Whether hardcover, paperback, or digital, there’s nothing like a book for inspiration and diversion. The Direct Marketing News 2014 40 Under 40 Award winners have found both in the many tomes they’ve read. Here, a list of honorees’ current nightstand and e-reader perusals, as well as their all-time favorites—for business and pleasure.
Sources of inspiration
“Trust is a fairly elusive concept but is at the core of what every agency should be working towards. The Trusted Advisor [by Maister, Green, and Galford] breaks down trust into simple components, and if you’re going to be a great agency rep, you have to spend your days thinking about trust and teaching it to the younger generation.
Mike Santoro, President
Walker Sands Communications
“I would recommend that everybody reads Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion [ by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D]. It’s basically got six tips [for] how people are influenced. You can use it…in marketing to write better landing page copy, better direct mail copy, [or] better email copy—just to understand what turns people on. For the basics, Al Ries’ [and Laura Ries’] The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding is solid. And then I recently read How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. It’s interesting because it’s about how children succeed, but it’s also more, in general, [about] how people succeed. The basic thesis is around grit as a valuable personality trait. There are very intelligent people and they sometimes succeed. But…if you whole heartedly commit to doing something better and have the perseverance to do that, that’s really what’s ultimately going to let you succeed.”
VP, Fundraising and Nonprofit, Epsilon
“I just finished Lean In. What I took away is that, for women, it’s not about just having one seat at the table but having multiple seats at the table, and how important it is that we have a network to support each other.”
Global Chief Digital Officer, Havas Worldwide
“One book that stuck with me…is Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The interesting thing about that book is that it’s about innovation and where individual ideas come from. It’s not what you’d expect in terms of having that one inventor come up with an idea in his or her workshop. It’s actually more about the environment that you need to create for good ideas to flourish. It’s really important for any agency. You need to think about the environment that you set up—the physical environment, the emotional environment, how people work together, what things you expose them to. And that environment, and obviously a larger culture, has a huge impact on where those great ideas come from.”
VP of Marketing, Smartling
The one book that I always recommend to people is called The Gift of Fear. It’s by Gavin de Becker. It’s all about how our instinct is not really our gut telling us something; it’s our brain processing information and telling us what to do and how to react to something without us realizing all of the processing that is happening…. [It’s] understanding why you might be thinking a certain way and having a scientific rationale for [it].
SVP, Management Director, FCB Global
“I’m reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. An understanding of the subconscious and unconscious is incredibly important in relationship marketing. Blink does a great job of demonstrating how complex human behavior truly is and why we’re able to make some decisions so effortlessly; it’s a fun study in behavioral psychology. I’m a strong believer in making decisions simpler for our brands’ consumers and working to achieve that by creating meaningful experiences and using behavioral economics to drive engagement.”
VP Product Strategy, Silverpop
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. “He rarely at first succeeded, but had an uncanny ability to rearchitect his views until he was successful.”
VP Demand Generation, SAP
The J-Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall by Ian Bremmer. “To move from a closed society to an open society, a period of intense instability is required. You don’t have to stretch your mind very far to apply this principle to the state of marketing today.”
Executive Creative Director, Organic Inc.
“My temptation to use mathematics as a method for design has always intrigued me and fuels a desire to read random blogs, GitHub branches, and old mathematics and physics books from high school.”
Cofounder and CMO, DigitalOcean
“I really like the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals [now software company Basecamp]. It breaks down in a simplified way and it paints a clear picture of what matters, what’s really important in driving a business forward; [how] to focus on the important things, not to get bogged down by the little things, and to be…agile and lean. I think that metrology of just getting stuff done was impactful for me when I read that book early on in my career.”
Director of Customer Success, 6Sense
“The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. That was really an eye-opening and amazing book…. It gave me a critical eye for why I’m working, how I’m doing the things that I’m doing, and why…. I couldn’t read 10 pages without putting the book down to type up a note to myself about what it made me think of for my personal and professional life. It inspired me to keep thinking and keep trying to look for creative approaches to solving problems.”
VP of Marketing WebDAM, a Shutterstock Company
One book that really helped me that I read probably 10 years ago…is called Monday Morning Leadership. It’s by David Cottrell. It’s a quick read. One of my old mentors [from] when I used to work in the federal government gave it to me. He said that it helped him quite a bit and that he loved it. I read a portion of it for about 10 minutes every morning before I went to work, and it would really help me get in that mind-set of trying to apply new things on a day-by-day basis. It’s a quick read and it’s all about building effective teams, employee engagement, and just becoming a better manager and person as a whole.”
CEO & Founder, OrderGroove
The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. “It’s easy to celebrate the great times, but it’s those moments of struggle where the magic happens. They really define a person and help propel the business and themselves to the next stage in their career.”
Amber Olson Rourke
Cofounder and CMO, Nerium International
The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson and John David Mann. “It takes the guesswork out of what makes people successful and focuses on small actions that anyone can take to achieve their goals.”
VP of Digital, Alex and Ani
“The Art of War by Sun Tzu and Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras: Those are two foundational [books]. Built to Last… summarizes absolutely everything that you’ld ever learn in business school…. [The Art of War is about] understanding the combination of politics and business.”
VP, Digital Strategy and Engagement, INNOCEAN
The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. “The book is about war and how to prepare for war, but there’s a lot of real truths in terms of business situations and a lot of hard situations that you face in business, how to act in those situations, how to react or how not to react, when to yield [and] when to push. The balance of that is very delicate sometimes in business. That book has helped many business leaders, including myself.”
Founder & CEO, SimpleRelevance
Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. “Moore is my guilty pleasure for mindless, hilarious reading to de-stress.”
Program Director of Strategy and Solutions, IBM Social Business
“I’m currently reading Brisingr—book three of The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini. It’s a fantasy, hero journey about a young farm boy and his dragon [and how] they hope to overthrow an amazingly strong and sadistic king from his control of the Empire. At the end of a long day plugged into the digital world, I enjoy escaping in the storytelling evoked in fiction on paperback. That said, of course there are always life and career lessons that can still be learned and applied: how one gains skills to succeed, the promise of overcoming obstacles to achieve, the importance of people that help you along the way, to name just a few.”
VP Marketing, Ensighten
“I’m a prolific reader. On any given night I’ll consume three to five books. I’ll even read the same book several times. Most of the books are in English, but I always read them out loud in Spanish. I gravitate toward the classics, such as Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Green Eggs and Ham. If it’s not readily apparent, I have two adorable young children.”
Other favorites, for business and pleasure
President, DiMassimo Goldstein
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich.
Director of Mobile Marketing, OpenTable
Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Solutions Strategist, Marketing Applications, Teradata
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton
Senior Manager, CRM, LG Electronics USA
The Gift Is You, by Dr. David L. Wolf
Executive Vice President, Zenith Optimedia Direct
The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp
EVP/General Manager, MARC USA Chicago
Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence by Halvorson and Higgins
SVP & Managing Director, Critical Mass
A Million Ways to Die in the West by Seth MacFarlane
GM & EVP of Client Services, Marketsmith Inc.
David & Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
EVP, Director of Digital Media, Deutsch LA
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
EVP of Client Service and Delivery, RKG
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself by Harvard Business Review.
Director of Marketing Operations, Extra Space Storage
Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg.
Cofounder and CEO, Klick Health
The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker
Founder and CEO, T.O.P. Marketing Group
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
VP, Technology, Epsilon
Igniting Customer Connections: Fire Up Your Company’s Growth by Multiplying Customer Experience & Engagement by Andrew Frawley
VP of Marketing, Waterfall
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein
Marketing Director, Herald-Journal
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey
Senior Director, Digital Marketing, NetApp Inc.
Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions By Knowing What To Ask by Michael Marquardt
Click or tap here to read the full stories behind the successes of the other Direct Marketing News 2014 40 Under 40 winners–to be posted at noon ET today, September 30.