5 books to kick off your 2019 business reading

OK…I know we’re already deep into January, but one of the books below only went on sale today, so I held off posting earlier. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

As you’ve likely noticed from previous posts, I continually devour new books (and audiobooks) on business. In particular, I’m fascinated by different working habits. I’ve not upped my reading goal for the year, but I will be taking more notes and reflecting more on what I read I read.

The five I’m recommending to get the year off to a good start are:

Radical Focus – I’ve written before about my preference for OKRs as a strategic tool and there’s a growing pool of literature on the subject. This book is different because it puts the process into a narrative format; telling the story of a business adopting OKRs for the first time. It’s quite a quick read and there are some interesting variations on the original John Doerr approach, including the napkin status update. I was also reassured by the fact that most people get OKRs wrong the first time around!

The Growth Delusion – A big thanks to Will Breitholtz for this recommendation. Economies measure their economic performance in terms of growth in GDP, but what exactly does it measure and how is it done?

Bobby Kennedy famously said “GDP measures everything except that which is worthwhile” and this book explores why that’s such a problem.

Disrupted – The first of three books on the workplace is Dan Lyon’s story about his transition from Newsweek journalist and TV comedy writer to content produce (or Marketing Fellow as his titled) at Silicon Valley start-up, HubSpot. His experience is funny at times (The Halloween Party), and depressing at others, especially when you realise the ageism taking place in this business. It’s easy to think his troubles are limited to the west coast of America but with the ever-spreading “cult of WeWork”, some of the topics are a little close to home.

As a user and fan of the HubSpot platform, it was quite a worrying read at times…I can only assume things have improved dramatically at the company in the past couple of years.

You can find the Hubspot founders’ response to the publication here (thanks to Richard Taylor for sharing) and make up your own mind.

Lab Rats – The follow-up to Disruption takes a deeper look at what’s wrong with the modern workplace. There’s certainly a bias towards west coast US businesses, but the underlying themes around job insecurity and wage inequality are present on both sides of the pond. The book would be classed as a comedy if it wasn’t all true!

The Joy of Work – Last, but certainly not least, there’s Bruce Daisley’s first book on improving work-life – fresh out today. I’ve only just got my hands on it so can’t give a review, but based on the brilliant content from his Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat podcast I’m expecting great things.

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