As the end of summer draws near, it’s back-to-school season for students—and for business leaders. Penta President Matt McDonald compiled a list of reading recommendations for those interested in business, including young professionals, aspiring leaders, and experienced executives to challenge their thinking, learn about the workings of the business world, and gear up for the rest of the year, no matter where they are in their careers.
Learn more from Matt about his recommendations below:
I read a lot of business books, and it always blows my mind the knowledge that people give away for ~$30 or a library card. I am occasionally asked for my book recommendations, often by people heading off for their MBAs. So here is my ~$300 course list (in sequence of your career):
Start with The Ten Day MBA by Steven Silbiger. This gives people the basics across all disciplines for how to start to understand the mechanics of business.
For a little more application and help in the day-to-day, I would go to The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel. Whatever work you are in, the methodologies and ways of thinking will help you work your way through problems.
In thinking about your career, I would start with How to Win by Neil Irwin. This is part research, part self-help, but has excellent advice for what to look for in your early career and how to think about opportunities (with Penta cameos!)
Once you move to a management role, take a look through Bringing Up the Boss by Rachel Pacheco. Again, this has a lot of solid practical advice on managing people. It’s always harder than it looks and a lot of people aren’t prepared for it.
For a more macro view of how businesses work and managing a business rather than a team, start with Good to Great by Jim Collins
Winning by Jack and Suzy Welch is also a great read. They have a strong way of framing the culture, values, and habits of an organization.
For some less orthodox approaches, check out No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.
Whatever business you are in, understand the mechanics of how it works. Managing the Professional Services Firm by David Maister is a great example of this.
And when you get to the top with all this cheap knowledge, take a look at CEO Excellence by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller, and Vik Malhotra. It’s a great look at all the angles of how to do a hard job well.
And of course bonus points for Penta’s in-house authors, Partner Mike Berland, who wrote Maximum Momentum: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and Alberto Lopez-Valenzuela, who wrote The Connecting Leader: In the Age of Hyper-Transparency, Interconnectivity and Media Anarchy, How Corporate Leaders Connect Business with Society. Both offer essential insights to business leaders looking to disrupt the status quo.
Matt McDonald is the president of Penta and has served as a senior counselor to leaders in the public and private sectors for more than two decades, providing guidance at the intersection of communications and business strategy. In addition to leading Penta, Matt is engaged in client work with a particular focus on finance and technology. His work has ranged from reputation building and thought leadership to strategy development and organizational change. Matt also leads work on crisis communications and debates around issues of intense public scrutiny.
For more book recommendations and a conversational deep dive on the case for reading business books, check out this episode of What’s at Stake with Penta President Matt McDonald and partner Andrea Christianson here.