Suggested Reading – Provocative Authors

These authors are those that I consider to be provocative. They tend to provoke, excite, or stimulate thinking. They are what I consider the Thought Leaders in our Industry. They are the ones that move us. They make us think. They are the provocateurs. They push us to make changes in how we do things.

The Greening of America

by Charles A. Reich

‘The Greening of America’ is a brief history of America that will be of interest to all readers who wonder why the United States is having such trouble responding to new realities. But it may be of particular interest to Americans who care about politics, for the issues in Reich’s book are now being played out on the national stage. On one side, Consciousness I politicians tell us that the solution to all our problems is a return to a time when men took care of their own business and government barely existed. On the other side, Consciousness II politicians argue that the federal government can best protect us from an unregulated marketplace and a shredded safety net.

And then there is ‘The Greening of America.’ Can there be a “revolution,” as Reich wrote, that starts with culture and the individual? Might it triumph without violence? Or are we doomed to struggle to avoid a soul-crushing existence in the Corporate State?

Up the Organization

How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits by Robert Townsend

Although it was first published more than thirty-five years ago, Up the Organization continues to top the lists of best business books by groups as diverse as the American Management Association, Strategy + Business (Booz Allen Hamilton), and The Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. 1-800-CEO-READ ranks Townsend’s bestseller first among eighty books that “every manager must read.” This commemorative edition offers a new generation the benefit of Robert Townsend’s timeless wisdom as well as reflections on his work and life by those who knew and worked with him. This groundbreaking book continues to remind us not to get mired in all those sacred organizational routines that stifle people and strangle both profits and profitability. He shows a way to humanize business and a way to have fun while making it all work better than it ever worked before.

The Black Swan

The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Taleb delivers a groundbreaking look at the role played by the unexpected in life and history, and a fascinating examination of why we know less than we think we do – and what to do about it. Examines the role of the unexpected, discussing why improbable events are not anticipated or understood properly, and how humans rationalize the black swan phenomenon to make it appear less random.

Re-Inventing the Corporation

Transforming Your Job and Your Company for the New Information Society by John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene

Re-Inventing the Corporation shows how to evaluate your present company in terms of the future. It gives you two major premises: first, that our time is characterized by a rare confluence of new values and economic necessity, which the authors claim are the two forces required for social change, and second, that the “new information society” is turning toward a “whole new emphasis on human resources”, expressed in new ways of viewing and treating people in organizations. It provides the questions, answers guidelines and examples which will enable you to transform your job and your company for the new information society.


Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives by John Naisbitt

The result of ten years of careful research. Areas covered include the future economy, business, government, technology, and changes in our social system.

The Sovereign Individual

Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg

Two renowned investment advisors bring to light both currents of disaster and the potential for prosperity and renewal in the face of radical changes in human history as we move into the next century.

The Fourth Turning

by William Strauss & Neil Howe

Strauss and Howe will change the way you see the world – and your place in it. In The Fourth Turning, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and locate America in the middle of an unraveling period, on the brink of a crisis. How you prepare for this crisis – the Fourth Turning – is intimately connected to the mood and attitude of your particular generation. Whatever your stage of life, The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America’s next rendezvous with destiny.

When Markets Collide

Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change by Mohamed El-Erian

When Markets Collide is a timely alert to the fundamental changes taking place in today’s global economic and financial systems – and a call to action for investors who may fall victim to misinterpreting important signals. While some have tended to view asset class mispricings as mere “noise,” this compelling book shows why they are important signals of opportunities and risks that will shape the market for years to come. One of today’s most respected names in finance, Mohamed El-Erian puts recent events in their proper context, giving you the tools that can help you interpret the markets, benefit from global economic change, and navigate the risks.

Liberation Management

by Tom Peter

In the new economy, hierarchical business structures are being consigned to the shredder and replaced with flexible, fast-responding, ad hoc groups of brainworkers. Tom Peters, author of the bestselling IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE is once again ahead of the curve, and now demonstrates that the key to success in business future is total engagement, dynamism, speed, and independence.

In Search of Dignity

by R. C. Sproul

This book is typical R.C. Sproul: Good solid coverage of the issue of human dignity, its origin and application in various aspects of human society. There are questions at the end of each chapter.

The Fifth Discipline

by Peter M. Senge

In “The Fifth Discipline,” Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations – ones in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire.

The Trillion Dollar Meltdown

Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash by Charles R. Morris

We are living in the most reckless financial environment in recent history. Arcane credit derivative bets are now well into the tens of trillions. According to Charles R. Morris, the astronomical leverage at investment banks and their hedge fund and private equity clients virtually guarantees massive disruption in global markets. The crash, when it comes, will have no firebreaks. A quarter century of free-market zealotry that extolled asset stripping, abusive lending, and hedge fund secrecy will come crashing down with it. “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown” explains how we got here, and what is about to happen.

Common Purpose

How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary by Joel Kurtzman

From one of the most respected names in business and leadership, a rare look at the specifics of how great leaders achieve “common purpose” and success within their organizations. What is common purpose? It is that rare, almost-palpable experience that happens when a leader coalesces a group, team or community into a creative, dynamic, brave and nearly invincible “we.” It happens the moment the organization’s values, tools, objectives and hopes are internalized in a way that enables people to work tirelessly toward a goal. Common purpose is rarely achieved. But Kurtzman has observed that when a leader is able to bring it about, the results are outsized, measurable and inspiring.

The Art of Asking

Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers by Terry J. Fadem

Discover the core questions that every manager needs to master…how to avoid the mistakes business questioners make most often…ten simple rules for asking every question more effectively. Learn how to ask tough questions and take control of tough situations…use questions to promote innovation, drive change, identify hidden problems, and get failing projects back on track.

Crucial Conversations

Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Stephen R. Covey

“Crucial” conversations are interpersonal exchanges at work or at home that we dread having but know we cannot avoid. How do you say what needs to be said while avoiding an argument with a boss, child, or relationship partner? Crucial Conversations offers readers a proven seven-point strategy for achieving their goals in all those emotionally, psychologically, or legally charged situations that can arise in their professional and personal lives.

The Invisible Employee

Using Carrots to See the Hidden Potential in Everyone by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

A business fable packed with hard-won wisdom, The Invisible Employee follows a group of people who live and work together on a mysterious island. Managers learn how to combat one of the most common negative attitudes in business: that smart employees keep their heads down and never do more than is asked. In today’s competitive environment, all of us are looking for the next big product, the next big capability or solution. But great managers are finding that recognizing people leads to a more engaged workforce and a more successful business. The Invisible Employee shows you how to bring out the hidden potential in your team and your business.


America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz

In Freefall, Stiglitz traces the origins of the Great Recession, eschewing easy answers and demolishing the contention that America needs more billion-dollar bailouts and free passes to those “too big to fail,” while also outlining the alternatives and revealing that even now there are choices ahead that can make a difference. Freefall offers a clear accounting of why so many Americans feel disillusioned today and how we can realize a prosperous economy and a moral society for the future.

Competitive Strategy

Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter

Michael E. Porter’s Competitive Strategy has transformed the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy throughout the world. Electrifying in its simplicity – like all great breakthroughs – Porter’s analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in five underlying forces. Porter introduces one of the most powerful competitive tools yet developed: his three generic strategies – lowest cost, differentiation, and focus – which bring structure to the task of strategic positioning.

First, Break All the Rules

What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

Offers intriguing and provocative insights into the attitudes and behavior of the world’s greatest managers, explaining how a good manager can select, focus, motivate, and develop their employees in order to transform talent into performance.

Liberation Management

by Tom Peter

In the new economy, hierarchical business structures are being consigned to the shredder and replaced with flexible, fast-responding, ad hoc groups of brainworkers. Tom Peters, author of the bestselling IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE is once again ahead of the curve, and now demonstrates that the key to success in business future is total engagement, dynamism, speed, and independence.

The Levity Effect

Why It Pays to Lighten Up by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher

The Levity Effect uses serious science to reveal the remarkable power of humor and fun in business. Science proves it?fun is good for business! Based on ten years of extensive research, the authors argue against business tradition to reveal the powerful bottom-line benefits of leading with levity. With interviews, exercises, and case studies, the book reveals how humor in the workplace will help you communicate messages, build camaraderie, and encourage creativity for a better workplace and bigger profits.

The Myth of Excellence

Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything by Fred Crawford and Ryan Mathews

In this business bestseller the authors make a compelling case for the wisdom of focusing energy and resources on more targeted goals. By choosing the attribute on which to dominate, differentiate, or be at industry par, they provide a new way to be relevant to customers without breaking the bank.

The Extreme Future

The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the Next 20 Years by James Canton

An advisor to three presidents spanning over thirty years, Dr. James Canton identifies probable outcomes and future trends in business, technology, environment, terrorism, population, and medicine to help companies and individuals prepare for the coming complex and volatile global changes, including: How climate change and energy trends will reshape the planet; How astounding medicine trends will enhance peopleas lives; How the rise of China will bring on a new global power struggle. In the tradition of “Future Shock, Megatrends,” and “The Tipping Point, Extreme Future” is the essential forecasting handbook for navigating the twenty-first century.

The Age of Heretics

A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management by Art Kleiner

Author Art Kleiner explores the nature of effective leadership in times of change and defines its importance to the corporation of the future. He describes a heretic as a visionary who creates change in large-scale companies, balancing the contrary truths they can’t deny against their loyalty to their organizations. “The Age of Heretics” reveals how managers can get stuck in counterproductive ways of doing things and shows why it takes a heretical point of view to get past the deadlock and move forward.

The Next 100 Years

A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

In his thought-provoking book, George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR – the preeminent private intelligence and forecasting firm – focuses on what he knows best, the future. Positing that civilization is at the dawn of a new era, he offers a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century all based on his own thorough analysis and research. For example, The U.S.-Jihadist war will be replaced by a new cold war with Russia; China’s role as a world power will diminish; Mexico will become an important force on the geopolitical stage; and new technologies and cultural trends will radically alter the way we live (and fight wars). Riveting reading from first to last, “The Next 100 Years” is a fascinating exploration of what the future holds for all of us.

The Intelligence Edge

How to Profit in the Information Age by George Friedman, Meredith Friedman, Colin Chapman and John Baker

The Intelligence Edge provides you with tools honed by the world’s premier intelligence-gathering professionals. The authors show how to use techniques perfected by such organizations as the CIA on how to find and collect, prioritize, and analyze data. They present a comprehensive system of information management that will teach you how to identify and target different sources of information, from the library to the internet to company gossip. Then, once you have collected the information you need, you will be shown how to use it—what to store, what to discard, what to turn to your advantage. By following these steps, you can learn to compete and prosper in today’s knowledge-based business environment.

The Storm Before the Calm

America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond by George Friedman

In his riveting new book, noted forecaster and best-selling author George Friedman turns to the future of the United States. Examining the clear cycles through which the United States has developed, upheaved, matured, and solidified, Friedman breaks down the coming years and decades in thrilling detail.

American history must be viewed in cycles – particularly, an 80-year “institutional cycle” that has defined us (there are three such examples – the Revolutionary War/founding, the Civil War, and World War II), and a 50-year “socio-economic cycle” that has seen the formation of the industrial classes, baby boomers, and the middle classes. These two major cycles are both converging on the late 2020s – a time in which many of these foundations will change. The United States will have to endure upheaval and possible conflict, but also, ultimately, increased strength, stability, and power in the world.

Friedman’s analysis is detailed and fascinating, and covers issues such as the size and scope of the federal government, the future of marriage and the social contract, shifts in corporate structures, and new cultural trends that will react to longer life expectancies. This new book is both provocative and entertaining.

True Success

A New Philosophy of Excellence by Tom Morris

Tom Morris is the Notre Dame philosophy professor whose classes have become a campus legend and whose nationwide speaking engagements have brought a new ethics of excellence to the business world. Now he reveals in a wise and joyous book how the pursuit of true success leads to genuine achievement—and genuine happiness. He offers a framework for success that he calls “The 7 Cs”—seven basic concepts that are essential to meeting life’s challenges. And he creates realistic guidelines for putting our beliefs into practice and making our goals become realities.

Plato’s Lemonade Stand

Stirring Change into Something Great by Tom Morris

We’ve all heard the old adage: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But no one ever says how. Finally, with the inspiration of Plato and the help of many other great philosophers, Tom Morris has figured it out and here gives us a recipe we all can use. Following up in the tradition of previous books like If Aristotle Ran General Motors, If Harry Potter Ran General Electric, Philosophy for Dummies, True Success, and Socrates in Silicon Valley, Tom blends powerful insights with great stories and good fun to illuminate the path of wise living in the face of challenge and change. Along the way, he shows us how to move with wisdom from difficulty to delight in everything we do.

The Art of Achievement

Mastering the 7 C’s of Success in Business and Life by Tom Morris

Highlighted by words of wisdom from Plato, Einstein, Churchill, and other great thinkers, this practical guide to success in all areas of life’s endeavors explains how to map out new paths to greater efficiency, deeper satisfaction, and better health with the help of such tools as Conception, Consistency, and Capacity.

If Aristotle Ran General Motors

by Tom Morris

What role do Aristotle’s four transcendent virtues – truth, beauty, goodness, and unity – play in the workplace? In this program, Tom Morris argues that Aristotle’s virtues must be present in our modern business environment if real excellence is to flourish, and shows how we can avert a spiritual crisis in our business lives by looking to the wisdom of the ancient philosophers. As one example, he claims that when management keeps secrets and is less than honest with employees, the morale of the company is damaged. He also asserts that employees must be made to feel that there is an inherent goodness in the business being conducted, if they are going to make their best contribution to the effort. Furthermore, Morris feels that the aesthetics of a workplace need to be accounted for because this enriches the soul and brings out the best in people. Insightful, intriguing, and thought provoking, If Aristotle Ran General Motors is a compelling and persuasive line of reasoning for a new spirit of openness and humanity in the workplace.

The Art of Happiness at Work

by Dalai Lama, Howard C Cutler

Over the past several years, Howard Cutler has continued his conversations with the Dalai Lama, asking him the questions we all want answered about how to find happiness in the place we spend most of our time. Work-whether it’s in the home or at an office-is what mostly runs our lives. We depend on it to eat, to clothe and shelter ourselves, and to take care of our families. Beginning with a direct correlation between productivity and happiness, Dr. Cutler questions His Holiness about the nature of work. In psychiatry and according to the Dalai Lama, our motivation for working determines our level of satisfaction. The book explores three levels of focus: survival, career, and calling.

Once again, Cutler walks us through the Dalai Lama’s reasoning so that we know how to apply the wisdom to daily life. This practical application of Buddhist ideas is an invaluable source of strength and peace for anyone who earns a living.

Aristotle’s Way

How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall

Aristotle was the first philosopher to inquire into subjective happiness, and he understood its essence better and more clearly than anyone since. According to Aristotle, happiness is not about well-being, but instead a lasting state of contentment, which should be the ultimate goal of human life. We become happy through finding a purpose, realizing our potential, and modifying our behavior to become the best version of ourselves. With these objectives in mind, Aristotle developed a humane program for becoming a happy person, which has stood the test of time, comprising much of what today we associate with the good life: meaning, creativity, and positivity. Most importantly, Aristotle understood happiness as available to the vast majority us, but only, crucially, if we decide to apply ourselves to its creation – and he led by example. As Hall writes, “If you believe that the goal of human life is to maximize happiness, then you are a budding Aristotelian.”

The Hundred-Year Marathon

China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury

One of the US government’s leading China experts reveals the hidden strategy fueling that country’s rise – and how Americans have been seduced into helping China overtake us as the world’s leading superpower.

For more than 40 years, the United States has played an indispensable role in helping the Chinese government build a booming economy, develop its scientific and military capabilities, and take its place on the world stage in the belief that China’s rise will bring us cooperation, diplomacy, and free trade. But what if the “China dream” is to replace us, just as America replaced the British Empire, without firing a shot?

Based on interviews with Chinese defectors and newly declassified, previously undisclosed national security documents, The Hundred-Year Marathon reveals China’s secret strategy to supplant the United States as the world’s dominant power and to do so by 2049, the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Michael Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker who has served in senior national security positions in the US government since the days of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, draws on his decades of contact with the “hawks” in China’s military and intelligence agencies and translates their documents, speeches, and books to show how the teachings of traditional Chinese statecraft underpin their actions. He offers an inside look at how the Chinese really view America and its leaders – as barbarians who will be the architects of their own demise.

Apocalypse Never

Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All by Michael Schellenberger

Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions.

But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die”, contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction.

Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined 80 percent over the last four decades. And the risk of Earth warming to very high temperatures is increasingly unlikely thanks to slowing population growth and abundant natural gas.

Curiously, the people who are the most alarmist about the problems also tend to oppose the obvious solutions.

What’s really behind the rise of apocalyptic environmentalism? There are powerful financial interests. There are desires for status and power. But most of all, there is a desire among supposedly secular people for transcendence. This spiritual impulse can be natural and healthy. But in preaching fear without love, and guilt without redemption, the new religion is failing to satisfy our deepest psychological and existential needs.

The World Is Flat

A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

In this brilliant book, an award-winning “New York Times” columnist explains how the flattening – i.e., connectedness – of the world happened at the dawn of the 21st century, what it means to the global economy, and how governments and societies must adapt.