persuasion tactics that helped build a mass of wealth for himself.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Not strictly categorised as a business book, The Secret describes how the law of attraction and positive thinking can bring happiness, health, and wealth. I must admit that it seems a little new-age and while watching the film on Amazon Prime, I lost interest. That being said, this book does come highly recommended by many.
Unstoppable by Ben Angel. Very much along the lines of Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body book, Ben Angel looks into the world of memory enhancement, wearables, and nutrition to improve performance, reduce stress, and eliminate fears. The author’s view is that we often focus on habits when thinking about success but we shouldn’t forget about our mindset.
The Speed of Trust by Steven R. Covey. Steven R. Covey followed in his father’s footsteps in producing leadership development books and training. In this book, he shows how to inspire trust in colleagues, business partners, and the marketplace. The view is that building trust and eliminating bureaucracy will improve efficiency.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. Just Do It! This memoir describes how Knight built his footwear empire. From selling shoes out of his car boot to a company turning over more than $30 billion a year. He shares the risks he dealt with, his triumphs, his setbacks, and how he grew a tight-knit group of partners and employees by creating and following a shared vision.
The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey. Another title by Steven R. Covey and building on the success of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this book talks about how the world has changed. Leadership has not been able to keep pace with this change. Covey shares how new leaders can overcome this challenge by focusing on four roles; modelling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering. He demonstrates how to change from a ‘want to’ person to a ‘can do’ person.
Make Your Bed: 10 Life Lessons from a Navy SEAL by Admiral William H. McRaven. Many of us will be familiar with a video shared on social media in which McRaven talks about the importance of structure to provide motivation and direction in your life. As he suggests in the video, start by making your bed each morning.
The Jersey by Peter Bills. This was a book recommendation from Doug and occupies a proud space on my bookshelf. Whichever international rugby team you shout for, there is no doubt you will look at the All Blacks in awe. A team formed from less than 5 million people that went on to win back-to-back World Cup tournaments. They stand head and shoulders above all their rivals. How did they accomplish this? Through interviews and observations, Peter Bills sets out to describe how the All Blacks have achieved all they have.
Sandler Enterprise Selling: Winning, Growing, and Retaining Major Accounts by David H. Mattson and Brian W. Sullivan. This was one of the selling methodologies that I wasn’t aware of. This book is based on the success and work of David Sandler and his concept of ‘uncovering pain’ to satisfy a need. It also provides an approach for sales professionals to build better habits, reinforce positive beliefs, and deliver innovative strategies. The book lays out six steps to achieve this: 1) Set a baseline for success 2) Identify opportunities 3) Engage with buyers 4) Craft solutions 5) Propose 6) Serve and satisfy your clients.
The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them by David Mattson. Co-author of the previous book and CEO of Sandler Training shares 49 rules to follow to get sales results. For example, All prospects lie, all the time. Never ask for the order. Get an I.O.U. for everything you do. Don’t spill your candy in the lobby. This is a guidebook with plenty of real-world examples.
See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar. A book by one of the greatest motivators of our time. This book offers advice on how to develop a good attitude and a healthy self-image. The book stresses the importance of honesty, loyalty, faith, integrity, and a strong personal character.
Principle-Centred Leadership by Stephen R. Covey. How do we achieve a good work/live balance? How do we use the combined talent, creativity, and energy of our workforce? How do we instil a culture of change, flexibility, and continuous improvement? How do we align individuals with our organisational strategy? This book will help to address these questions and many more.
Unf*ck Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life by Gary John Bishop. The key message of this book is to stop looking to the outside world for your answers and to look inside. Learn how to take responsibility for your life and feel good about it. This starts with combatting self-doubt, dealing with your inner critic, stopping comparing yourself to others, and breaking out of your rut.
Live Your Dreams by Les Brown. The focus of this book is very much self-help and motivational. Les Brown shares his formula for success and happiness and also provides a personal planner to help readers focus on specific goals. The author has a career in politics, television, and public speaking. Interestingly, he was married to Gladys Knight (of Gladys Knight and the Pips) for a short time.
First Man In: Leading from the Front by Ant Middleton. Readers will recognise Ant Middleton from the TV Show, SAS: Who Dares Wins. In his book, he talks about how leaders are made and not born. Drawing on his success in the military, the tough selection processes he went through, and his roles he served, he details all the traits that make a successful leader.
A Survival Guide for Life by Bear Grylls. Another author with a military background. Bear Grylls draws on his experience of surviving in extreme situations, facing up to the dangers, seizing opportunities, and relying on instincts, to help readers live a purpose-driven and impactful life. The lessons he shares will help you keep going when the odds are stacked against you, help you lead teams, and help you develop the skills you will need to maximise your potential.
Dan Carter: My Autobiography by Dan Carter. Following on from the earlier rugby-related recommendation, this book tells of Dan Carter’s rugby career which culminated with New Zealand winning the 2015 tournament and him winning Man of the Match. The book deals with the lows and highs he experienced and how he dealt with a prolonged period of injury, in a very similar vein to Jonny Wilkinson’s experiences.
Troubleshooter by John-Harvey Jones. This is one of those books that seems of have gone out of print but there are some options for used copies of the book. The author was chairman of ICI, a British chemical company which, for a while, was the largest manufacturer in Britain. This book is based on the BBC television show, in which he advises struggling businesses.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny. The book focuses on how we communicate when the stakes are high. Steven Covey describes the book as drawing attention to the defining moments that shape our lives, relationships, and world. Mark Victor Hanson (Chicken Soup for the Soul) suggests that by uplifting the crucial conversations, we can improve the quality of our lives.
The SPIN Selling Fieldbook by Neil Rackham. This follows on from the SPIN-Selling book and is the guide that will help you bring the SPIN methodology to life. The methodology is very popular and breaks down the selling process into the following questioning sequence: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need. IBM was one of the organisations that fed into the development of the methodology and successfully utilised it.
Must-Win Deals: How To Close Them (And Why We Lose Them) by Steve Thompson. This is a really quick read and focuses on four key areas; customers not understanding what you are offering, not connecting what you are offering to their needs, your price being too high, and customers not knowing what you have previously successfully delivered. The book goes on to describe that value is the key to success; who understands me and what I am trying to accomplish?
How to Get Things Done Without Trying Too Hard by Richard Templar. This book delivers a set of principles, techniques, and tactics that will help you deal with your administrative tasks, get projects delivered, clear your to-do list, and just, generally, get things done. Without even trying too hard!
Managing for Results by Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker was one of the leading thinkers on management and business. No bookshelf complete without one of his titles. In this, one of his more recent, books he tackles what must be done to make an organisation perform, grow, and prosper. He moves on from some conventional outlooks and opens up several new perspectives to help readers on their journey.
While it is unlikely that you will make your way through all of these books, you can pick and choose, based on the skills you want to grow or the gaps you want to fill.