Pursuits | Books

Head into summer 2019 with these top business books

Looking for some solid business reads for this year’s vacation? Here are eight sure-fire picks.

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Young woman wearing a dress reading her book while resting her feet in a poolThese eight books will keep you entertained during the summer (Getty Images/PeopleImages)

Summer: it’s the perfect time for sitting back, chilling out—and relaxing with a captivating business read. 

This year, we’ve shortlisted eight books that are bound to keep you both entertained and informed, no matter where your vacation takes you. 

Happy reading. 

PUT YOUR DREAM TO THE TEST: 10 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU SEE IT AND SEIZE IT

By John C. Maxwell

What’s the difference between a dreamer and someone who makes a dream come true? Quite a lot, as it turns out. In this practical and motivational guide, best-selling author John C. Maxwell leverages his 40-plus years of mentoring experience to help readers probe whether their dream has what it takes to pass a reality check. 

According to Maxwell, there are 10 key questions that anyone with a dream needs to ask themselves. For example, is the dream really yours? Can you clearly see it? Do you have the energy to achieve it? “If you’re willing to do what's needed to answer yes to the 10 questions,” he says, “your odds are very good for seeing your dream become reality.”

THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION: ACHIEVING YOUR WILDLY IMPORTANT GOALS

By Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, et al.

How often have you seen major initiatives in your organization get snuffed out by competing priorities, or cast aside in favour of the next big thing? Probably too often. That’s because the whirlwind of daily tasks required to keep things going day to day can take up every iota of energy we might have devoted to strategizing for tomorrow. 

But help is at hand. In The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Covey and his co-authors provide no less than a master class for creating lasting organizational change. By adhering to the four disciplines (Focus on the wildly important; Act on lead measures; Keep a compelling scoreboard; Create a cadence of accountability), it’s possible to achieve superb results, no matter what the goal. While grounded in time-tested principles, this book offers a new way of thinking and working that should help anyone thrive in a world in constant motion. 

RICH DAD, POOR DAD: WHAT THE RICH TEACH THEIR KIDS ABOUT MONEY THAT THE POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS DO NOT

By Robert Kiyosaki

“Most people never study the subject [of money]. They go to work, get their paycheque…and that’s it. On top of that, they wonder why they have money problems. Few realize that it’s their lack of financial education that is the problem.”

So says Robert T. Kiyosaki in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the best-selling personal finance book that has sold more than 40 million copies. One of Kiyosaki’s main tenets is that rich people make money work for them, while almost everyone else works for money. In other words, trading your time for money is not the best way to accumulate wealth. Instead, financial freedom comes from having enough assets, which generate enough income to cover all of your expenses. That way, there is enough left over to invest in more assets.

Written as a set of parables, ostensibly based on Kiyosaki’s life, the book is hailed as a source of inspiration by fans. As one reader said, “It completely changed my life. [It] taught me to think of money not as an end-goal, but as a tool for wealth creation.”

ACTIVE LISTENING: IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO LISTEN AND LEAD

By Michael H. Hoppe

How often have you pretended to listen to another person while you were secretly planning your grocery shopping list or thinking of what you were going to say next? It’s a common failing, but one that can be disastrous for leaders. How can you direct others if you have never really heard what they have to say?

Fortunately, active listening can be learned. And in this guidebook, Michael H. Hoppe sets out the six skills that are essential to the practice:

  1. Paying attention: being focused on the moment.
  2. Withholding judgment: not trying to push your point right away.
  3. Reflecting: paraphrasing key points.
  4. Clarifying: asking open-ended questions.
  5. Summarize: restating key themes.
  6. Sharing: introducing your ideas and suggestions.

As Hoppe points out, it’s not enough to learn just one of the skills; it’s important to use them all in concert. But if you do, you’ll not only become a much better listener; you’ll become a far better leader as well. 

HOCKEY FIGHT IN CANADA: THE BIG MEDIA FACEOFF OVER THE NHL

By David Shoalts

When the NHL’s Canadian TV rights came up for renewal in 2013, the league unexpectedly chose Rogers’ Sportsnet over both the CBC and Bell Media as its exclusive national broadcaster. The decision triggered shockwaves in some circles, with CBC employees seeing it as a missed opportunity to hold on to at least part of Hockey Night in Canada.

In Hockey Fight, a finalist for the 2019 National Business Book Award, veteran Globe and Mail sportswriter David Shoalts delivers a play-by-play account of the machinations that led up to signing of the $5.2-billion, 12-year deal. Ironically, the win proved costly in the early years: when the Maple Leafs crashed in January 2014, so did the ratings for Hockey Night in Canada. Now, more than five years later, it’s hard to say whether the deal will pan out in the long run for Rogers. But with seven years to go, they still have (some) time on their side. In the meantime, Shoalts provides plenty to ponder in this fascinating mix of sports and business.

RAILROADER: THE UNFILTERED GENIUS AND CONTROVERSY OF FOUR-TIME CEO HUNTER HARRISON

By Howard Green

Railroader is the story of Hunter Harrison, the “serial CEO” from Memphis who turned North American railroads into global leaders in managing freight operations. Starting as a labourer, Hunter spent 50-odd years in the rail industry and almost two decades as CEO of Illinois Central, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and CSX.

In this impeccably researched work—a finalist for the National Business Book Award—best-selling author Howard Green paints a picture of a man who not only renovated established railroads, but forced an entire industry to shape up. Charming, determined and always controversial, he didn’t let anyone or anything stand in his way. 

As one reader put it, “You don’t find many leaders (if any) like this anymore. The book is a must read.” Another said, “You don’t have to love trains to love this book, but you're certain to be dazzled by them—and the people who run them—by the time you put this epic biography down.”

RIGHT HAND MAN: HOW PHIL LIND GUIDED THE GENIUS OF TED ROGERS, CANADA’S FOREMOST ENTREPRENEUR

By Phil Lind with Robert Brehl

As a collaborator and confidant to one of Canada’s greatest business minds for nearly 40 years, Phil Lind helped Ted Rogers build Rogers Communications into a telecom and media powerhouse. In Right Hand Man, a finalist for the National Business Book Award, he shares his story. 

It’s not by chance that Lind was known as Rogers’ “Abominable No Man.” As friends, the two men often disagreed. Still, Lind was able to help Rogers choose the best ideas and made them work. Those ideas included the deals that saw Rogers acquire Maclean’s, the Toronto Blues Jays and Sportsnet, to name just a few. 

When Rogers died in 2008, the company was worth $20 billion. As Lind says, “No one’s done that in Canada [in one generation]. No one. Ever. So I thought, that in itself is worthy of writing about.”

MELTDOWN: WHAT PLANE CRASHES, OIL SPILLS, AND DUMB BUSINESS DECISIONS CAN TEACH US ABOUT HOW TO SUCCEED AT WORK AND AT HOME

By Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik

Normally, you wouldn’t think that a crash on a subway system, an accidental overdose in a state-of-the-art hospital and an overcooked holiday meal have anything in common. Yet new research shows all these events—and all the many failures that happen every day all over the world—are rooted in similar causes. By understanding those causes, we can design better systems to prevent them.

In Meltdown, winner of the 2019 National Business Book Award, Chris Clearfield and Andras Tilcsik combine riveting stories with cutting-edge social science to show how the increasing complexity of our systems creates the conditions for failure and why our brains just cannot keep pace. If you’re wondering why mistakes, bungles and meltdowns happen and what you can do to prevent them, you’ll come away from this book with a new sense of empowerment and practical tools for dealing with all kinds of situations—whether you're managing a team or handling the chaos of your family’s morning routine.

MORE SUMMER READING INSPIRATION   

Take along one of these interesting business reads on your next vacation. And get lessons applicable to the boardroom from these four classic sports books