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The Best Business Books
All of the book covers and reviews featured on the site are highly recommended as we only feature books we believe are valuable. The following great works however, are the very best - in the opinion of the editors of The CEO Refresher.
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Best Books




Flight of the Buffalo
Flight Of The Buffalo
Soaring To Excellence, Learning To Let Employees Lead
by James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
One of the best ever books on leadership and self directed action. James Belasco provides the academics and Ralph Stayer the practical nuts and bolts of achieving breakthroughs in business through developing ownership and self directed action. What does great performance look like? How can I contribute to your great performance? It is an inspiring work and one that definitely will 'twist your head' as you take a good look into the mirror and take ownership for your great performance as a leader. Visit The Leadership Imperative in The CEO Refresher Archives for articles inspired by this brilliant work.
The Fifth Discipline
The Fifth Discipline
The Art & Practice Of The Learning Organization
by Peter Senge
Peter Senge's work is a true classic. It is by no means an easy read as he delves very deeply into the very fundamental and systemic issues limiting growth and development. Senge deals with systems archetypes and the principle of leverage - how our actions create our reality, and how to change it. He also outlines the core disciplines of the Learning Organization - personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning - and the leader's "new work" to lead a learning organization. It is indeed a brilliant work - and truly insightful!
The Art of War
The Art of War
translated by Thomas Cleary
The Art of War (Sunzi bingfa/Sun-Tzu ping-fa) was compiled over two thousand years ago by a mysterious Chinese warrior-philosopher and is one of most widely read and influential books on strategy today. In translator Thomas Cleary's words, "As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. It's aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding of the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict."  Cleary's translation seems to bring the classic work to life - in how he allows the classic text to emerge centre stage. His concluding remarks ring so very true to this work. "... the classics seem to grow wiser as we grow wiser, more useful the more we use them."
Choosing Service Over Self Interest
by Peter Block
Peter Block's work is profound and very deep. It will challenge your fundamental beliefs and offers a clearer path of new and more relevant principles of how businesses can organize to unleash ownership, creative talent and performance. "No one should make a living anymore watching, measuring, or defining what is best for human beings." This great work deals with the harsh reality of the human spirit and profit, and the need for the redistribution of power, purpose and wealth. It is about partnership and choice, and especially the choice of responsibility over entitlement. See Stewardship in The CEO Refresher Archives for more.
Everybody Wins
Everybody Wins!
A Life in Free Enterprise
by Gordon Cain
This is an absolutely delightful story of a remarkable man who engineered LBOs in the chemical industry in the 1980s. In his words it’s "a simple account of how honorable men, advised by competent lawyers and investment bankers who never violated a confidence, carried out transactions in which everybody won." This gentleman 'walked the talk' and generated several billion dollars in the process. Gordon Cain’s remarkable story renews our faith in intelligence, business enterprise and the human spirit. See Everybody Wins! A Life in Free Enterprise in The CEO Refresher Archives for a review of this great book.
The Tom Peters Seminar
The Tom Peters Seminar
Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations
by Tom Peters
Tom Peters started 'twisting heads' with Liberation Management and Thriving on Chaos but the 'raging, inexorable, thunder lizard evangelist' took you 'beyond' everything in his seminar. The book captures the unique firebrand blend of business logic, passion and compulsive energy he delivers live and it is truly an incredible and mindful adventure. He takes you beyond change - to abandon everything; beyond decentralization - disorganize to unleash imagination; beyond empowerment - every person is a business person; beyond learning - to the curious corporation; toward wow! and perpetual revolution. It may be crazy, but it all makes sense. See The Tom Peters Seminar - The Race Beyond for more. N.B. The book cover links to where it appears only used copies are available. The text links to the audio book.
The Leadership Challenge
by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
This leadership classic continues to be a bestseller after three editions and twenty years in print. It is the gold standard for research-based leadership, and the premier resource on becoming a leader. This new edition, with streamlined text, more international and business examples, and a graphic redesign, is more readable and accessible than ever before. It's a superb handbook for contemporary leaders!
The Dilbert Principle
The Dilbert Principle
A Cubicle's Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions
by Scott Adams
Does your company practice the Dilbert Principle? Is your CEO's office plastered with Mission Statements and 'change' initiatives? Are you asked for status reports on status reports? Have bonuses been replaced with novelty items inscribed with the corporate logo? Are idiots promoted because they have good hair? Scott Adams has captured the essence of the stupidity of 'management' in a brilliant book that mocks almost everything traditional bureaucrats hold as sacred.
Managing the Unexpected
Managing the Unexpected:
Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity, Vol. 1
by Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe
One of the great challenges any business or organization can face is how to deal with the unexpected. The authors look to high reliability organizations (HROs) -- aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, firefighting crews, and others -- for the answer. HROs have developed ways of acting that provide a template for all organizations that want to be more reliable in managing the unexpected. Managing the Unexpected is about "mindfulness" and developing a collective state of mindfulness that produces an enhanced ability to discover and correct errors before they escalate into a crisis.
Competing for the Future
Competing For the Future
by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad
Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad are very 'large' in their comprehensive analysis and vision of moving beyond incrementalism to create the future. In their own words their work "provides would be revolutionaries with the tools and concepts they need to challenge the protectors of the past." This is not light reading - it has an academic bent that is often challenging however, it is grounded in the reality of how great enterprises have crafted a 'strategic architecture' and have shaped their future. A central theme is 'core competencies' - what they are and how to build gateways to the future. This work is about making significant differences: by creating unimaginable products and services; in creating deep meaning in the pursuit of ambitious aspiration; and by inventing new competitive space, generating new wealth, and building a legacy.
The Pursuit of Wow!
The Pursuit of Wow!
Every Person's Guide to Topsy-Turvy Times
by Tom Peters
Tom Peters took us beyond everything in The Tom Peters Seminar and he's now 'out there.' We're talking about "Milk, Cookies and Managing People," "Breaking the Mold," "Searching for the Diversity Advantage," "Tomorrow's Strange Enterprises," and "Attaining Perpetual Adolescence." It is truly one of the best business books of all time because even after you have read it countless times you can open it up on any page and find a gem of insight. It's pure unadulterated insight that will knock your socks off and challenge every assumption you have ever had about what it takes to be the best in business. It is very valuable - because it cuts through and gets through. See Tom Peters Pursuit of Wow in The CEO Refresher Archives for more.
Big Vision Small Business
Big Vision, Small Business:
The Four Keys to Finding Success and Satisfaction as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur
by Jamie S. Walters
Jamie S. Walters has written a thought provoking book that celebrates the art and power - of small. It offers us a refreshing new vision of satisfaction and success as a lifestyle entrepreneur. The vision is 'very large' and provides practical insights and inspiration for smaller business owners and entrepreneurs, and the opportunity to redefine your personal vision of 'greatness.' Big Vision, Small Business also provides invaluable insight for every CEO and corporate executive on the issues of personal success, satisfaction, balance, authenticity, integrity, values, business growth and what is truly meaningful and important. The CEO Refresher features several articles from Ivy Sea Online in Authenticity & Ethics in The CEO Refresher Archives.
Now, Discover Your Strengths
Now, Discover Your Strengths
by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton
Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of the national bestseller First, Break All the Rules, and Donald O. Clifton, Chair of the Gallup International Research & Education Center, have created a revolutionary program to help readers identify their talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy consistent, near-perfect performance. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder® Profile, and the book contains a unique identification number that allows you access to the StrengthsFinder Profile on the Internet. With profound insights on how to turn talents into strengths, Now, Discover Your Strengths is one of the most useful business books ever written.
Fierce Conversations
Fierce Conversations:
Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time
by Susan Scott
The secret of "Fierce" is out! How do you inspire followers, attract believers, win contracts, and build visions that become reality? One conversation at a time. One fierce conversation at a time, if you've ever worked with Susan Scott. Conversations are the work of the leader and the work horses of every organization. The most popular tool, yet the least understood and most poorly utilized. Susan Scott brings a new and powerful perspective to the topic. Susan's work is brilliant! She has a very unique talent of being able to 'engage' your intellect and then connect it to what you have to do to be more effective in your role as the leader. This is one of the best books of all time - and it will challenge you to be more than you ever believed you could be.
Control Your Destiny
Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will
by Noel M. Tichy and Stratford Sherman
Few would argue that Jack Welch has been one of the most successful and admired CEOs in history, in terms of creating shareholder value and leading the significant transformation of a major enterprise. The account of the GE Revolution is fascinating in its description of the processes and impact, but especially so in the insights into the thinking, values and the behaviour of the leader. "Change or die," "Head, heart and guts," "Boundarylessness," "Nothing sacred." "Facing reality," The "edge" - an insatiable passion for winning and growing - it's all about high impact and "come follow me" leadership - pure and simple. It is truly a 'must read' for leaders who aspire to greatness.
Hit the Ground Leading
Hit the Ground Leading!
by Angela Mondou

I love it when the book cover breaks the mold and doesn't fit with convention. That's just the start of this amazing and inspiring adventure of leadership. This is an action-packed, head-twisting, edgy and powerful handbook that will show you how to lead your own adventure and turn your plans into reality. Hit the Ground Leading is 'actionable insight' and is a must read for all of your future leaders. This is one of the best leadership guides of all time. Thank you Angela for your excellent work!
Strategy of the Dolphin
Strategy Of The Dolphin
Scoring A Win In A Chaotic World
by Dudley Lynch and Paul L. Kordis
Lynch and Kordis were indeed more than 'slightly ahead of their time' in their exploration of the need to change "the quality and quantity of our awareness of complexity and our skills and comfort level in working with it." The authors' insights are brilliant and so very relevant to the challenges most individuals and organizations faced through the nineties and still grapple with today: going for the elegant outcome; leveraging the wave; breaking set; being on purpose; seeing through the brain's 'time window'; releasing to a higher order; pushing the envelope; shifting in time. It's deep and intelligent, but not intellectual. It's a thoughtful blueprint and practical road map of useful insight. Available through .
The Experience Economy
The Experience Economy:
Work Is Theater and Every Business a Stage

by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore
Goods and services are no longer enough. To be successful in today’s increasingly competitive environment companies must learn to stage experiences for each one of their individual customers. We have entered the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers that engage each one of them in an inherently personal way. This book is brilliant. If Pine and Gilmore's insights are not taking root in your organization today ... please read it as a wake up call. We are in the Experience Economy and going beyond.
Chief Customer Officer
Chief Customer Officer
Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action

by Jeanne Bliss
This book is absolutely brilliant! It may just twist your head to get beyond the feeble lip service to customer service that most enterprises experience today. It’s about reality and how to get the customer thing done beyond the crystal balls and anthems and big kick-offs. It's a play book of survive and thrive tactics from one who has very deep experience and knows. Thank you Jeanne.
I Love You More Than My Dog

I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad
by Jeanne Bliss
In I Love You More Than My Dog Jeanne Bliss explores how only an elite number of businesses have achieved a level of customer devotion she's called "beloved" -  with passionate, loyal and vocal customers and advocates that sustain their business even in tough times. It's an exciting, edgy and captivating read driven by Jeanne's passion and 'soul', and filled with examples that will thrill you with what's possible! It's brilliant, and was the very best of 2009!

The Power of Strategic Commitment
The Power of Strategic Commitment: Achieving Extraordinary Results Through Total Alignment and Engagement
by Josh Leibner, Gershon Mader and Alan Weiss
This outstanding book shows readers how to improve strategic processes and execution by engaging the support of managers, employees, boards, suppliers, investors and all stakeholders, outlining the key factors that determine commitment, and powerful ways to build buy-in and alignment. The authors offer a blueprint for moving beyond compliance towards that magical point where every initiative is embraced by every employee at all levels.
Unexpected Returns
Unexpected Returns
Understanding Secular Stock Market Cycles

by Ed Easterling
Ed Eastering co-authored several chapters of John Mauldin's Bull's Eye Investing (our best book of 2004) and this outstanding book will take you deep into the research to explain secular stock market cycles. Based on years of meticulous research Easterling provides the indepth knowledge you must have to be in the game with confidence, and win. It is absolutely brilliant.
Bull's Eye Investing by John Mauldin
Bull's Eye Investing
Targeting Real Returns in a Smoke & Mirrors Market

by John Mauldin

Mauldin takes a look at what history has to teach us about the potential for stock market returns over the rest of this decade. His analyses, and the information he has gathered from a wide variety of sources, tell us we are in a secular bear market - and he shows us where the opportunities for successful stock market investing lie under these conditions. What is different this time is that the rules for investing have changed: what worked during the 1980s and 1990s won't work over the coming decade. An investment return relative to the market may have been satisfactory back then, but in today's market we have to focus on absolute returns, and that is the essence of Bull's Eye Investing. This is one of the most comprehensive analysis of the markets and the new bible for investors for the next decade and beyond.
Human Sigma: Creating Value at the Employee - Customer Encounter
by John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund
The groundbreaking methodology Six Sigma changed the face of manufacturing quality. Now, Human Sigma is poised to do the same for sales and service. It incorporates cutting-edge research in the neurosciences and behavioral economics — including brain imaging research into customer’s emotional connections to the companies they love — with proven techniques for improving workforce performance and revenues generated from existing customers. This practical handbook appeals to senior leaders and line managers alike who are looking for a way to dramatically increase productivity, retain high value customers, and enhance organizational performance.
The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs
The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success
by Carmine Gallo
When it comes to innovation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is legendary. His company slogan "Think Different" is more than a marketing tool. It's a way of life—a powerful, positive, game-changing approach to innovation that anyone can apply to any field of endeavor. By following Steve Jobs's visionary example, you'll discover exciting new ways to unlock your creative potential and to foster an environment that encourages innovation and allows it to flourish.
Semper Fi
Semper Fi:
Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way
by Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh
Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh have authored a fascinating book revealing the leadership principles of the U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way is a lively and practical 'manual' for business managers and executives to lead their department or enterprise to victory. The 'concept' of applying the leadership principles, values and vision of the Marine Corps to business is brilliant, and Carrison and Walsh's work at doing so is exceptional. Articles by Carrison and Walsh are regularly featured in The CEO Refresher. See The Marines are Coming in The CEO Refresher Archives for more.
Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins
Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate With Power and Impact
by Annette Simmons
People float in an ocean of data and disconnected facts that can often overwhelm them with choices. A meaningful story can feel like a life preserver that tethers you to something safe and important - at the very least, to a trace of humanity. Filled with enlightening anecdotes, this practical guide gives readers the tools they need to persuade, inspire, and influence others through the power of story. This is an exceptional work!
Winning Without Losing Your Way
Winning Without Losing Your Way:
Character-Centered Leadership

by Rebecca Barnett
By living and leading with character you can make a great difference in your life, in your children's lives and in the lives of those you lead. Winning weaves in statistical research on organizational integrity with inspirational stories and quotes from interviews with over 100 business leaders and Olympians. This original and authoritative research offers fresh leadership insights and shares the wisdom and experience of everyday leaders and the story of one athlete's journey from competitor to true coach. Thank you Rebecca for your inspiration!
Leading High Impact Teams
Leading High Impact Teams:
The Coach Approach to Peak Performance
by Cynder Niemela and Rachael Lewis
Coaching is a recent phenomenon in American business that is producing startling and dramatic results. From employees and bosses struggling with the pace of change in a shifting economy to companies grappling to meet demands from market forces that they can no longer predict, all are finding that coaching is the competitive advantage they need to stay ahead of the curve. Cynder Niemela is one of the best of a new breed of coaches that will challenge you to greatness. Many of her articles from her "Rapid Fire Inspiration for Leaders" newsletter are featured in The CEO Refresher.
The Art of Profitability
The Art of Profitability
by Adrian J. Slywotzky
The Art of Profitability reveals the invisible but important governing principles that can mean the difference between business failure and success. Writing with wit and provocative insight, bestselling author Adrian Slywotzky tells the story of eccentric strategy teacher David Zhao and his young student. Each of the book's twenty-three chapters presents a lesson from the exuberant and always challenging master - and a profit paradigm that will open your mind to the many ways to make profit happen. The editors of The CEO Refresher have rated The Art of Profitability as the best book of 2002 - and a review by Ian Bullock is featured in The CEO Refresher - here. Congratulations Adrian on your excellent work.
The New Law of Demand and Supply
The New Law of Demand and Supply:
The Revolutionary New Demand Strategy for Faster Growth and Higher Profits
by Rick Kash
Rick Kash in his new book describes the process companies need to know to prosper in a demand side environment. With decades of examples, using profiles of fortune 500 companies, Kash shows how businesses don't delve far enough to find out their customers real needs and how best to satisfy them, thereby boosting their sales and gaining greater market share. This is a very profound and mindful work that every business leader should read - and read very carefully. It will challenge you to find the answers to be able to chart a profitable course in these turbulent times.
Becoming a Category of One
Becoming a Category of One:
How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison

by Joe Calloway
Ordinary companies compete in their categories, or even lead them. Extraordinary companies create their own categories by doing what no one else does—in effect, becoming a Category of One. Calloway doesn’t offer any mumbo-jumbo or flavor-of-the-day buzzwords, just simple lessons that lead to real, proven results. With his guidance, you’ll learn what makes some of the best companies on earth so successful—and then learn to apply their winning strategies to your own business. This book is essential brain food for the business challenges we face today!
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is a fascinating exploration of rapid cognition, the "thinking" that takes place within the "blink of an eye." In the author's words "It's thinking - it's just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with "thinking." This is serious brain food!
Be The Leader
Be The Leader
Make The Difference
by Paul Thornton
Paul Thornton has written a very straightforward, concise and most effective guide to the "nuts and bolts" of leadership. Paul's book starts with a crystal clear premise - "leaders provide their followers with something they can't provide themselves." Paul's 3C Leadership Model encompasses three essential actions and facets of growth - Challenge, Confidence and Coaching. And it's not about how we think we should act, or how we can convince others that we are the leader. The title drives the point home - it is about 'being' the leader. It is about what effective leaders do, pure and simple, and it is 'right on the money.' See Be The Leader in The CEO Refresher Archives for more.

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