Great books educate, inspire, inform, entertain... what we are is shaped by many things, and one of them is what we read. But finding that one pivotal book that makes all the difference can sometimes be tough.

That's why I've asked a number of successful people to share the books they love.

The first installment in the series is from Art Papas, the founder and CEO of Bullhorn, a company that provides cloud-based CRM solutions for relationship-driven businesses by automating data capture and customer insight technology to help companies win customers and keep them engaged. (Art and I recently talked about how hard it is to change a company's culture -- and how to pull it off.)

Here are Art's selections:

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

I read this book early on, when I first became a CEO. I have used it as my operating model for building deep trust and cohesiveness within executive team members.

It's a very quick read and it is relatively easy to implement some of the strategies around meeting cadence, offsides, and eliminating counterproductive team behaviors. 

Winning by Jack Welch

This book taught me so much about corporate culture and the real power of strong core values as an instrument for shaping employee behavior.

Most people think of Jack Welch as the guy who ruthlessly cut the bottom 10% of GE's staff every year. But, this book shows a much greater depth of thought and caring. It's a comprehensive and cohesive operating system for leaders on how to establish a culture, how to communicate effectively, how to measure employees, how to reward success, how to deliver critical feedback, how to hold people accountable and how to develop talent.

Over the past several years I've worked with my leadership team to incorporate as much of this book into Bullhorn's corporate operating model as possible. It's been a lot of work, but the results have been phenomenal. 

Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Built to Last introduced the term Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG, which describes a best practice used by highly successful organizations of setting very ambitious long range goals and the remarkable effects they have on helping teams achieve things that were seemingly unachievable.

I set a BHAG for my team of getting Bullhorn to 10,000 users in three years. It seemed impossible at the time because we only had 1,000 and just over $1m in revenue. About 3 1/2 years later we hit 10,000 users and crossed $10m in revenue.

BHAGs work -- and I've been using them ever since.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a grim story about a man and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic America.

I love this book because McCarthy is an incredible writer and it really made me think about all the things in life I take for granted: infrastructure, food, clean water, technology, even basic safety.

McCarthy immerses you in a life without those things and it really made me appreciate how good we all have it. 

I'm a Christian, so this book is really important to me and my family. But even if you're not, the New Testament is full of lessons about how to treat people and act with love, patience, forgiveness and humility -- all of which can be applied to dealings with employees, customers, family members and even enemies.

Published on: Aug 4, 2016
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