e-LeaderLounge: 15 Must-Reads For Leaders

Have you ever wondered what the likes of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg read before they fall asleep? What are the last words they want to see as they end their days? Who influences the influencers?

In this e-LeaderLounge article, you’ll be introduced to 15 life-changing books that leaders from around North America have credited with being on everyone’s “must-read” list. Get your notepad and pen out and get ready to stalk the aisles of Chapters for these leadership books. (If you’re a leader and a reader, you also may want to check out our upcoming LeaderLounge “Leaders are Readers” events. #shamelessplug)
kit and ace

Amanda Lee Smith

 Brand Copy & Content Manager at Kit & Ace:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I truly believe every writer should read this, but also every creative. My two most valuable takeaways: 1) Any task, no matter how broad and complex, can be made manageable by tackling it one chunk at a time (“bird by bird”).  2) The value of “shitty first drafts” – this is the best cure for writers block. Get all your thoughts/ideas on the page without any concern for how it looks or sounds. In fact, make it intentionally bad. It’s surprising how good the end result often turns out.”



Ashley Willard Bauman

Director Strategy and Marketing at UBC Properties Trust.

“1. Blue Ocean Strategy – It’s 10 years old and I still refer to it. It’s very simple and effective.
2. Rework – I work in the Development Business where timelines are tight, we are light on resources and you need to very frequently react to change. Some of the operating principles really related to me. Some of them I don’t necessarily agree with, but it’s a good read.
3. Taming your Gremlin – A surprisingly simple method for getting out of your own way. We all have our thoughts that hold us back and this book addresses it.”



Greg Oyhenart

Chief Strategy Officer at Westminster Savings Credit Union

One book that I‘ve encouraged everyone to read has beenGetting to Yesby Fischer and Ury.  It’s ostensibly a book about negotiations, but it’s a great read if you want to learn how to build genuine collaboration into your work and life, which I think is key for being successful and happy.”

Domain7Ryan Hanawalt

President at Domain7

To Sell is HumanDaniel Pink
I felt like Daniel Pink normalized and gave vocabulary to things I already believed and knew about persuasion, but took it out of the context of the shwarmy salesguy persona.
Mastering the Rockefeller HabitsVerne Harnish
I’m not naturally a systems person, so this read gave me a good viewpoint for organizational management and strategy.
Winning the Story Wars —Jonah Sachs
Coming from Generation Y and the overall disillusionment we feel about advertising in its current form, this book made me hopeful about what a brand can stand for in a time of noise and complexity. It gave me a sense that there’s a call to a higher purpose and value for marketing and that a simplicity comes from being able to focus in on that.”



Joanne Forrester

VP Marketing at Boston Pizza

“For current or aspiring leaders I like Corner Office by Adam Bryant. It’s a collection of Bryant’s best weekly columns of the same title in the Sunday New York Times, comprised of insights and perspectives from a varied swath of leaders from notable companies, both large and small.
The most recent business book I read was Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It’s the antithesis of the typical business book. If you’re tired of ‘taking it offline to view it through a common lens and proactively move the needle so that when the rubber meets the road you can hit the ground running’ you will definitely appreciate this blueprint for cutting through the noise, the cliches and other barriers that keep you from just focusing on the things that matter most. It’s a refreshing challenge to the status quo.
I’ve also purchased dozens of copies of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for friends and team members. To quote the author, ‘It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.’ I love this book and the notion of seeking meaning in your own life. It reinforces the differences between seeking and finding and the importance to enjoy the pursuit of our dreams.”




Kerri Buschel

Director, Marketing at WorkSafeBC

“1. Good to Great – because Jim Collins is an iconic expert on leadership, and on creating great teams.
2. Made to Stick – because Dan and Chip Heath simplify the process of good marketing and good customer engagement to a brilliant and obvious list that we should all follow if we want out ideas to stick.
3. Strength Finder – because building on our best qualities is such a positive way to develop ourselves, and the survey in the book is great.
4. Magazines/blogs – because the best inspiration can come from the short article on something obscure.”


Storydriven Inc.

Dennis Kim

Managing Director at Storydriven, Inc.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I’m a big believer in the WHY. Part of my job now is helping companies to identify and articulate that for them.
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. It’s the story of the outdoor brand Patagonia, rooted in its values. Great read if you like apparel or retail.
I’m still a bit old school and like magazines: Wallpaper & Fast Company. Oh, and I love a good Saturday Edition of the Globe and Mail (if I have time).”

What are your favourite reads? Are there any “must-haves” on the shelf for marketing or biz books? Tell us either on social or in the comments below!