I get excited and hop up and down when I read books that make me better or show me new ideas. This is a short list of the best, most useful, non fiction books I’ve discovered. (Follow me on GoodReads?)

How to Lead

Turn The Ship Around by L. David Marquet
Key insight: Everyone in an organization should lead. Leader-leader not leader-follower.

This is the true story of how a naval officer took the most troubled submarine in the fleet and gradually turned it into the best. This book teaches you how to turn everyone under your command into a leader.

The Effective Engineer by Edmond Lau
Key insight: Leverage = Impact Produced / Time Spent

This book teaches engineers and developers how to have the most impact. As an engineer at Google, Edmond Lau, took a year off work to interview leaders at today’s top tech companies in order to understand how to become a better leader. This book is the result and its a long book overflowing with actionable advice and great real world stories to illustrate those concepts. See the story of how instagram’s team of 5 engineers built a service with 40 million followers.

Leadership, Strategy, and Tactics by Jocko Willink
This book is written by the leader of SEAL Team Three which operated in Iraq and now advises businesses. The author breaks down common problems he encountered on the battlefield and describes how to solve them using leadership, team work, and communication. And he shows how they apply in the business world. This book is about people and how they interact.

Good To Great by Jim Collins
The author lead a study that compared good companies with great ones. His findings are that the difference is determined by “level 5” leadership, a culture of discipline, and the flywheel effect (famously adopted by Bezos and Amazon). This book is a business classic and this author has written many.

How to get better at everything

How to talk to humans

  • Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone - How to talk to humans
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss - Every conversation is a negotiation. Learn to navigate everyday conflict from an FBI Hostage negotiator.
  • Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni - A short fable about meetings. A fun bit of fiction and you’ll learn about better meetings.

How to get things done

  • Essentialism by Greg MacKeown - Prioritize the essential
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller - If you aren’t working on the most important thing, you are distracted.
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport - You can’t do hard things with long periods of persistent focus.
  • Indistractable by Nir Eyal - Don’t get distracted.

See also

Anything by: Jason Friedman, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Peter Drucker and biographies in general