Recommended Reading

Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Of the many books in my library, this is the most recommended to others. I’ve bought this book for clients, family members, friends, and newly married couples. Crucial Conversations goes beyond being just another book about communication. It is a handbook, an instruction manual. My copy is earmarked, highlighted, and written in.

One of the most compelling lessons is how to suspend your interpretation of a situation and stick to the facts. This one concept has improved my emotional reaction to events and “difficult” people more than any other.

The foreword for Crucial Conversations was written by Stephen Covey. Ron McMillan, one of the authors, co-founded the Covey Leadership Center and was VP of research and development for seven years.

Bottom line: Get this book!

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey

So many of the concepts in this book have been used and reiterated over
the years, it’s easy to forget where they came from. Sharpen the
Saw, Think Win/Win, Begin with the End in Mind; all of these are Covey’s

I’ve never experienced a better technique for delegating than Covey’s
Stewardship Delegation. The focus is on results rather than methods. Every
manager who has been guilty of micro-managing should be required to read
this book. Covey shows his understanding of human behavior when he writes,
“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the
very best in people. But it takes time and patience, and it doesn’t
preclude the necessity to train and develop people so that their competency
can rise to the level of that trust.”

Bottom line: An oldie, but a goodie!

Orbiting the Giant Hairball – A Corporate Fool’s Guide
to Surviving with Grace

Gordon MacKenzie

Besides being fun to read, there are pearls of wisdom in this book on
how to deal with bureaucratic quagmires known as corporations. Gordon
MacKenzie worked at Hallmark for 30 years. In a supposedly creative organization,
he had to survive “the giant hairball – that tangled, impenetrable
mass of rules and systems that worked in the past”.

One of his quirkiest, yet most insightful, ideas is to change the organizational
pyramid (an immovable object where they bury dead people!) chart to a
plum tree (living organism) organizational model. His drawings and descriptions
make for an amusing examination of how most companies are organized.

He also touches on some surprisingly serious topics such as teasing.
As a matter of fact, he dedicates an entire chapter to it. I promise,
you will never hear sarcasm and the often used “what’s the
matter – can’tcha take a joke?” the same way again.

Bottom line: This book makes a great gift!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable

Patrick Lencioni

Along the lines of Zapp! and Fish!, this tale is filled with situations
so familiar, you will start renaming the characters in your head. The
VP with an ego too big to fit in the boardroom; the passive-aggressive
supervisor who doesn’t contribute to the team but is quick to pass
judgment when things go wrong; the under-qualified manager unwilling to
admit he is over his head, etc.

While the story wraps up neatly (the right people staying – the
wrong people leaving) mostly due to the skillful talents of the new CEO,
the book’s value really comes in the form of a model and team assessment
of the five dysfunctions: 1) Absence of Trust; 2) Fear of Conflict; 3)
Lack of Commitment; 4) Avoidance of Accountability; 5) Inattention to

Bottom line: Easy read and easy tool to measure the pulse of a team!

The New Science of Selling and Persuasion – How Smart Companies and Great Salespeople Sell

William T. Brooks

If you are in sales, manage salespeople, or run an organization AND you
like lists you should get this book. The 21 Biggest Myths of Twentieth-Century
Selling; The 12 Most Universal Sales Truths; 101 Universal Sales Management
Truths. All these lists contain useful information about selling and the
sales process.

The real value of this book is that Mr. Brooks doesn’t get hooked
on one “secret to sales success” and promote that to the exclusion
of all others. He looks at all aspects of running a successful sales organization.
From getting the right people on the team (“Salespeople must be
hired with caution, launched with clarity, and the underperforming ones
replaced with dispatch.”), giving them a process to follow (“Most
salespeople have a reasonable level of selling skill. Most, however, don’t
have a systematic, consistent way of implementing it.”), to the
responsibility of the sales manager (“A sales organization cannot
be led from behind a desk.”)

Bottom line: If your living depends upon selling, you will get your
return on investment from this book.

Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill

This book, published in 1937, is a 20 year long research study of the
world’s richest men (starting with Andrew Carnegie, who commissioned
the research project) that discovered the “secrets” to their
fortunes. Fortunately, none of these secrets had to do with genius level
IQ’s (although they did have “specialized knowledge”)
or making scientific breakthroughs. No, these secrets are simple enough
for ordinary men to understand and replicate.

The first secret, and the most essential, is a burning desire for riches.
He gives six practical steps to convert this desire into its financial
equivalent. Thomas Edison “placed his stamp of approval upon them
as being, not only the steps essential for the accumulation of money,
but for the attainment of any goal.”

This is the case with the secrets contained in this book. Any goal you
set will require; Desire, Faith, Specialized Knowledge, Organized Planning,
Persistence, Support, etc.

Throughout the book, Mr. Hill provides lists and personal inventories
to measure your self against the principles of these secrets. Thirty-one
Ways to Fail; Eleven Secrets of Leadership; Four Steps to Persistence…all
provide self assessment.

Bottom line: Although written long ago, the formula for success contained
within this book has not changed significantly over the years. If you
resonated with “The Millionaire Next Door” or “Rich
Dad, Poor Dad,” you will likewise enjoy this book.

The Celestine Prophecy – An Adventure

James Redfield

The inside cover of this book reads, “Are three decades of interest
in modern physics, ecology, mystical religion and interpersonal psychology
finally synthesizing into a new spiritual “common sense”?
While you may have never asked yourself this exact question, you may have
acknowledged that the world needs some type of transformation and questioned
how this might occur.

This book is a fable about such a transformation revealed through a manuscript
with 9 insights. Each insight brings the reader (and the main character)
closer to understanding human behavior, why we are here and how to save
each other and the planet. Each insight will have you examining your own
life, behavior, perceptions and point of view.

Bottom line: If you liked the way The Da Vinci Code intertwined history
and religion, and left you wondering what was fact and what was fiction,
you should get this book.

Never Good Enough – Freeing Yourself from the Chains of

Monica Ramirez Basco, Ph.D.

There are some occupations where being a perfectionist definitely pays
off. Brain surgeon comes to mind. And there are definitely times when
someone with an eye for details is the right person for the job. But for
the self-proclaimed perfectionists of the world, theirs is a sometimes
frustrating, maybe even painful existence.

Most perfectionists spend an inordinate amount of time trying to do things
exactly right to avoid criticism. They worry that nothing they do is ever
good enough. They feel repeatedly let down because their expectations
are so high. This author points out that uncontrolled perfectionism can
lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear of failure, and broken
marriages and friendships.

Completing the thirty-question self-test will help you determine your
perfectionism profile. From there, Dr. Basco helps you understand why
you feel driven to get things “just right” and shows you step-by-step
how to overcome damaging perfectionist tendencies.

Bottom line: If the fear of making mistakes leaves you tied in knots,
this book will help.