Want To Own The Next Successful Global Business? Start Becoming A Bookworm.
Devotion to a great book can profoundly impact a leader’s direction and business approach. Some of the world’s greatest business leaders have attributed their success today to the wisdom that they stumbled upon from the literary world. When Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of books nearby and said; “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. Everyone can do it, but I guarantee not everyone will do it.” The business magnate himself devotes 80% of his day to reading 600 to 1000 pages.
Numerous other top leaders have shared the same sentiment. However, given their fast-paced lifestyles, these high-profile doyens are highly selective about what they read. Here are the top five books that have inspired some of the most brilliant minds.
Last year, the tech luminary read roughly 50 books, which amounts to one every week, citing the habit as his “favourite way to learn about a new topic”according to a recent New York Times Interview. Gates wrote a lengthy review raving about the doctor, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s ability to make the hard sciences easily accessible to the general audiences in his newest book, The Gene.
The book delves into the human gene, highlighting that how much of who we are is dependent on our genes as opposed to how we are raised. It is essentially a scientific book, interspersed with personal examples for readability. "Mukherjee wrote this book for a lay audience, because he knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways," says Gates. He also adds, “Mukherjee knows that it’s not good enough for scientists alone to debate the huge ethical questions that their discoveries provoke…determining the proper rules and boundaries for these technologies require a public discussion, debate, and consensus”.
It has been reported that the CEO of Apple hands out copies of “Competing Against Time” to his colleagues and new hires. The book examines how in today’s competitive world, companies recognise time as the fourth dimension of competiveness and argues that virtually all businesses can use time as a competitive weapon. Drawing examples from leading Japanese and American companies the book illustrates the processes involved in becoming a time-based competitor and how managers can open and sustain a significant advantage over the competition. Even if you don’t work at Apple, this book’s heavy emphasis on work efficiency can help you streamline your day-to-day and propel your career forward.
For an essential guide to establishing a long-lasting company, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, recommends "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. This famous management book, which has also been read by the likes of the CEO of Ford, James Hackett, and the founder of FedX Frederick Smith, delves into why certain companies succeed over time, essentially attributing it an unshakeable core ideology along with a team of employees who embrace the company’s central mission. These defining characteristics of a company able to withstand the test of time though may seem simple, take years to build and hone.
The CEO and co-founder of Twitter, has been known to give to all his new hires the same red book – The Checklist Manifesto. Written by Atul Gawande, a doctor as well as a writer for the New Yorker, the premise of the author’s argument is that a simple checklist can help people manage most complex situations. Dorsey particularly highlights a passage from the book, which he has quoted on his Tumblr, about venture capitalists deciding which startups to invest in. It says: “You would think that this would be whether the entrepreneur’s idea is actually a good one. But finding an idea is apparently not all that hard. Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is a different matter entirely. One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”
The ecommerce billionaire spent his early years as an English teacher prior to entering the business world and is known to use literature to motivate his employees and create a nurturing corporate culture. According to a Yibada interview with Chen Wei, the author who penned Ma’s 2014 authorised biography, The Alibaba founder always carries a copy of Tao Te Ching around. Lao Tze supposedly composed this foundational text of Taoist philosophy in the sixth century B.C., extoling the virtues of serenity and generosity. According the Financial Times; “Employees are constantly evaluated by managers on their commitment to six core values: teamwork, integrity, customer first, [embracing] change, commitment and passion,” all of which are emphasized in the book. Even Jack Dorsey echoes Ma’s sentiment in a Product Hunt Q&A, where Dorsey said his most prized possession is a copy of “Tao Te Ching” given to him by a friend.
Huiling covers a diverse range of topics at Billionaire, fuelled by her passion for environmental sustainability and humanitarian advocacy. In her downtime, she enjoys getting lost in a good book and tending to her urban garden.