20 of the books I read in 2015

As 2015 came to a close, I found myself reflecting on what I learned in the year. Having stored most notes in either Google Doc or Evernote made it easy for me to refresh. While many new ideas came from meetings, presentations, blogs, and podcasts, a good bit came frombooks. I pulled out my favorite 20 below. A few were left out like A Dance with Dragons and others where I didn’t keep notes. There are a few biographies as well. They’re in order of my favorites (not necessarily the same thing as value received):

  1. Setting the Table, Danny Meyer – Hospitality is not just for the hospitality industry. This book helped me crystalize my version for servant leadership, and not just to customers but to team members of SalesLoft as my number one constituents. It was also awesome to get my head out of the SaaS / tech industry and into the restaurant world. Here are my highlights.
  2. Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge – Mark has written the top book in the sales game right now. It demonstrates the most innovative and predictable ways to build a strong sales team for scale and success. Here are my highlights.
  3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith – We’ve been using this one as a handbook around the office. It helps identify traits that while having been helpful for launching, they are not the most effective for scaling a business. Here are my highlights. I also added a bunch of these to my soundcloud account.
  4. Resonate, Nancy Duarte – I give a lot of presentations and they are quite stressful (I still get nervous & always think I should have done better afterward). This has been my favorite book for ideas on how to get better on stage and give more confident and powerful presentations, my highlights.
  5. Traction, Gino Wickman – This book helped us bolster our core values. It has also helped us with our new meeting structure. It’s a great playbook for CEOs and executives. Here are my highlights.
  6. Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance – An excellent biography that puts you inside the mind of a man who will stop at nothing to achieve the impossible. After reading this book, I gave a companywide presentation on “being exception” as I’ve never read of anyone who better fits this description (some notes)
  7. Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley – The audience for this book is the pastor/preacher community. They have a heavy task in their presentations: bring lives to Christ. I’m just trying to open folks eyes to the benefits of sales development :) So I use this as inspiration for a few of my talks. The big takeaway was to have one point and use the I/We/He/You/Us formula. Here are my highlights.
  8. 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey (re-read) – A classic, must read. Heck, 7 Habits is a ‘once every two years read’ to me. I’ve got the book on audible and will play it this year on plane flights and long bike rides. One of my favorite clips is the Catalytic Story of Viktor Frankl, which I captured in my SoundCloud account. Here are my highlights.
  9. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder – I’m going to recommend the abridged version. It took too many long cycling rides to get through this on Audible but the story is fascinating. Story of this book (and Elon’s as well): “Intensity is the price of excellence“. Here are my highlights.
  10. Servant Leader Training Course, James Hunter – James Hunter wrote The Servant, which I love. I dove into this audio summary on a cross country trip and really liked it. I didn’t take any notes but I did save this awesome sound clip on how Jack Welch held Jeffrey Immelt accountable.
  11. Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute – This is a leadership fable. It’s a book with a bland summary but a decent narrative. I don’t recommend it but I’m glad I read it. Everyone knows the golden rule but everyone (definitely including myself) can use new ideas and ways to remember it in the moment and live it out. This book opened my eyes to some of the selfish behaviors I had/have present in my life and how they come out at the office and at home. Here are some notes I found online.
  12. Smart Cuts, Shane Snow – Great book that showcases how successful people accelerated their career to get to where they wanted to go. My favorite example was how the average age of U.S. presidents is younger than that of U.S. senators thereby asserting the most effective path to the White House is not achieved by climbing the political ladder. Here are my highlights.
  13. 11 Rings, Phil Jackson – A great journey from the greatest coach of all time, this book opens your eyes to delegation and putting team before self. My favorite part of this book was the details of the 1991 NBA Finals Game 5 when the Bulls (won their first championship). I wrote about Jackson’s coaching of Jordan to give up the rock in order to win. Here are some book highlights.
  14. 5 levels of leadership, John Maxwell – A classic leadership must read (or you can shortcut it by checking out John’s talk on Youtube. Here are my highlights.
  15. Becoming Steve Jobs, Brent Schlender – Biographies are best as audibles on long bike rides or paddleboard sessions. This book really didn’t move me much – I’m impressed by his art but not the biggest fan of Job’s leadership style. No notes.
  16. 21 Laws of Leadership – Also a great/short leadership read. This was another audible for long bike rides, my notes
  17. WHO, Randy Smart – I believe that bringing on top talent is my biggest strength and opportunity as a CEO. There are two books that have most inspired my philosophy here: 1) Hire with your Head (recruiting) and 2) WHO (interviewing/selecting). Here are my highlights from WHO. We also have compiled this into a hiring.salesloft.com internal doc
  18. Startup Boards, Brad Feld –  I had my first ever board meeting this year. Beforehand I read my this book. Here are my highlights.
  19. Influence, Robert Cialdini – Every marketer should read this book, or at least someone else’s highlights on it. It was a little boring so I sped through parts – this YouTube video was actually spot on.
  20. I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like – This book was a ton of fun and a great way to end the year. Here are my highlighted passages.

Please let me know if you have any great title suggestions for 2016.

  1. Dear Kyle;

    Thank you very much for the list. They are great books. I will definitely start reading the first one. If you haven’t read, my suggestion for you is “Let’s Get Real, or Let’s not Play” from Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig. The book is great. I teach the “Helping Clients Succeed” sales programme and the training is based on that book.



  2. Kyle –
    Great list and thanks for sharing with the world. Going to grab a couple of these for 2016 and here’s a couple to add to your list this upcoming year I found helpful from ’15:

    The Score Takes Care of Itself – Bill Walsh
    Multipliers – Liz Wiseman
    It Worked for Me – Colin Powell
    The Alliance – Reid Hoffman / Chris Yeh

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