For those of you in college, finals week is here or over already. That means you'll have quite a bit of free time during winter break. I remember in high school, winter breaks were spent sleeping or watching Prison Break re-runs. Unfortunately, that's not longer the case-- in a job market this competitive, every inch of advantage you can attain will help you stand out in the long run. If you're not doing some form of internship,-prep, or networking during the break, I highly recommend you do some heavy reading.
This goes beyond your typical "catch-up-on-WSJ-headlines" consumption of news. I mea to explore all realms of your industry. I highly recommend you seek out all forms of business literature: yes, there's the usual suggestions. A daily newspaper that covers industry news is a must. The Economist and and the Financial Times will keep you in check, as well as improve your vocabulary and boost your critical thinking skills. Old textbooks, as much as we hate them, can serve to provide insight on topics you might not be so clear on; I know for a fact that my old Intro to Financial Accounting textbook covers a few areas of corporate governance that I'm not too sharp on.
With that said, there are also wonderful pieces of knowledge that come in the form of books, and I don't meanor Barbarians at the Gates. Though classic, those books are becoming cliche if not outdated. And if you're on Wall Street Oasis, you already know that The Four Hour Work-Week is just as impossible as the Secret of Think and Grow Rich. Without getting too into the subject, many books that cater to the mainstream business audience reject basic tenets of hard work, or include a spiritual element. I don't know about you, but busting ass to do a good job is the same regardless of whether you're an entrepreneur or at a corporate office. You also need to work hard if you're thinking positive or attaining karma points.
The books I recommend may not be immediately relevant to the business world at first glance, or may seem out of the blue, but I assure you that they'll change the way you think and provide good talking points for networking or interviews. I plan to review them all once these
all-nighter-inducing finals are over, and I suggest you do too.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - Wait, what? Didn't you just say that elements of spirituality are bad for business? Do you know what you're talking about? Yes, I do. Let me explain: if you look past the spiritual aspect-- past all the "consciousness" and metaphysical stuff-- what the book teaches you is to enjoy the moment. Look, the best way to do well in anything is 1) preparation and 2) full embracing the act. You know how eventual burn-outs tolerate 100 hour workweeks at first? By constantly thinking about what the future holds for them at the end. Life is too short for that. If you think about how your favorite billionaire business magnate describes his work, it's usually fun. This happens when one dives deeply into his work-- so much so that he becomes amazing at it and then finds meaning at it. To do that, you must take the first step and use this very moment to enjoy what you have and what you're doing.
Time Warrior by Steve Chandler - This is probably the best time management book at there at the moment. Beginnining with a powerful Bruce Lee quote (the successful person is the average person with laser-like focus), the author acts a sports coach, motivating you to take action in reaching your goals. It is as much inspiration as it is a collection of tools to help one do the necessary to succeed. It is especially useful for young professionals raised in an internet-fueled ADD world, teaching you how to sharpen your concentration-- a critical skill for any goal.
Lawyer by Joe Jamail - OK, now you're really confused. Why is an autobiography about a LAWYER in a list of books for future business leaders? I actually first read this book early on in my college career before I switched over to business. It was actually one of the books that made me NOT want to do law. Reason is, if you read the book, you realize one thing: Joe Jamail is in love with the occupation. A billionaire trial(do you know how rare that is?), his description of how he feels in a courtroom made me realize that I would never, ever feel that same way in the legal profession. The man is 87 years old and still practicing. It really says something that most i-bankers just want to break in, kill themselves for 2-3 decades, and retire rich. What about going into a profession you enjoy so much that you'll inevitably become rich because you're so good, and that you'll do even when you're pushing 90? Food for thought.
Titan - the Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow- Up until I read this book, I lived solely for my parents. I wanted to go to good schools, get a 4.0, and practice law because my father said so. I wanted to marry a nice girl, have 2-3 kids, and settle down around 25 because that's what my mom wanted. Adjusted for inflation, Rockefeller was once worth around $500 billion. Author Chernow spends a lot of time in the biography focusing on Rockefeller's father. Why? Because Rockefeller did everything in his power to not be like the scoundrel, thought for himself, and made history. This book may not make you a multi-billionaire, but it may just give you the inspiration to remove the mental chains that your family (often unintentionally) put on you.
What non-traditional business books would you guys recommend?