Most often, revelations come when we’re least expecting them – while in the shower, driving down the highway, out on a stroll. So, too, it is with uncovering the insights that serve us in our work lives. For a change of pace, I’ve outlined a handful of not-always-obvious books that offer useful knowledge and perspectives for business.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami – A memoir by one of Japan’s most famous contemporary novelists, What I Talk About is only nominally about running. Murakami uses marathon running as a vehicle for talking about his writing practice, and ultimately for an inspirational treatise on the value of discipline, focus, and endurance – good values for any business to internalize.
FREE, by Chris Anderson – OK, this one is definitely about business, but it’s not exactly a book yet. Long Tail author and WIRED Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson has been workshopping his forthcoming book, which describes how free has shifted “from a marketing trick to a new economic model,” on his blog for over a year now. You can follow the fascinating conversation and preview ideas from the book, due out this year, here.
How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, by Adrian Shaughnessy – Despite its title, this book – which contains an intro by Stefan Sagmeister as well as interviews with other major designers – is not just for graphic designers. Rather, the slim volume outlines need-to-know basics and tricks of the trade that will pertain to small creative studios of all kinds. From finding new work to managing persnickety clients, How to Be gives a straightforward breakdown of the art of the commercial art business.
Moneyball, by Michael Lewis – My second nomination in the sports category, Moneyball is about the business of baseball. And what a poor business it was before Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane showed everyone up by building a viable major league team on a shoestring budget. As Lewis expertly unfurls his well-researched tale, he also drives home the value of ignoring conventional business wisdom and how we can thrive when we embrace constraints.
Five Minds for the Future, by Howard Gardner – In this thoughtful and broadly prescriptive book, psychologist and professor Howard Gardner describes the five modes of thinking – disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful, ethical – that will help us “thrive in the world during eras to come.” Though not specifically targeted for business, Gardner’s five minds hold interesting application for thinking about managing and building flexible, knowledgeable, learning-oriented teams as well as about how we can be better, more adaptable leaders.
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Jocelyn K. Glei, a creative strategist with expertise in editorial, design and publishing. She regularly collaborates with Scott Belsky and the Behance Team, who run the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develop knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.