More summer reading for accountants – 2018

Published
  • June 27 2018, 4:19pm EDT

The consultants at ConvergenceCoaching work with countless accountants and business experts every year – and whenever they hear of a book that’s had an impact, they add it to their growing list of useful reads that they recommend.

When co-founder Jennifer Wilson offered to share the list with our readers, we jumped at the chance – and in early June we shared the first half. The second half of ConvergenceCoaching’s extensive list follows, with enough insightful books and must-read titles to get you through the July 4th weekend and the rest of the summer.

(Note that prices are for hard-copy editions on Amazon.com.)

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work For You

By Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Geoffrey Parker
W.W. Norton & Co.
$17.95
Think about some of the most common, most successful names in business today – Airbnb, Amazon, PayPal, Uber and so on – and you quickly realize that what a lot of them do is offer a platform on which people can interact to rent out a room, sell a used book, arrange a ride, set up a date or any of a thousand other things. “Platform Revolution” dives into this phenomenon to explain how to build your own successful platform (or help clients with theirs) and is a very handy guide to a fascinating new business model.

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Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture

By David H. Maister
Simon & Schuster
$13.99 (Kindle)
An engaged, enthusiastic workforce is a key component of financial success – and a key component of having an engaged, enthusiastic workforce is their belief that the company they work actually lives up to its value. Based on real-world research, this book by pioneering professional services consultant Maister aims to teach managers how they can play a critical role in fostering that belief.

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

By Amy Cuddy
Little, Brown & Co.
$16.99
We’re used to the idea that other people’s body language will affect our emotions – making us feel intimidated or welcome or threatened or recognized – but this book makes a strong case that our emotions can also be affected by our own body language. Taking a powerful stance, in other words, can make us feel and act more powerfully, and Cuddy shows how you can, essentially, fake it until you make it, by adopting the body language of the positions and emotions we want to occupy and feel. It’s useful far beyond the business environment, too.

Pricing on Purpose: Creating and Capturing Value

By Ronald J. Baker
Wiley
$90
If the value pricing movement was a “Shot Heard Round the World,” Ron Baker can make a strong claim to having fired it, so if you’re looking to understand why more and more firms are trashing the timesheet, this book is a great place to start. It offers a powerful intellectual framework for a new way to think about the value you offer clients, and how to charge them for it.

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Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee and Richard Boyatzis
Harvard Business Review Press
$35
No one wants to be accused of being emotionally stupid, but that isn’t the only reason to read this book: In an era where more than ever is required of firm leadership – and where employees have plenty of other options when it comes to finding a job – leaders need to be much more self-aware, empathic, collaborative and generally more in touch with their staff. While we wouldn’t want to do without the other forms of intelligence, emotional intelligence is definitely a must-have for 21st century accounting firm leadership.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss without Losing Your Humanity

By Kim Scott
St. Martin’s Press
$26.99
If you don’t have anything nice to say, you can either go sit over by Alice Roosevelt, or you can read this book and learn how to say mean things and have people thank you for it. Seriously – it shows managers how to deliver honest feedback in such a way that people actually improve, rather than hating you, with actionable advice and plenty of real-life anecdotes.

Radical Forgiveness: A Revolutionary Five-Stage Process to Heal Relationships, Let Go of Anger and Blame and Find Peace in Any Situation

By Colin Tipping
Sounds True
$16.95
This may be a little too spiritual for some (and by that, we mean it’s pretty seriously spiritual), but for those who are open to this kind of thing, it offers very specific instructions for letting go of emotional pain and past hurts and freeing yourself from a position of victimhood into something much more proactive.

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Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence

By Andy Molinsky
Avery
$27
When you see someone doing something you’re afraid to do, chances are pretty good that they don’t actually like doing it – they’ve just found a way to do it that allows them to get past their fear. That’s one of the premises of “Reach,” in any case, and it aims to help you overcome the challenges that make us avoid doing difficult things, and develop techniques to help you successfully confront what you’re afraid of – and even become good at it.

Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life's Work

By Kevin Carroll
ESPN
$14.95
There’s more than one way to improve your life; the trick is to find the way that works best for you. In this short, inspirational book, Kevin Carroll offers a model based on his childhood love of sports and play that aims to help maximize your potential by finding your own “red rubber ball” and chasing it wholeheartedly.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

By Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster
$30
It hardly seems necessary to introduce this classic, which has been read by tens of millions of people, but just in case: It offers a step-by-step pathway to adapting to change – and the accounting profession has never needed more help with that than right now.

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Shut Your Monkey: How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Done

By Danny Gregory
Simon & Schuster
$14.99
Winner of the Accounting Today Most Intriguing Title Award, this book actually involves no monkeys: It’s a metaphor for the nagging inner critic that keeps so many of us from achieving what we want (unless what we want is another banana), and the book teaches you how to overcome the crippling little simian and put it in its place.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Simon Sinek
Portfolio
$27
Sinek’s notion that no one buys into a product, service, movement or idea until they understand the why behind it has so successfully entered the modern consciousness (or at least the modern management consciousness), that we all think we’re familiar with it even if we haven’t read the book. But like all attractively simple ideas, it’s actually more complicated – and more valuable – than you might think.

StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition

By Tom Rath
Gallup Press
$34
Knowing what you’re good at is a kind of superpower – if only because so few people actually know their own strengths (and often think they’re better at all kinds of things than they are – see “The Dunning-Kruger Effect” …). And if you don’t know what you’re good at, you can’t maximize your efforts in that direction. “StrengthsFinder” comes with an assessment, and a planning guide for applying your strengths over time.

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Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert
Knopf
$24.95
Someday, someone will give a name to the fact that humans as a species are stunningly bad at understanding our own individual desires, reactions, motivations, psychology, values and more, but in the meantime, it’s enough to know that we’re pretty bad at knowing what will make us happy. Knowing that, though, is the first step to getting better at being happy, and Gilbert’s book is a great look at our strange approach to imagining the future and what it will take for us to be happy there.

Teach What You Know: A Practical Leader’s Guide to Knowledge Transfer Using Peer Mentoring

By Steve Trautman
Prentice Hall
$35
The people in your firm possess an astonishing range of knowledge – but tapping into it for the benefit of the overall firm can be difficult. Trautman’s tools for getting individuals to share their knowledge horizontally with each other with help you boost the sum knowledge of the entire organization, while making each member that much smarter themselves.

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

By Douglas Stone
Penguin Books
$18
A lot of attention is paid to how to give employees feedback; less is paid to making sure they make the most of it. This book changes that, with a simple framework and a set of tools to help everyone learn from all the different kinds of feedback we receive every day, from offhand comments to annual reviews.

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The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow

By John C. Maxwell
Thomas Nelson Inc.
$19
Not gonna lie: That’s an awful lot of indispensable qualities. Fortunately, Maxwell’s book offers practical tools and insights on developing that kind of comprehensive leadership, and makes it easy to apply many of its lessons right away.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

By John C. Maxwell
HarperCollins
$25.99
Given the general low quality of leadership in every walk of life these days, we’re not going to argue with Maxwell for having so many laws and qualities (42 at last count) – at least the sheer volume explains why it’s so hard to be a great leader. Once again, though, Maxwell, is aiming for sharp, practical advice, complete with an evaluation tool for assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and application exercises.

The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market

By Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema
Basic Books
$25
Based on in-depth studies with top CEOs, this book explores the way businesses can succeed by focusing intently on one of three “value disciplines” – highest quality, lowest prices, or the best customer experience. Leading in one of those, the authors maintain, is the key to thriving in your field – a lesson accountants can apply both to their clients and their own firms.

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The Evolving Self: Psychology for the Third Millennium

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Harper Perennial
$15.99
Another book from the author of “Flow” (see “Summer reading for accountants”), this intriguing read examines the ways in which we are wired to behave in certain ways by biology, culture and other external factors, and encourages the reader to look beyond those to take more of a hand in shaping their own reality.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

By Patrick M. Lencioni
Jossey-Bass
$24.95
Here’s the last entry from the king of the business parable, and one of his most popular: A story about how to unite teams and get them acting effectively together. The five dysfunctions, in case you’re wondering, are: lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. If some (or all) of those sound familiar, grab a copy and get reading.

The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

By Mark Sanborn
Currency
$17
Spoiler Alert: Fred is a postman, one who was so outstanding at his job and cared so much about the people he served that he became a lifelong role model for the author. Sanborn tells the stories of many other Freds, with the goal of showing you how to become more like them through four basic principles that can help you make a difference every day.

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The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts

By Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind
Oxford University Press
$17.95
While you don’t need to do it every day, taking a good hard look at what you do every once in a while is a worthwhile endeavor – and this book is a very bracing look at how technology is going to change professional services, and some of the alternatives professionals (and society) might want to pursue as a result. Fascinating and prescient, if also a little disturbing … .

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters

By Emily Esfahani Smith
Crown
$28
Few concepts are more nebulous than “the meaning of life,” but this book does a great job of nailing it down, offering four specific areas to focus on to add more meaning to your life: connecting with others, working toward a purpose, telling stories, and seeking out mystery.

The Power of Positive Thinking

By Norman Vincent Peale
Simon & Schuster
$8.95
Along with Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” this is one of the few books of life advice to stand the test of time. Peale was a minister, so expect biblical references and a fair amount of spirituality, but the core message that our thoughts and attitudes have an enormous impact on our lives remains timeless.

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The Red Rubber Ball at Work: Elevate Your Game through the Hidden Power of Play

By Kevin Carroll
McGraw-Hill Education
$24
A short, pocket-sized book (like his original “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball”), it profiles 33 successful workers who employ “productive play” to show new ways to unleash innovation, problem-solving and more.

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

By Stephen M.R. Covey
Free Press
$26.99
With their status as most trusted advisors to maintain, accountants can’t afford to ignore the valuable lessons here about the centrality of trust to the modern organization, whether in terms of clients or employees. The book takes a very practical approach to showing you how to build it and maintain it, laying out the 13 behaviors that trust-inspiring leaders bring to the table.

Bonus factoid: Stephen M.R. Covey is actually the son of “The Seven Habits …” author. And all this time we thought it was just one Covey who sometimes couldn’t afford the extra middle initial.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference

By Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown & Co.
$17
Another book that needs no introduction: Gladwell’s look at the small things that kick off major changes is something of a modern classic – even if many people have never read it. It’s worth it for its dissection of the roles of Connectors (people who bring people together), Mavens (who amass and share expertise) and Salesmen (who persuade others) in spreading ideas and trends.

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Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business

By Gino Wickman
BenBella Books
$16.99
Wickman’s “Entrepreneurial Operating System” offers your clients (and you) a set of core principles for elevating a business from mere survival to break-through success, with six key components to focus on: vision, people, data, process, issues (the obstacles the business faces) and traction (the ability to execute well and function with discipline and accountability).

True Professionalism: The Courage to Care About Your People, Your Clients and Your Career

By David H. Maister
Free Press
$26
Maister is back once again; in this outing, he once again talks about the importance of adhering to your stated values, but this time it’s in the context of being, as the title has it, “a true professional.” That adherence to high standards and independent values, he maintains, is the real hallmark of a professional; technical expertise and esoteric knowledge are necessary components, but not sufficient.

When Professionals Have to Lead: A New Model for High Performance

By Thomas DeLong, John Gabarro and Robert Lees
Harvard Business Review Press
$34.99
For years, accounting firms didn’t really require that much leadership: The work that accountants did, the way their firms functioned, and the career paths available to them were all pretty much the same from firm to firm, and from decade to decade, so everyone just sort of flowed along in the same grooves. Today, with rapid change engulfing the profession, firms can no longer rely on tried-and-true models taking the place of leadership: Partners need to step up and perform at higher levels than ever before – and this book is a great place to start.

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Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

By Spencer Johnson
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
$19.95
Not to be confused with “Who Stole My Cheese?” (which is actually a parody), “Who Moved My Cheese?” is a business classic – and you know it must be pretty good since its stars are two mice and two mouse-sized people. In the end, it’s a valuable guide to handling the terrors of change – something every accountant and every firm are facing right now.

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution

By Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Portfolio
$15
You may have heard of firms that offer unlimited PTO – and wondered if they’ve lost their minds. But the fact is that rising generations take an extremely practical approach to work, one that prioritizes getting the work done, versus simply being in the office. This book defines the “Results-Only Work Environment” that focuses on the outcomes, not the hours invested – a revolution that accounting is going to have to embrace in a number of different ways … .

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond

By Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge
Workman Publishing Co.
$12.95
You’ll need lots of time to read all the books on this list, so it’s only right to end it with a book that can add more years to your life: “Younger Next Year” offers a common-sense regimen for getting and staying fit and healthy (mentally and physically) after you turn 50, rather than gradually deteriorating. (The original book, shown above, is aimed at men; there’s a version for women, as well.)