5 Awesome Business and Psychology Books From 2013

Those close to me know I am a voracious reader with a nasty habit of buying more books than I'll ever have time to read (Amazon Prime + One Click = Devilish.  Hats off, Jeff Bezos).   Most of what I read falls into my core areas of interest:  leadership, business, entrepreneurship and psychology.  I thought I'd highlight a few of my reads from 2013 that stand out as especially unique or valuable or important.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.  (Note: These weren't necessarily published in 2013 - I just happened to read them this year).  

  1. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else by Patrick Lencioni.   I've been curious about Lencioni's work for many years.  A few months ago, I finally got around to reading his well-known classic, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and was so impressed I started working my way through his catalog.  I have not been disappointed.  This book - his most recent - encapsulates a tremendous amount of wisdom around effective organizational leadership, culture-building, and management.  I have used his concise strategic planning framework with my own firm and with a couple of clients, and in all cases have found his insights both intuitive and impactful.
  2. Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind by Nancy Kline.  This is a unique and important book about accessing our natural capacity for fresh and innovative thought.  Kline's background is in childhood education.  From an early age, she became fascinated with a single question:  Under what conditions do human beings think at their best?  Her answer is an environment characterized by ten basic supportive qualities -- qualities we can each learn to embody for each other.  A powerful reminder of the potential (and responsibility) we all have as leaders, managers, and friends to awaken and encourage the genius in our fellow human beings.
  3. The Relationship Handbook by Dr. George Pransky.   One of my all time favorites, I re-read this book this year just to remind myself of its core message, which is focused on cultivating warmth and positive feelings in relationships -- rather than on solving problems and resolving differences.  Pransky has co-founded an approach to psychology known as The Three Principles, which I believe will revolutionize the field of mental health over the coming decades.  His audio programs, available at www.pranskyandassociates.om are equally brilliant and worth your time.
  4. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.  One of the core messages in public speaking and writing revolves around the extraordinary (yet under-appreciated) capacity of the human mind to absorb and digest information and produce insights, learning and innovation in response to our sustained focus and attention on a given subject.  For me, this book was a striking vindication of the power of embracing this innate capacity.  Dweck contrasts people who adopt a "growth" mindset, which embraces the capacity to learn, grow, improve and expand, with those more inclined towards a "fixed" mindsets, which tend to focus on uncontrollables like genetics or talent.  Along virtually every metric that counts, folks who adopt growth mindsets succeed more and do more and enjoy more of life -- an insight with important implications for educators, parents, managers and just about anyone else I can think of.
  5. The Startup Owner's Manual : The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf.  Originator of the agile development and the lean startups methodology, Blank's theories have been massively influential in Silicon Valley and beyond. Not exactly a page turner, this is more like a rigorous reference manual for those engaged in the thrilling process of discovering and validating a scalable business model.  An MBA in 500 priceless pages.

How about you?  Any good reads you've enjoyed recently?   Would love to hear about them in the comments.  

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Francesco Barbera

Francesco Barbera is a corporate attorney representing emerging growth corporations in a wide range of industries, including software, technology, digital, fashion, health care, retail and e-commerce. He counsels entrepreneurs, investors and established companies on the full range of their business activities, from formation through raising capital, growth and acquisition.  He has special expertise in the representation of mission-driven organizations and social enterprises.  

Throughout his career, he has represented the National Broadcasting Corporation, the Grammy Museum, Ares Capital Management, Credit Suisse First Boston, as well as privately held businesses in internet, media and technology, mobile applications, consumer products, professional sports, film and television production, among others over the course of his career. 

Francesco began his legal career at two large, international law firms in Los Angeles, where he represented large and small enterprises in a broad range of transactions, from mergers and acquisitions to public and private securities offerings to the formation of partnerships and joint ventures.

Francesco is also the Co-Chairman of the Los Angeles chapter of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.  A lifelong student of psychology and personal development, Francesco holds a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and has been trained and mentored by numerous leaders in the personal development arena, including Steve Chandler, Byron Katie and George and Linda Pransky. 

Francesco has also founded and represented non-profit initiatives. He has served as outside counsel to the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, a charter school dedicated to training the next generation of social and political leaders, and he is the founder and former Executive Director of SpiritWalk, a non-profit fundraiser created to benefit the University of Santa Monica.    

Francesco’s writing has appeared in The American LawyerCalifornia LawyerSlate, and others. He served as the Supreme Court columnist and Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Record and was the founder and editor-in-chief of the Penn History Review, the first Ivy League journal in the country dedicated to the publication of undergraduate historical research.

Francesco is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, cum laude, and the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.