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Reading beyond the lines [u]

by Randall Craig on October 18, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Book, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management

Tagged as: ,

A typical way to develop perspective is to consider issues from different vantage points. A less common – but perhaps more valuable – way to develop perspective is to expose yourself to different ideas. One way to do this is to read books that are at the fringes of your “typical” interest area – and then apply those concepts in your area of expertise and in your dealings with others. Here are some of my favorites, along with the interesting lessons that they taught:

Working the Room (Nick Morgan): If it is important enough to get up in front of a group and say something, then it is important enough to rehearse, and this book looks at rehearsal from a completely different perspective.  It also provides fundamental insights into the connection of “story” to engagement.  The book has been re-released as Give your Speech, Change the World.

The Trusted Advisor (David Maister): Personal credibility and relationships are what develop long-term relationships with clients – not price.

Chaos (James Gleick): The seminal book on the origins and uses of Chaos theory; The biggest advances in science are often discovered by those whose training started in a different field. Conventional wisdom sometimes prevents progress.

Freakonomics (Steven Levitt/Stephen Dubner): Personal motivation and incentive are often at the heart of behavior.

Growing an Engaged Church (Albert Winseman): The connection between personal engagement and the development of a community of interest.

Getting to Yes (Roger Fisher /William Ury): Wear the other person’s shoes: helping others get what they want is the first step to getting what you want.

Linked (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi): It’s not the “nodes”, but the connections between them that make the network.

Carpe Diem: How to become a latin lover (Harry Mount): This book is a description and primer on Latin; it illustrates what can be learned from a culture from it’s language. (And conversely, how hard it is to learn about a culture if you don’t know its language.)

Death Sentences (Don Watson): This book rails against the use of weasel words and management-speak.

Godel Escher Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid (Douglas Hofstadter): The intimate, and sometimes surprising, connection between philosophy, art, and music.  This book is my all-time favorite.

Personal Balance Sheet, Online PR and Social Media, Social Media for Business, The Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and others (me): More so than reading, writing about a subject in depth forces you to think deeply about it.

What’s on your list – and what did you learn?

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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