Recommended Books

Here are the ten books (besides the one in your hands) that we endorse the most for our students and clients. We’ve told you the title and author (the what) and why each title is relevant (the so what), so we will leave it to you to get the books into your own hands (the now what).

  1. Made To Stick : Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan HeathAlthough it’s been over 12 years since its publication, this book reset the bar for “sticky messages”—the goal of all leaders. Their SUCCESs model is key to your success in encouraging your audiences to recall and act on your message.
  2. The Credibility Code: How to Project Confidence and Competence When It Matters Most by Cara Hale Alter.This slim book is the most practical guide to public speaking out there. Used in concert with her Google talk by the same name, these pages will be a great resource for you and your team to build confidence and presence.
  3. Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.Knaflic has beautifully cut through the noise of bad charts and graphs and made a simple guide for all leaders who use data to persuade. She also has a website and podcast by the same name.
  4. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy.Yes, I acknowledge there are those who question her research methods, but her findings work for me and my students. Don’t just watch her 2012 TED talk; also read the book, which came out three years later. Her insights have helped millions of us speak with greater confidence.
  5. Speaking Up Without Freaking Out by Matt Abrahams.Don’t let the slim size of this book fool you. It’s packed full of strategies and tips to help you exude confidence and reduce anxiety. It’s one of the books my students always keep at the end of the quarter (or give to their team members when they enter leadership roles).
  6. The Startup Pitch: A Proven Formula to Win Funding by Chris Lipp.As we noted in the section on pitching, Lipp’s simple, straightforward approach not only makes sense, but makes pitching easier. Based on his own experience and research conducted at Tech Crunch and elsewhere, it’s a must-have for any entrepreneur.
  7. Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Symbols, and Ceremonies by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez.Okay, two of Duarte’s books made this list, but I put this one first because it is the most comprehensive look at how to navigate the S-curve of change for you and your followers in your organization. The “centerfold” in this book is a crucial item to keep and reference moving forward.
  8. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.Scott’s simple and actionable two-by-two matrix should be on the cover of every performance review manual in the world. She calls you to consider how you can both care personally and challenge directly when giving feedback. A must-read for all leaders!
  9. Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences by Nancy DuarteThis has been my required text for years at Stanford. Duarte moves beyond simply visual expertise (see her first book, slide;ology), but looks at the arc of a well-told story and well-crafted presentation. I see her sparkline as a breakthrough for all leaders struggling to present information in a compelling way to an audience who might resist.
  10. Guide to Presentations by Lynn Russell and Mary MunterFrom which the AIM framework is sourced, this is the oldest book on the list (and the only true textbook), but the AIM triangle has, for me, stood the test of time. It may be out of print by now, but definitely not out of use.
  11. Bonus track: While I’ve not yet read it, I strongly encourage you to watch for my colleague Deb Gruenfeld’s book, Acting with Power, due out in April 2020 from Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House. Her work has become legendary at the GSB and I cannot wait to read her work on what business leaders can gain from studying the work that actors do.