I read several amazing books in 2019, but three of them instantly catapulted themselves to the top of my all-time favourite business-book list. (They were THAT good!) If one of your goals for 2020 is to read more, I highly recommend you start here...
Okay, sure, anyone who knows me knows I have a lifelong love of Disney. But you don't have to have my passion for the House of Mouse to appreciate this amazing book. I made the good decision to "read" this via Audible, and so it felt like a friend was telling me his story. Towards the end of the book, Iger recaps the lessons found throughout the book, but read start to finish, it's the tale of how one man rose to be the most powerful person in the entertainment world.
Quick, who started streaming giant, "Netflix"? You'd be forgiven if your answer was, "Reed Hastings", but you'd only be half-right. Because Netflix's first CEO was actually Marc Randolph, who shares the story of how what is now the world's most ubiquitous streaming service came to be, and the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur along the way. This book should be required reading for anyone even thinking of starting a business, but it's also an entertaining, amusing, "quick read" for anyone who's ever wondered how Netflix came to be. (Spoiler alert: that story of Reed getting the idea after racking up serious Blockbuster late fees on Apollo 13? Yeah, not so much...) Bonus: Randolph seems to be a genuinely nice guy! He included his email address in the book, and because I just had to know if it was real, I sent him a note to tell him how much I enjoyed his book... and he emailed me back! (Yup, I'm on my way to becoming BFF's with the founder of Netflix...)
There's a good chance you've already read this brilliant book, because it was published in late 2017 and I'm late to the party here. But if you haven't, click the link above and then hit, "Buy Now with 1-Click". (No, the irony of me telling you to do this for this particular book is not lost on me.) After finishing this book -- and then having the chance to attend a live taping of The Pivot podcast in Toronto late last year -- I have a newfound obsession with NYU Professor Scott Galloway, who says he began writing this book as a "love letter" to the tech giants that most of us interact with every day, but realized it was actually a cautionary tale by the time he was finished. So whether you want to know the dangers of allowing tech companies to become this large or you want to know how they did it so you can replicate their success, this is a worthwhile read. (Bonus: Galloway has an incredible sense of humour; if I had a dollar for every strange look I earned on the subway while reading this book...)
Those were my top three reads of 2019. They were so good that I used an Indigo giftcard I got for my birthday to buy second (physical) copies of all three books so I could keep them at my desk for easy reference.
What's on my list for 2020? Here are my Top Five, all of which I already purchased and hope to have read by the end of March:
1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell, by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
As per the Amazon write-up, "Bill Campbell played an instrumental role in the growth of several prominent companies, such as Google, Apple, and Intuit, fostering deep relationships with Silicon Valley visionaries, including Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt. In addition, this business genius mentored dozens of other important leaders on both coasts, from entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to educators to football players, leaving behind a legacy of growing companies, successful people, respect, friendship, and love after his death in 2016." Yeah, this is my next read.
I'm lucky enough to know Ron personally, and I've witnessed his brilliance up-close-and-personal. (In my previous capacity as Chief Marketing Officer of the Hill Street Beverage Company, I hired his agency to do some work for us.) While perhaps I should have read this BEFORE launching a newsletter, I'm excited to dive into this book as soon as I can.
I'll share a secret with you: I've had a crazy idea for a business in my head for some time now, and since I've been trying to decide whether 2020 is the year I pursue this "Loonshot" for some time now, this book had instant appeal for me. Then I learned this book earned a place on the "Best Business Book of the Year" lists for Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, AND the Washington Post... so it's probably well-worth my time.
4. Brand New Name: A Proven, Step-by-Step Process to Create an Unforgettable Brand Name, by Jeremy Miller
I had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy last year when I attended his book launch at the University of Toronto. There he gave a terrific synopsis of the process he uses to help companies find great brand names, and I'm eager to learn more. (Should I have made reading this book a priority before naming this newsletter "dp thoughts"? Um... probably.)
5. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall.
After watching Buckingham present at last year's Elevate Tech Festival, I already know each of the "nine lies" to which the authors refer... but that doesn't make me want to read up on them in detail any less. This is sure to be a great read.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee Kindle Edition, by Danny Fingeroth
My loyalty has always been with DC (fun fact: I have two sons, and they're both named after Superman!), but it's impossible to understate Stan Lee's numerous contributions not only to the superhero genre but also to the entertainment world as a whole. (Let's remember that Avengers: Endgame set numerous box-office records, and became the highest-grossing film of all time by earning a staggering $2.8 billion at the global box office.) I know a little bit about the man born as Stanley Martin Lieber (ironically, from reading a book about the History of Superman), but I'm eager to know more.
And there you have it!
If you have any feedback on my list -- or any suggestions on what I should read when I'm done with these ones -- please send me an email.
Disclosure: if you click the book links above and decide to make a purchase, I'll earn a small commission from Amazon through the company's affiliate program. But I would recommend these books regardless, and I hope you know me well enough to know that's true.