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Ask self-made millionaire Steve Siebold about one thing that the 1,200 high-net-worth individuals that he recently interviewed had in common, and he’ll mention one particular trait: reading. Taking that cue, here are some of the books that C-suite executives and academics told us have made a sizable impact on their success.

Power Questions

Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012

This book overturns the common assumption that engaging a prospective client with witty banter will carve out a fast path for success. Instead, the authors argue that knowing the right questions to ask is far more important.

“In some cases, certain questions can help the person you are engaging with navigate a scenario that they never contemplated,” says Matt Tierney, a fan of the book and global insurance practice leader for Grant Thornton LLP.

The CEO Next Door

Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell, with Tahl Raz
Currency, 2018

Botelho and Powell set out to redefine the path to leadership, uncovering four common CEO behaviors from 17,000 assessments’ worth of data. “It offers a rare view behind the scenes on how leaders get picked for coveted roles and how they really succeed or fail,” says Jacqueline Reses, capital lead and people lead of Square, Inc.

On Intelligence

Jeff Hawkins with Sandra Blakeslee
Times Books/Henry Holt & Co., 2004

The technology behind artificial intelligence has changed dramatically since 2004, but the book on creating smart machines remains highly influential. Hawkins, who invented the PalmPilot, and Blakeslee, a well-known science writer, provide a fascinating discussion on how the brain is architected, says Roger Dickey, founder and CEO of the software firm Gigster.

Prisoner’s Dilemma

William Poundstone
Anchor Books, 1993

Poundstone explores the science of game theory: the logical decision-making in humans, animals and computer models. Since the concept was developed, more than 10 game theorists have gone on to win the economics Nobel Prize.

“‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ may help businesspeople rationalize other people’s motivations and negotiation positions in order to outthink their opponents,” says Taylor Lukof, founder and CEO of the asset management firm ABR Dynamic Funds.

The Motivation Myth

Jeff Haden
Portfolio/Penguin, 2018

High achievers stay motivated by enjoying small, seemingly minor successes—but on a regular basis, writes Haden. Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or other small successes allow these achievers to sustain momentum throughout their lives.

Adam Grant, best-selling author and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, says Haden may give people a new way to view success. “Success is less about searching for motivation and more about muddling through until you achieve something motivating,” he says.

New Books from Korn Ferry Authors

Lose the Resume, Land the Job

Gary Burnison John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018

Korn Ferry’s CEO writes that job seekers of all levels spend too much time thinking about how they look on paper and not enough time figuring out the type of job they actually want. Burnison explains how to discover that last part, along with how to network and target opportunities.

Talent Wins

Ram Charan, Dominic Barton and Dennis Carey
Harvard Business Review Press, 2018

Carey, a vice chairman at Korn Ferry, and his co-authors make the case for why companies need to overhaul how they acquire, manage and deploy talent. The book uses real-world examples of firms (such as Apple, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo) that have reinvented their approaches to talent to better compete in a technology-driven environment.

Authors

  • Renee Morad

    Contributor, Korn Ferry Institute