Excellence University Blog

My Top Recommended Reading List

by John Spence

August 18th, 2006

The following is a list of ONLY my top reading recommendations. I know the list looks long, but I assure you these are just the very best out of my library. I have put the symbol ** behind my absolute favorites. If after you go through the list, if you notice that I am missing a book that you really love – please send me a note with the title, I am always on the look out for excellent books!

Top books on leadership

  • On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
  • The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner **
  • Primal Leadership by Goleman
  • Leader to Leader by Hesselbin from the Drucker Foundation
  • The Leader of the Future by Hesselbin et all, from the Drucker Foundation
  • Flight of the Buffalo by James Belasco **
  • Servant Leadership by Greenleaf **
  • Leading People by Rosen and Brown **
  • Authentic Leadership by Bill George **
  • All of these are superb — I have another 50 when you finish these!

Top books on ability to generate sales

  • SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham **
  • The SPIN Selling Fieldbook by Neil Rackham (very powerful)
  • Integrity Selling by Ron Willingham **
  • Relationship Selling by Jim Cathcart
  • Changing the Game by Wilson
  • Consultative Selling by Hanna **
  • The Little Red Selling Book by Jeffery Gitomer (not the one on sales answers)
  • Stop Telling – Start Selling by Linda Richardson
  • How To Be A Rainmaker by Jeffery Fox (not his other How to… books)
  • Getting In to Your Customer’s Head by Kevin Davis
  • Customers as Partners by Chip Bell
  • Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith ** (great for selling services or virtual products)
  • Question-Based Selling Thomas Freese **
  • Bottom-Line Selling by Jack Malcolm (superb for understanding a customer’s financials)
  • Again – there are another 20 to add to this list – but these are a great start

Top books on running a great company / general business knowledge

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins **
  • Built to Last by Jim Collins
  • Results Rule! By Randy Pennington **
  • Think Big – Act Small by Jason Jennings
  • Great Places to Work by Levering
  • What Really Works by Joyce
  • What the Best CEO’s Know by Krames
  • In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters
  • A Passion for Excellence by Tom Peters
  • Liberation Management by Tom Peters
  • Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter by Clarke **
  • The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack **
  • The Ten day MBA by Steven Silbiger
  • Teaching the Elephant to Dance by James Belasco
  • If Aristotle ran General Motors by Tom Morris
  • Touchstones by William Band
  • The Knowing-Doing-Gap by Pfeffer and Sutton
  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • The Goal by Goldratt
  • Tough Management by Martin
  • Small Giants by Burlingham
  • Warfighting by U.S. Marine Corps Staff – Gen. Gray **

Top books on customer service

  • At America’s Service by Karl Albrecht **
  • Service America by Karl Albrecht **
  • Customers for Life by Carl Sewell **
  • Quality is Free by Philip Crosby
  • Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service by Bell & Zemke
  • Managing Knock Your Socks Off service by Bell & Zemke
  • The Service Edge by Zemke
  • Lesson in Excellence from Charlie Trotter by Clarke (also above in general business books)
  • The Customer Driven Company by Richard Whiteley **

Top books on negotiation

  • Negotiate THIS by Herb Cohen
  • Think Before You Speak, by Lewicki
  • Getting To Yes, Fisher, Ury
  • Negotiating Rationally by Bazerman and Neale
  • Gain the Edge by Martin E. Latz
  • The Intelligent Negotiator by Craver

Top books on team building

  • The Wisdom of Teams by Katzenbach and Smith**
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni

Top books on dealing with conflict

  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson
  • Difficult Conversations by Stone
  • Crucial Confrontations by Patterson
  • Effective Communication Skills for Scientific and Technical Professionals by Chambers
  • The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Elgin

Top biographies of people who have built successful businesses

  • Nuts — about Southwest Airlines
  • Pour Your Heart into It — about Starbucks – by Howard Schultz
  • Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance — by Lou Gerstner
  • Moments of Truth by Jan Carlson**
  • Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove
  • Augustine’s Laws by Norm Augustine

Top books on life balance, self-motivation, happiness and success

  • A Strategy for Daily Living – by Ari Kiev **
  • Quantum Leap Thinking by James Mapes
  • Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders (yes, this is a business book)
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • As a Man Thinkth by James Allen **
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey **
  • Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins
  • True Success by Tom Morris
  • Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman
  • Taking Responsibility by Nathaniel Brandon
  • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
  • You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson **
  • Living, Loving and Learning by Leo Buscaglia ********
  • Managing Your Mind by Butler & Hope
  • Awareness by Anthony De Mello **
  • Empires of the Mind by Dennis Waitley
  • The Breakthrough Factor by Henry Marsh
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen

Top biographies

  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Last Lion by William Manchester (Churchill)
  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
  • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis

I also do a lot of reading on advertising, marketing and branding – so if you want a book recommendation on any of those topics, just send me a note.
» jkspence@aol.com

Article Filed under: I. WATER (Team/Group Excellence)

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheBizofKnowledge  |  August 18th, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Wow, what a fantastic list of books! How in the world do you find the time to read so much?? I have been looking for some good leadership books, and your list will definitely help get me started. Thanks for the post!!

  • 2. John Spence  |  August 30th, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    I am so glad you found value in the list — and I am still adding to it every week. I just finished reading several new books – but none of them were good enough to make the list. As to how I find the time to read so much — I just say “no” to a lot of things that other people spend time on — I do not watch much TV, I don’t go to movies or the mall, I don’t watch many sporting events == and I spend every single minute I am on planes (about 300+ flights a year) reading. So I just fill in all of that time with a book — and luckily I love to read and enjoy the topics I study — so it is also a lot of fun for me too.

  • 3. Brian Higley  |  September 13th, 2006 at 2:23 am

    Reading this post has motivated me to finally begin reading Living, Loving and Learning by Leo Buscaglia – I have it, but have never read it.

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