HBR’s 10 Must Reads

Reading is FUNdamental!

I love to read, but my reading list of business related materials has waned over the past couple of years. The last business book I read was The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. Years before that, I had the great fortune of a subscription to the Harvard Business Review which I read religiously. Without a rhyme or reason, I cancelled that subscription and began reading The New Yorker in its place.

Since then, I’ve started to see a gap developing between staying current with business trends and my current role as a Director in a Digital Agency. Each effort at getting back on the Business Book train is met by the dilemma of where to begin. Opportunity Cost is high when selecting one book over another. I finally made the resolution that I need to fill the void in business related reading, sharpen a few of my business tools, and put some swagger back in my business game. The results I’m trying to realize is a new way forward professionally, while making personal improvements in the way I approach new challenges.

The Past

On the road to getting my MBA from the Quinlan School of Business at the Loyola University of Chicago, reading and discussing case studies on a wide range of topics and disciplines was my favorite part of the curriculum. Derivatives and Finance was the most eye opening, since numbers don’t lie. Some case studies were incredibly awesome and inspiring, while the others describing epic fails were torturous and unbearable to read. Back then I was not in a decision making position with far reaching impacts, but I was very judgmental on the epic fails which was not fair. I reminder thinking from high on my soapbox, “How could someone be so dumb? Didn’t they go to Harvard or Stanford?”

Since then, I’ve made even made even dumber decisions than the ones I’ve read about in the epic fails case studies. Fortunately, they did not have any far reaching impacts beyond stunting my own career progression. Regardless, there’s no denying how much of positive influence these case studies had in my thinking.

The Present

I’ve reached the point in my career where I decided the need to do a benchmark study on myself. My thinking and curiosity has become stagnant and the opportunities I pursue for myself can be best described as half-hearted, apathetic, and uninspiring. The cry for help came as I realized how much I was subjecting myself to being spoon-fed reading materials in my LinkedIn feed. You know the articles I’m referring to. They are all those clickbait type “Top 10 things you can do now, to (insert inspirational, self-serving, unattainable goal here)” articles.

Something needed to change, but how do I objectively benchmark myself? To what standard do I measure myself? How do I take a deep dive into myself? Rather, how will I be sure the benchmarking results will support a new road map and a strategy to move forward?

Ironically, I turned to the Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads. This is a foundational series published by the Harvard Business review broken down by the following 6 tomes containing 10 articles each:

  1. The Essentials
  2. Leadership
  3. Strategy
  4. Change Management
  5. Managing People
  6. Managing Yourself
HBR Top 10 Must Reads on Leadership, Strategy, Managing Oneself, Managing People, and Change Management.

The Future

I’m going to tackle each of the 6 tomes in the order prescribed above. The goal is to read through each of the articles and provide some thoughts as they relate to my personal experiences gained over the past 20 years. The last in the series is Managing Yourself. This one gives me the most anxiety, because there’s a bit of fear that I will discover something that I will have to accept. Hopefully, the articles read through to the final discipline will help smooth over some of the edges when that day comes.

Before diving into the material here’s a few initial thoughts I have regarding each of the 6 disciplines above:

The 6 Disciplines Explained

  1. The Essentials – This the Top 10 articles of the Top 10 articles of the remaining 5 tomes. I hope to get grounded in the material and re-visit them again. This will allow me a 2nd opportunity to address the issue and refine my writing and thoughts on any subject.
  2. Leadership – This requires me to think about how leadership is not something that I can turn on or off at will; rather, is something I either have or don’t.
  3. Strategy – This requires me to think about all the times I needed to stay the course, but I changed the course; and vice versa.
  4. Change Management – Easier said than done, because re-shuffling an organizational chart or boxes on a process flow chart is just changing a document. I have suffered some blunt force trauma after being given the thankless role of shepherding in change management. I have yet to meet someone who can successfully put 10 kittens in a suitcase.
  5. Managing People – This requires me to come face to face with the other people I’ve directed and delegated tasks to over the years? Nevertheless, did I do a good and how much have I improved since being an insecure first time manager?
  6. Managing Yourself – The holy grail of this whole exercise. Like Rocky told Apollo in the movie Creed, “You see this guy here? That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face. I believe that’s true in the ring, and I think that’s true in life. Now show me something.” I couldn’t resist throwing a quote from Rocky into this post.

A Parting Thought

Throughout the journey across each of the 6 tomes and 10 must reads for each, I may find the necessity to really drive home a point. When I feel the opportunity to distill complex ideas into simple explanations, I may need to lean heavily on quotes from movies that have provided endless inspiration to me on my journey through life: Yoda, The Big Lebowski, Karate Kid, The Notebook, Hoosiers, Dumb & Dumber, Wall Street, and Dirty Dancing. We can all agree these movies never fail to deliver inspiration.

With that said, I hope you find me in the blogosphere and find me interesting. Feel free to share a few of your thoughts with me, as well. Leave a comment. Drop an email. Friend me.