Recommended Books

Many of our entrepreneurs and guest speakers have cited business books as a source of their inspiration during our events. Some have even authored books of their own. Given the influence they've had on their success, we've taken the time to curate a list of those that have been recommended the most:

The Rise and Fall....and Rise Again

by Gerald Ratner
(Recommended by Adrian Cheesman, Demob Job)

Gerald Ratner was the guest speaker at our 2019 Chairman's Dinner.  The book charts his phenomenal journey following what should have been an everyday speech at the Institute of Directors in 1991. When the words "total crap" came out of his mouth in connection with a decanter and glasses set sold by his company, H. Samuel, it all turned out slightly different. The Rise and Fall...And Rise Again tells the full story, in Gerald Ratner′s own words, of what lead him to that point at the IoD, the horror of what happened in the immediate aftermath,the fallout and the comeback.

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The Inside Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Growth in Your Business

by Robert Bloom

Robert Bloom has discovered that every enterprise has at least one strategic asset, one existing strength that can form the foundation for future growth. He calls this an Inside Advantage. This strength usually lies unrecognised in an activity the business is currently performing or in a concept or an idea that the business already owns. Finding this hidden potential and becoming well known for it will grow the business.

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The 3x5 Coach: A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team for Greater Results and Happier People

by Dave Baney
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)

Without clear communication, your team may not share your understanding of accountability. They may have entirely different views on their job responsibilities and even why they’re getting paid. This disconnect between managerial and staff opinions can devastate productivity, performance, and team morale. In The 3 x 5 Coach, Dave Baney offers a simple, direct solution to this problem. Baney’s effective methodology will help you to quickly agree on key job accountabilities while establishing objective systems for evaluating employee performance and growth.

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Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

by Jim Collins
(Repeatedly recommended by many of our guest speakers)

A business must read, after a five-year research project Collins uncovers the underlying variables that enable any type of organisation to make the leap from good to great. Rigorously supported by evidence, his findings are surprising but offer a well-reasoned roadmap to business excellence.

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Making Character First

by Tom Hill & Walter Jenkins
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World Class)

There are very few books that help us understand not only the importance of recruiting and developing character in people but also the process. In this book, Tom Hill describes how he turned around a failing culture in his own manufacturing business by systematically developing character in his team.

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The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

by Michael Gerber
(Recommended by numerous guest speakers)

An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.

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Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Business and Influence--And How You Can, Too

by Gary Vaynerchuk
(Recommended by Alfie Joey, BBC Radio Newcastle presenter and host of the Forum's Spring conference Together We Can Take on the World)

Four-time New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk offers new lessons and inspiration drawn from the experiences of dozens of influencers and entrepreneurs who rejected the predictable corporate path in favor of pursuing their dreams by building thriving businesses and extraordinary personal brands.

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The 4 Day Week

by Andrew Barmes

In The 4 Day Week, entrepreneur and business innovator Andrew Barnes makes the case for the four-day week as the answer to many of the ills of the 21st-century global economy.

Barnes conducted an experiment in his own business, the New Zealand trust company Perpetual Guardian, and asked his staff to design a four-day week that would permit them to meet their existing productivity requirements on the same salary but with a 20% cut in work hours. The outcomes of this trial, which no business leader had previously attempted on these terms, were stunning. People were happier and healthier, more engaged in their personal lives, and more focused and productive in the office.

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We Can All Make It

by Sara Davies

From student halls to Dragons Den (and now Strictly Come Dancing!), this is Sara Davies MBE's story of building her multi-million-pound business from scratch and why we can all make it big.

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24 Assets: Create a digital, scalable, valuable and fun business that will thrive in a fast changing world

by Daniel Priestley
(Recommended by Ryan Davies, Traction Industries)

In every industry, there are companies that take off. They effortlessly hire talented people, attract loyal customers, create cool products and make lots of money. These companies seem to stand out and scale up quickly with support from investors, partners and the media. Sadly, most companies don’t perform this way. Most entrepreneurs aren’t building anything of value. They work hard, make sacrifices, struggle, dream, plan and strive, but in the end, it doesn’t pay off. This book sets out a method for building a business that becomes a valuable asset. It focuses you on transforming your organisation into something scalable, digital, fun and capable of making an impact.

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We Bought A Zoo

by Benjamin Mee
(Benjamin was guest speaker at our Together We Can Take on the World conference)

An amazing true story that has inspired the major Hollywood motion picture this Christmas, to be repackaged for release alongside the film. We Bought a Zoo is about one young family, a broken down zoo, and the wild animals that changed their lives forever. When Ben [played by Damon] and his wife Katherine [played by Johansson] sold their small flat in Primrose Hill, upped sticks with their children and invested their savings into a dilapidated zoo on the edge of Dartmoor, they were prepared for a challenge and a momentous change in all their lives. With over 200 exotic animals to care for – including an African lion, a wolf pack, a Brazilian tapir and a jaguar – Ben’s hands, and those of his wife, children and tiny team of keepers, were full. What they weren’t prepared for was Katherine’s devastating second brain cancer diagnosis. Ben found himself juggling the daunting responsibilities of managing the park’s staff and finances, while holding the bailiffs at bay and caring for his wife. A moving and entertaining story of courage and a family’s attempts to rebuild a zoo, and carry on after Katherine’s tragic death.

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Business Model Generation

by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
(Recommended by Graham Sleep from IA Growth)

Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow's enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don't yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation. Co-created by 470 "Business Model Canvas" practitioners from 45 countries, the book features a beautiful, highly visual, 4-color design that takes powerful strategic ideas and tools, and makes them easy to implement in your organization. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps you reinterpret them for your own context.

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Will it Make the Boat Go Faster? Olympic-winning Strategies for Success

by Ben Hunt-Davis

Ben had our member gripped with his story of Olympic rowing triumph at our 2015 autumn conference. In his book, he shows you how to use similar strategies to improve your own life. Methods he has been road-testing for 10 years, with clients from all walks of life, so whatever your challenges, whatever your goals, this book is full of ideas that will help you succeed.

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Winning

by Jack Welch
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)

As an avid reader and believer in life-long learning, Andy Rubin recommended several great books to the audience when he spoke at one of our events in 2018. Winning he said is simply the best “how to” for running complex businesses written by one of the most effective business leaders we have seen.

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Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!

by Greg Crabtree

Simple Numbers can guide you to increased business profitability Take the mystery out of small business finance with this no-frills guide to understanding the numbers that will guide your business out of any financial black hole. Author Greg Crabtree, a successful accountant, small business advisor, and popular presenter, shows you how to use your firm's key financial indicators as a basis for smart business decisions as you grow your firm.

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The Floundering Founder

by Raman Sehgal

Expertise-based entrepreneurs are excellent at what they do, but that doesn't mean it’s easy to manage a growing service business.  With quick, simple clarity, The Floundering Founder can help you reengineer your business—and your life—for long-term success. In twenty-four bite-sized lessons that fit any schedule, you’ll learn to navigate forward with renewed intentionality and purpose.

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The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
(Recommended by Graham Sleep, IA Growth)

Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try and improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage. He has ninety days to save his plant - or it will be closed by corporate HQ, with hundreds of job losses. It takes a chance meeting with a colleague from student days - Jonah - to help him break out of conventional ways of thinking to see what needs to be done.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)

Millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

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Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

by Tony Hsieh / Zappos
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results)

Pay brand-new employees $2,000 to quit; make customer service everyone's responsibility; focus on company culture as the no.1 priority; apply research from the science of happiness to running your business; help employees to grow personally and professionally; seek to change the world; oh, and make money too. It might sound crazy but it's all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that's doing over $1bn in gross merchandise sales annually.

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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

by Jim Collins
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)

A blueprint for building organisations, by drawing upon a six-year research project at Stanford University, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day - as start-ups, as midsize companies and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: 'What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?'

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Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: How I Turned Around IBM

by Louis V. Gerstner Jr

In his frank, direct voice, Gerstner recalls the obstacles he faced when he became CEO of IBM. In what has become one of the great American business stories of our time, within months of joining IBM, Gerstner presented his bold and controversial business strategy which revolutionised the company from within, altering an entire corporate culture, divesting billions of dollars in unneeded assets and transforming IBM from a fractured, process-driven business into a nimble, customer-driven enterprise able to respond quickly to the volatile technology market.

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Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google

by Lazlo Bock
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)

A compelling manifesto with the potential to change how we work and live, Work Rules! offers both a philosophy of the new world of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent and ensuring the brightest and best prosper. The way we work is changing - are you?

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Team Spirit

by Brendan Hall
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)

At first glance, you may not see how a book with an ocean racing yacht on the cover might help business people. Yes, it is a story of how team spirit won the Clipper Round the World race. However, it is fundamentally about teamwork and leadership, with Brendan Hall sharing his internal wrestles and personal challenges as a leader; his worries, doubts, failures and sleepless nights.

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The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

by Stephen R. Covey
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

In the follow up to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FDr Covey introduces the four roles of the new leader - modelling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering - and how those qualities can change you and your organisation. He discusses how trust can be lost throughout organisations and how it is imperative that any organisation bring trust back to the company if it is to survive. Covey also shows how to go from what he calls a 'want to' person to a 'can do' person and how doing so can completely transform people and organisations.

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Small Giants

by Bo Burlingham
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)

There are some truly world-class businesses that are not corporations, not listed in the FTSE 250 or global multi-nationals. This book inspires small businesses to be true greats.

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Legacy

by James Kerr

Members of the Forum had the privilege of hearing from James in 2014 when he talked about a unique opportunity to go deep inside the New Zealand rugby All Blacks camp to study the way the best in the world stay on top of their game. His subsequent book, Legacy, has become a must-read business book, sharing the 15 pillars of the team's sporting culture of success that can be transferred to business and leadership.

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The Speed of Trust

by Stephen M.R. Covey
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

Definitely a life-changing book for Ian personally, the subtitle 'The One Thing That Changes Everything' tells you all you need to know.

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Elite!: The Secret to Exceptional Leadership and Performance

by Floyd Woodrow
(Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World-class)

In Elite!, friend of the Forum Floyd gets right to the heart of leadership and identifies the little things that make a huge difference. He tells a story of two SAS units, operating behind enemy lines in Iraq. Both have very similar missions, with similar resources available. One succeeds, despite encountering some extreme and unexpected challenges. The other fails. What was the one defining difference? Leadership!

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Our Ridiculous World (Trip)

by Matt Bishop with Reece Gilkes

Matt Bishop and Reece Gilkes joined us at our autumn 2021 conference where they shared a fast-paced and humorous story of how they became the first people to circumnavigate the globe on a scooter with a sidecar. In Our Ridiculous World (Trip), Matt and Reece recount their world-record-breaking 34,000-mile-long journey which took them through thirty-five countries and across five continents. With no experience of mechanics,  the pair took their Honda scooter and barn-built sidecar through some of the world’s toughest environments, including a scorching Sahara Desert and the frozen wilds of a Siberian winter.

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How to Develop Character

by Simon Hartley

The greatest sports teams often recruit people first and players second. They also develop character in people before skills in players. The world's best organisations go beyond teaching skills and knowledge. They know that the challenges of today require personal characteristics such as resilience, tenacity and composure, honesty integrity and courage. In short, they know the importance of having people with the right character.

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The New One Minute Manager

by Ken Blanchard
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

Great for people who don't like reading. It will take 90 minutes cover to cover, but it is a lifetime thick in wisdom. Every manager should read this.

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Do Team: How to Get the Best from Everyone

by Charlie Gladstone
(Recommended by David Park, Park Commercial Insurance)

In Do Team, entrepreneur Charlie Gladstone draws on three decades of experience as an employer of over 100 people and father of six, to share practical, honest and insightful advice on such matters as: Choosing the right people; Getting through tough times; Team building for introverts; The power of (very) small teams; Why good manners and kindness matter most.

With easy-to-follow entries on hiring, gentle leadership, emotional intelligence and retaining a sense of humour, Do Team will help you get the best from everyone so that you, your team and your business can thrive.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman
(Recommended by Charlotte Nichols, Harvey & Hugo)

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.

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Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family

by Bob Chapman
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

In Everybody Matters, Chapman and co-author Raj Sisodia show how any organization can stop viewing its employees are simply func­tions, to be moved around, 'managed' with carrots and sticks, or discarded at will. By doing so, disengaged workers begin to share their gifts and talents toward a shared future. Uninspired workers stop feeling that their jobs have no meaning. And everyone stops counting the minutes until it's time to go home.

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Happy Sexy Millionaire: Unexpected Truths about Fulfilment, Love and Success

by Steven Bartlett
(Recommended by Charlotte Nichols, Harvey & Hugo)

In this book, founder of the social media marketing agency Social Chain, Steven Bartlett, dismantles the most popular, unaddressed lies about happiness that we've been led to believe. He exposes the source of these lies, examines the incentives that fuel them and replaces them with a practical set of scientifically proven and unconventional ideas that will help you to live a truly fulfilled life, a life full of the love you seek and the success you deserve.

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Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take

by Simon Sinek
(Recommended by Charlotte Nichols, Harvey & Hugo)

Why are some people and organizations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again? Because in business it doesn't matter what you do, it matters why you do it. Steve Jobs, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King have one thing in common: they STARTED WITH WHY. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others, or to be inspired.

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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

by Alice Schroeder
(Recommended by Graham Sleep, IA Growth)

Recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, The Snowball is the most fascinating financial success story of our time. Warren Buffett, the legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but finally has given Alice Schroeder unprecedented access to him and all those closest to his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies and wisdom. The result is this personally revealing and complete biography of 'The Oracle of Omaha', indispensable reading for those who wish to know the man behind the outstanding achievements.

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong about the World

by Hans Rosling
(Recommended by David Park, Park Commercial Insurance)

Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.
When asked simple questions about global trends - why the world's population is increasing; how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty - we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.
In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and a man who can make data sing, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens, and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective.

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The Brand Gap

by Marty Neumeier
(Recommended by Graham Sleep, IA Growth)

Not since McLuhan’s THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE has a book compressed so many ideas into so few pages. Using the visual language of the boardroom, Neumeier presents the first unified theory of branding―a set of five disciplines to help companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and customer experience. Those with a grasp of branding will be inspired by the new perspectives they find here, and those who would like to understand it better will suddenly “get it.” This deceptively simple book offers everyone in the company access to “the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet.”

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Plain Talk

by Ken Iverson
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

A visionary, maverick, and genuine American business hero, Ken Iverson is one of the most closely-watched business leaders in the world. Credited with single-handedly rejuvenating the rapidly declining American steel industry to the status of world-class producer, Iverson is one of the most successful and, as he likes to point out, one of the lowest-paid CEOs in the U.S. In his long-awaited book, Ken Iverson shares his ideas, observations, and the lessons he's learned about what it takes to grow a super-competitive, world-class organization.

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Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why The Rest Don't

by Verne Harnish

The guidebook for the Gazelle coaching in our Scale-up Leader's Academy, Verne Harnish's book is packed full of wisdom, examples, practical tools and exercises you can do with your team to build a clear vision and put the right disciplines in place to make it a reality.

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The Fifth Discipline

by Peter M. Senge
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

Ostensibly this book is about creating a learning organisation, but its wisdom goes much further than that, particularly regarding simple and complex systems. The author defines five business "disciplines" which help to build "learning organisations". These companies will be the successful ones in the coming decade because of their ability to learn and to absorb new ideas, theories and practices at all employee levels, using them to competitive advantage.

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Keys To Success

by Sir John Timpson

Sir John Timpson returned to speak to Entrepreneurs' Forum members at our 2018 conference. His previous books include Ask John (Icon, 2014) and High Street Heroes (Icon, 2015), with Keys to Success his most recently published book, which shares 50 secrets from a business maverick who has revolutionised how his firm works with his philosophy of upside-down management.

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Conscious Capitalism

by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)

This book combines the thinking of the founder of Whole Foods and a leading business academic. It helps us all think about the trade-offs that occur in business every day by trying to optimise returns to all stakeholders. It helps us understand that a new balanced scorecard should take into account all stakeholders if we are to build a sustainable world for future generations.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey
(Recommended by Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors)

Stephen Covey's book took the self-help market by storm in 1990 and has enjoyed phenomenal sales ever since. With over 15m copies in print, the book has become a classic. Now a touchstone for millions of individuals, as well as for families and businesses, the integrated, principle-centred 7 Habits philosophy has helped people to find solutions to their personal and professional problems, and achieve a life characterised by fairness, integrity, honesty, and dignity.

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Let My People Go Surfing

by Yvon Chouinard
(Recommended by Andy Rubin, Pentland Brands)

In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia Inc. shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.

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The Future Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business: Volume 2

by Steve Wells

A guest speaker at our "Future of the Workplace" event, the second book in the Fast Future series explores how our notions of the future are being reinvented. The authors challenge us to reimagine how life, society, key industries, and the conduct of business could be transformed by a combination of radical technological, scientific, social, and economic developments shaping the decade ahead.

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Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High

by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler
(Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Kinnery Limited)

The first edition of Crucial Conversations exploded onto the scene and revolutionised the way millions of people communicate when stakes are high. This new edition gives you the tools to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, make it safe to talk about almost anything, be persuasive, not abrasive.

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Selling For Dummies

by Ben Kench

Ben spoke to members of the Entrepreneurs' Forum in 2017 to share advice and give plenty of tips that helped people to improve their sales processes. Reflected in his book, they will help you to generate more leads, win more sales and build your business.

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