Curious minds lead to creativity and innovation. Both are the hallmarks of great leadership and entrepreneurs. The guests of our award-winnning interview series Velocitize Talks routinely share their recommendations for books and podcasts, from business classics to creative fiction. Below you will find what Velocitize Talks guests are reading and some of their favorites. The breadth and depth of these selected publications showcase the best in curious minds.
1. Road to VR, Upload VR
Lucky Gobindram, EVP, Sales & Marketing, CemtrexLabs: “I read a lot of ‘Upload VR’ or ‘Road to VR,’ ‘HYPEBEAST’ and other blogs that give me insight and inform me as to what’s interesting and what’s cooking out there.”
Gobindram enjoys staying up to date on segments that hold his interest. The top 50 list of VR websites ranks “Road to VR” and “Upload VR” as #1 and #2, respectively. Road to VR is an independent news publication dedicated to the consumer virtual reality industry. Upload VR is an online news organization focused on the intersection between people and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR). Gobindram also cites HYPEBEAST as a favorite destination for men’s contemporary fashion, pop culture and current trends.
Adam Lovallo, Founder, Thesis Testing: “There’s a Traction book specifically pertaining to growth marketing, written by two very well-respected growth marketing luminaries and thought leaders. I think it’s spectacular.”
“Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers,” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, provides startups with the framework successful companies have used to gain traction. The book summary reads that “founders and employees fail to spend time thinking about (and working on) traction” in the same way they work on product. That approach is short sighted and all but ensures failure.
As the one book that Lovallo recommends to everyone as a “growth marketing jump starter,” he also likes how the authors go chapter by chapter discussing the major marketing channels one by one. It shows brands the best channels they need to focus their marketing efforts and gain traction.
(This is the second guest on Velocitize Talks that has recommended Traction.)
3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Bill Carr, CEO & Chief Technology Consultant, Carpe Diem: “’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’ is a brilliant book. It enables me to look back at how society uses technology.”
Known for his books “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus,” Yuval Harari’s newest book, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” provides readers with an ominous look at current threats, from global hacking to a more polarized and divided society. Harari subsequently explores how to navigate the ever-changing and uncertain technology landscape. Carr finds that he employs a good deal of how-society-uses-technology thinking when developing projects for clients.
4. Good to Great
Tim Baier, Co-Founder & CEO, Spiracle Media: “Reading through the different things that have made companies so great over the years was very inspiring, to think of the little decisions that can make such a big difference.”
Top of mind for any business owner is, how can we become great? The team at Spiracle Media wanted to dig deeper into examining this question, so they read the best-selling business book by Jim Collins, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” as a company. “Good to Great” is the culmination of a five-year research project comparing companies that made the leap to those that did not.
The book illustrates how “greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” As a result, Baier has implemented one of the key concepts—Entrepreneur Operating System—into his company.
(This is the second guest on Velocitize Talks who has recommended “Good to Great.”)
5. User Friendly
Neil Harner, Founder & CEO, Inverse Paradox: “It goes through all different types of technological interfaces that we’re dealing with; everything from flight controls in a plane to the sky’s the limit.”
“User Friendly” is a book “spanning over a century of sweeping changes, from women’s rights to the Great Depression to World War II to the rise of the digital era.” Harner enjoyed the book so much he has made it required reading for his university students because “it helps them to better understand how to really study problems, understand the problems, and then design around that, not just design because it’s a good idea.” It turns the assumption that machines should anticipate what we need on its head.
6. Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement
Ab Emam, Founder & CEO, Web Development Group: “It’s about employee engagement and how to work better with your staff and your team.”
“Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement” offers readers a sustainable way to engage employees through a model called the Engagement Bridge, which highlights the areas that leaders need to examine in order to build a highly engaged company culture while providing a framework for success. The book includes case studies from some of the world’s top companies like Zappos, VaynerMedia, Virgin and American Express. According to best-selling author Daniel H. Pink, “Build It” is “your all-things-necessary guide to employee engagement” to transform your workplace.
7. The Trillion Dollar Coach
Cameron Van Orman, EVP & CMO, Planview: “It is a blueprint for compassion and how to create higher-performing, faster-moving cultures, teams and companies by really being human-centric.”
The “Trillion Dollar Coach,” written by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, shares the leadership playbook of legendary coach and business executive Bill Campbell. Featuring intimate stories from people who knew Coach Bill, the book illustrates how he developed “trusting relationships, fostered personal growth, infused courage, emphasized operational excellence, and identified simmering tensions that inevitably arise in fast-moving environments.”
“Trillion Dollar Coach” has been subsequently hailed as the “blueprint for forward-thinking business leaders and managers that will help them create higher-performing and faster-moving teams and companies.”
8. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Lauren Leva, VP of Marketing Services, Grafik: “As a marketer, content is really important to me, and to be able to communicate through the written word. Anne Lamott’s book on writing called ‘Bird by Bird’ is one that I read over and over.”
The sage wisdom of Anne Lamott has long been sought out by writers across the spectrum. “Bird by Bird” offers up Lamott’s signature wit and wisdom to aspiring writers. The Seattle Times writes, “A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… Sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind—a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can.”
9. Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Maria Twena, Partner & Global Head of Consumer X, 9thWonder: “Sam Huntington, who was a late professor at Harvard, wrote a book called ‘Clash of Civilizations‘ years ago, which I read to get inside the general market consumer cohort’s mindset to really understand what it meant to be American.”
While Twena doesn’t agree with all of Huntington’s viewpoints, she appreciates the insight into what it means to be American. “I was born here, but my parents weren’t American or non-American,” Twena says. “So the ethos was a very different ethos in the U.S. It is all about the Protestant work ethic and self-reliance and independence and those are the values that we cherish. But for a Latino it’s very different. It’s a collective of those. It’s all about interdependence not independence. That in and of itself is one of the huge cultural differences within these cohorts.”
10. Corporate Rebels
Richard Coope, Founding & Managing Director, Brightful: “They’ve written a brilliant book and their single purpose is they want to make work more fun. They’ve seen a correlation between joy and this idea of stripping away unnecessary complexity.”
Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree, the authors of “Corporate Rebels,” set out to visit the world’s most inspiring organizations. They found that today’s workplaces are badly broken with 85% of employees disengaged, 23% feeling burned out, and 37% believing that their job makes no useful contribution to society. In other words, work as we know it today is simply not working. But after visiting and evaluating 100+ of the world’s most innovative organizations, they discovered how to make work rewarding, while boosting performance and success.
What are the books you are reading? Care to add something to this list? Comment below.