Five+ Categories – 28 Books – A Whole Lot of Learning

New Books banner, 2020I was recently asked to prepare a list of recommended books for a company that wanted a number of book synopses for groups and teams that they serve.

I present book synopses, every week, of books that will instruct and motivate and teach people how to lead, how to think, how to be more effective…

I have created quite a few such lists through the years.  This list is prepared for the needs of this particular client.  But I’ve got a hunch that any company or organization could benefit greatly from synopses of these books for some serious training sessions for their key people.

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

In my synopses (some organizations call these synopses “book briefings,” I provide thorough and comprehensive handouts of the key content of each book.   These handouts include:

  • the main point of the book
  • why the book is worth our time
  • important excerpts taken directly from the book (the best of Randy’s highlighted passages)
  • references to a few of the best stories from the book
  • key points of the book
  • my own lessons and takeaways

When I present my synopsis/briefing, every participant has the handout, and follows along.

One client calls what I provide “a deep immersion in a book.”  I like that. I think it captures what I try to do.

I have presented synopses of many, many more good books. But, I think I can promise you that if you and your team immerse yourself in these 28 books, you would take a leap forward in your understanding, and you might become much more productive, more effective, more innovative….

This list includes a few “classics,” that though they are older, I would still strongly recommend them:  Encouraging the Heart; Getting Things Done; The Checklist Manifesto; Drive.

And, a few of these fit more than one category.  For example, Smarter Faster Better is about:  personal productivity; teams; culture…

So, here they are:  five+ catgegories, 28 books, and a whole lot of learning.


Leadership – (with books that would be complementary to Servant Leadership emphasis)

this is the book that we started with in 2019

this is the book that we started with in 2019

Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (Simon and Schuster, 1999)

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. St. Martin’s Press (March 14, 2017)

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown. Random House. 2018.

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  St. Martin’s Press (2015)

Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink. St. Martin’s Press (January 14, 2020).

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Bing West. Random House (September 3, 2019).


Category:Digital Transformation
Future Orientation – Foresight

Change: How Organizations Achieve Hard-to-Imagine Results in Uncertain and Volatile Times by John P. Kotter, Vanessa Akhtar, Gaurav Gupta.

Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel. RosettaBooks (July 9, 2019).

2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillen.

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2016.

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath. Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (March 3, 2020)

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. Viking. 2021

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford. Basic Books, 2015.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. Foreword by Sheryl Sandberg.


Personal Productivity

Atomic HabitsAtomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. Avery (October 16, 2018)

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Viking Press; 2001)

Mindset by Carol Dweck Ballantine Books; Updated edition (December 26, 2007).

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. Riverhead Books (January 9, 2018)

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business – Random House, March 8, 2016

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Hardcover;  (December 29, 2009)



#1 - & my selection for the July First Friday Book Synopsis

#1 – & my selection for the July First Friday Book Synopsis

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books (2009).

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr; Larry Page, (Foreword). Portfolio (April 24, 2018). 

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. BenBella Books. (April 3, 2012)

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling.


Customer Service

Power of MomentsThe Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Simon & Schuster.  (2017)

The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in your Company by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson (McGraw Hill Books, 1998


Basically Uncategorized

Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair by Kim Scott. St. Martin’s Press. 2021.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace. Random House (April 8, 2014).


You might also want to read these blog posts, for other “lists” of books I have recommended.:

The Essential Baker’s Dozen – 12 (OK – 13) Books to Read to set yourself up for more success in business and in life, in 2021; and beyond


A More Comprehensive Reading list for leaders – So many good books; so much to learn


I have presented synopses of business books monthly for over 23 years.  Our synopses are available for purchase.  Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of the synopsis presentation (recorded at our First Friday Book Synopsis events).

You can order them from our web site.  Click on the “Buy Synopses” tab above to search by book title.  And click here for our newest additions.

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