Some people’s immediate response will be “who has time to read” or if you are like me you are listening to podcasts or hunting for book summaries for books you’ve spotted on topics that interest you. Each year McKinsey publish a list of books that leaders of global corporations have selected for their summer holiday reading, or enduring the chills of winter for those in the southern hemisphere.
I find their selections interesting and insightful as it provides a glimpse into the topics that have captured their interest and attention. Usually there is one book that is a stand out for no reason other than several leaders placed it on their reading list.
This year that book is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Harper, 2015; nonfiction). In summary, one hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either an historical or a biological approach, but Dr Harari breaks the mould with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Interesting that many selections made by these leaders were not published in the last two years. Many selections can, in some cases, be referred to as classics. Happy reading.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft
Leonardo da Vinci—Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, October 2017; nonfiction)
Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality—Jaron Lanier (Henry Holt and Co., November 2017; nonfiction)
Exit West—Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books, March 2017; fiction)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City—Matthew Desmond (Broadway Books, February 2017; nonfiction)
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind—Yuval Noah Harari (Harper, 2015; nonfiction)
Herman Gref, Sberbank
Great People Decisions: Why They Matter So Much, Why They Are So Hard, and How You Can Master Them—Claudio Fernandez-Araoz (John Wiley & Sons, 2007; nonfiction)
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization—Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright (Harper Business, 2008; nonfiction)
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers—David Perlmutter, MD (Little, Brown and Company, 2013; nonfiction)
The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be—Moisés Naím (Basic Books, 2014; nonfiction)
Drew Houston, Dropbox
Sam Walton: Made in America—Sam Walton (Bantam, 1993; nonfiction)
The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World—Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen (MIT Press, 2016; nonfiction)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values—Robert M. Pirsig (William Morrow, 2005; nonfiction)
Andrew Liveris, the Dow Chemical Company
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder—Arianna Huffington (Harmony, 2015; nonfiction)
The Sympathizer—Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, 2016; fiction)
The Quantum Spy—David Ignatius (W. W. Norton & Company, November 2017; fiction)
Dominic Barton, global managing partner, McKinsey & Company
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future—Kevin Kelly (Viking, 2016; nonfiction)
Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond—Gideon Rachman (Other Press, April 2017; nonfiction)
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow—Yuval Noah Harari (Harper, February 2017; nonfiction)
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 What CEO’s Are Reading In 2017; July 2017