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FCS Reading List – 2015

“Liber medicina animi — a book is the soul’s medicine.”

It was an incredibly busy year of reading!   I’ve pulled forward the top 10 or so.  The rest are sorted by category and ranked by level of enjoyment.

Top Reads in 2015 :

  • What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars – Jim Paul – Too many investors focus on making money, what unites all great investors is their focus on how not to lose it – this is a must read.  Book review here
  • Dream Big – Cristiane Correa – Originally published only in Brazil, Dream Big is the story of 3G Capital, the now owners of Budweiser, Burger King, Heinz, etc.  Book review here
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! –  Yes, it sounds like it should be advertised on late night TV, but this is the best read on market positioning I’ve encountered
  • The Service Profit Chain – A lesser known management tome that deeply looks at the inter-relationship between employee satisfaction, service delivery and customer satisfaction.  A must read if you are in a service business
  • The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – If you want to know the fascinating story of where computers come from – this is super entertaining
  • Still Fooling Them – Billy Crystal –  Actor / comedian Crystal reflects on his life and time in show business.  Incredibly enjoyable
  • I’ll Drink to That – Betty Halbreich –   Halbreich created the personal shopping department at Bergdorf Goodman.  Her life (now in her 80s) spans a unique slice of history and has intersected with numerous intriguing people.  Surprising, highly recommend
  • Being Mortal – Atul Gawande –  A deep dive look at the process of aging and dying in the modern world – a must read
  • One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are – Whether you are religious or not, Ann Vosskamp’s first book is a brilliant exhortation of the power of thankfulness and gratitude to change our narrow, selfish perspective on our lives

Public Investments

  • What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars – Jim Paul – Too many investors focus on making money, what unites all great investors is their focus on how not to lose it – this is a must read.  Book review here
  • Education of a Value Investor – Guy Spier – Hedge fund manager Spier talks about the process, discipline and psychology of being a value investor
  • Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment – David Swensen – The Bible on asset allocation and endowment management from the long-time manager of the Yale Endowment
  • King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist – A lesser known, out of print biography of the market’s most cantankerous investor

Private Equity

  • Dream Big – Cristiane Correa – Originally published only in Brazil, Dream Big is the story of 3G Capital, the now owners of Budweiser, Burger King, Heinz, etc.
  • When Money Is King – Ron Perelman – Richard Hack – A biography of financier Ron Perelman. An interesting profile of his deals, but not noteworthy otherwise
  • A Passion to Win – Sumner Redstone – Redstone, owner of Viacom, pens an excellent autobiography chronicling the rise of the modern media industry
  • The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital – Robert Finkel –  Finkel interviews several renowned private equity heavyweights who we have not seen comment at length in print before.  Book review here
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Playbook: Lessons from the Middle-Market Trenches – A behind the scenes deep dive into middle market M&A

Sales and Marketing

  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! –  Yes, it sounds like it should be advertised on late night TV, but this is the best read on market positioning I’ve encountered
  • Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Ogilvy – Later in his career, ad-man Ogilvy offers his thoughts on successful advertising and life
  • The Art of the Sale – Philip Delves Broughton –  Broughton interviews and reflects on the craft of selling, a discipline in business that is often assumed, but not explored deeply.  Book review here
  • I F**king Love That Company: How a New Generation of Brand Builders is Defining the Post-Amazon World – A short look at some of the new brands that are driving really strong consumer loyalty.  Some good ideas, but book felt incompletely formed

Management

  • The Service Profit Chain – A lesser known management tome that deeply looks at the inter-relationship between employee satisfaction, service delivery and customer satisfaction.  A must read if you are in a service business
  • The Toyota Way – Jeffrey Liker – This is an oldie, but if you haven’t looked at how Toyota runs its factories, you are missing out
  • How Google Works – Eric Schmidt –  An inside look at the 21st Century’s leading company
  • Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company – Andy Grove’s classic guide to surviving in fast changing markets is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1999
  • The Score Takes Care of Itself – Bill Walsh –  Process is what matters to seminal football coach Bill Walsh
  • The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business  – See our review here

Entrepreneurship

  • The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – If you want to know the fascinating story of where computers come from – this is super entertaining
  • Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion – Home Depot is so ubiquitous now that it is easy to take for granted how revolutionary it once was
  • Zero to One – Peter Thiel – Not really a unified book, but more a collection of Thiel’s musings.  A quick and interesting read
  • Grinding It Out: The Making Of McDonald’s  – Ray Kroc tells the story of how a 50-year old traveling salesman of restaurant equipment stumbled upon the most successful restaurant concept of all time

Hollywood / Comedians

  • Still Fooling Them – Billy Crystal –  Actor / comedian Crystal reflects on his life and time in show business.  Incredibly enjoyable
  • Yes Please – I expected to laugh at this book by Amy Poehler, which of course I did at length, but I was blown away by her thoughtfulness and genuine reflections on life
  • I Must Say – Martin Short – Short’s story about his rise in show business intersects with that of so many other beloved actors.  Truly one of the great comedians of this age
  • Bossypants – Tina Fey at her best – enough said
  • Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan –  A lot of the material in here is the same as his recent stand up special, but comedian Gaffigan does not fail to entertain.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)  – Mindy Kaling is hilarious and this book is too.  That said, she feels a little too young to have a semi-autobiography published.  It lacks a little of the self-reflective wisdom of Crystal, Short or Poehler above
  • A Curious Mind – Brian Grazer – Imagine Entertainment producer Brian Grazer makes the case that curiosity is important.  More interesting are the stories he interweaves about how he started in Hollywood.

Biography

  • I’ll Drink to That – Betty Halbreich –   Halbreich created the personal shopping department at Bergdorf Goodman.  Her life (now in her 80s) spans a unique slice of history and has intersected with numerous intriguing people.  Surprising, highly recommend
  • No Hero – Mark Owen –  The follow-up to No Easy Day, Owen talks more about life on the elite Seal Team 6
  • Fortunes, Fiddles and Fried Chicken : A Business History of Nashville – Having been in Nashville almost 10 years, this book peels back the layers of the onion of many aspects of the Nashville we know and love
  • Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman – This biography is the basis of the TV show and a fascinating look at the inside of the federal prison system
  • Ahead of the Curve – Philip Delves Broughton – When a journalist leaves the news world to go to Harvard Business School, it was inevitable that it turns into a book about the experience
  • Factory Man – Beth Macy – Macy’s chronicles the rise and fall of the American furniture industry and the Bassett family
  • Heads in Bed – Jacob Tomsky –   An inside look at the hotel / hospitality industry

Non Fiction

  • Being Mortal – Atul Gawande –  A deep dive look at the process of aging and dying in the modern world – a must read
  • The Power of Habit –  Charles Duhigg –  A recommendation from JT I was a bit skeptical about, but found to be incredibly enjoying. A thorough look behind the scenes of daily routines and habits
  • End of the Suburbs – Leigh Gallagher –  Gallagher tries to prove the point that the suburbs are dead and re-urbanization is underway.  In general, I found it long on rhetoric and short on data
  • Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection – This is an interesting look at one man’s journey to overcome his fear of rejection – I think the basic takeaway is that the more you get outside your comfort zone, the easier it is

Fiction

  • I love the old Sherlock Holmes stories – the two books below are the first two ‘authorized’ uses of the famed detective by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  They don’t disappoint
  • The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel
  • Moriarty: A Novel 

Faith and Spirituality

  • One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are – Whether you are religious or not, Ann Vosskamp’s first book is a brilliant exhortation of the power of thankfulness and gratitude to change our narrow, selfish perspective on our lives
  • Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World  – A shorter work by Henri Nouwen 
    Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood – 
    This is a classic in many ways – a great read
  • Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – NYC Pastor Tim Keller’s thoughtful new work on the practice of prayer.
  • A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World – Another well done reflection on prayer
  • The Life God Blesses: Weathering The Storms Of Life  – An interesting reflection on managing the ups and downs of life
  • Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence – Written by a long-time pastor, this has a two or three exceptionally insightful chapters, but the rest is so-so

 

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