​What Do You Read to Lead?

Desireé Duffy |


Richard Branson recently released his book, Finding My Virginity, and encourages others to Read to Lead in his recent blog post. I think this is a great idea — we should all make our list of Read to Lead book recommendations. His pick, by the way, is A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Not a typical business or motivational book, it looks at how society evolved with a scientific perspective. Written in an easy to read manner, it delves into what really makes us human.

Reading books outside one’s usual repertoire is a wonderful way to expand our knowledge base. It shapes leadership skills, and gives us broader insights. Both fiction and non-fiction books can do this, and a book doesn’t need to be new or written by a big-name author to help hone leadership skills. In fact, a healthy mixture is the best way to get a well-rounded perspective.

Taking a cue from Mr. Branson, here is my list of book recommendations for those who wish to #ReadtoLead this year.

XX v XY: The Final World War

A new book by Cheaters creator Bobby Goldstein, authored by Christina Cigala, XX v XY: The Final World War gives those bold enough to imagine a future world where women and men actually battle, a sobering look at our times. On the heels of the #MeToo movement, XX v XY: The Final World War is a fictional book that takes us to a time in the future where America is divided into East and West. XX v XY: The Final World War will make you contemplate the ultimate ramifications of women not being equal and objectified. It is a read for our times, and is comparable to Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. This book is important for leaders of all genders to read, to get an understanding of how high the stakes could get.

Winners: And How They Succeed

This best-seller by Alistair Campbell, who was Tony Blair’s chief spokesperson and strategist, and assisted in leading the Labour Party to win in three elections, gives us insights into what is needed to win. Often on Richard Branson’s list of book recommendations, it was number one on the Sunday Times’ list of best-selling books. In it, find out if the winning mindset is something that you can develop, or if it is something that is innate in all of us — or is it a combination of both? Campbell uses his knowledge about politics and sports to get to the core of what makes winners win. A book that shows by comparison, you’ll see how others win and discover ways to apply it to your own life, when you read Winners: And How They Succeed.

Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection

Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection offers leaders and professionals an enlightened approach to finding strength and improving their well-being. Author Tori Eldridge will take you on a journey with an honest introspection of yourself, so you can stop shifting blame, and most important, help you unleash the power you possess. A book that is applicable to people of all ages, genders, and physical types, it also features something you don’t find in many empowerment books: a chapter about physical defense strategies and techniques, which ties our physical well-being into our emotional equilibrium. Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection is a must-read for leaders who are ready to take a hard, self-actualizing look at their lives. My personal advice, this is not a book for the weak-minded or those who aren’t ready to face reality, so read only if you are prepared for a personal revolution.

Our Guardian Renegade

To truly get a unique perspective on the world, try this sci-fi fantasy novel by gamer-turned-storyteller, Harley Zed Mona. The book embodies the atmosphere of a video game while challenging the reader’s perceptions about good, evil, teamwork, and sexuality. Amazingly, the author released the book at 16 years of age, giving older generations a glimpse into the mind of a highly-creative young person. It’s like X-men meets Game of Thrones, and an accompanying art book, featuring illustrations from ScruffyTurtles, Goobermation, SkyHeaven1231, and many more talented artists, brings the characters to life. If you lead a team, Our Guardian Renegade will help you understand diversity when you bring a group together to fight for a common cause.

Outliers: The Story of Success

Take an intellectual journey with author Malcom Gladwell, as he tells you the stories of the outliers — those in our society who become successful because of their unique circumstances and their ability to seize opportunities presented to them. A book considered a must-read for all thought leaders, even though it is ten years old, the message is still as sound and as powerful as ever. Gladwell explains to you the secrets of tech billionaires, the thing most great soccer players have in common, and why the cliché that Asians are good at math has actual grounding. Oh, and of course, you’ll find out what exactly made the Beatles one of the greatest rock bands of our time. If Outliers: The Story of Success isn’t on your To Be Read list, it should be.



Fenrir Chronicles: The Prince

Gender equality and seeing everyone with the same lens is something we need as leaders. In her LGBTQ-friendly book, author Nanishka Torres wrote an adventure-love story about two men, without the focus being on coming out, or on either struggling with their sexual identities. Set in a fantasy world where science and reason rule, it swiftly takes the reader to a dark place when a kidnapping by an evil faction threatens the Prince’s peaceful world. The Prince helps us all see our current world in a gripping way, and is perfect for leaders who need a role model to emulate.

Rich Man, Poor Bank

Are you ready to have your perceptions about money and wealth shattered? Good, because this might be the single most life-changing book you can read to help you understand how the financial system and banks are working against you. Author Mark Quann tells you what the banks don’t want people to know about money in a straight-forward, easy to understand manner. Once you get it, it will feel like you just ate the red pill and are seeing the Matrix for the first time. The message is clear: you don’t need banks in order to save, borrow, or invest money. Banks are in it to take your money, not help you build wealth. All leaders and business people need to have their eyes opened with Rich Man, Poor Bank.

Wraith Ladies Who Lunch

What happens when two spirits trapped on this plane of existence get bored? They have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, of course! A novella that serves as a great travel read on a plane or a train, Wraith Ladies Who Lunch by Sean Patrick Traver is an allegory for how we’re trapped by the things we leave behind, and the importance of letting go. A great message for all leaders, Wraith Ladies Who Lunch helps us understand the value of our time here on Earth.

The Fuehrer's Blood

As we enter the second year of the 75th anniversary of WWII, it is worth taking a closer look at a book that not only pays homage to the brave men who fought Hitler, but who also saved the lives of many. With neo-Nazism on the rise, remembering the reality of hate is more important than ever before. Author Shreyans Zaveri uses real experiences from those who experienced WWII in Germany, and even explores the faction within the Nazi party who fought to bring Hitler down from the inside. An espionage historical fiction thriller, The Fuehrer's Blood is a wake-up call inspired by true accounts.

The Path of Lucas: The Journey He Endured

Being a leader means sacrifice, but how far would you really go? This is a true story of one man’s sacrifice for his wife and family. The Path of Lucas: The Journey He Endured will motivate you to be tenacious and thoughtful — two traits all leaders must have. This biography by Susanne Bellefeuille is about her father, Lucas, who is from a small town in Eastern Ontario. When his wife is diagnosed with a mental illness, it is his integrity and sense of purpose that holds his family together. It is also what ultimately saves his wife, bringing her back from something doctors thought was impossible. While reading this The Path of Lucas: The Journey He Endured, you’ll discover that sometimes, no path is simple, and there are no easy answers. Through Lucas, leaders can summon their own inner strength and discover the best path to endure.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Of course, you should read the book that Branson is recommending this year. Written by the renowned historian, Yuval Noah Harari, this book digs into the ways biology and our past define society. It gives everyone who reads it a clearer understanding of what it really means to be human. If you want to lead people, understanding how people came to be human is a critical first step. Through this book you’ll examine the role homo sapiens had in shaping the world’s ecosystem, as well as building empires and culture. Most important, Harari encourages us to look forward at what our future holds. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind makes us wonder what we are heading for, and what humanity may ultimately become.

Finding My Virginity

We couldn’t end this list any other way! Richard Branson’s autobiography and his use of the hashtag #ReadtoLead inspired this list, after all. While some people may shy away from autobiographies, this is a must-read for all leaders and professionals who seek to brand themselves or their company. Branson takes readers on a wild ride as he proves that nothing was too daunting or outrageous for him to go after. That tenacity is what sets Branson, and other leaders like him, apart from the rest. Finding My Virginity is a compelling peek into the inner workings of Branson’s mind. In it, you’ll uncover his spirit, humor, and drive to find his virginity.

What books are on your reading list this year? Is it a diverse mix of genres that will help you become a better leader? Whatever is in your Kindle or lining your bookshelf, make sure you take advantage of the wealth of knowledge bestowed to you. The one thing I know, is that reading a variety of authors is the sure-ticket for a path to success.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

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