Article written by Angela Hydes, Marketing and Content Contributor. Follow us at @TALGroup.
Knowledge is power and you should never stop challenging your brain. Leaders don’t get to where they are without building their wisdom along the way. In fact, many business leaders cite books as being their greatest source of learning.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of 11 books that influenced some of society’s greatest leaders. While some are childhood favorites, and others are weighty classics, all of them challenge the reader to break away from traditional thinking.
Check out our shortlist below and consider if any sound interesting to you. Who knows… maybe one of these books could help you transform into the leader you are meant to be?
1. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg: ‘The Aeneid’ By Virgil
Zuckerberg originally read this book in Latin during high school, but returned to it again many years later as an adult. The story of Aeneas’s quest to build a city that ‘knows no boundaries in time and greatness‘ inspired Zuck to expand Facebook and not be bound to conventional thinking. [via]
2. OWN CEO, Oprah Winfrey: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ By Harper Lee
To quote Oprah directly: “I remember reading this book and then going to class and not being able to shut up about it. I read it in eighth or ninth grade, and I was trying to push the book off on other kids. So it makes sense to me that now I have a book club, because I have been doing that since probably this book.” [via]
3. Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent: ‘The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World’ By Niall Ferguson
The book chronicles the evolution of the financial system, and according to Kent, it is “one of the best” books on economic observations. [via]
4. President of the USA, Barack Obama: ‘Song of Solomon’ by Toni Morrison
In this novel, a man must discover his origins and come to terms with his roots and Obama strongly admires Morrison’s ability to question identity. He also drew valuable lessons from the character’s journey in this novel. [via]
5. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg: ‘Bossy Pants’ by Tina Fey
Amid the humor in this novel, Fey also covers the big issues women face in the workplace, including the glass ceiling and the tendency for men to diss women in meetings. Sandberg believes women in business should read this to become stronger, more confidant leaders in the workplace. [via]
6. Society Icon & Actor, Bill Murray: ‘Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain
To quote Murray: “Well, my favorite author is Mark Twain. He’s smart, and funny. Huckleberry Finn, especially the chapter all the purists hate, in which Tom Sawyer stages an elaborate rescue of Jim, is a writer having as much fun as possible.” [via]
7. Former Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
To quote Gates: “I didn’t actually read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ until I was 13, and ever since then I’ve said that’s my favorite book. It’s very clever. It acknowledges that young people are a little confused, but can be smart about things and see things that adults don’t really see. So I’ve always loved it.” [via]
8. Actor, Robin Williams: The ‘Foundation’ Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Williams believed that this sci-fi trilogy was one of the greatest books of all time. It begins in a new chapter of a man’s future, in which an old empire is crumbling into barbarism and millions of worlds are present co-existing in the same galaxy. The book celebrates art, science and technology. Williams’ favorite character in the trilogy was The Mule. [via]
9. Politician, Hillary Clinton: ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
To quote Clinton: “The Brothers Karamazov made a lasting impression on me when I read it as a young woman; I intend to reread it this summer to see what I now think about it. My favorite short stories are by Alice Munro, especially her collections Carried Away and Runaway. That’s an easy choice for me compared with the many poets I’ve appreciated over time. Included in that list are E. E. Cummings, T. S. Eliot, Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver and W. B. Yeats”.[via]
10. Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘Competing Against Time’ by George Stalk Jr.
According to Apple employees, Cook frequently recommends this novel to new hires and hands out copies of it to his colleagues. In the book, author Stalk Jr. argues that time is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality and even innovation.
When harnessed properly, he argues it can be used as a strategic weapon against competitors. The book also tackles the ways that leading companies manage time effectively – in production, in new product development and in sales and distribution. [via]
11. Business Magnate & NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: ‘How Will You Measure Your Life’ by Clayton M Christensen
Bloomberg recommends this book, which delivers inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life. It also includes lucid observations and penetrating insights designed to help any reader—student or teacher, mid-career professional or retiree, parent or child—forge their own paths to fulfillment. [via]
Which book will make your reading list?
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