Longitudes Bookroom: What Six Big Thinkers are Reading

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” In other words, life is finite; your book list should not be. Step into new thoughts and new learnings by stealing from some of the top thinkers speaking and writing today.

A great book will change your perspective. Or, at the very least, as P.J. O’Rourke has quipped, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”

Let us know what you’re reading.

beingmortalAmy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School and author of Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate and compete in the knowledge economy

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, mixes research and storytelling to explore how American medicine handles aging and death.

“This is a truly important book, and yet one that is a pleasure to read. Gawande’s use of language, his compassion, his own humility and sharing of surprises, make it a page turner. It’s also a book that could and should change how we think about healthcare, to improve lives and reduce suffering.”

Old Path White CloudsMarshall Goldsmith, business educator, coach, and author of Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts — Becoming the Person You Want to Be

Old Path, White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of the Buddha’s life through to his path to enlightenment and nirvana.

“Because it provides great advice on how to live a wonderful life. It makes you feel more at peace, just when you read it.”

Leadership BSHerminia Ibarra, The Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning, INSEAD Professor of Organizational Behavior, and author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer exposes the business of leadership, with its thousands of books, blogs and talks and its ultimate failure to clarify why real leaders are successful, and provides practical advice for improving management.

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“His compassion, his own humility and sharing of surprises, make it a page turner.” –Edmondson

“I’m really enjoying reading a preview of a new book by a colleague, Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. And, yes, you read correctly! Jeff is appalled by the huge quantities of leadership books, videos and blogs out there that are not based on research evidence but on personal anecdote or people’s ideas about how things ought to be — rather than what it actually takes to lead effectively (and not get fired in the process).

He shows how this state of affairs not only breeds cynicism but also encourages naïve behavior that can harm people’s career prospects.

The book is fun to read because Jeff is a master storyteller: He combines many of the available data sources about the dismal state of leadership today with findings from rigorous research that explain why we should be more discerning about the leadership content we consume.”

Whitney Johnson, investor, speaker and author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work

No One Understands YouNo One Understands You: And What to Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson helps readers close the gap between how they see themselves and how others perceive them, making clear why we are often misunderstood.

“As a social psychologist, she has delved into how we are perceived, and then delivers practical tips on what we can do to improve that perception. One of her top tips? ‘Be trustworthy.’”

Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, Drive, and To Sell is Human

No One Understands You: And What to Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson

“It’s a sad truth about human perception: Other people don’t see you objectively. Nor do they see you as you see yourself. One of America’s top young social psychologists marshals the research to tell us how to respond.”

Rookie SmartsNavi Radjou, Innovation and leadership strategist and author of Frugal Innovation

Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing by Liz Wiseman demonstrates why continually learning and questioning is so important to staying relevant in a changing marketplace.

“This book shows why in an increasingly complex, digital, and globally-interconnected economy, managers need to unlearn and relearn constantly — or else they will be “disrupted” by nimble novices. In this brave new world, experienced Goliaths find themselves at a disadvantage vis-a-vis untrained Davids.

Knowledge is no longer power: it becomes a weakness. Ignorance is the new source of competitive advantage. This is a great time to be an underdog…because you have nothing to lose and can disrupt and conquer any industry you like.

I am a bit biased about this book because it contains a case study on me (describing me as a die-hard underdog)!!” goldbrown2


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