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The Best Books of 2008
All of the book covers and reviews featured on the site are highly recommended as we only feature reviews and press releases of the books we believe are valuable. These are the best of 2008 as rated by the editors of The CEO Refresher.
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Best Books



The Best Business Books
of All Time!


The Leadership Challenge
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. We have added The Leadership Challenge to our list of The Best Business Books of All Time! It's a superb handbook for contemporary leaders!
Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship
by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig
This book shares the unique FranklinCovey Sales Performance Group methodology to transform a sales culture with clarity, authenticity, and emotional intelligence. Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig argue that salespeople do best when they focus 100 percent on helping clients succeed. When customers are successful, both buyer and seller win. When they aren't, both lose. It's no longer sufficient to get clients to buy—a salesperson must also help the client reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction.
Running with the Rhinos
Running with the Rhinos
by Christian D. Warren

Through the metaphor of the magnificent rhino, Warren invites leaders to live a bold and courageous life and create a future without sacrificing their integrity, ideals, or humanity. Based on the premise that there is a leader in everyone, Warren uses the strong and fiercely independent rhino as an unlikely guide to leadership principles that include vision, understanding, inspiration, power, endurance, conviction, support and heart. Running with the Rhinos is an outstanding resource of leadership and one of the very best books of the year!
Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands
Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands
by Nancy Ortberg
Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands is an engaging and insightful look into the qualities, attributes, and practices that turn ordinary leaders into extraordinary ones. Nancy Ortberg's unique twist on vision casting; managing tensions; nurturing healthy conflict; motivating those around you; fostering creativity, passion, and trust is unlike anything you've ever read before! At times challenging, at times candid, but always inspiring, Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands will bring out the best in even the most seasoned leaders.
Managing Thought
Managing Thought: How Do Your Thoughts Rule Your World?
by Mary J. Lore
Managing Thought serves as an indispensable guide to those who want to change the way they think and improve their lives. The book takes the power of positive thinking to a new level and provides a step-by-step guide to managing our thoughts to become more creative, inspired, balanced and "on purpose.' It's an illuminating and yet very actionable work and one of the best of the year!
Made to Stick
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds – from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony – draw their power from the same six traits. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winningideas – and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.
The Amaryllis Way
The Amaryllis Way
by Derrick Mueller
Leadership books come in all forms today, but some of the best are stories that convey important truths. Derrick Mueller combines his loves for gardening and leadership development in a compelling story about how leaders train other leaders. His eight-step methodology provides a beautiful picture of the heart of leadership. (Marvin Brubacher). The Amaryllis Way is a most mindful and engaging story of nurturing and caring leadership, and growing leaders of leaders. It's an essential read today! (ed.)
The Age Curve
The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm
by Kenneth W. Gronbach
This groundbreaking book lets you in on the best ways to position your business to roll with changing populations of consumers - including how to succeed despite the looming challenges posed by the relatively small Generation X, and leverage the explosive opportunities afforded by massive young Generation Y. With its simple yet profound insights (along with eye-opening examples of companies who succeeded or failed spectacularly in leveraging or weathering the demographic storm), The Age Curve will forever change the way you look at your business, and how you perceive the generational impact on the entire commercial (and political!) landscape.
What To Do When You Become The Boss
by Bob Selden
This is an exceptional handbook for the new manager. It's comprehensive - covering leading and managing, managing your team, managing upwards and sideways, managing your meetings and managing yourself. It's an extremely valuable off-the-shelf personal management development training course, with very relevant case studies and actionable insights all based on the most contemporary and sound leadership values and principles. A very unique and engaging feature is the opportunity to use the book according to your preferred approach to learning. Selden has "put it all together" in one of the best management handbooks I have ever read. This should be required reading for all new managers and a required "refresher" for everyone else.
Outsmart the MBA Clones: The Alternative Guide to Competitive Strategy, Marketing, and Branding
by Dan Herman
Dr. Dan Herman is breaking new ground and old saws with his book, Outsmart the MBA Clones. The book cracks the secret of companies that have been immensely successful for many years, are adored by their customers, and yet are not imitated by competitors. This position, coined "Unfair Advantage" by Dr. Herman, provides companies with their own private monopoly. This is a must read for anyone who thinks strategically about their business, and it will "twist your head" to see strategy, marketing and branding in a new and refreshing light. Excellent work Dan!
The Open Brand: The When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World
by Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins
Push marketing tactics have been superseded by new forms of influence. These include the creating, sharing and influencing behaviors of an online population no longer content merely to consume, and the potent pairing of digital notoriety and network effects, which has given rise to the icitizenry. The authors illuminate a new business imperative - to open up to consumer involvement in a brand's messages and offerings. The essential consumer experiences are On-demand, Personal, Engaging, and Networked experiences, representing the chief values of the web-made world. (Wow! ed.)
Hug Your People: Hire, Inspire and Recognize Your Employees to Achieve Remarkable Results
by Jack Mitchell
"Giving great personalized customer service has always been the foremost goal in my family, but one thing we never lose sight of is that you can't possibly deliver great service if you don't treat your own associates right." So says Jack Mitchell, CEO of his family's astoundingly successful chain of clothing stores. In Hug Your People, he shares his secrets for creating happy employees, secrets as simple as they are revolutionary.
The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook
The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: When It All Comes Together
by Jeana Wirtenberg, David Lipsky, and Bill Russell
Building an organization’s commitment to sustainability is not just a means to enhancing the health, diversity, and strength of the world’s ecosystems but a financially and socially sound best practice as well. Collecting the wisdom of an outstanding network of experts, the editors help readers understand what sustainability means and how they can implement it in their organizations. The book includes metrics to measure efforts in promoting an environmentally responsible organization, and presents models, tools, case studies and examples from a wide range of companies to bring the concept to life. A very timely resource indeed!
The Secret of Transitions: How to Move Effortlessly to Higher Levels of Success
by Jim Manton
Manton's own deeply moving personal journey of transitions is a thread that runs through this book like a novel you can't put down. He teaches principles with electrifying, dramatic stories of life and death in the combat zone of Viet Nam, intriguing martial arts learning experiences, real-world stories of personal courage and growth, and unsolvable workplace dilemmas solved through transitioning techniques all readers can use. Jim Manton draws on his many years as a top high-tech executive as well as his current work as a career coach to give the reader a true handbook for success in this rapidly-changing world ... a book that shows you how to make your transitions yourself - with vision, skill, and purpose.
Sales 2.0
Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology
by Anneke Seley and Brent Holloway
Driven by an explosion of online products and changing customer buying preferences, Sales 2.0 is the marriage of Web 2.0 technologies with innovative sales processes. The book shows readers how to redeploy their sales teams for greater bottom-line results and reveals all the differences between Sales 2.0 and traditional selling. Through real world case studies, readers will learn how industry leaders achieved phenomenal results and a competitive advantage. Applicable to sales teams in any industry, Sales 2.0 presents the future of sales today.
Relevance: Making Stuff That Matters
by Tim Manners
After years studying remarkable companies and speaking to some of the most influential leaders, Tim Manners has proposed a solution to the marketing woes of many brands. Stop worrying about demographics, fads, and cutting-edge advertising. Instead, focus on relevance. Manners shares how the best of the best create solutions to their customers' problems and help them live happier lives. The principles? Insight, Innovation, Investment, Design, Experience and Value -all accountable to the happiness of people who would buy your brands.
Outsmart!: How to Do What Your Competitors Can't
by Jim Champy
This concise, fast-paced book shows how you can achieve breakthrough growth by consistently outsmarting your competition. Champy reveals the surprising, counterintuitive lessons learned by companies that have achieved super-high growth for at least three straight years. Drawing on the strategies of some of today’s best “high velocity” companies, he identifies eight powerful ways to compete in even the roughest marketplace. Excellent book and one of the best of the year!
Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
by Dan Roam
Used properly, a simple drawing on a humble napkin is more powerful than Excel or PowerPoint. It can help crystallize ideas, think outside the box, and communicate in a way that people simply "get". Dan Roam argues that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can't draw. The Back Of The Napkin proves that thinking with pictures can help anyone discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve their ability to share their insights. This book will help readers literally see the world in a new way.
Leading With Kindness
Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results
by William F. Baker and Michael O'Malley
Being kind is a crucial attribute of some of the world's most successful business leaders - whose success is anchored in their integrity, credibility, vision, insight, inclusion, and fairness. And kindness is not some intangible quality that one either "has" or doesn't, it is a combination of quantifiable, learnable, and refinable traits and skills. Leading with Kindness identifies six ingredients of kindness - compassion, integrity, gratitude, authenticity, humility, and humor that are absolutely essential to powerful leadership.
Tools for Project Management, Workshops and Consulting
Tools for Project Management, Workshops and Consulting: A Must-Have Compendium of Essential Tools and Techniques
by Nicolai Andler
This book is a unique reference work and guide for those wanting to learn about or who are active in the fields of consulting, project management and problem solving in general. It presents cookbook-style access to most important skills, including a rating of each tool in terms of applicability, ease of use and effectiveness. It is a comprehensive compendium of essential tools and techniques.
The Offsite
The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable
by Robert H. Thompson
Drawing on the leadership theories in the management classic The Leadership Challenge, Robert Thompson effortlessly incorporates these ideas into a fable of leadership and growth. Based on a company's three-day offsite meeting, we follow this tale of transition through the eyes of two former rival pharmaceutical companies creating a joint sales strategy. The characters ultimately learn how to adopt the five practises that form The Leadership Challenge. This is a very enjoyable and entertaining read that will also inspire!
A Class with Drucker
A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World's Greatest Management Teacher
by William A. Cohen
In A Class with Drucker, Cohen shares many of Drucker’s teachings that never made it into his countless books and articles, ideas that were offered to his students in classroom or informal settings. Cohen expands on Drucker’s lessons with personal anecdotes about his teacher’s personality, lack of pretension, and interactions with students and others. He also shows how Drucker’s ideas can be applied to the real-world challenges managers face today. Enlightening and intriguing, this book will enable anyone to gain from the timeless wisdom of the inspiring man himself.
Influence: Science and Practice
by Robert B. Cialdini
Robert B. Cialdini concisely explores six strategies that persons with good and/or bad intentions can use in influencing others to do something or not to do it. These strategies are authority, commitment and consistency, liking, reciprocation, scarcity, and social proof. Whether you wish to understand what shapes you own personal decisions or need to persuade in a job or business, this very interesting book is indispensable.
The Age of Speed
The Age of Speed: A Strategy for Thriving in a More-Faster-Now World
by Vince Poscente
Is our 24/7, CrackBerry, more-faster-now culture eating us alive or setting us free? For everyone feeling trampled by the speed of life and business, author Vince Poscente reveals why harnessing the power of speed is the ultimate solution for our time-starved era. The Age of Speed shows this and other groundbreaking revelations at work with case studies drawn from renegade companies such as Netflix, Geico, and Nintendo. With smart personal revelations, addictively clever pop science, practical case studies, and a fresh voice, The Age of Speed is a fast, fun read.
SKIRTS in the Boardroom
SKIRTS in the Boardroom: A Woman's Survival Guide to Success in Business & Life
by Marshawn Evans
SKIRTS in the Boardroom is designed to equip women with the strategies necessary to combine confidence and compassion, style and substance, and, of course, beauty and brains. A must-have for all women looking to maximize their professional potential, SKIRTS in the Boardroom offers refreshing and inspiring business advice that is savvy, sensible, straightforward – and long overdue!
Becoming an Extraordinary Manager: The 5 Essentials for Success
by Len Sandler
Nearly all managers dream of being inspiring leaders who elicit the most from their people. But while they may understand the skills needed to manage their teams, very few know how to put their knowledge into practice. Now, any manager can get exceptional results and make an important contribution to the organization. Becoming an Extraordinary Manager focuses not just on "understanding" principles of good management, but on taking action. Lively in style and thorough in content, this is the book that gives every manager a complete guide to avoiding the ordinary and becoming the best.
Left on Red: How to Ignite, Leverage and Build Visionary Organizations
by Bill Glynn
Left on Red reveals how visionary thinkers and risk-takers build great companies. Bill Glynn provides an insider's view into some of the world's coolest deals in a refreshingly politically incorrect, intelligent manner. Google, Apple, and YouTube are the products of leaders who break the old rules of business to bring their radical ideas to life. Armed with a wealth of examples and innovative insights, Glynn shows entrepreneurs and executives how to navigate a business landscape often littered with great ideas and innovators who are unprepared to lead.
Executive Stamina
Executive Stamina: How to Optimize Time, Energy, and Productivity to Achieve Peak Performance
by Marty Seldman and Joshua Seldman
In Executive Stamina, you'll find hundreds of tips and tools that will help you maximize your career potential, while maintaining your health, staying in touch with your values, and avoiding costly tradeoffs in your personal life. It starts by learning how to align your career ambitions with your core values, commitments, current priorities, and long-term goals. You'll learn to determine what is most important to you, whether your schedule is actually aligned with your priorities, and how to find your career sweet spot. It's an excellent resource.
Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness
by Annie McKee, Richard E. Boyatzis and Frances Johnston
What distinguishes great leaders? Exceptional leaders capture passion. They lead for real: from the heart, smart and focused on the future, and with a commitment to being their very best. The authors share vivid, real-life stories illuminating how people can develop emotional intelligence, build resonance, and renew themselves. Reflecting twenty years of longitudinal research and practical wisdom with executives and leaders around the world, this new book is organized around a core of experience-tested exercises. These tools help you articulate your strengths and values, craft a plan for intentional change, and create resonance with others.
A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative
by Roger Von Oech
This is the 25th anniversary edition of the creativity classic by Dr. Roger von Oech. The book has been stimulating creativity in millions of readers, translated into eleven languages, and used in seminars around the world. Now Roger von Oech's fully illustrated and updated volume is filled with even more provocative puzzles, anecdotes, exercises, metaphors, cartoons, questions, quotations, stories, and tips designed to systematically break through your mental blocks and unlock your mind for creative thinking. This new edition will attract an entire new generation of readers with updated and mind-stretching material.
Moose on the Table: A Novel Approach to Communications @ Work
by Jim Clemmer
Failed communications are crippling workplaces across the globe – sapping energy from staff and weakening entire organizations. Jim Clemmer calls this breakdown the Moose-on-the-Table. Just like dysfunctional families, many teams find it easier to avoid tough conversations. But rarely do problems get better when left unaddressed. Rather, the moose grow larger, breed, and increase the size of the herd. How many moose are lurking in your organization? How do you know? What are you doing to reduce the moose? Great work Jim! (ed.)
The Heart of Humor
by Raju Mandhyan
Raju Mandhyan, author of The Heart of Public Speaking is your guide on an adventure to experience "practical tools and suggestions to dispense humor on demand." More praise: "Clear, sensitive and a delight! Through vivid stories and accessible strategies, Mandhyan wittily persuades how anyone can and should churn out humor for a more vibrant existence." “Full of fun and foibles that make you ponder, explore and grow!” Thanks Raju (ed.)
EPIC Change
EPIC Change: How to Lead Change in the Global Age
by Timothy R. Clark
Dr. Timothy R. Clark unveils the "Power Curve of Change" framework and EPIC system for change management (Evaluate, Prepare, Implement, Consolidate) for leaders who are charged to lead high-stakes change initiatives in their organizations. Epic Change presents a strategic-level road map, along with tactical level tools, for the every-day needs of leaders who must respond to all types of adaptive challenge to remain competitive. It represents a comprehensive, research-based program for leaders who want to develop the indispensable competency of leading change in a permanently and profoundly different age.
The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-impact Leader
by David M. Traversi
David Traversi identifies and instructs how to develop eight personal drivers, energies deep within - presence, clarity (of thought, emotion, and behavior), openness, intention, personal responsibility, intuition, creativity, and connected communication - each of which drives several of the traits and functions of the effective leader. The leader who develops these personal energies will achieve maximum effectiveness as a leader, as well as a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment as a person. With the burgeoning trend toward seeking a deeper grounding personally as a means of performing better professionally, The Source of Leadership is the early "defining voice" of this new trend in the leadership area.
100% Leadership: Guidelines for Successful Leaders
by Gabriel Hevesi
There is no recipe for success. If there were, we would all use it and it would cease to be effective. Yet, there are many roads that can lead to success. The secret is to choose the right road for your organization among all options. It takes skilled judgment to apply the right method at the right time, under the right circumstances. Using sound judgment, we know when to act, when to coach, and when to delegate. 100% Leadership provides checkpoints for day-to-day decisions and actions. It is a very comprehensive and very readable leadership handbook.
The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation
by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan
Over the past seven years, Procter & Gamble has tripled profits; significantly improved organic revenue growth, cash flow, and operating margins; and averaged earnings per share growth of 12 percent. How? A. G. Lafley and his leadership team have integrated innovation into everything P&G does and created new customers and new markets. Through eye-opening stories A. G. Lafley and Ram Charan show how P&G and companies such as Honeywell, Nokia, LEGO, GE, HP, and DuPont have become game-changers. Innovation is not a separate, discrete activity but the job of everyone in a leadership position and the integral, central driving force for any business that wants to grow organically and succeed on a sustained basis.
Myself and Other More Important Matters
by Charles Handy
The author of The Age of Unreason, The Empty Raincoat, and The Elephant and the Flea shares more of his bestselling brand of wisdom concerning the big choices we have to make in life. The well-known business guru draws on the lessons of his own life to help us map out the main stages of our lives, and shows us how to navigate through the tough decisions we have to make at every phase. He gives us his personal thoughts on life's big questions and turning points, mining his own experience to tell us what he's learned along the way.
This is a very interesting and enjoyable read.
The IT Value Stack: The Boardroom Guide to It Leadership
by Ade McCormack
Successful IT value realisation is a cloudy subject. This in part contributes to the overall dissatisfaction many organisations have with IT. This book tackles the subject of IT value realisation head on. Most importantly it provides a model to help CIOs and business leaders maximize the return on their IT investment. This book is based on the author’s IT Value Stack methodology, which helps business leaders take control of their IT investment. Boardroom-bound CIOs will also find this book of value. As will those that advise on strategic business-IT matters.
Toy Box Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child
by Ron Hunter and Michael E. Waddell
What can LEGOS teach you about building your business through connection? How can Slinky Dog demonstrate the value of patience when you're growing your organization? What has every little boy learned from his Little Green Army Men that he can use in business strategy? Whether you are an executive, a manager, or a parent, in Toy Box Leadership you'll you will find the toy box a great place for lessons to successfully influence and lead others. Very enjoyable read! ed.
The Accidental Entrepreneur: The 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Starting a Business
by Susan Urquhart-Brown
Like many business owners, Susan-Urquhart Brown never expected to end up as an entrepreneur. Launching her own business spoke to her passions, but she soon realized there was much more to being a successful owner than she ever expected. In The Accidental Entrepreneur, she takes all the mystery out of going solo. For those who are just beginning to consider starting a venture as well as those who want to take their organization to the next level, she offers advice on what works and what doesn’t.
It's an excellent read!
What the Customer Wants You to Know: How Everybody Needs to Think Differently About Sales
by Ram Charan
This book defines a new approach to selling — which Charan calls value creation selling. It will enable you to: gain a deeper knowledge of your customer’s problems; understand how your customer’s company really makes decisions; help your customer improve margins and drive revenue growth; connect sales with other key functions such as finance and manufacturing; come up with new customized offerings; make price much less of an issue. VCS differentiates you from the competition, paving the way to better pricing, better margins, and higher revenue growth, built on win-win relationships that deepen over time. All good stuff! (ed.)
Speak to Win
Speak to Win: How to Present with Power in Any Situation
by Brian Tracy
The ability to speak with confidence and deliver winning presentations can accelerate your career, earn people’s great respect, and enable you to achieve your greatest -- even most impossible-seeming goals. But what many people don't realize is that anyone can learn to be a great speaker, just as easily as they can learn to drive a car or ride a bike! As one of the world’s premier speakers and personal success experts, Brian Tracy is the ideal instructor. Brimming with unbeatable strategies for winning people over every time, Tracy lets readers in on his most powerful presentation secrets in this indispensable handbook.
Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Ask for It explains why it’s essential to ask (men do it all the time) and teaches you how to ask effectively, in ways that feel comfortable to you as a woman. Whether you currently avoid negotiating like the plague or consider yourself hard-charging and fearless, Babcock and Laschever’s compelling stories of real women will help you recognize how much more you deserve.

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