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Business Growth

Top 7 books all CEOs & business managers should read

BY Clara Lu 11 Apr, "14

We had team lunch the other day at a local Mexican food joint and Cameron (mighty CEO of TradeGecko) told us this over messy plates of tacos and burritos

‘It doesn't matter if you are a veteran CEO or entrepreneur new to the scene, you need to equip yourself with tools and resources for self enrichment.’

Since he reads no less than 20 books a week, I put my trust in his recommendations, as follows:

CEOFlow

1. CEOFlow: Turn Your Employees Into Mini-CEOs, by Aaron Ross

As a CEO or manager, you hardly get a break from issues at work. This book is for all business owners who want a peace of mind and freedom that comes with knowing you have inspired your employees to care as much about your business as you do. Learn to create an environment where your staff always do a great job without you have to push them – a ‘pull’ (collaborative) instead of a ‘push’ (dogmatic) organisation structure.

Much of the book is based upon Aaron’s experiences in technology companies. He used to be a founder of a dot com company, LeaseExchange, before he ‘put his ego aside’ and joined Salesforce.com, first as a telephone sales rep, then as the creator and manager of a very successful inside sales team, and finally as a Director in their Mergers & Acquisitions Group.

Comments on this book all state that it’s an educational read on management techniques, and that Aaron talks a lot about his philosophy and backs it up with very specific examples from his experience as the manager of an inside sales team at Salesforce.com.

2. The Startup Owners Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company, by Steve Blank

More than 100,000 entrepreneurs rely on this book detailed instructions for building a successful, scalable, profitable startups, and it’s taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, and more than 100 other leading universities worldwide. Why?

The Startup Owner’s Manual guides you, step-by-step, as you put the customer development process to work. This method was created by renowned Silicon Valley startup expert Steve Blank, acknowledged catalyst of the ‘Lean Startup’ movement, and tested and refined by him for more than a decade.

This is a must-read if you want to avoid instant/infant mortality of your venture and boost success for every type of entrepreneur.

books as resources for CEOs

3. Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore

A bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets, this bestselling guide presents a new game plan for marketing in high-tech markets. Geoffrey (the author) is extremely well versed in the art of business consulting, where some of his clients include HP, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. The most recent edition of Crossing the Chasm includes dozens of new examples of successes and failures, new strategies for marketing in the digital world, and his most current insights and findings

“This book is very boring, the author is very focused on details and exactly because of that the book is extremely important for every enterprise on the IT industry,” says a reader. It is truly a classic that will never be out of date.

4. High Output Management, by Andrew S. Grove

This is a user-friendly guide to the art and science of management from Andrew, often referred to as the ‘guy who drove the growth phase’ of Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs, when he was considering returning to be Apple’s CEO, called Andrew, who as someone he ‘idolised’, for his personal advice.

Andrew’s recommendations are equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers – anyone whose job entails getting a group of people to produce something of value. Adapting the innovations that have made Intel one of America’s most successful corporations, this book will revolutionise the way you work.

The Checklist Manifesto

5. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande

Atul’s bestseller of a book shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it. The volume and complexity of knowledge in the modern world today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people consistently, correctly, safely. The Checklist Manifesto contains riveting stories that teach you how to make striking improvements to work processes with a checklist – the simplest of methods.

His insights have already made a difference in the healthcare industry, where a surgical checklist from the World Health Organisation has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard and been called ‘the biggest clinical invention in thirty years’

6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz

Another one of Sillicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, Ben offers essential advice on building and running a startup – practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover. He analyses problems that confront leaders every day, sharing insights he has gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. He even amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favourite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors.

In fact, even Larry Page, cofounder and CEO of Google, thinks that “Ben’s book is a great read – with uncomfortable truths about entrepreneurship and how to lead a company. It’s also an inspiring story of a business rebirth through sheer willpower.”

7. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm, by Verne Harnish

Thousands of business owners have benefited directly from the simple and practical ‘tools’ outlined in the book. It is a compilation of best practices adapted from some of the best-run firms on the planet. To add on, there are case studies demonstrating the validity of Verne’s practical approaches.

Verne has a gift for turning complex problems into simple solutions. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits provides easy-to-use tools for making strategically smart decisions and for keeping everyone aligned and accountable to those decisions.

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Resources: 1 | 2 | 3

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