Read like a boss

As we wrap up 2019, here are five books to inspire your business journey in the new year

Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States, once famously remarked, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” It is a thought that has been echoed since by successful CEOs and entrepreneurs the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. By reading widely, business leaders open their minds to new ideas and knowledge that can help them address problems facing their organisations. Here are four essential reads for the busy chief executive’s night stand (or Kindle, smartphone, tablet or audiobook-player) – plus a bonus.

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (2018)
By Kai-Fu Lee

Increasingly, to make it in the global marketplace is to understand China, its ambitions and its complex relationship with the West. While most recent books in English explore the Chinese ‘threat’ to America, Lee approaches the Middle Kingdom from the angle of Artificial Intelligence. The chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, managing US$2 billion in investment funds, and former president of Google China, predicts how AI will affect white-collar jobs. While it tackles heavyweight topics such as the intersection of politics, commerce and technology, AI Superpowers remains immensely readable. If you’re looking to prep yourself for the new world of robots replacing employees, this is a must.

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?: (And How to Fix It) (2019)
By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Growing up in Argentina, Chamorro-Premuzic was confused by how his country’s economic potential had been run into the ground by one bad leader after another. His hypothesis: that what it takes to become a leader is not what it takes to be a good and effective one. He takes this argument further by contending that women make better leaders than ‘charismatic’ males, but discrimination makes it harder for them to rise to the top. How can we learn to recognise systems and processes that put the wrong people in charge? Chamorro-Premuzic – a professor of business psychology at University College London and at Columbia University, and an associate at Harvard’s Entrepreneurial Finance Lab – has written a book that serves as an honest reality check and how-not-to (for male leaders), and a call to level the playing field and road map (for the competent woman).

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (2016)
By Adam Grant

Grant’s book has been praised by everyone from Malcolm Gladwell and Richard Branson to Ryan Seacrest, so there must be something to its unconventional advice and counter-intuitive insights. Leaders, in particular, he argues, can build cultures of dissent in order to make things better. Chockful of engaging examples, this New York Times bestseller might, if not exactly move your world, offer you a different position to view it from.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (2019)
By Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD

A leader deserving of respect is one who strives to make the workplace a safe and fair environment for all. Psychologist Eberhardt’s fascinating book takes a look at unconscious bias – the ones at work without our realising it, which has an impact on education, employment and criminal justice. The book attempts to help us uncover our innate prejudices in the hopes that we can play a role in solving and preventing society’s tragic consequences.


Collected Poems (2013)
By Ron Padgett

A diverse reading diet definitely should include fiction. American poet Padgett’s poems, such as “How to be Perfect”(2013) and “Travel” (1965), offer an unpretentious yet wise way of seeing life. Reading him would remind us to slow down and take stock of the important things.