As many of us start to ponder reading material for our summer vacation, I thought I would share with you five of the books I have been reading, or rereading, recently.
If you’re searching for a beachside blockbuster, you’ll probably want to look away now! But there are some truly thought-provoking business books available right now. Many touch on some of my own experiences growing Customer Thermometer.
So if you’re stuck for books to pack, cast your eye over my business books reading list for some summer vacation inspiration.
If you’ve read something recently that you’d recommend, please feel free to share it in the comments below.
Lindsay’s business books reading list
1. The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver
I bought this book because the title appealed to me originally. I hadn’t heard of Nate Silver, and didn’t know about his uncannily accurate predictions of the 2008 US elections. With the 2016 US election looming, and the recent Brexit shock, now is a good time to read this book. Silver discusses the art and science of prediction (not just elections, but earthquakes, economics, sport and more), and how so much of the “big data” we produce is meaningless or misleading. The difference between what we know, and what we think we know, is at the heart of this book. Incredibly useful reading for business leaders and customer experience professionals alike. “Prediction is difficult for us for the same reason that it is so important: it is where objective and subjective reality intersect,” says Silver.
2. The Everything Store, by Brad Stone
I have been talking for some time about the changing nature of customer retention and (as evidenced by their results announcement recently) Amazon are nailing this globally both via their Prime model and their Amazon Web Services offering. Whilst I’m not sure I agree with all of Amazon’s methods – the description of their company culture is fairly hair-raising – there’s no doubting that customer retention is incredibly high. And it hasn’t been driven by wacky ideas or grandiose gestures. It’s been delivered by Amazon capturing, interpreting and actioning their customer data and feedback. I have written a more in-depth review of this book, which you can read here.
3. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
If you want a book that will change you as much as it changes your business thinking, try The Power of Habit. Probably the closest I’ve come to understanding a bit about how to rewire my own bad behaviours (although still easier said than done!). If you’ve spent time in customer service or marketing, you’ll love this book. It’s packed with fascinating and unexpected stories. Ranging from how someone in the early 1900s got us all to start cleaning our teeth every day, through to Target’s uncanny ability to tell if a woman is pregnant, purely from their analysis of their customer data.
4. Black Box Thinking, by Matthew Syed
If you’ve ever doubted the power of listening to feedback (truly listening!) this book will convert you. The ‘Black Box’ in the title refers to airline black box flight recorders, and the contribution they’ve made to airline safety through openness and feedback. Syed then compares the airline industry’s willingness to share even fatal mistakes and errors to prevent more from happening, with the medical industry. He shows how medicine is still shrouded in secrecy and trapped by cognitive dissonance. The chasm between safety in the two industries are writ large. You’ll learn a great deal about why it’s essential to solicit feedback in the spirit of constant improvement. It’s also filled with great stories and fascinating anecdotes. I have written a longer review of Black Box Thinking, if you want to learn more.
5. Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
If you’re outside the tech world you may not have grabbed a copy of this yet, but I’d urge you to. The book’s cover will tell you it’s about how to build a startup company (which is why I bought it). But it goes so much further than that. Zero to One is inspiring, absorbing and philosophical. It’s a rallying cry to all of us to tackle humanity’s biggest problems willingly and with gusto, rather than hoping things will improve without effort. It provides scintillating insight into how to build an insightful, good and profitable business (or team, or department) that solves real problems.
If 5 isn’t enough for you, and you want more ideas for your business books reading list, I’d recommend adding Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want, and Darren’s Hardy’s The Compound Effect.
Enjoy! Best wishes
Lindsay Willott, CEO