BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

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Book Recommendations


Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.

Born in Vienna in 1905 Viktor E. Frankl earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. He published more than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere.


Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.


Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized being named Lao-tzu in ancient China dictated 81 verses, which are regarded by many as the ultimate commentary on the nature of our existence. The classic text of these 81 verses, called the Tao Te Ching or the Great Way, offers advice and guidance that is balanced, moral, spiritual, and always concerned with working for the good.

This is a work to be read slowly, one essay a day. As Wayne says, “This is a book that will forever change the way you look at your life, and the result will be that you’ll live in a new world aligned with nature. Writing this book changed me forever, too. I now live in accord with the natural world and feel the greatest sense of peace I’ve ever experienced. I’m so proud to present this interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, and offer the same opportunity for change that it has brought me.”


Ekhart Tolle's message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle's clear writing, supportive voice, and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who's ever wondered what exactly "living in the now" means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container--more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.

Tolle packs a lot of information and inspirational ideas into The Power of Now. (Topics include the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence, and the cycle of life.) Thankfully, he's added markers that symbolize "break time." This is when readers should close the book and mull over what they just read.


In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra distills the essence of his teachings into seven simple, yet powerful principles that can easily be applied to create success in all areas of your life. Based on natural laws that govern all of creation, this book shatters the myth that success is the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition.

Instead, Chopra offers a life-altering perspective on the attainment of success: Once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life, and material abundance will spring forth easily and effortlessly.

Filled with timeless wisdom and practical steps you can apply right away, this is a book you will cherish for a lifetime, for within its pages are the secrets to making all your dreams come true.


In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.


“Google engineer, Chade-Meng Tan’s book shows that to avoid certain kinds of results, you need to change the conditions that give rise to them. If you change the habitual patterns of your mind, you can change their resulting attitudes and emotions and find peace and inner happiness.” (—His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

“This is a book offering much good advice. I most appreciate Meng’s insight that expressing compassion for others brings happiness to oneself as well.” (—Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States)

“I applaud Chade-Meng for daring to undertake the writing of a book on “Emotional Intelligence,” within which lies the essence of knowing oneself. The practices he offers will help improve our lives and in the process lead to a world where greater peace and happiness is possible.” (—S.R. Nathan, Former President of Singapore)

“Combining timeless wisdom with modern science, Chade-Meng Tan has created an entertaining and practical guide to success and happiness.” (—Deepak Chopra)

Desiderata: Words for Life

Ehrmann's well-known inspirational work, written in 1927, offers cogent advice on how to live at peace with oneself. This edition is distinguished by Tauss's striking photographs, most of which show children and adults of different cultures. Each of the images captures the essence of the passage it accompanies. For instance, the opening sentence ("Go placidly/amid the noise and haste,/and remember what peace/there may be in silence") is matched with a scene of a deserted city street that brilliantly creates a sense of stillness. Lines on the timelessness of love ("Especially do not feign affection./Neither be cynical/about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment/it is as perennial as the grass") are accompanied by one photo that shows parents and children nestled in bed, and another of them engaged in a pillow fight. Perhaps the most memorable illustration shows a boy and a girl set against a galaxy of stars. This complements the life-affirming statement, "You/are/a child/of the/universe,/no less than the trees and the stars;/you have a right to be here." All of the photos are well composed and have a dreamy quality, suffused with a soft light. However, while the pictures have intergenerational appeal, the vocabulary employed and the philosophy expressed in the text are adult in nature.


It is not, as Smullyan himself notes, a book about Chinese philosophy, so don't buy it as an introduction to Taoism. Smullyan is not giving an exposition of Eastern religion or philosophy here, although he does include a helpful bibliography for anyone who wants to follow up on that topic. (In fact some of his best essays have at least marginally to do with Western religion.)

This book is a series of essays and reflections inspired by Chinese philosophy -- in particular, inspired by an American mathematical logician's reading of Chinese philosophy. And Smullyan is a delightfully witty and graceful writer, with a vivid sense of (for example) the foolishness of much modern "education," the meaning of "discipline," and the limits of abstract formal logic (which, incidentally, is not identical with "reason").

Not only that, but he is one of few recent writers to explore the "dialogue" as a form of philosophical exposition. One of his finest is in this volume: "Is God a Taoist?" (This one is guaranteed to annoy all the right people.)

The Tao may be silent, but Smullyan, thank goodness, is not. His deft logic, his light touch, and his genial humor will endear him to pretty much any reader, of any religious or philosophical orientation, who approaches the book with an active mind.

(And I do mean "any." I have known the occasional reader who takes Smullyan to be an enemy of religious "orthodoxy," but I frankly see nothing here that justifies that view. More likely somebody is just misunderstanding what "orthodoxy" really is.)

Very highly recommended.


Presence can be read as a both a guide and a challenge to leaders in business, education, and government to transform their institutions into powerful agents of change in a world increasingly out of balance. Since business is the most powerful institution in the world today, the authors argue, it must play a key role in solving global societal problems. Yet so many institutions seem to run people rather than the other way around. In this illuminating book, the authors seek to understand why people don't change systems and institutions even when they pose a threat to society, and examine why institutional change is so difficult to attain.

The authors view large institutions such as global corporations as a new species that are affecting nearly all other life forms on the planet. Rather than look at these systems as merely the extension of a few hyper-powerful individuals, they see them as a dynamic organisms with the potential to learn, grow, and evolve--but only if people exert control over them and actively eliminate their destructive aspects. "But until that potential is activated," they write, "industrial age institutions will continue to expand blindly, unaware of their part in a larger whole or of the consequences of their growth." For global institutions to be recreated in positive ways, there must be individual and collective levels of awareness, followed by direct action. Raising this awareness is what Presence seeks to achieve. Drawing on the insights gleaned from interviews with over 150 leading scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, the authors emphasize what they call the "courage to see freshly"--the ability to view familiar problems from a new perspective in order to better understand how parts and wholes are interrelated.

This is not a typical business book. Mainly theoretical, it does not offer specific tips that organizational managers or directors can apply immediately; rather, it offers powerful tools and ideas for changing the mindset of leaders and unlocking the latent potential to "develop awareness commensurate with our impact, wisdom in balance with our power.

Very highly recommended.


With a nod to Abraham Maslow and his theory of self-actualization, the Wilsons challenge readers to "thrive instead of survive," grow up emotionally and spiritually, and think in new ways. For them winning is not beating out others but avoiding the mindset of simply "playing not to lose." Presented effectively in low-key, straightforward fashion, this book is based on techniques Wilson's firm has developed and utilized in work with more than 500,000 persons.

Very highly recommended.


Srikumar Rao teaches a hugely popular course at both London and Columbia Business Schools. He helps his students define their personal ethics and goals, and how to reach them, and starts them on a journey that will last them a lifetime. Now, in this extraordinary book, Dr Rao's unique approach is available to a far wider audience. Using his own unconventional methods, including exercises and lessons adapted from many traditions, he explains how to: work out who you are, and where you are going; find out how you really view the world; discover the joy of effortless action; sharpen your ability to focus; and, discover true freedom and happiness. "Are You Ready to Succeed?" is in a different league altogether from most business books already on offer. If you too would like to be in another league, this fresh, accessible and groundbreaking guide to a meaningful and successful life is the one for you.


One of the world's most influential living management thinkers, Charles Handy has year-after-year been listed alongside business gurus including Peter Drucker and Tom Peters in the prestigious Thinkers 50 list. His views on management -- and life -- have inspired and enlightened others for decades. Now, in Myself and Other More Important Matters, the bestselling author of books including The Age of Unreason shares his special brand of wisdom, giving readers uncommon insight into business and careers...as well as the choices we all have to make in our lives.

Handy draws on the lessons of his own experience to help readers move beyond the facts they learned in business school and reflect on their own individual management style. With the "philosophical elegance and eloquence" Warren Bennis has described as his trademark, Handy discusses how one should develop one’s career goals in line with personal values and sense of ethics. Handy entertainingly recounts what he’s discovered along his own international journey: from lessons his father taught him growing up in Ireland…to what he learned in Borneo in his days working for Royal Dutch Shell… to Italy, where he bought and fixed up an old house in Tuscany…all the way to America, where recent corporate scandals have shaken our understanding of what is ethical and acceptable.

Throughout the book, Handy asks us to look at the role of work in our life, and what we truly find fulfilling. It is hard to imagine a better or wiser guide to work -- and life’s -- big questions.


Though this authoritative examination of today's static corporate management systems reads like a business school treatise, it isn't the same-old thing. Hamel, a well-known business thinker and author (Leading the Revolution), advocates that dogma be rooted out and a new future be imagined and invented. To aid managers and leaders on this mission, Hamel offers case studies and measured analysis of management innovators like Google and W.L. Gore (makers of Gore-Tex), then lists lessons that can be drawn from them. He doesn't gloss over how difficult it will be to reinvent management, comparing the new and needed shift in thinking to Darwin's abandoning creationist traditions and physicists who had to look beyond Newton's clockwork laws to discover quantum mechanics. But the steps needed to make such a profound shift aren't clearly outlined here either. The book serves primarily as an invitation to shed age-old systems and processes and think differently. There's little humor and few punchy catchphrases—the book has less sparkle than Jeffrey Pfeffer's What Were They Thinking?—but its content will likely appeal to managers accustomed to b-school textbooks and tired of gimmicky business evangelism.


Anyone who has sat through a psychology course has seen Abraham H. Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a pyramid capped by the highest human need of all, the need for, what Maslow famously termed, self-actualization. Since his death in 1970, Maslow's voluminous writings have made him one of the most influential thinkers in counseling psychology. He is a revered father figure to the human potential movement. But few know him as a brilliantly insightful analyst of how to lead people and make organizations more productive. Maslow on Management should change that.

In 1962, Maslow spent the summer at an electronics factory that was one of the first to try giving workers a say in organizing production. He watched and kept a journal, later published under the intimidating title Eupsychian Management. The book, which had been long out of print, has been republished with extensive commentaries as Maslow on Management.

Some of Maslow on Management is, as Warren Bennis writes in the foreword, "hilariously innocent." Reflecting on the power of well-managed workplaces to unleash creativity, Maslow suggests that the U.S. economy would benefit "if we kept all the factories running at full blast and simply gave things away." Yet his deeper point--that good management leads to good psychological health--is startlingly advanced for 1962, when the business world was still widely thought of as nurturing nothing more than soulless conformity. He was surprisingly prescient, too, in warning that participatory management taken to excess becomes sloppy and weak. While encouraging open communication, an effective leader "should have the power and the ability to keep his mouth shut," Maslow writes. He advises that gentle, permissive management is fine if workers share democratic values, but if not, "break their backs immediately."

Full of rambling, half-finished thoughts and provocative speculations, Maslow on Management is no nine-step plan for building winning work teams. But anyone seriously interested in understanding management will find the book useful as a fascinating reflection of a brilliant mind thinking deeply about the nature and purpose of work

Many managers understand that cultural differences affect the process of doing business, but many underestimate by just how much. This book aims to dispel the idea that there is only one way to manager and encourages readers to get to know their own culture before doing business with others. The author explores the cultural extremes and the incomprehension that can arise when doing business across cultures - even when people are working for the same company. The book explains that there are five key factors or orientations that affect how people all deal with each other, do business and manage. The goal is the "transnational organization" - one in which the company can take from each country what is best, and for those who are sensitive to these differences, the opportunities are enormous. With many practical examples and case studies, this book brings insights to the dilemma of reconciling corporate consistency with local conditions as business life rapidly internationalizes. In 1991 Fons Trompenaars was awarded the International Professional Practice Area Research Award by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).
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