Summertime, and the reading’s awesome

It’s August. The summer vacation season is half over … but that means there’s still half to go. And that means there’s plenty of time to add one or two more books to your summer reading list.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Tom Hood without a book in his hand, and I’m a pretty avid reader, too. So we’ve compiled a list of our favorite books from the first half of 2019. We’ll update this list in December with our second-half favorites, but for now, if you’re looking for something new to read, you could do worse than to start with these.

Happy reading!


Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies In A Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

The best book I’ve read this year … and the fact that it’s completely true makes it that much better. Four years ago, Elizabeth Holmes was considered the next Steve Jobs, thanks to an innovative blood-testing machine that she said would revolutionize health care at its core. Today, she awaits trial on a series of fraud charges that allege she set out to defraud investors, doctors and patients about the efficacy of her blood-testing machine. It’s a piece of non-fiction that reads like a novel … and it serves as a cautionary tale in a world where “fake news” is all too often and easily passed off as the real thing.

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, And The World, by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

Speaking of fake news, I give you Jho Low, a man who created a multi-billion-dollar, jet-setting personna who rubbed elbows with political big-wigs, jet-setting celebrity wannabees, and some of the biggest names in Hollywood — and who did it almost entirely out of whole cloth. The amount of money being spent and wasted by this fraud is surpassed only by his greed and hubris. This is another too-amazing-to-be-true piece of journalism that is true nonetheless … and that’s what makes it great.

The Algorithmic Leader: How To Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You, by Mike Walsh

As the title indicates, this future-focused book is all about disruption, anticipation, and figuring out where we fit in this changing and chaotic world. Walsh starts with this notion: Humans have arrived at their can-do moment. Are we ready to make the most of it? How do we — a legacy-based profession that’s grounded in the idea that we must spend most of our time looking behind us — take advantage of a sudden influx of new jobs that demand we look further ahead? The answer is all about evolution. “Rather than wondering if your job will disappear,” Walsh writes, “ask yourself, ‘What is the new job inside my old one?’” A great read that will leave you looking at the future of your career in a completely different light.

LifeScale: How To Live A More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life, by Brian Solis

Many of us say, “I’m busier than ever,” as if it’s a fact. It’s not. We’re not busier than ever — we’re merely more distracted than ever. There are more things vying for our time and attention than ever. Our job — perhaps our most important job — is to set aside the distractions so we can focus on what’s truly important. In this eye-opening and life-changing book, futurist and thought leader Brian Solis offers a blueprint for escaping the dark side of distractions and living a better life.

Listen to our podcast interview with Brian Solis here:


Singletasking: Get More Done One Thing At A Time, by Devora Zack

Multitasking isn’t essential — it’s impossible, and trying to do it makes us less productive, not more. Backed by an impressive array of research, Devora Zack makes the compelling case that “singletasking” — doing one thing at a time until it’s complete — isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. You’ll accomplish more important work, learn to prioritize and avoid distractions, and — believe it or not — get more sleep and feel more relaxed. In a world where more things are vying for our time than ever, this is essential reading.

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook Of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell, by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle

One of the greatest leaders in business history was a foul-mouthed former football coach who hugged the BS out of the people he coached. If Bill Campbell was coaching you, it meant he loved you. But it also meant he had no time to waste on you. He spoke his mind. If you listened, you learned — and chances are, you became a great leader yourself as a result. The names of those he coached read like a who’s-who of A-list entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg, Sundar Pichai and Jonathan Rosenberg, to name a few. The authors try to capture the essence of Campbell’s wisdom in the hopes that the rest of us can use that wisdom to improve ourselves … and our organizations.

Unleash Your Leader: How To Win In Business, by Emmanuel Gobillot and Katherine Thomas

This is no less than a blueprint for how to be a great leader in a changing and complex world. So many of us think we have what it takes to do the CEO’s job — we just don’t know how to get there. This book tells us what we should be doing today to improve our odds of becoming the great leaders of tomorrow.

Listen to our podcast interview with Emmanuel Gobillot and Katherine Thomas here:



The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work that Wows and Jobs that Last, by Tom Peters

One of the most prolific and respected management thinkers since Peter Drucker, Tom Peters has been called the “Red Bull of management thinkers.” His latest book puts an exclamation point on that point as he inspires us to focus on “excellence, period.” This book includes his latest thinking and advice on how to thrive the tech tsunami. You might be surprised by his counterintuitive advice that does not include learning more technology but instead focuses on what he calls “extreme humanism” relentlessly adding value every day. Peters also advises us to focus on innovation, execution, and the right culture, which he calls the sine qua non for success today. My copy of this book is full of sticky notes and highlights with the insights and references from one of my favorite authors. Excellence starts in the next five minutes, and Peters shows you the way. Did I mention he is also from Maryland?

Listen to our podcast interview with Tom Peters here.


The Professional Service Firm 50: Fifty Ways to Transform Your Department into a Professional Service Firm Whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation, by Tom Peters

In our podcast interview with Peters, he said “If people had bought this damn book in 1999, it would have saved millions of white-collar jobs from automation by artificial intelligence and technology.” He offers 50 ways to turn your firm or accounting department into a PSF — a professional services firm that’s based on passion and innovation. Two things amazed me: 1) He wrote this in 1999 and predicted the automation of white-collar jobs like the farmer and dock workers and blue-collar workers who were disrupted years before. 2) He actually uses an accounting department as an example. His answer is to reimagine and reinvent what you can do and how you can add value and be relevant to your clients, both external and internal. He goes on to rant, “Accounting is cool. It is important. It can have impact. It can be exciting. It can be beautiful.” Read this book and pick 10 ideas and gather your team and develop a few action items. You’ll be on your way to reinventing yourself and your team.

Listen to our podcast interview with Tom Peters here.


Machine, Platform, Crowd, Harnessing our Digital Future, by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

This is the latest book by the authors who brought us the The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies and gave perspective on the exponential pace of technology driving major disruption. Now the authors are giving us a roadmap to harness these powerful forces and combine them into new business models. They distinguish several changes to the business playbook, starting with the “machine” (automation) and the division of labor that is exponentially shifting. Second, the “crowd” is becoming more capable than the core. In other words, crowd-sourcing is fast becoming a common business strategy. Third is “platform,” as value capture and creation are moving from products to platforms. If accounting is the language of business, we had better learn how it applies to these new forms of businesses coming our way.

The Technology Fallacy: How People are the Real Key to Digital Transformation, by Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky, and Garth R. Andrus

Do you have what it takes to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? The answer might surprise you: It is not (only) about technology. It is actually more about people and the culture supporting how they work and how they must evolve and adapt. The authors explain the difference between “doing digital” and “being digital” as they outline 23 organizational digital DNA traits necessary to transform your business. They use the metaphor of gene-splicing, where you cut apart an organism’s DNA and splice in new genetic material. The result is recombinant (new or modified) DNA to give the organism or organization new resistant super powers needed to thrive in a changing environment. This is a must read for any leader dealing with organizational transformation.

Listen to our podcast interview with Anh Nguyen Phillips here.


How to Win in a Winner Take-All World: The Definitive Guide to Adapting and Succeeding in High-Performance Careers, by Neil Irwin

Do you have what it takes to navigate your career and survive and thrive in a perilous whitewater economy? New York Times Senior Economic Correspondent Neil Irwin reflects on the changes and disruption in the news publishing business and the rise of a new class of workers he calls “glue people” and “T-shaped professionals.” Irwin also challenges us to be anticipatory and understand the changing economics of your industry so you can change with them. He introduces the concept of a “career lattice” to get exposure to other areas of your business. The bottom line is this: We all need to accelerate our adaptability in our careers. This book provides some sound advice and examples.

Saving Washington: The Forgotten Story of the Maryland 400 and The Battle of Brooklyn, by Chris Formant

This was a surprise book for me: The author lives in my neighborhood and I met him on July 4 at a book-signing in Baltimore. He is also an unlikely author as his background is as a global, multi-billion dollar technology company executive. The book is historical fiction that centers on the true story of how a small group of Marylanders saved Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army at the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776, just a few weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. Formant said he was interested in this story for two reasons: 1) He was amazed he had never heard of this story, and 2) he could not figure out why young men would risk their lives to voluntarily fight for an issue based on excessive taxation. He delivers an epoch story told through the eyes of two young men — boys, really — as they risk everything and succeed in the most significant battle of the American Revolution you probably never heard about. I took away a lot of lessons in leadership, like the power of purpose, how leaders always protect their people, how to lead by example, and how to fail fast and learn. This book does for the Revolutionary War what Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War did for Gettysburg. Did I mention that Formant lives in Baltimore and once worked with one of MACPA’s past chairs, Dave Spilman, in the late 1980s and early 1990s? Serendipity, indeed! #MarylandProud


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