I wrote a blog recently that described some of the best startup books and management books that I’ve come across that I often recommend. I got a lot of interest on LinkedIn and Twitter — so thank you for that! I thought I’d follow it up with a review of some of the best business biographies and autobiographies that I’ve come across. This is just a selection and it can’t be exhaustive, but it’s not a bad reading list if you happen to be locked up or away on holidays for a couple of weeks. So in no particular order.
The first book that I would recommend is a biography of Ryanair by Siobhan Creaton. There are many books on Ryanair. I suppose we’ve all studied the case study of how O’Leary turned them around from loss making into a low cost airline, to being one of Europe’s biggest airlines and its current rebranding efforts of making the customer experience a little better. They are one of the great Irish success stories of the whole business cycle from product innovation, service innovation, process operations and international sales and marketing.
The next book I would recommend is called King of Capital by David Carey. This is the story of the CEO of Blackstone and his leadership style. It’s also a story of the history of private equity capital. How BlackRock came to add its value in the takeovers and mergers and acquisitions, through to the investment arm that it has today is an education in itself.
Tony Ryan by Richard Aldoux, is a story about Tony Ryan himself and his first major success story, GPA, the creation of the Irish aircraft leasing industry, which is now one of the leaders in the world today, and is a major contributor to our economy. As a leader, as an instigator and developer of talent, such as Michael O’Leary and Denis O’Brien, Tony Ryan is an important Irish leader amongst a group of his generation (O’Reilly etc).
The next book is Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Walter has done a couple of big biographies, and Steve Jobs is probably been written about as one of the most written about business leaders. This book tracks his story from the early stage innovation of Apple, the good decisions, the bad decisions, the diversification into other businesses such as Pixar and is an astounding read into the innovative, creative, and difficult mind of not just a business leader, but probably one in 100 years business leader.
I suggest. Paul Allen’s autobiography, called Idea Man. Paul was one of the founders of Microsoft, alongside Bill Gates and Paul has since gone on to have an enjoyable career of investment and owning sports franchises. But it’s quite interesting to read his story in his account of the formation of Microsoft, and to understand it to the different perspective of Bill Gates, and the partnership that existed at the instigation of Microsoft. No one company can be just with one leader. It’s that founding team is so important.
I’d recommend the Snowball. the story of Warren Buffett. This is an epic tome, but it describes both his leadership, his investment style and rationale and the types of businesses that he’s invested in over the years. Interesting to learn how much of his business is actually devoted to insurance industry. Interesting to note how much of his business is down to just a few investments. His value based investing hypothesis has been obvious and too often forgotten in a time of bubbles.
Elon Musk, by Ashley Vance, just because you probably need to know about this type of innovation and this type of leadership. It’s not somebody that everyone would work for, but his vision and goal setting from Tesla to SpaceX and even back in his PayPal and Solar city’s project — he is an important person to know what makes him tick. Maybe in some ways how to manage and how not to manage.
A fairly recently published book is Bob Iger story called the Ride of a Lifetime. hTis is his story of how he developed his career in TV media through to leading Disney, launching in China. He also describes three of the largest and most effective acquisitions in any sector — Marvel Pixar and the Star Wars franchise, which has given them enough content across all of their multiple technology platforms and layers. That’s going to keep Disney going for many decades to come. It’s a story of M&A done well, and a story of a coach, as a leader for his organization.
Speaking of coaching, the final book I recommended this moment is a book about leaders, called Leaders, fools and imposters by Manfred DeVries. Manford is a psychotherapist, and I’m including this topic as a suggestion for that reflective self analysis of leadership that I studied first in my MBA and is a tone that I’ve tried to develop and try to understand in all of the leaders that I have ever worked with. To understand their what makes them tick and sometimes what makes them tick, boom!
So that’s the review for the moment. Come back soon for more book blogs soon