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Just a selection of books with (late) impact

2012 October 7

As I have been indulging in reading (seemingly random non-fiction) books during the summer holidays, I was reminded of the difference in impact books make, on me. That impact is not always clear rightaway after I finish a book. For some books it just takes time, and some rereading, for their impact to surface. A few lines about these early books-with-impact is the minimal homage I can pay to their authors.


A first is “What they don’t teach at Harvard Business School” by Mark McCormack. It was once giving to me during an internship and I still have it in my possession. In simple English, McCormick explains about ‘doing business’, and about what Harvard -or any other school for that matter- cannot teach you. There are many things you cannot learn in a school setting, only in a real -business- world, and that’s what this book is about.

More about What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business SchoolI vividly recall some of the recommendations shared by McCormack, like “Ignore the Doomsayers” and remember the three hard-to-say phrases (I don’t know, I was wrong, I need help), and ultimately how important it is to know your customer (and market). Call it a book about street smartness, it did open my eyes to other kinds of books then your average college this-is-what-you-need-to-know book. A book I still recommend, written by a true entrepreneur who took the time to share his experiences with the world.


More about One Minute ManagerIn no particular order, number 2 is ‘The one minute manager’ series by Ken Blanchard. I just ran into this book in a bookshop in Zurich in early 1990. The management story in a parable format was not new, but bringing that in a small booklet format certainly was, to me. The one I first picked up was about your health. What kind of manager (or professional) are you, if you cannot even take care of your own health? And doing that with and for coworkers is in the interest of the firm as well. On other words: Gesunde fuehlen sich nicht nur wohl, sie bringen auch gute Leistungen (yep, I got a German version).

I started reading a whole slew of Blanchard books and usually searched for the books (or papers) behind his books as well. Blanchard is quite active on social media and still is a leader I like to critically follow. Highly recommended are his website and tweets via


More about In Search of ExcellenceAn example of the third kind certainly is Tom Peter’s “In Search of Excellence”. Read my copy in a few days and had to reread within a few weeks in order to get what his book really was all about. Pop-management guru* Peters (and Waterman) book was a must read at the times, for a the business student and the businesspro alike. The impact of their writings is undisputed, allthough some of those early concepts clearly are not (e.g. The Halo Effect). Nonetheless, Peters has this seemingly endless enthusiasm for topics close to his heart and still delivers confronting ideas and messages. Check him out on his blog and twitter via


What I like about these books?

Although just a selection and no top-three-of-the-charts, these books were connecting-the-dots-books for me, or even the start of new dotted lines. They pointed me into new directions and hence new lines of thought. I was not really into the note-taking-business at the time, but these books urged me to get into that. Just that is impact enough.

Arguable, these are just books about what works, or better what used to work. And as mentioned, their impact is by hindsight only. Sometimes, after many years, they just fell into place. For that reason, I feel fortunate I can still follow Peters and Blanchards positive energy on leadership today. And be challenged by it at the same time.

*Kindly referring you to Images of Strategy by Cummings / Wilson.

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