Over the past few months, I've provided the recommended reading lists from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Richard Branson.

Most of those books, however, are what might be called "heavy" in the sense that they take a few hours to read and absorb.

Since time is money, here are some important business lessons gleaned from books we might remember from our childhood:

1. Alice Through the Looking Glass

Author: Lewis Carroll

Summary: A young girl slips through a mirror into a land where time moves backward.

What It Teaches: A single quote (from the Red Queen) neatly summarizes the entrepreneurial experience: "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that."

 

2. Everyone Poops

Author: Taro Gomi

Summary: Pointing out that every animal excretes makes potty training more palatable for toddlers.

What It Teaches: No matter where you work, there's going to be poop and, by extension, that poop is destined to roll downhill.

 

3. Goodnight Moon

Author: Margaret Rice Brown

Summary: The repetition of "goodnight" to the objects in a fictional room creates a feeling of safety.

What It Teaches: Rituals create patterns of thought that become more powerful with each repetition. Your personal rituals--what you do and say each day--mold your experience and create success or failure. For example, ending each day by writing down everything good that happened that day gradually makes you experience life more optimistically.


4. Green Eggs and Ham

Author: Dr. Seuss

Summary: An insistent restaurateur "Sam-I-Am" pesters a customer to consume a dish of green eggs and ham, despite that customer's insistent refusal. Ultimately the customer consumes the proffered meal and decides that he likes it.

What It Teaches: Sometimes customers don't know what they want and just need some persistent prodding in the right direction.


5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Author: Dr. Seuss

Summary: A hermit-like creature living on a mountain top steals all the gifts, food, and ornaments from Whoville, a village in the valley below, only to return them after hearing the villagers singing despite their loss.

What It Teaches: Think of the U.S. government as the Grinch, and the entrepreneur community as Whoville. Now imagine that, rather than returning everything to the inhabitants of Whoville, the Grinch gives it all to the inhabitants of FatCatVille.


6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Author: Laura Numeroff

Summary: Multiple attempts to satisfy the desires of a mouse only create additional demands.

What It Teaches: Suppose you've negotiated a deal but at the last minute the other party trots out a new demand, like "Unless you drop an additional 30 percent off, forget it!" If you succumb to that demand, the other party will conclude you're weak and will make further demands. Just like the mouse.


7. The Cat in the Hat

Author: Dr. Suess

Summary: In an attempt to entertain two children who have been left alone at home, an anthropomorphic cat almost destroys the entire house.

What It Teaches: If both parents work, you really do need reliable daycare.

 

8. The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein

Summary: A tree sacrifices everything for the good of a boy whom it loves, even though the boy never expresses any appreciation.

What It Teaches: People tend to only appreciate products and services that they pay for. As a corollary, the more they pay, the more they tend to appreciate them.

 

9. The Stinky Cheese Man

Author: Jon Scieszka

Summary: The Stinky Cheese Man (like the Gingerbread Man in the original story) goads everyone to chase, catch, and eat him, but nobody is interested.

What It Teaches: No amount of enthusiastic marketing can make consumers want or buy a product that stinks.

 

10. Winnie the Pooh

Author: A.A. Milne

Summary: A lovable but unintelligent teddy bear solves problems and helps his friends through a series of surprising bumbles.

What It Teaches: The most valuable employees aren't the clever ones (like Rabbit) or the wisest ones (like Owl) but the ones who automatically do the right thing without thinking too much about it (like Pooh).

 

Published on: Aug 25, 2015