The world of business books is a curious place where one can find everyone from great businesspeople like Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk to the most spectacular business failures such as Enron and the subprime business market. There are geniuses, hard workers, academics and entrepreneurs as well a few charlatans and hucksters. There's even room for Donald Trump.
The 70 titles covered were chosen with various parameters in mind: to cover a range of areas of business, from sales and marketing to negotiation, entrepreneurship to investing, leadership to innovation, and from traditional and corporate models of business to start-up manuals and alternative angles on the subject.
Obvious best-selling titles such as How to Make Friends and Influence People or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have been included, but there are also those books of more questionable value often included on recommended lists of business classics, included here by way of warning.
The chosen books also cover a wide span of time and acknowledge that some of the most powerful or entertaining insights into business can be found in texts that aren't perceived as being 'business books', for instance The Art of War, Microserfs, Thinking Fast and Slow and The Wealth of Nations.
The selection includes a good range of the most recent successes in business publishing with which listeners may be less familiar. The titles are arranged chronologically, allowing the listener to dip in but also casting an intriguing light on how trends in business titles have changed over the years.
Among these titles you will find expert advice based on solid research (for instance The Effective Executive or Getting to Yes) and inspirational guides to setting up businesses and running them on sound foundations (such as True North, Crucial Conversations or We) alongside dubious management manuals that take a single flawed idea and stretch it out to the point of absurdity. The hope is that the listener will be inspired to seek out the best of these titles and ignore the worst of them and will come away with at least a basic idea of what each has to teach us about business.
Would you try another book written by James M. Russell or narrated by Christopher Ragland?
By the author, no
What could James M. Russell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
To give a 'Brief Guide to Business Classics' the 'Brief Guide..' treatment, allow me to summarise in the style of the author from the author's perspective:
Whilst my book's title indicates it to be an extremely useful and time-saving book, my lack of understanding about how best to approach the business genre and my desire to pick holes in the content and other authors dominates most summaries so as to make my book a near-pointless listen.
Add my douchey personality and opinions which have no objective value and nothing to do with the books I am writing about, and you get the picture.
I start off well but soon my summaries demonstrate that I do not understand rule #1 when reading business books - take what you need and leave the rest. Because of this I get carried away in finding any reason to summarise why the author's intentions may not be as virtuous as the messages of their books are, how cheesy or subjectively grating I find them, how unrealistic the claims are (e.g. a 4 hour work week, really? And 1 minute manager, are you insane?!), etc ad nauseum.
My douchery leads each successive summary to become more of a sarcastic rant than a summary, and many towards the end wouldn't give the listener a clue about what the book contained because my aim to take cheap shots and misrepresent is so overwhelming.
For example for the international best seller and actually useful book, The 4 Hour Work Week, instead of picking the valuable tips of which there are many to choose from, I instead remark how the following them would actually make you a lazy scrounger because you have outsourced everything and rely on other people to get things done.
In summary, I am a massive douche and have no respect for other authors in my genre who have had much more success than I will ever achieve, and continually remind you of this throughout by being a rude and petty commentator.
What character would you cut from A Brief Guide to Business Classics?
This is a gallop through a selection of business books. I will remember it more for the books I shouldn’t read than the ones I should read. Very much a gallop.