15 New Books on Business and Behavior for 2015 Recommended by Adam Grant

 1.How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton (January 20)

From Description on Amazon

As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a twenty-five-cent bet, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs.

Creators, he shows, apply in particular ways the everyday, ordinary thinking of which we are all capable, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He examines why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. Drawing on examples from art, science, business, and invention, from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be.

 

  1. Getting to Yes With Yourself by William Ury (January 20)

From Description on Amazon

William Ury, coauthor of the international bestseller Getting to Yes, returns with another groundbreaking book, this time asking: how can we expect to get to yes with others if we haven’t first gotten to yes with ourselves?

Renowned negotiation expert William Ury has taught tens of thousands of people from all walks of life—managers, lawyers, factory workers, coal miners, schoolteachers, diplomats, and government officials—how to become better negotiators. Over the years, Ury has discovered that the greatest obstacle to successful agreements and satisfying relationships is not the other side, as difficult as they can be. The biggest obstacle is actually our own selves—our natural tendency to react in ways that do not serve our true interests.

But this obstacle can also become our biggest opportunity, Ury argues. If we learn to understand and influence ourselves first, we lay the groundwork for understanding and influencing others. In this prequel to Getting to Yes, Ury offers a seven-step method to help you reach agreement with yourself first, dramatically improving your ability to negotiate with others.

Practical and effective, Getting to Yes with Yourself helps readers reach good agreements with others, develop healthy relationships, make their businesses more productive, and live far more satisfying lives.

 

  1. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler (February 3)

From Description on Amazon

From the coauthors of the New York Times bestseller Abundance comes their much anticipated follow-up: Bold—a radical, how-to guide for using exponential technologies, moonshot thinking, and crowd-powered tools to create extraordinary wealth while also positively impacting the lives of billions.

Bold unfolds in three parts. Part One focuses on the exponential technologies that are disrupting today’s Fortune 500 companies and enabling upstart entrepreneurs to go from “I’ve got an idea” to “I run a billion-dollar company” far faster than ever before. The authors provide exceptional insight into the power of 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, networks and sensors, and synthetic biology. Part Two of the book focuses on the Psychology of Bold, drawing on insights from billionaire entrepreneurs Larry Page, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos. In addition, Diamandis reveals his entrepreneurial secrets garnered from building fifteen companies, including such audacious ventures as Singularity University, XPRIZE, Planetary Resources, and Human Longevity, Inc. Finally, Bold closes with a look at the best practices that allow anyone to leverage today’s hyper-connected crowd like never before. Here, the authors teach how to design and use incentive competitions, launch million-dollar crowdfunding campaigns to tap into ten’s of billions of dollars of capital, and finally how to build communities—armies of exponentially enabled individuals willing and able to help today’s entrepreneurs make their boldest dreams come true.

Bold is both a manifesto and a manual. It is today’s exponential entrepreneur’s go-to resource on the use of emerging technologies, thinking at scale, and the awesome power of crowd-powered tools.

 

  1. Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration–Lessons from The Second City by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton (February 3)

From Description on Amazon

Executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation—reveal improvisational techniques that can help any organization develop innovators, encourage adaptable leaders, and build transformational businesses.

The rules for leadership and teamwork have changed, and the skills that got professionals ahead a generation ago don’t work anymore. Now The Second City provides a new toolkit individuals and organizations can use to thrive in a world increasingly shaped by speed, social communication, and decentralization. Based on eight principles of improvisation, Yes, And helps to develop these skills and foster them in high-potential leaders and their teams, including:

Mastering the ability to co-create in an ensemble

Fostering a “yes, and” approach to work

Embracing failure to accelerate high performance

Leading by listening and by learning to follow

Innovating by making something out of nothing

Yes, And is a must-read for professionals and organizations, helping to develop the invaluable leadership skills needed to succeed today.

 

  1. The XYZ Factor: The DoSomething.org Guide to Creating a Culture of Impact edited by Nancy Lublin and Alyssa Ruderman (February 3)

From Description on Amazon

What is the XYZ factor?

The XYZ Factor isn’t a place or a company or an age. It’s a new kind of culture where innovation, accessibility, and transparency are the norm. It’s an environment created on the principles of the Millennial generation to foster intergenerational productivity in a new kind of office culture. An XYZ organization’s employees are challenged, engaged, and excited to produce. Simply put, XYZ companies have an “it” factor that helps them rise above the competition.

Any company can become an XYZ company. This book is your blueprint.

Each chapter is written by a DoSomething.org staff member. Their firsthand experience with DoSomething.org, an organization that helps young people make the world suck less, gives them exceptional insights into working magic in the corporate world. And with over 3 million members and more than 200 active campaigns, such as collecting clothes for teenagers in homeless shelters, helping older adults learn to use technology, and creating anti-bullying comics, DoSomething.org is a standout organization—not only for its message, but for the way it operates.

When you open The XYZ Factor, you’re getting the recipe for the awesome sauce that has driven the success of the world’s largest organizations for young people and social change. This guidebook is your key to answering the questions your company has looming over its cubicles, such as:

How do I create an office environment that fosters collaboration and creativity?

How do I form the right partnerships that appeal to our brand and our audience?

How do I authentically reach the Millennial generation?

If you want to take your business or organization from okay to amazing, you need The XYZ Factor.

 

  1. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra (February 10)

From Description on Amazon

You aspire to lead with greater impact. The problem is you’re busy executing on today’s demands. You know you have to carve out time from your day job to build your leadership skills, but it’s easy to let immediate problems and old mind-sets get in the way. Herminia Ibarra—an expert on professional leadership and development and a renowned professor at INSEAD, a leading international business school—shows how managers and executives at all levels can step up to leadership by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves. In Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, she offers advice to help you:

  • Redefine your job in order to make more strategic contributions
  • Diversify your network so that you connect to, and learn from, a bigger range of stakeholders
  • Become more playful with your self-concept, allowing your familiar—and possibly outdated—leadership style to evolve

Ibarra turns the usual “think first and then act” philosophy on its head by arguing that doing these three things will help you learn through action and will increase what she calls your outsight—the valuable external perspective you gain from direct experiences and experimentation. As opposed to insight, outsight will then help change the way you think as a leader: about what kind of work is important; how you should invest your time; why and which relationships matter in informing and supporting your leadership; and, ultimately, who you want to become.

Packed with self-assessments and practical advice to help define your most pressing leadership challenges, this book will help you devise a plan of action to become a better leader and move your career to the next level. It’s time to learn by doing.

 

  1. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin (March 17)

From Description on Amazon

The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Gretchen Rubin’s answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation.

Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:

  • Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?
  • Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why?
  • How quickly can I change a habit?
  • What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit?
  • How can I help someone else change a habit?
  • Why can I keep habits that benefit others, but can’t make habits that are just for me?

Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits—even before they’ve finished the book.

 

  1. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock (April 7)

From Description on Amazon

From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations–a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the best and brightest succeed.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and with a profound grasp of human psychology, Bock also provides teaching examples from a range of industries–including companies that are household names but hideous places to work, and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history’s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into delightfully counterintuitive principles that are easy to put into action, whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands.

Cleaving the knot of conventional management, some lessons from WORK RULES! include:

Take away managers’ power over employees

Learn from your best employees–and your worst

Only hire people who are smarter than you are, no matter how long it takes to find them

Pay unfairly (it’s more fair!)

Don’t trust your gut: use data to predict and shape the future

Default to open: be transparent, and welcome feedback

If you’re comfortable with the amount of freedom you’ve given your employees, you haven’t gone far enough

WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

 

  1. Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected by Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger (April 7)

From Description on Amazon

Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected is a fascinating look at how we can handle and harness surprise in our work, relationships, and everyday lives.

Pop Quiz!

Do you prefer when:

  1. A) Things go according to plan?
  2. B) When the unexpected happens?

Most of us pick control and predictability. Yet research reveals a counterintuitive truth: surprise is the key that unlocks growth, innovation, and connection. It is also the secret ingredient in our best memories.

Through colorful narratives and compelling scientific findings, authors Tania Luna and Dr. LeeAnn Renninger shine a light on the world’s least understood and most intriguing emotion. They reveal how shifting our perception of surprise lets us thrive in the face of uncertainty. And they show us how surprise acts as a shortcut that turns a typical product into a meaningful experience, a good idea into a viral one, awkward small talk into engaging conversation, and daily life into an adventure.

 

  1. No One Understands You and What to Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson (April 14)

From Description on Amazon

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re just not getting through to the person you’re talking with, or coming across the way you intend to? You’re not alone. Our usual approach is to just talk louder, to try harder to get our message through. This is almost always the wrong approach.

Why? Because other people almost never see us the way we see ourselves. Fortunately, these distortions in perception are systematic, understandable, and surmountable.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, bestselling author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently and Focus, now shows you how to communicate effectively—despite these unintentional (yet widespread) distortions of perception. By better understanding how communication and perception really work, you’ll learn to send the right signals at the right time, no matter who you’re communicating with.

 

  1. The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain by John Kounios and Mark Beeman (April 14)

From Description on Amazon

In The Eureka Factor, John Kounios and Mark Beeman explain how the brain has aha moments—sudden creative insights—how they happen, when we need them, and how we can have more of them to enrich our lives and empower personal and professional success.  They discuss how various conditions affect the likelihood of your having an insight, when insight is helpful and when deliberate methodical thought is better suited to a task, what the relationship is between insight and intuition, and how the brain’s right hemisphere contributes to creative thought.

Accessible and compelling, The Eureka Factor is a fascinating look at the human brain and its seemingly infinite capacity to surprise us.

 

  1. The Road to Character by David Brooks (April 21)

From Description on Amazon

In his most eye-opening and deeply personal book yet, David Brooks—New York Times bestselling author of The Social Animal—tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed, and how we can all strive to build rich inner lives, marked by humility and moral depth. In a society that emphasizes success and external achievement, The Road to Character is a book about inner worth.

 

  1. Triggers: Creating Behavior Change That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith (May 19)

From Description on Amazon

In business, the right behaviors matter. But getting it right is tricky. Even when we acknowledge the need to change what we do and how we do it, life has a habit of getting in the way, upsetting even the best-laid plans. And just how do we manage those situations that can provoke even the most rational among us into behaving in ways we would rather forget? Triggers confronts head-on the challenges of behavior and change, looking at the external factors (or ‘triggers’) – both negative and positive – that affect our behaviors, our awareness of when we need to change, our willingness (or otherwise) to do so and our ability to see the change through. Drawing on his unparalleled experience as an international executive educator and coach, Marshall Goldsmith invites us to understand how our own beliefs and the environments in which we operate can trigger negative behaviors, or a resistance to the need to change. But he also offers up some simple, practical advice to help us navigate the negative and make the most of the triggers that will help us to sustain positive change.

 

  1. The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Tales of Informal Ingenuity by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips (June 16)

From Description on Amazon

Who are the greatest innovators in the world? You’re probably thinking Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford. The usual suspects.

This book isn’t about them. It’s about people you’ve never heard of. It’s about people who are just as innovative, entrepreneurial, and visionary as the Jobses, Edisons, and Fords of the world, except they’re not in Silicon Valley. They’re in the street markets of Sao Paulo and Guangzhou, the rubbish dumps of Lagos, the flooded coastal towns of Thailand. They are pirates, slum dwellers, computer hackers, dissidents, and inner city gang members.

This book investigates the stories of underground innovation that make up the Misfit Economy. It examines the teeming genius of the underground. It asks: Who are these unknown visionaries? How do they work? How do they organize themselves? How do they catalyze innovation? And ultimately, how can you take these lessons into your own world?

 

  1. Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least by Jessica Jackley (June 23)

From Description on Amazon

In the tradition of Kabul Beauty School and Start Something That Matters comes an inspiring story of social entrepreneurship from the co-founder of Kiva, the first online microlending platform for the working poor. Featuring lessons learned from successful businesses in the world’s poorest countries, Jessica Jackley’s Clay Water Brick will motivate readers to more deeply appreciate the incredible entrepreneurial potential that exists in every human being on this planet

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