I read nine great business books in 2020. I actually read about 30 business books, but many suffer from trying to make a book out of a very good idea or research paper. While a 10-page Harvard Business Review article can be fascinating, the same idea fleshed out with examples after examples to justify a book is tiring. So, while I wish I could make it an even ten in this list, I didn’t read that many great ones.
I chose these nine books because they would be of interest to a veterinary practice owner or manager, as well as any veterinary associate that has an eye on practice ownership one day.
Here is my list in the order I read them from most recent to early in 2020. I can’t say one is better than another since they all deal with such specific topics. A couple were released in late 2019 so I included them in my 2020 list since that is when I read them.
No Filter by Sarah Frier
What does a book about the development of Instagram and the subsequent sale to Facebook have to do with owning or managing a veterinary practice? A lot. I was struck by the similarities of challenges faced by the founders of Instagram when Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook became their boss and those vet practices that have sold to a corporate group. Often the first year or two is a honeymoon until the new owners need to see the business make more money. The contrast between what the founders of the business wanted for their business and what is needed of them is very common and at the end of the day the sellers of their business wonder if it was worth it.
Recommended reading for anyone thinking of selling their veterinary practice to veterinary practice aggregators.
Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier
This is the updated version of the classic how-to guide for any business owner. I had never read it before but had heard about it in interviews with entrepreneurs when they were asked for influential books that helped them. This is a must-have for anyone who aspires to be a business owner or already is. I would have missed making a lot of mistakes if I had read this book when we started our own veterinary practice. I know I will be reading this in the future to make sure I’m keeping on the right path for our business.
Post Corona by Scott Galloway
Scott Galloway co-hosts one of my favourite business and tech podcasts Pivot with the acclaimed tech journalist Kara Swisher. Scott has deep insights into various subjects based upon reams and reams of data. He is one of those thought leaders that shows me a different way to think about our world and how it affects our profession and my own veterinary business. I bought this book as soon as it came out to help me understand what our world will look like as a result of the COVID pandemic. This is a very valuable book for any business owner to understand the massive changes that are underway in how we operate a business, go to school and live our lives.
Ten Lessons for a Post Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria
This book has a very similar approach to Post Corona but with a broader focus. Mr. Zakaria is a host on CNN, a columnist for The Washington Post, and a contributor to The Atlantic magazine so he spends more time writing about the impact of the pandemic on politics, the role of governments and the shift in global superpowers. Valuable information for any business owner. While we likely can’t have a personal impact on these large global forces, we can certainly adapt our business to accommodate these changes.
Leading at a Higher-Level Vol 3 by Ken Blanchard
I’m a huge fan of Ken Blanchard and his approach to leadership and team development. He is an incredibly prolific author and to have his combined teachings in one book is invaluable. The perfect book for any business owner or manager. If you can apply 10% of what he teaches you will have a much better business. Guaranteed.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Mr. Voss relies on his past experience as an FBI negotiator and current research to write this outstanding book on negotiation. He uses great examples to demonstrate how certain techniques work, or don’t work in various situations. This would be a helpful guide for salary negotiations, equipment purchases, and coaching employees. Put it this way, if you are hiring a new vet and they have read this book and you haven’t they are most likely going to get what they want out of your contract negotiations than you. Reason enough to buy it.
Call Sign Chaos by Jim Mattis and Bong West
This is the autobiography of Jim Mattis, ex-Secretary of Defence for the USA and considered the greatest Marine ever. His stories of military planning and leading troops have great lessons for any business leader or manager. He exemplifies service to his country so whether you are reading this book to learn to be a better leader, strategist or for the stories you will not be disappointed.
No Rules Rules Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.
Mr. Hastings is the founder and Co-CEO of Netflix and Ms. Meyers is a professor at one of the top global business schools. Together they have written perhaps my favourite book about developing a business culture in recent memory. I applaud Mr. Hastings for sharing not only his success but his fails with unflinching detail. I gave a copy of this book to all of my managers at my veterinary practice because this book shows what seems impossible can be very doable. I particularly liked his approach to compensation. This is required reading if you want to manage your business culture better.
Non-Consensus Investing by Rupal J. Bhansali
I don’t imagine any of the readers of this blog are full-time investors, but this book outlines an approach to long-term investing that would be helpful for anyone that has money invested. At the very least it will help you better understand the investment industry. I came away after reading this book more confident in my own retirement savings plan and much more aware of the many unsafe paths an uneducated person could pursue in the hopes of becoming rich. I’ve been recommending this book to friends and colleagues whenever the subject of retirement planning comes up. We are never too young to think about this subject.
What business books have you read in 2020 that have helped you? Please share with us so we can spread the word about them. Thank you.