I'm a voracious reader. I usually have a stack of books in my office and tend to bring a few along on business trips. (If you see me at SxSW this week, I might be reading a book.) For the past two months, I've been reading a few hand-picked business books. Here is one quote from each to help you decide if you want to dive in and read more.
1. "Larry and Sergey had ambitions beyond developing a great search engine. They started out knowing how they wanted people to be treated. Quixotic as it sounds, they both wanted to create a company where work was meaningful, employees felt free to pursue their passions, and people and their families were cared for. Many of the most meaningful, beloved, and effective people practices at Google sprouted from seeds planted by Larry and Sergey. Our weekly all-employee meetings started when 'all' of us amounted to just a handful of people, and continue to this day even though we're now the size of a respectable city."
2. "In reality, it was a demotion. Mayer was no longer in charge of how Google's most important product looked like or how it worked. At Google, there was search, which generates nearly all of the company's revenues and profits, and then there was everything else. Running Google search, Mayer was managing the most important product in the world's most important Internet company. Running Google Maps, she was not. ...Then one day in September 2011, Mayer got an idea. It came from Gabriel Stricker, the soft-spoken PR hand from the world of politics...He asked [Mayer] if she had heard the news about Yahoo. Carol Bartz had been fired. Mayer said she had. Stricker said, quietly, 'You should pursue that job'."
Marissa Mayer And the Fight To Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson
3. "Google was the leader in recognizing and exploiting the opportunity. It was a pure big-data company. Google applied the data-first strategy to both its search engine and its advertising business, and had created new software tools to do so. But there were other companies including Internet stalwarts, like Yahoo! and Amazon, and fledgling start-ups. In early 2006, Hammerbacher joined one of the start-ups. It was just two years old and had fewer than 50 employees. Still, it had promise, as well as several people Hammerbacher knew from Harvard. It offered both adventure and a certain familiarity. So he moved to Silicon Valley and went to work for Facebook."
4. "Few tasks are more exciting than recruiting great people for a hot startup, and there are few factors that are more critical to success than great people. It's not enough that candidates are qualified to work for your startup; they must also believe in your product, because working for a startup is closer to a religion than a way to make a living. Startups are not about Ping-Pong, free food, fun parties, and a quick path to wealth. A realistic description is that startups take four to five years of long hours at low pay with incredible highs and depressing lows with the constant fear of running out of money. And this is if things go well."
5. "And finally, a word about leadership. A leader's job is in some sense to see the future, to cast a vision of what could be. While looking ahead to tomorrow's challenges and opportunities, leaders must simultaneously guide their teams along the path today, toward a finish line that may be invisible to most others. A good map is indispensable in such a situation, both to help the leader make good decisions about how to proceed and also to help discuss the plan with the rest of the team."
6. "Great leaders set a purpose and vision for a company by the goals they establish, the values they promote, and the destination they describe. Then they empower the organization to build culture itself,guided by their vision. They hire people who will promote and demonstrate the right cultural values. They build and promote a social architecture that supports the culture they want. Social architecture is to culture what a foundation, beams, and joists are to a building. Social architecture is found in a thousand small behaviors; communications, traditions, authority, privileges, and 'ways of doing things'."
The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
7. "For social intrapreneurs, too, the practice of personalizing the issue--of providing exemplars--increases the likelihood of success. In early 2012, there was a spate of high-profile laboratory accidents in academic settings. Controls for safety in labs are much more stringent in industry than in academia. This led several people at Dow Chemical to consider how they might best contribute to safer conditions. When making the case to senior leadership for creating the Dow Lab Safety Academy, rather than speaking in generalizations or making a crass business case, an up-and-coming Dow executive drew on the story of the recent tragic death of an undergraduate student in a laboratory fire to support his argument of urgency. For leaders in the room with daughters of a similar age to the young woman who lost her life in the fire, the message really struck home. Thus, Dow's new initiative was able to strengthen the company's ties with universities and reinforce its reputation for having a strong safety culture, while making a measurable and important reduction on the number of lab fires on college campuses each year."
Changing Your Company From The Inside Out: A Guide For Social Intrapreneurs by Gerald F. Davis and Christopher J. White
8. "You are never really starting from scratch with another person, even when you are meeting him or her for the first time. The perceiver's brain is rapidly filling in details about you-many before you have even spoken a word. Knowing this gives you a sense of what you've got going for you and what you might be up against. And the more you can know in advance about your perceiver's likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses, the better equipped you will be to anticipate what's being projected onto you."
No One Understands You and What To Do About It by Heidi Halvorson
9. "I came to see that using time well, so that you enjoy time,rather than battle it; is often not about being more organized in the running of a household. It is about changing your mind-set and recognizing that much of what fills our time is a choice. We can choose to make life easier on the housework,child care, and overall logistics fronts if we want. While this is certainly more doable for some people than others, depending on finances, partners, and the nature of one's work. It's just as likely to be a matter of questioning what is a deeply held value, and what is merely a script memorized long ago. Sometimes life is hard for a good reason. Sometimes narratives serve no purpose beyond keeping you from the life you want."
I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
10. "Because our brains are hardwired to important tasks first, and because importance intensifies pressure, encountering pressure moments is inevitable, as we all have important tasks we have to perform. ...It is easy to see why we often feel our self-esteem is dependent on whether we succeed or fail. We want to succeed in the tasks we deem important, or at the very least to avoid failure. In essence, there is pressure to succeed, and pressure not to fail."
Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger and J. P. Pawliw-Fry