Book recommendations for new grads

Posted: - Modified: | career, kaizen, learning, reading

Kim Liu wanted to know which books I’d recommend for people who are starting out in the business world. Here are a few books that continue to help me think:

Love is the Killer App: If you look beyond the occasionally cutesy language, this book has great tips on working with knowledge, network, and compassion. My favourite tips: Read a ton of books, actively think about how to connect other people with ideas, other people, and resources, and exercise your network.

Front Cover The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. Also unconventional, but interesting. Key points: There is no plan. Think strengths, not weaknesses. It’s not about you. Persistence trumps talent. Make excellent mistakes. Leave an imprint.
Front Cover Work Like You’re Showing Off: The Joy, Jazz, and Kick of Being Better Tomorrow than You Were Today. Because it’s fun, and you can do amazing things.
Front Cover First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. Even if you’re at the bottom of your organizational chart, think like a manager and look for ways to adapt your environment so that you can do your best. Manage yourself by building on your strengths, motivating yourself, developing yourself and people around you, and so on.
Front Cover Work Life Balancing: How to Be Wildly Successful in Both… Really!, because it’s important to know it’s possible, and to structure your life so that you grow happily.
Front Cover Your money or your life, because financial savvy will help you make the rest of your life better and less stressful.

You might also find Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? interesting.

There are lots of other networking, presentation, technology adoption, storytelling, business, entrepreneurship, and productivity books (among others!) that I often recommend to people.

Hmm. I expected to be able to recommend more (or fewer but clearer ones!), but there haven’t been that many things that jump out at me as books that anyone starting out in a career must read. Even the list above isn’t a must-read list.

What do I think other new hires really, really need to know?

  • How to learn
  • How to share
  • How to practice relentless improvement
  • How to find their passion and move into the sweet spot
  • How to ask for help and find mentors
  • How to create and negotiate opportunities
  • How to help other people do amazing things
  • How to sort out life so that it supports what you want to do instead of stressing you out

What would you recommend people read or learn?

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at