What we’re reading this summer

Summer is a time to switch it up and change gears. Maybe you gear down and like to escape into a good book. Or perhaps you like to gear up and use the summer schedule to sharpen the axe.

I find it hard to read books in my daily life. I read incessantly all day in front of a computer monitor, so when evening comes I like to unwind with a walk, a bike ride or by ingesting some other form of content – usually not in written form, eg., films, music, etc. For instance, instead of reading a book in the evening, I’ll watch an awesome video about books, bookstores and reading. But, I digress…

When the summer comes around, I do find it brings a bit more opportunity to read books. When I go looking for something compelling to read, I usually start by asking the people around me what they’re reading. This, I’ve found, is a great conversation starter. People LOVE talking about what they’re reading!

So, that’s what I did. I asked a bunch of folks to tell me what ONE book was atop their summer reading list – and here’s what they said.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport.

To succeed today you’ve got to stretch beyond your comfort zone and develop new skills. And we need to be reminded of this daily. I look forward to the nuggets of wisdom from Cal around learning how to dig deep, advance in today’s world of work and create value.

Recommended by:
Danielle Guzman – @guzmand
Global Head of Social Media & Distributed Content, Mercer

Abaddon’s Gate, by James S.A. Corey.

Third book in the Expanse series. After reading ahead in Game of Thrones and not being able to partake in the collective reaction to the Red Wedding, I decided to watch the Expanse and then immerse myself back in the story by reading the prior season’s book before the next season streaming. I’m glad Jeff Bezos rescued this one to bring it back for season 4 and I can make use of my Prime membership for something other than Lego and replacement lightning cables.

Recommended by:
Barb MacLean – @barbmaclean
Director, Application Development, Celero

The Score Takes Care of Itself, by Bill Walsh.

The famed 49ers coach suggests you stop focusing on your objectives and start focusing on the processes and inputs that will lead to them, and let the results take care of themselves. In a world of OKRs, this is a fascinating contrarian take and I can’t wait to dive into it!

Recommended by:
Aaron Klein – @AaronKlein 
Co-Founder and CEO, Riskalyze

The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli.

Irreversible time is the epistemological criteria by which humans interpret reality. The time of the planet should be long, but it’s getting shorter due to environmental impact. The time of businesses is typically short and it’s getting digitally shorter as we want all to be instantaneous. Only by learning how time plays for humans we can re-synchronize the time humanity with that of our planet for our respective survival.

Recommended by:
Paolo Sironi  @thepsironi
Author and Fintech Thought-Leader, IBM

The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation, by David Robertson.

Thinking about corporate innovation is always a challenge across industries. I am eager to learn and hear about new ways to innovate and looking for better and best ways to manage this.

Recommended by:
Scarlett Sieber – @scarlettsieber 
Senior Editor, Money20/20

The Fearless Organization, by Amy C. Edmondson.

I’m going to do a second read of this book alongside 8 other ones on the topic as they all inform my upcoming book “Soft Skills Are Hard- How To Keep Your Job In The Age of AI.”

In an age where we have to shift the lens from an obsession with technology to a focus on humanity, the way we interact with each other in teams and whether we can become more courageous and emotionally intelligent is paramount.

Recommended by:
Duena Blomstrom – @DuenaBlomstrom
Co-Founder and CEO, People Not Tech

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling.

Why are we so glum about the future when nearly every metric about the world is getting better – often because of technology and other advances in efficiency? From banking and financial inclusion to health and global control over disease, the metrics of the world are getting better. It’s time we recognize that facts matter over opinion and broader ramifications are generally positive. Let’s be optimistic about the future.

Recommended by:
Brad Leimer – @leimer
Co-Founder, Unconventional Ventures 

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari.

Yuval Harari is amazing. I’ve read all his books and this remains my top pick. He crystallizes powerful points from what is a disorderly evolving state. Also, I’m hoping to also read Growth IQ, by Tiffani Bova.

Recommended by:
Helene Li – @helene_wpli
Co-Founder, GoImpact 

Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham is on my personal summer reading list. I’m looking forward to diving in!

Recommended by:
Michael Kitces – @michaelkitces
Publisher, and Partner, Pinnacle Advisory Group

Innovation Lab Excellence, by Richard Turrin.

I learned about this book by listening to Mr. Turrin’s interview on the Breaking Banks podcast. JP Nicols had an insightful discussion with the author about how to launch and successfully operate innovation labs. I’m fascinated by this subject, and Innovation Lab Excellence book feels like a practical framework on how to foster innovation and avoid the mistakes that will stifle it.

Recommended by:
Yury Nabakov – @YuryNabokov 
Innovation and Digital Strategy Manager, Machias Savings Bank

Democracy, by Papadatos, Kawa & Di Donna.

First, to finish Skin in the Game, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Then, to read the Greek original version of the BD Bande Dessine Democracy.

Recommended by:
Efi Pylarinou@efipm
Fintech and Blockchain Advisor, Efi Pylarinou Advisory

The Capital, by Robert Menasse

I just took this book out from the library. According to a review in the WSJ: “Mr. Menasse’s stinging office satire takes place in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, a Joseph Heller-like funhouse of bureaucratic cul-de-sacs, interdepartmental squabbling, nonsensical regulations and embarrassing acronyms.” So….it’s just like banking 🙂

Recommended by:
Ron Shevlin – @rshevlin
Director of Research, Cornerstone Advisors

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyote.

We are in hyper-growth mode at 11:FS and culture is front of mind for us. How do we not lose focus on what makes us different as a company.

Recommended by:
Sam Maule  – @sammaule 
Managing Partner, 11:FS

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek.

I just heard him speak at the BNYMELLON/Pershing conference and enjoyed his point of view. We must understand the “why” of what we are doing before we can ever understand the “what” of how to get things done. And I treated myself to a subscription to “People” magazine for some mindless beach reading!

Recommended by:
April Rudin – @TheRudinGroup
Founder and CEO, The Rudin Group

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths, by John Gray.

What is the human experience? How does it manifest itself, shapes itself and shapes us in extreme situations. These are the questions I want to explore and this is why I chose this book by John Gray for one of my summer reads. A mystical read at times I believe.

Recommended by:
Pascal Bouvier – @pascalbouvier
Managing Partner, Middlegame Ventures

The Age of Surveillance Capital, by Shoshana Zuboff.

Considering how our data has not been considered our property, but the corporates, this book sheds light on how our data has been used to manipulate us for others’ profit, but not our own.

Recommended by:
Ghela Boskovitch – @GhelaBoskovich
Head of Fintech and Regtech Partnerships, Rainmaking Innovation

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.

The Millionaire Next Door is what I’m currently reading. For research-backed discussions of what traits it takes to cut through the noise and make sound financial decisions.

Recommended by:
Bill Winterberg – @BillWinterberg
Technology Consultant for Financial Advisors,

The Laundrymen, by Jeffrey Robinson.

You’ll find it boring but I’m going to read The Laundrymen, an old book by Jeffrey Robinson on money launderers! I’ve never read it and now with so much in the news about money laundering, I’m curious to see if anything has changed in the 20 years since it was published.

Recommended by:
Christine Duhaime @cduhaime
Barrister and Solicitor, Duhaime Law

The Algebra of Happiness, by Scott Galloway.

Time to step back and do what makes me happy! Brilliant writer.

Recommended by:
Alvin Foo  – @alvinfoo
Managing Director, Reprise Digital

[Editor’s Note: @ProfGalloway is one of my favourite writers and commentators out there. I love his frank style and straight-good wisdom. If you’re not sure you want to invest in the book, check out his awesome 10 minute video on the same topic.]

Team Human, by Douglas Rushkoff.

The book reasserts what is good about humanity – and how we can make society better – together. Among the many things I love about this book is this sentence towards the end: “It’s time for us to rise to the occasion of our own humanity. We are not perfect, by any means. But we are not alone. We are Team Human.”

Recommended by:
Theodora Lau@psb_dc
Co-Founder, Unconventional Ventures 

Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan.

Freedom. What is it? How can one be vigilant about freedom without truly understanding it?

Recommended by:
Jeff Marsden@jeff_marsden
Chief Product & Strategy Officer, Xtiva

Modern Particle Physics, by Mark Thomson.

I would have said Deep Reinforcement Learning Hands-On: Apply modern RL methods, with deep Q-networks, value iteration, policy gradients, TRPO, AlphaGo Zero and more, but it is from 2018 and DRL is moving forwards fast. So I am going for Modern Particle Physics as we’re looking at a project with particle physics!

Recommended by:
Imtiaz Adam – @deeplearn007
Director of Data Science, Deep Learn Strategies

The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino.

I am planning to reread this summer ‘The Greatest Salesman In The World’ by Og Mandino. It is a very inspirational book that has many useful life lessons for all of us – not only salespeople – to help us make the most of our dreams.

Recommended by:
Spiros Margaris – @SpirosMargaris
VC and Advisor, Margaris Ventures

The Human Use of Human Beings, by Norbert Weiner.

This book covers the future of human organization and the future of work – written over 60 years ago. Cybernetics is the original system of intelligence and Weiner worries that the forces of capitalism and automation will create a hollow society. This plugs into today’s conversation around AI ethics, bias and human-centric design. Most importantly is the idea that technology has the radical ability to dehumanize labor and life. We have to be vigilant.

Recommended by:
Davyde Wachell @Davyde
Founder and CEO, Responsive AI

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

The best artists steal, and classic cyberpunk and sci-fi literature is the best place to see the future. I loved Diamond Age, which predicted everything from VR to nanotech, and Cryptonomicon, which outlined cryptocurrency years before implementation. I am thinking a lot about what remains of financial services after decentralized systems become mainstream and maybe Stephenson can give an answer with his eightball.

Recommended by:
Lex Sokolin@lexsokolin
Global Fintech Co-Head, ConsenSys

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez.

I am going to finish reading this – Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. I had to put it down because I was having too many rage aneurysms #SelfCare.

Recommended by:
Liz Lumley@lizlum
Director of Content and Fintech Ecosystem, VC Innovations 

Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data, by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge.

As the volume of data has multiplied, technologies for capturing, analyzing and storing information have become more powerful and less costly further democratizing the opportunity. The future will be won or lost by the ability to interpret and monetizing data. It requires intelligent and new thinking, connected systems and processes.

Recommended by:
Mike Quindazzi@mikequindazzi
Managing Director, PwC

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, by Kai-Fu Lee.

I need to finish “AI Super Powers” by Kai-Fu Lee!

Recommended by:
Urs Bolt – @ursbolt
Wealthtech, Regtech and Blockchain Advisor,

The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines are Smarter Than You, by Mike Walsh.

I am just finishing the new book, The Algorithmic Leader, by futurist Mike Walsh. His book discusses the challenges leaders have in adjusting to change. There is a bit of a selfish reason why I am reading this book because some of his findings will be included in my first book, which I hope to be published by the end of this year. My book, in collaboration with Sonia Wedryhowicz, will discuss the cultural and leadership lessons in an Age of digital transformation in banking.

Recommended by:
Jim Marous @jimmarous
Co-Publisher, The Financial Brand

Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig.

Love the idea of interconnection between family, spirituality and (practical) life experiences – really looking forward to reading it! I also love travelling and planning to hit my 52nd country this year so anything to do with journeys I love!

Recommended by:
Devie Mohan@devie_mohan
Co-Founder and CEO, Burnmark

[Editor’s Note: I loved this book when I was an undergraduate studying philosophy, though I feel it may be worthy of a re-read now that I’m on the other side of the hill. Here’s an interesting interview with Robert Pirsig.]

How History Gets Things Wrong, by Alex Rosenberg.

I’m a student of history and science as well as thinking that breaks the status quo. I believe that this book challenges conventional wisdom on how history is written and it also combines neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and anthropology.

Recommended by:
Craig Iskowitz – @craigiskowitz
Founder and CEO, Ezra Group

The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation, by Gerald Kane and Anh Phillips.

Digital transformation remains one of the top corporate priorities of businesses around the world, yet unequivocal success has been hard to come by. Professor Kane and his co-author use years of detailed research to uncover what the real challenge is: Changing an organization’s culture, mindset, skills, and inclination — in other words, people — to match the technological innovation taking place around them. For those who need to go beyond ‘doing digital’ just because it seems necessary, which is just about everyone, this book holds up the promise of how to actually go about ‘being digital.’

Recommended by:
Dion Hinchcliffe@dhinchcliffe
VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Additional Recommendations

While my request for summer reading was for each person to send me ONE recommendation, some people couldn’t choose so I received more than one. Here are a few others that are worthy of consideration:

  • The Library Book, by Susan Orlean – What’s more important than the written word in our quest to understand where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are heading. The Library Book manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before. Starting from a devastating fire at the LA Public Library and telling the story from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity, this book speaks to my lifelong need to learn from the pages of the world’s best minds and to inform my own personal journey in writing and expressing through words. (Brad Leimer)
  • How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry – Books and a bookshop and a history of relationships and how an unexpected romance blossomed where our love of books began. I can’t put this one down. I’m a sucker for a good story and a good romance set in a bookshop to boot. (Brad Leimer)
  • The Human Advantage, by Jay W. Richards – When we think about the future of man and machine, human vs. algorithm, what do we envision? When we look at the future of work – in this case the era of the American century and what lies beyond, is the future of human vs. smart machine a matter of foregone conclusion? Jay Richards argues no, that humans will matter even more and that the advantage of human ingenuity and empathy matters most. (Brad Leimer)
  • Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility, by David Weinberger – Reviewed by Ian Cocking (via Theo Lau).

Even More Book Recommendations

The Technology Trap, by Carl Benedikt Frey

The Technology Trap is a lucid analysis of transition from post-industrial to automated economy that emphasises the importance of education as the only way forward. I wrote a review for Financial World (forthcoming).

Recommended by:
Dave Birch | @dgwbirch
Author, Advisor, Commentator & Director

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