Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marshmallow's pre-2014 reading list

As the time to jet off to Switzerland draws closer, I've found myself thinking more and more about what I can do to prepare for next year. I figure any knowledge I can gain to save myself time and/or stress when the baby arrives and the MBA program starts will be time well spent.

One obvious way to get ahead is to read books while I still have a bit of free time. This way I can get more familiar with some of the topics that I will be encountering next year, or at least start getting in the right frame of mind.

Here is my desired reading list for the next few months. Realistically speaking, I probably won't get to many of these, but I'll try! If anyone has any must-reads you would add to the list please let me know. Same if you've read any of these and know they will be a waste of time!

  • Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
    Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini

    I will be doing lots of debating (and hopefully lots of convincing) during the MBA program at IMD. I've read Cialdini's other book "Influence" and really enjoyed it so I am looking forward to this one.

  • A Whole New Mind - Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
    Daniel H. Pink

    As a "left-brainer," I'm very interested in the concepts behind this book. Just being good at programming or crunching numbers is not good enough today. Creativity, empathy and communication skills are more important than ever. One of my goals for next year is to learn new was to develop and engage my "right-brain" so I'll be reading this one closely!

  • Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development
    Henry Mintzberg

    This book goes into a critique of management education. It argues business schools churn out cookie-cutter, one-dimentional managers, when there should be more focus on one's personal experience. I think it's important to understand some of the criticisms of MBAs, and how I can mitigate/learn from them as I get through the program next year.

  • Secrets of Power Presentations
    Micki Holliday

    I don't get too many opportunities to give presentations at work today. So I imagine I will have a bit of a learning curve to overcome next year, when I will probably be putting together presentations all the time. I figured it will be good to pick up tips and best-practices on how to present convincingly.

  • Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
    Chip Heath, Dan Heath

    Students at IMD are expected to come up with creative ideas to tackle all kinds of different problems. This book gives some insights on what traits make certain ideas successful while others fail. Hopefully it will help me maximize the effectiveness of how I communicate my thoughts.

  • The Halo Effect... and the Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers
    Phil Rosenzweig

    It's easy to think a business has the perfect strategy, the best employees and the brightest future when profits are up and everyone is happy. However all may not be well, and it's important for leaders to develop the awareness to know how to avoid these types of pitfalls.

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
    Daniel Kahneman

    This book is about understanding how we think, and how we make decisions. It breaks down when it's best to be intuitive and think "fast" versus when to be analytical and think "slow." Sounds like a very interesting read, and it should complement "A Whole New Mind" and the concept of right-brain versus left-brain well.

  • Outliers: The Story of Success
    Malcolm Gladwell

    What makes successful people successful? What is different about high-achievers? This book looks at how intangibles related to a person's upbringing, their talents, social context and opportunities play a part in determining their chances of becoming truly great.

  • From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking Made Easy
    Allison Graham

    IMD will provide some incredible opportunities for networking, and I want to make sure I make the most of them. I like the concept of a personal brand as a way to present my best self, and make a lasting, positive impression on the people I meet.

  • Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System - and Themselves
    Andrew Ross Sorkin

    I'll be one of very few people in next year's class to come from banking/finance. I want to make sure I can speak about the financial crisis in a an informed and well-rounded manner, considering how close to the whole thing I have been in my work experience.

  • Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
    Michael Lewis

    Another book that looks at the consequences of the global financial crisis. Definitely seems like a good "big picture" book on understanding the effects of recklessness and irresponsibility by global leaders across the globe.

  • The Portable MBA
    Kenneth M. Eades, Timothy M. Laseter, Ian Skurnik, Peter L. Rodriguez

    I figured reading an MBA "refresher" type book would be good way to get a little preview of the kinds of things I will face in the coursework next year. Maybe it will also help me identify any areas that I need to work on or read more about.

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    Daniel H. Pink

    This book dives into what truly motivates people. It challenges some of the conventional wisdom behind incentives, rewards and motivations used in business today. Seems like it would provide good food for thought as I carve my path toward being a leader and a motivator.

  • The Negotiation Book: Your Definitive Guide To Successful Negotiating
    Steve Gates

    Being a good negotiator will be critical next year, as I expect to encounter many situations where compromise will be necessary. It's a real skill to be able to reach agreement without having to back down and give up on what you really want.

  • 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role (2nd Edition): The Manual They Didn't Hand You When You Made VP, Director, or Manager
    Pam Fox Rollin

    I am hopeful the IMD MBA will help me make the jump to a role with expanded leadership. I am looking to pick up as much information as possible to help make that transition into leadership smoother.

I'll need to be up to speed on my parenting as well, so these will also be crucial reads. I'm sure this list will grow!

  • Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad! How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months
    John Pfeiffer

    I will never be able to fully understand what Ashley is going through as our baby grows in her belly. But I definitely want to be as in tune as possible with what she is experiencing as we go through this incredible journey together.

  • The New Father - A Dad's Guide to the First Year
    Armin A. Brott

    I know much of the learning during fatherhood will be done "on the job." I'm very excited, but also a little bit terrified, frankly! I think it's a good idea to learn as much as I can about the process and what to expect. I want to be as involved a dad and as dutiful a husband as possible next year.

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block
    Harvey Karp

    The people who reviewed this book seem to believe it worked almost miraculously. It taught them what to do to turn their finicky, difficult babies into calm, happy ones. Having a tough baby could make the year that much more stressful, so knowing what kinds of things I can do to help might make a big difference.

Update: Here's one more book that I want to add to this list:


  1. Hi Marshmallow,

    I must say, if you manage to read all the above books before we start then I'll give you an "'ol tip of the hat". I've been reading one of the "classics" on leadership, "On Becoming a Leader". Then I have also read a book about negotiations, called "Getting to Yes". I'm have also read two other books, one on business ethics and one on globalisation. Lastly, I have dabbled in a Coursera course or two mostly focused around finance and accounting (since I am an engineer and have little background in these things).

    I am finding that all the arrangements leading up to IMD is taking quite a lot of my time - more than I bargained for. I have quite a number of little administrative and "handyman" work to do before we leave for Switzerland, mostly to ensure we can do things like rent out our property and keep expenses in South Africa going. Also, getting all the financing for my MBA sorted out was no mean feat, and even though I have now covered all my bases, it is still ongoing.

    So, I am doing less reading and prep work than I bargained for! But, at least in the evenings I get to spend at least an hour doing something towards my MBA preparation.

    Good luck with your preparations. Congratulations also on the baby on the way! Man, you are going to have to be well prepared! I'd focus on the "Being a Dad" books for now if I was you! ;-)


  2. Hey Christiaan,

    Great to hear from you! Yes I have to admit, looking over this list once again, it's probably a little urealistic - if I get to even half of it I will be happy! The books you mentioned sound very interesting too, especially "Becoming a leader," I think I may want to add it to this list as well. Maybe I'll have to do some down-sizing and prioritizing here!

    I definitely understand what you mean about the IMD preparations taking up a lot of time. Ashley and I have had a lot of similar tasks to tackle as well, and it has definitely kept us busy. Sounds like you are doing very well and getting everything sorted out though. You're naturally good at planning ahead and being prepared, so I am sure you won't have any trouble getting everything taken care of. In any case, good luck! The next few months are probably going to fly by, and January will be here before we know it!

    And thanks for the nice words on the baby! Yes I anticipate it's going to be a little challenging to balance everything, and still keep my sanity! Ashley and I have already been doing a lot of reading and planning, and we are both very excited for 2014. At this point, we are both just trying to get all the peace and quiet (and sleep!) that we can, because we know it will be a rare commodity next year!