At the National Association of Corporate Directors Summit last week, Admiral James Stavrids, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO gave a talk on global risks. When asked how we as Board members can be most prepared, his answer was to read books, and think deeply. In our digital culture, twitter feeds too often supplant a good book. As an inveterate reader and author, I cheered his reply. Listed below are some of his recommendations as well as the books written by some of the other summit presenters. (And of course, don’t forget about my latest book, Thriving in the Gig Economy. ) These books will give you new insights in the board table as well as the kitchen table.
The Jungle Grows Back, America and our Imperiled World, by Robert Kagan
Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution builds the metaphor of the world as a jungle, full of bad actors. America and liberal democracy have been trying to cut it back. Now, as the US and others pursue a more populist and isolationist path, the jungle is growing back and can change the current world order.
Peddling Protectionism, Smoot Hawley and the Great Depression by Douglas Irwin
A history of the tariff environment that contributed to the Great depression. It provides history and a lens from which to view the current trade skirmishes.
The Vanishing American Corporation, Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy by Jerry Davis
The number of public companies dropped by half in the last 20 years. Similarly, the average life of a Fortune 500 Company has gone from 75 years in 1970 to 15 years today. These corporate dislocations are a root cause of the income inequality and social instability we see today, since the companies replacing the old guard are very different enterprises.
The Power of Moments, Why Certain Experiences have Extraordinary Impact by Dan Heath
This book examines the mysteries of experience: Why do we remember the best or worst moment of an experience, and perhaps last moment, and forget the rest? Why do “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but more alive when they’re not? Experiences can change our lives even when they happen by accident.
The Dumpster Fire Election, Realistic Dystopian Expectations for the 2020 Presidential Elections by Jason Schenker
This book examines how identity politics, social media and the growing divisions in America will make the 2020 election one of the most contentious in history.
Imagine it Forward, Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change by Beth Comstock
Change is difficult for organizations and people. In a deeply personal business book, the author, talks about her own transformation, from introverted publicist to Vice Chair of GE while offering ideas for transforming organizations a well.
Human + Machines , Reimagining Work in the Age of AI by–Paul Daugherty
As politicians and policy makers wonder about the grim future that may result from advances in automation, they miss the point. It is the collaboration of humans and machines that will create a whole new type of organization, more fluid, adaptive, innovative and profitable.
Leadership in Turbulent Times, Doris Kearns Godwin
Doris Kerns Goodwin has written several biographies of US Presidents. Based on those account of “her boys”, as she likes to call them, she puts together lessons n leadership that she has gleaned from her work.
I hope you enjoy the list. I am. Happy reading!