business book recommendations
August 20, 2018

6 Business Book Recommendations from Leaders at Workfront

It’s time for school to start again, which means it’s time for students to hit the books.

At Workfront, we value continual learning and consider reading to be a critical part of our culture. In this light, we’ve pulled together six business books, each recommended by a different leader here. Without exception, these recommendations will help you in your daily work.

In Full Flight: A Story of Africa and Atonement
Recommended by Alex Shootman, President and CEO at Workfront

Synopsis: Dr. Anne Spoerry treated hundreds of thousands of people across rural Kenya over the span of fifty years. A member of the renowned Flying Doctors Service, the French-born Spoerry learned how to fly a plane at the age of forty-five and earned herself the cherished nickname, "Mama Daktari" ("Mother Doctor") from the people of Kenya.

Why Alex recommends it: All of us have a reason for our life's work. This book is a remarkable study into the reasons why Dr. Spoerry devoted her life to work that really mattered. From her story, one can learn that purpose in our work can come from very unexpected sources.  

Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results
Recommended by Laura Butler, SVP of People & Culture at Workfront

Synopsis: Using the science of how our brains are wired, this book provides a practical framework to understand how our own unconscious behavior in conversations either triggers conflict or sparks collaboration. It also provides examples, tools, and proven practices to help the reader shape a positive culture that leads to incredible company growth.   

Why Laura recommends it: We all engage in conversations to get work done, drive revenue, and simply connect with our coworkers as people. Despite the most positive intentions, things don't always go as we planned — especially with so much diversity in today's workforce. Conversational Intelligence has an innovative way of addressing specific actions that can help people in their daily work activities. Who knew that holding a warm drink before a conversation could improve trust?

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Recommended by Jon Pexton, CFO at Workfront

Synopsis: David and Goliath challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages while offering insights and stories about people who have dealt with discrimination, disability, loss of a parent, attending a mediocre school, or a number of other setbacks. The perceived major disadvantages in fact turn out to be the keys to the underdog’s triumph against Goliath-like opponents.

Why Jon recommends it: Too often, we think that just because we’ve been dealt a setback we don’t have a chance at success. In reality, as Malcolm Gladwell shows, just the opposite is likely true. By being aware of how disadvantages can be help us, we can take a more optimistic approach to work — and to life.

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by Kim and Mauborgne.
Recommended by Heidi Melin, CMO at Workfront

Synopsis: Blue Ocean Strategy studies 150 business moves to show that it’s often more effective to push into uncontested market spaces and new industries (known as “blue oceans”) than it is to fixate on competing with established market players.

Why Heidi recommends it: This book is grounded in research and real-world examples, which have now been updated since the early 2000s in an expanded edition. It challenges conventional ways of thinking about strategy and competition. A good read and a good reminder.

Change the Culture, Change the GameThe Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results by Roger Connors & Tom Smith.
Recommended by Steven Zobell, CPO & CTO at Workfront

Synopsis: Change the Culture accompanies other books by Connors and Smith, such as How Did That Happen? and The Oz Principle. This book drives home how important people and culture are for creating accountability.

Why Steven recommends it: All organizations are looking for ways to get great market results at an accelerated pace. Far too often leaders simply push plans on team members as opposed to making simple changes in the way the organization works. As the authors like to say, "Either you will manage the culture, or it will manage you."

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Recommended by Paige Erickson, SVP of Business Development at Workfront

Synopsis: The Power of Habit presents the science behind how habits are formed and what you need to do break or start a new routine. Written by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Charles Duhigg, it illustrates the scientific findings on habits with real-life stories of people and companies who have either started or broken habits. Spoil alert: The answer is not simply willpower.

Why Paige recommends it: If you have a bad habit you want to break or a new good habit you want to start, this book will help you. It gives you a framework to create new routines that give you immediate feedback and help you keep doing your desired behavior until that behavior becomes a habit.


Which of these recommendations intrigues you the most? What book would you recommend right now? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!


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