Better aisles


Happy Monday – I hope you had a blessed holiday weekend! I had a great one because it was thoroughly relaxing, and I even managed to read a book in-between hanging out with the wife and kids. I confess, though, it wasn’t a business book. Is it just me, or is reading business books slightly less fun than most dental exams? With the exception of a few gems (my favorites still being those brand books by Marty Neumeier), I’ve found most options on the business aisle shelves at Barnes and Noble remarkably empty. My biggest issue with them is that most, including those considered to be modern-day classics (Friedman’s The World is Flat) and vogue newcomers (Heath brothers’ Made to Stick) is that the content gets precipitously less interesting after the first chapter. In some cases, the author just goes to deep, but often  it’s the opposite – that these books really could have been written in 100 pages or less but the author or publishers felt the need to unpack until the suitcase is in pieces.

There are exceptions, though. In the vogue author category, Seth Godin’s marketing books are short and to the point. Here’s a guy who is smart enough to know that some of us will pay $15 for a 80 page book (as I did recently with his book The Dip) if it means we won’t be bored to death reading it. But the best business read out there, in my opinion, isn’t a book. It’s Harvard Business Review. It’s better than almost any other resource and I actually enjoy it.  And while it’s expensive, it’s not compared to the dozen business books I wish I hadn’t bought last year.

But if I really consider what I read and how I’ve grows at work, I’m not sure that business books hold a candle to my other favorites – political biographies and, of course, the Bible. With respect to the former, I thoroughly believe that learning how Washington leveraged his exceptional but horribly dysfunctional advisory triumvirate (Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson) is much more useful than reading some guy’s new management theory. But even those biographies I love to read so much pale to the wealth of riches that can be found in scripture, particularly the Book of Proverbs. Perhaps it’s time we all re-evaluate how and what we learn in preparation for future career growth. As the Apostle Paul once told his protege Timothy in 2Tim 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” You just can’t find it in the business aisle.


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