Books that scale

I’ve always felt lucky when people like Tim FerrisBill Gates, and Maria Popova share lists of books that peak performers read. Each is a little window into the brains of elite thinkers. While reading these books won’t make you Bruce Springstein or Peter Thiel, making your way through another person’s library can stretch your own thinking. If you can’t pick their brain, at least get their library card and form your own conclusions.

Books influence how we work and live. This is why reading them, especially the good ones, is such a damn good idea. Even if you think you don’t have time.

And they can influence large groups of people too.

In To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink tells the story of Palantir, a software and data analytics company in Palo Alto, CA. Each new hire reads two books. One is on improv (to help them get better at thinking on their feet and being more buoyant while selling) and the other is about 9/11 (to understand their mission as a more secure future). By reading these books, everyone is on the same page about what matters.

I’m sure other companies do this too (or have considered it), but I’m struggling finding examples.

So here’s my ask. If you could assign three books that everyone at your company (or school, or organization, etc.) had to read, what would they be?

Some ground rules:

  1. You have to assume that everyone reads them, and follows 80% of the content in the book in their daily practice. In other words, these books will (for the sake of this exercise) help form the culture of your company.
  2. You can be a manager or a maker. An owner or a worker. Doesn’t matter, for the sake of this question everyone has to read it, because you said so.
  3. They don’t have to be practical, but they can’t be too impracticable that you can’t justify how they would change how people work, interact, or lead richer lives in the office and beyond.
  4. They have to be scalable in the sense that all people at your company can derive some value from reading them (from CEO to intern to custodian).
  5. They better blow people’s mind, since you’re asking them to devote time to something other than their daily work.

Look forward to hearing in the comments.


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