30 November 2015

7 books on management and self discovery to take on your Christmas vacation.

Author :

Every manager has their bible, the management text they were instructed to read by a mentor they clutch to their chests and quote from at any available opportunity. I personally had a manager who loved his journey through a book outlining the 6 Thinking Hats method by Edward DeBono so much, he used to refer to staff in meetings by the colour of the hat he had assigned them based on his observations of them.

Before I even transitioned from team member to team leader I had a habit of reading books on management, leadership and self-discovery in the half hour before I went to bed each night. My bookshelves bulged with books I’d had recommended to me by colleagues, or that I’d stumbled upon in the bookstore when I was in search of something else.

The Christmas period in Australia is the opportunity to unwind and relax. The summer is in full swing, organisations across the country shut down for a fortnight or so, and families go off in search of golden sands to bake on and cold oceans to swim in unless you’re like me in which case you go looking for a five star resort with a bar, in the pool.

The invention of the electronic reader and the various apps means we can stock up on some great reading material to take with us without the issues of my youth. You don’t need to limit the books you plan to read while sipping a cold beer or cocktail in the hot summer sun. They all fit neatly in the palm of your hand.

When I was researching topic ideas for this blog post, the one that sprang to mind was to write about the books that I believe changed my life, and my future, for the better. Some of these books I’ve not picked up in a decade or more, but I when I grabbed my notebook and pen it took less than a minute to come up with 7 books all managers, or would-be managers, should invest their time reading.

So here they are, in no particular order, my list of the top 7 books on management and self-discovery you should take on your Christmas Vacation.

The Greatest Salesman in the World:


I first read The Greatest Salesman in the World years ago. Written as a parable and outlining the life of a poor camel boy named Hafid as he rises from pauper to a life of luxury. The book is told in monthly installments, ten in total, which outline the steps Hafid takes to become a merchant of wealth and power. If you take the book as a guide, implementing the wisdom of the scrolls over the period of ten months it would be interesting to see just how much your life could change. I’m planning on doing just that in 2016. It may just be the case that it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, again, after all.

The Richest Man in Babylon:


First published in 1928 The Richest Man in Babylon is by American writer George S. Clason. The book is again told in the form of a parable translating the secrets of the ancient Babylonians, the first civilisation to discover the universal law of prosperity and abundance. The book outlines topics such as thrift, financial planning, saving and personal wealth in simple, easy to understand words. With over 2 million copies of the parable sold around the world since it was first published, The Richest Man in Babylon has been referred to as one of the greatest inspirational books of all time.

The One Minute Manager:


The One Minute Manager, the perennial best seller by Ken Blanchard, PhD and Spencer Johnson, MD, is one of the best-selling management texts of all time. The book aims to provide managers – both experienced and new – with the tools they need to effectively develop and lead both their teams and themselves. The book which has recently been revised to address modern management issues covers topics such as; the rise of technology, a flattening global economy and the pressures on the corporate world to do more than ever before with less resources. The book is full of snippets of information that stay with you long after you’ve closed the covers.

Who Moved My Cheese


Who Moved My Cheese tells the story of two mice and their ever dwindling supply of cheese, and two humans all of which live in a maze. Addressing the need to be adaptable, embrace change and think outside the box, this book is one of my personal favourites. The book deals with the effects of change on the lives of the characters, that it can either be a disaster or a blessing depending on the way you look at it.

A short film was made of the book, which I saw on Youtube, so if you don’t have the time to read this little parable, you can always watch the movie. 


Who moved my cheese? The Movie
Based on the book "Who Moved My Cheese" by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

Who moved my cheese? an a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life 

Movie originally copyrighted in 2003.

Credits:Original illustrations by Steve Pileggi ; animation by Wyat Germer, Benjamin Burnett ; original music by Brad Smith, Songsmith Productions.

Responsibility: Spencer Johnson MD & Double Take Productions presents; produced & directed by L. Dee Johnson; a production of LDJ Film Productions.

How to Win Friends and Influence People


Back in the dark ages of the early 1990’s my father handed me a dog-eared paperback copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends andInfluence People. I can still remember the Summer I read it. I was in my first job at a Supermarket and had just left school. The book was so old and well-read the pages were falling into my lap as I read on. The book by Carnegie is the Granddaddy of self-improvement books, and the language in it can be quite archaic at times, but the timeless messages of how to handle people, strategies to improve your likability, negotiation skills and leadership are still as relevant in today’s fast moving, disruptive environment as they were when the book was originally published in 1936.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can be a heavy read at times, but its effectiveness in transforming people’s lives cannot be underestimated. The main theme of the book is the importance of a balance of personal and professional effectiveness before you can have true success. The book involves the reader undertaking work, so it’s not a quick fix solution but the strategies contained in it launched a revolution when it was originally published in 1990, with people including Presidents and CEO’s to educators and parents saying how it transformed their lives.

The Alchemist


I was given a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho by an ex-manager for a birthday gift a decade or so ago. At the time I was in the process of transitioning from a 15 year career working in inbound call centres, to taking the first steps in following my dream to be a professional writer. I was pretty much convinced I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and no amount of chewing was going to stop this massive shift in my life from choking me. The novel by the best-selling Brazilian author has been translated into 67 languages and has sold over 2 million copies. The story centres on a young man whose sleep is plagued by dreams of a grand adventure, a purpose. On the advice of a Gypsy woman, he sets out to follow the lead of his dream across the world to Egypt. The novel explores the themes of following your dreams and embracing the unknown in the search for your true purpose. I’ve read the novel several times now, and each time I do I find another layer to the story.

So that is my list of 7 inspirational books on management, leadership and self-development I recommend you download to your Kindle and take to the beach – or the bar in the pool if you can find one – to read on you Summer vacation.

What books have you read that you would recommend to others? Leave a comment below and tell us the book you feel transformed your life?


Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.







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