Focus Books

Focus Book Recommendations

Business books are often seen as self help books, here are my most recommended and my must reads (or listen whatever your preference) business books. Where possible I have shared a video to help you get a flavour of the books and why you should buy the book or listen to it.



Leadership

Eleven Rings - Phil Jackson
Why? Phil Jackson is one of the most successful Basketball coaches of all time, he has managed the best of the best. He had some tricky times with managing talent and goes into great depth about he handled it and what he did to change dynamics of teams and most importantly how he sat down and spoke to players to understand where they are at. Find out where you are on a bullseyes scale.

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team - Patrick Lencioni
Why? The explainer video below goes into great depth but Pat Lencioni and The Table Group have some incredible free content. Pat uses storytelling and fiction to get cut through with his stories and really enables you understand why a highly functional team takes so long to come together and hit their strides. I personally have read this a couple of times well worth a read. If you interested in organisational culture this is a book for you and your HR team.


Turn The Ship Around - L. David Marquet

David Marquet's book was a joy to read, I actually fell ill on a great holiday and this book captivated me. He talks about taking over the worst ship in the navy, how he got the teams to rip up their playbook and make their own versions of it. I intend to and many other sentences are critical learnings for me and shows how important trust and leadership at all levels is vital.
Some of these techniques have been adapted in Focus Management Team Development.


Business The Four - Professor Scott Galloway

Why? Professor Scott Galloway is incredible, he manages to breakdown teaching of marketing and markets into simple and easy chunks. His books are written in a way to explain complicated components into flowing pages and really identifies what characteristics make great companies tick. Don't just read it for Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google but the lessons you can take away and apply. He is most recently known for his take down of WeWork (Or WeWTF) and his other book "The algebra of happiness" which is a great read or listen on how to think about happiness and the time you spent doing things you love.

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight (Nike Story)
Why? Who wouldn't want to read a book about Nike history, the incredible lengths he went to sell shoes and then create the Nike brand. Some people love this for the hustle and insights, others actually struggle to get through it, I managed to read it in a few days on a holiday and recommend it constantly. Enjoy hearing about why athletes were so important and why you are only as good as your product and the marketing of it.

The Dip - Seth Godin
Why? Probably the book I have recommended the most in five years, very short, very easy to consume, easier to understand. Unhappy in your work, or unhappy with work you are putting out, take a read through this and understand if the effort you are putting in is going to reward you when or if the next high wave comes to ride it?
This has sparked a number of decisions in my career and actually often subconsciously guides me in considering how people consider their position within the company and how to build a strategic pillar that ensures people are at the centre.
It is also particularly useful with Growth tests or Growth Programmes.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (or how not to do business)
Why? You are likely familiar with the story of crazy performative founder who believes her own BS and lies to become successful or appears to become successful. There is a lesson in this and the HBO documentary, you can build a brand that makes people want and crave a Product, especially when it is in the health space. The story is unbelievable and the people involved should have known better but highlights how business, hyper growth and a relentless company can be compelling in the right and wrong ways. Read the book, listen to the podcast or watch the documentary, it is an eye opener and lesson for any business person.



Culture

The Joy of Work - Bruce Daisley
Why? Bruce studied culture for a number of years, from his time at Google to his time leading Twitter and became fascinating about culture and what makes great teams and a great workplace.
Bruce speaks to a number of interesting organisations, people and tells the stories that will make you sad, mad and glad.
This is one of those books that is best read (or listened to) in the authors voice - in this case Brummie. Bruce and I have spoken at the same conferences and he is a great speaker alongside very generous with his time when talking about culture and improving the workplace.
I highly recommend listening to his Eat Sleep Work Repeat podcast, you will really get the personality and the importance of why the book was written and the work he is undertaking.



“Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility" by Patty McCord
Why? Patty is a straight talker, a no nonsense person who delivers some home truths and some wake up calls versus the typical HR myths. Her direct action approach help take Netflix to its position today by crafting important messaging, a world famous culture deck (it’s now a culture landing page on Netflix) and provides some invaluable takeaways on managing top talent and letting under performers leave your organisation quickly as they are taking down the quality of the team and the business. Interestingly Patty and Netflix parted ways a few years into hyper growth and Patty has been helping startups since.

Back Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
Why? Not your classical culture or business organisational book recommendation. Matthew Syed is an ex ping pong player who went deep into the way we think about behaviours and success, how we operate as individuals and as teams and is there a way to optimise.
The growth mindset is something that you have likely heard of however this will demonstrate how many leaders have a fixed mindset and are hindering businesses.
Make 15 minutes to listen to how aviation and health care operate completely differently and why there are so many mistakes in the fixed mindset of health care but not in aviation.
Black Box Thinking is a book that reinforced so many ideas and concepts I knew but was written in a way that anyone can understand from the art and science of it.

Marketing & Branding

How Brands Grow - Bryon Sharp

Why? This is the must read book for Marketers in recent times, I personally wasn't so sure of why there was a cult like following to the man or the book until I read the book and the understand the messaging behind it. He talks about how advertising actually works, light and heavy consumers (uses a great Coca Cola reference), the value of brand activities, the power of noticeable over differentiation and making you more visible and stand out more often not comparing yourself to other brands and warns you not to use price as strategy, which always turns out to be a race to zero (unless you are apple). Marketing folk; If you haven’t already check out Mark Ritson vs Byron Sharp contest.


Predatory Thinking - Dave Trott
Why? A book that you will finish quickly, understand the importance of messaging, clarity of thought and storytelling. Dave Trott has a incomparable knack of writing in a style that just cuts through noise and helps you to understand Marketing, Advertising and the fluffy stuff in and around businesses. It is a book you will make notes about and help provide hours of content for your internal presentations and if a conference speaker a framework to use to cut through and slap people in the office in the best of ways.


High Growth Handbook - Elad Gil

Why? This book is a guidebook, a playbook for anyone wanting to create their own business or start up and what you need to do and when. The book is something you don’t pick up once, read and drop, it is something you go back and forth to and read to help you in your next venture. It’s beautifully produced too and makes you feel like you can tackle even the biggest of tasks as a business lead or owner.


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