Ten Great Business Books (Present Ideas)

Stuck for Christmas gifts for your team or contacts or friends?
As Neil Gaiman says, ‘Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them. And it’s much cheaper and easier to buy someone a book than to buy them a whole world!’ A book definitely beats socks, candles or wine. A book is a thoughtful present (which provokes thought).
Our Caffeine purpose is to ‘stimulate business’. We know that books do that. We have also talked before about why the consumption of books is the best diet for developing as a leader. If you want to lead, read.

In the last month, I’ve been thrilled by the number of people who have bought my new book Superfast: Lead at Speed as Christmas gifts for their leadership team, for their bosses, for their friends. If you are thinking about buying some copies for gifts, please do get in touch for a special offer.
I love the cover too and think it’s a good-looking gift book… I’m obviously highly biased but it’s been described by as an ‘accessible read’ (I think this is a compliment) and a ‘perfect leadership primer’ (see all the Amazon reviews or buy here).

And here are some other recommendations for stimulating business thinking from books I’ve read this year. Hopefully these will help your gift-giving plans – or give you ideas for something to read as an alternative to the Radio Times Christmas special.

Here are my top three recommendations for this year:
Looking for a book for:

  • Your hard-working entrepreneur friend
  • A wantrepreneur (someone thinking about starting up or starting out by themselves)
  • Anyone who wants a good story to read on a plane or train while travelling

Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike by Phil Knight. Oh, this is a cracker of a book! A highly-recommended romp of a read from the founder of Nike which demonstrates with great dramatic stories quite how challenging the life of an entrepreneur is and how much determination and drive is required. He has a good sparkling tone of voice and is incredibly candid about his flaws which make it an engaging memoir, and the stories about how this brand was created and evolved are fascinating.
An alternative: The Hard Things about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz. Essential reading for anyone starting or scaling a start-up.

Looking for a book for:

  • Someone suffering mid-life malaise
  • Those who are interested in adventure
  • Sailors

Where the Magic Happens How a Young Family Changed Their Lives and Sailed Around the World by Caspar Craven.
Read it to enjoy the story of a fantastic sailing adventure but read it if you are interested in leadership, in teamwork within a family, in that elusive and exciting idea of a life that can incorporate both work adventure and family closeness. It’s well-written and has great pace as a story but is packed full of incredibly helpful tips and ideas about business, life and leadership.

I met Caspar before this book came out and read it initially from loyalty and interest but thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. This was despite being an ‘un-sailor’ married to an obsessive sailor so someone naturally biased against the idea of the story at the heart of the book! It’s a lovely story and would make a really special gift for Christmas.

Looking for a book for:

  • Optimists or Pessimists (yes, really)
  • Those who like to know the truth or are interested in data
  • A global viewpoint

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling.
This is a must-read and a great gift for anyone genuinely interested in the true state of the world. It’s been a worldwide bestseller so the only risk is that your gift recipient has it already but if not, this is a perfect present. Bill Gates describes it as ‘One of the most important books I’ve ever read-an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.’ It was recommended to me by someone well-known for his strong environmental views and I was blown away by the optimism and hopefulness and… yes, ‘factfulness’ in this positive and fascinating book.
An alternative: Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

Here are some more books to check out for your list or your present-giving list.

A book definitely beats socks, candles or wine. A book is a thoughtful present (which provokes thought).

Stepping Up: How to Accelerate Your Leadership Potential by Sarah Woods – Written by the dynamic co-founder of Unruly Media, this is excellent for entrepreneurs or leaders who want an accessible, clear and forward-thinking book on thoughtful leadership. An enjoyable read and some priceless tips and inspiration in here for ambitious/new leaders.
Bold: How to be Brave in Business and Win. A great book by Caffeine co-founder Andy Milligan with customer-experience guru Shaun Smith which has won awards for its impact. More than ever before business success depends on standing out from the crowd and delivering authentic experiences that turn your customers into advocates for your business – this book tells the tales of those who’ve done that (based on real insights from those involved). Good for those interested in brands and stories about organisations who’ve done interesting things.
Work Like a Woman: A Manifesto For Change by Mary Portas. I haven’t read this yet, but it’s been recommended by so many people already that I’ve put this on my Christmas list. The description looks interesting: Work is central to all our lives but only half of us are making the most of it – and we’re all losing out because of that. It’s time to find a new way to work that will help us create a better future for all of us.
Seven Steps to Improve your People Skills by Neil Mullarkey – short, sharp and entertaining book by the delightful Neil Mullarkey, founder of the Comedy Store – good stocking filler or gift for someone new to leadership or someone who wants to become better at dealing with people, whether it be colleagues, clients or those you meet for the first time.
The Brandfather – a fun tale from the man who invented branding: John Murphy, the serial entrepreneur who founded Interbrand amongst other business adventures. He’s a sparky storyteller and this is an interesting read and a bit of a different gift for brand-lovers.
The First 90 DaysProven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins. This is an oldie but a goodie. This is the perfect gift for someone going into a new role – highly recommended.
The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton. A practical and useful book which brings behavioural economics to life in an eminently readable way. Particularly helpful for those who work in advertising or marketing in any way (although I’d argue that most business people do).

A last top tip: If you’re in business in the UK and interested in business books, checkout Bookomi’s events which connect authors with readers. There’s always something interesting to join in with.

Have a Christmas full of inspiration everyone.

I still have some people to buy presents for (can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas), and I am always looking for more books for myself, so if you have any good book recommendations, please let us know @caffeinepartner on Twitter or here!

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This Christmas, be a Muppet. Post, by The Caffeine Partnership.
  • Inspiration
  • Brand-led Business Strategy

This Christmas, be a Muppet

It’s perhaps overlooked that Kermit is a businessman – or businessfrog. He leads a team which is as about as diverse as you could imagine. What’s more, he’s constantly fighting crises on every front, to keep the business going. There’s a lot we can learn this Christmas from…

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