"Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple."

Steve Jobs

"Please explain the problem to me slowly, as I do not understand things quickly."

Albert Einstein

"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."

African proverb

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader"

John Quincy Adams

"I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Best business & leadership reads of 2013

Best Books of 2013

These are my top five 2013 books that help leaders with direction or wellbeing. These are books I’ve read in the year rather than were published in 2013.

Crazy Busy by Edward M. Hallwell

This practical book is about how to take back control of your life from interruptions, devices, distractions and disorganisation. Hallwell taught at Harvard Medical School and is a psychiatrist specialising in diagnosing and treating ADD (attention deficit disorder). Here he applies his expertise to people in the workplace and offers practical tips to improve personal effectiveness. He writes with an engaging and amusing style and it’s a quick-to-read book.  I particularly enjoyed the second half entitled, “Creating a System That Works For You.”

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown

This is one of the best leadership books I have read. Wiseman & McKeown reveal how the best leaders do more than add their contribution - they multiply their impact. They contrast this to ‘diminishers’ – leaders who might be very able but don’t get the best out of those around them. This book is practical and offers good ideas to help leaders intentionally behave as multipliers rather than diminishers.

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

With a subtitle of “Fire your boss, do what you love and work better to live more” you might be forgiven for dismissing this book as a bit ‘hippy.’ But this wonderfully accessible book is rich on ideas, tools and wisdom to benefit anyone running a start-up. For example, the ‘Thirty-Nine-Step Product Launch Checklist’ or the ‘One Page Partnership Agreement.’ It also asks good questions to help readers reflect on matching their work to the lifestyle they want. Whilst it’s mainly for those running startups other leaders will also benefit from it.

Beer School by Steve Hindy & Tom Potter

This book is not about how to make beer! Instead it’s about how to start and sustain a successful business. Hindy & Potter launched the Brooklyn Brewery in the eighties and turned it into a highly successful business. They use their story as a case study to share their learning and the wisdom they’ve gleaned. It covers issues such as financing, making big mistakes, and the challenges of working with close friends. A fascinating read and useful those running startups, early stage businesses, and mid-sized companies.

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters

Sir Chris Hoy said of Steve Peters, "Without Steve, I don't think I would have won gold in Athens in 2004." Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton said, "Steve Peters is the most important person in my career." So what does he do?

Peters is a consultant psychiatrist who works with a variety of sports stars. In this book he presents his model for mind management, and in particular provides tools to nurture healthy emotions. I have personally found it very helpful in managing - not surpressing - those emotions that ultimately are irrational and harmful to me (which Peters calls the Chimp).

A fascinating and practical read.