BOOK SPECIAL Books These Successful Executives Say Inspired Them the Most
Whether you flip pages, tap an e-reader or listen to audio, these inspiring titles are worth your attention.
Whether you flip pages, tap an e-reader or listen to audio, a good book can be a perfect companion, relaxation aid or source of inspiration. Check out these quotes from more than two dozen executives who name their favorite book and explain why it's worth your attention.
1. "Jim Henson," by Brian Jay Jones
"I read it right after reading the Jobs bio, and the contrast these two represented has always stuck with me. I struggle with the idolization of Steve Jobs because although he was brilliant and there is no question that he single-handedly affected the course of human culture and connection, he lacked empathy and was incredibly unpleasant on a personal level. Our work and personal lives are so entwined today that the Jobs story just doesn't sit well with me as one of 'success.' Henson, on the other hand, valued his colleagues and treated many of them as family and he worked with them to make a massive mark on his field while overcoming major failures and refuting naysayers. To me, his story is a huge inspiration because it serves as proof that building something totally legendary doesn't have to come at the expense of being a kind and respectable human being, whether it be in everyday interactions or lifelong personal relationships."
--Diana Klochkova, VP of digital strategy at Rebel Ventures.
2. "The Future Is Better Than You Think" by Steven Kotler and Peter H. Diamandis
"This is a great book for founders and anyone that's feeling pessimistic in light of the recent U.S. elections. With all the doom and gloom in the world today, this book presents optimism, arguing that innovations in technology, sustainable energy, medicine, agriculture and entrepreneurship will result in transformative changes in the world. The chapters are filled with inspirational stories of entrepreneurs and brilliant thinkers that have disrupted conventional thinking, creating innovative solutions to some of the world's most meaningful problems. I make a habit of reading this book every year to see the bigger picture and the interconnectedness of the problems we are trying to solve."
--Sina Shekou, founder and CEO of PlanChat, a messaging app for planning trips.
3. "The Fear Project: What Our Most Primal Emotion Taught Me About Survival, Success, Surfing... And Love" by Jaimal Yogis
"As a surfer, I've learned a lot of valuable business lessons in the ocean. You find yourself in critical moments where you must overcome fear with mindfulness, failure with perseverance. In [this book], Jaimal Yogis takes a deep dive into the concept of fear including evolutionary fears, such as seeing a lion, and learned fears, such as the sound of a gun. He beautifully weaves together neuroscience with life experience, and ultimately uses this knowledge to overcome his fears of surfing one of the most dangerous waves in the world--Mavericks."
--Aaron Harvey, cofounder and executive creative director at digital agency Ready Set Rocket and founder of mental health nonprofit IntrusiveThoughts.org.
4. "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline
"This book is practically considered required reading within the virtual reality (VR) industry and rightly so. On the surface, some are tempted to dismiss it as merely enjoyable sci-fi. But the book actually instructs us in the profound changes that a sweeping new technological platform like VR can bring. The first TV shows were somewhat literal replications of stage theater productions--it took a while for creators to start taking advantage of the medium's capabilities. Ready Player One is far more imaginative in how VR might be experienced. The whole concept of 'location' is different, ranging from how a 'city' might be laid out, to even being able to create your own 'planet.' The characters can transport themselves from 'place' to 'place' in many different ways, rather than just replicate our normal modes of real-life transportation. And they can interact with 'objects' in new ways, not just replicate the interactions that we have in our current real lives. So it is a profoundly instructional book for reimagining what becomes possible with new technologies."
--Andrew Trickett, cofounder of Merge VR, a startup helping VR go mainstream with multiple hardware and software products, with special focus on younger users.
5. "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
"Simply put, 'War and Peace' is the best novel ever written. You can learn more about humanity, about heart, about human interactions--and ultimately about yourself--in one reading than you might otherwise in ten years. Coming to grips with Pierre's stumbling, his mistake after mistake, and at last embracing his long journey may help you understand--and hopefully forgive--some of your own shortcomings. And, other than serving on the front lines yourself, there may be no better way to learn about the horror and absurdity of war than by reading Tolstoy. Great leaders are remembered for their humanity not their mastery of how-to books."
--John McNellis, author of "Making It in Real Estate: Starting Out as a Developer" and principal at McNellis Partners.