SMITH BRAIN TRUST – The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business proudly presents its 16th annual Summer Reading List for Business Leaders, as recommended by faculty and staff. The 2019 edition covers history, politics, leadership and even strategies for staying focused in a volatile, fast-paced world.
By Cal Newport
I liked this book because it provides great frameworks and strategies for staying focused, being productive and maintaining a healthy balance of mind as one works to achieve personal and professional goals.
–Rajshree Agarwal, Rudolph P. Lamone Chair and Professor in Strategy and Entrepreneurship.
Agarwal is also the director of Maryland Smith's Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets
By Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow has a gift for finding great figures in history who were somehow skipped over.
Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, is one of these people. Somehow he gets overshadowed by Lincoln. But in the wake of the Civil War, he carried Lincoln's vision forward and made it happen. It’s a tome, more than 1,000 pages long, but worth it. I like looking at remarkable lives. It inspires me. We can learn lessons and pass them forward to future generations.
–Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor, marketing
Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World
By Michele Gelfand
This book provides an excellent overview of how cultural differences shape organizational, leader and employee effectiveness.
(Gelfand is a University of Maryland professor of psychology and a Maryland Smith affiliate.)
–Gilad Chen, Robert H. Smith Chair in Organizational Behavior, and editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
By Jon Meacham
"The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels" is a wonderful history book that I highly recommend.
It offers great context for today's challenges.
–Patricia Cleveland, lecturer, management & organization
Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
By Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
When was the last time you received useful, actionable feedback at work? What about in a close relationship? Chances are, the answer is: "It's been a while," or "Never." Feedback sits at the crossroads of our human desire to be accepted as we are and our need for growth and improvement, and so even when we hear useful feedback, we might not use it to improve our work, life or emotional intelligence. That's where this amazing book comes in. The authors dig into the various triggers we experience to help us make use of all the imperfect feedback we receive. Feedback is a little like the misshapen fruits you might buy at the farmer's market – imperfect, a little beat-up, but still nourishing.
–Nicole M. Coomber, associate clinical professor, management & organization
I've taught ethics for several years now, and I think Mary Gentile adds a very important dimension to addressing the ethical problems we see in business and in the world. Yes, some bad events are caused by bad apples, but what about all the good apples – the rest of us – who often know what the right thing to do is but who don't speak up?
Mary Gentile has ideas on how we can speak up and influence people to do the right thing, without preaching or lecturing, and change the world along the way.
–Judy K. Frels, assistant dean, Online Programs, and clinical professor, marketing
By Jean Case
Jean Case came and spoke to our Maryland Smith students through the Dingman Center's Ladies First Initiative, which is led by the Dingman Center’s Sara Herald. Considering the title, this would be a good fit for any Terp, particularly those considering taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
–Sara Herald and Holly DeArmond, associate director of social entrepreneurship at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; and adjunct professor of management & organization and Dingman Center managing director, respectively
Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence
By Molly Beck
As someone who enjoys connecting with people one-on-one, but tends to shrink away at the thought of "networking," I found Molly's book enjoyable, practical and empowering.
“Reach Out” offers people in all positions simple and effective strategies for using social media and other digital tools to build relationships, make new connections and simply know more people.
–Kim Robertella Glinka, director, Center for Social Value Creation
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World
By William H. McRaven
I love this book.
I make my kids read it. Certain parts of the book gave me goosebumps (especially the parachute incident), but I would read it again and again to refresh the simple lessons that we all strive to keep.
–Rebecca Hann, associate professor and KPMG Term Professor, accounting and information assurance
The Second Circle: Using Positive Energy for Success in Every Situation
By Patsy Rodenburg
There are many books on the market about storytelling, presence, public speaking and mindfulness. This book encapsulates all of these concepts.
The author is a British voice coach and theatre director. Full of practical tips and exercises, this fascinating must-read will help build confidence, increase your awareness and foster deeper connections in your personal and professional relationships.
–Tricia Homer, director of Business Communication, Master's Programs lecturer
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
By Max Tegmark
What I like about this book is that instead of hyping up AI and what it can do, etc., the author examines what is means to be human – how can we reduce inequality though AI technology, how can we advise students what jobs will be more important, how AI will affect privacy and security, and what it means for the arms race, and so on. I may not agree with all the scenarios painted, but to the author's credit, he keeps the discussion grounded in reality and really makes the readers think. It is a fascinating book and the time spent reading it is well worth it.
–P.K. Kannan, Dean's Chair in Marketing Science
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
By John C. Bogle
John Bogle recently passed away and is considered the father of index funds. He was the founder and CEO of financial giant Vanguard Group. Warren Buffett strongly recommends this book. And I strongly recommend this book.
–David Kass, clinical professor of finance. Kass has followed the investments and the philosophy of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett for more than 35 years
A Woman of No Importance
By Sonia Purnell
This book relates the story of Virginia Hall, who served as a spy for Britain and the United States during World War II. She fought for the liberation of France.
Virginia Hall was a remarkable woman whose persistence was honed early on by her battles against low gender expectations and later on by her disability – she had a wooden leg. After the war, Hall worked for the CIA.
–Elinda F. Kiss, associate clinical professor, finance
The Mueller Report
The U.S. Department of Justice
In this report, Robert Mueller really has two reports. He has a report on Russian participation in the election and then he has a report on whether Trump obstructed justice. So it’s like Volume 1 and 2. Each of these volumes has a short summary at the beginning. I would encourage everybody to read those summaries. They’re not heavily redacted and they lay out stuff in very clear English. ... Everyone is going to be talking about it over the summer. And so far, I’ve found the discussion on TV and in the newspapers to be pretty uninformative. The press has said that Barr got ahead of the report by putting out his conclusory comments, but they’ve spent a lot less time reporting on exactly what was in the report. I would recommend that people read it themselves. It’s written in a very unbiased way, so you can draw your conclusions one way or draw your conclusions the other.
–Albert “Pete” Kyle, Charles E. Smith Chair in Finance
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life
By Susan David
Most of us have heard about the importance of emotional intelligence in our lives and jobs. On the surface it may appear that the concept pushes us toward emotional positivity. Harvard psychologist Susan David explains that nothing could be further from the truth. She recognizes the vital importance negative emotions have in our lives, often serving as triggers toward action and change, while simultaneously recognizing their damaging potential. So what to do in the light of this paradox? Emotional agility is the answer. In her inspiring and well-researched work, David provides a series of practical steps allowing readers to get unstuck from their negative emotional patterns, reframe their emotions in a productive way, and commit to making emotional well-being a part of daily deliberate practice. Yes, you can make your emotions work for you rather than against you, and emotional agility will show you how.
–Gosia A. Langa-Basit, lecturer, management & organization
Arthur Brooks is a musician, scholar, the outgoing president of the American Enterprise Institute and a former Seattle resident. Brooks opines that “contempt” is “anger mixed with disgust.”
Political discourse in today’s America often devolves into contempt. We do not simply disagree with people, we hold them in complete disdain. Brooks calls on people to replace the culture of contempt with the culture of warmheartedness, which he believes will help us disagree better and strengthen the country in the process.
–William Longbrake, executive-in-residence, finance
Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
By Jonah Berger
People often underestimate the value of soft influence.
It's not always about presenting the most convincing analytical argument or enforcing a hierarchical pecking order. Oftentimes, one can affect the behavior of others using soft influence, or what Jonah calls "invisible influence." Invisible influence can be very powerful when interacting with customers or when leading a team.
Innovation and Scaling for Impact
By Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair
How to balance innovation and scaling? Although the book focuses on the social sector, the insights shared by the authors are relevant to any organization aiming for impact. It's an ambitious study that answers some important questions through in-depth case studies of four organizations in India and Bangladesh.
–Paulo Prochno, clinical professor, management & organization
Essential reading for anyone interested in business and making capitalism work for all. Lynn Stout compellingly takes apart the myth that the duty of a corporation is to increase shareholder value and puts forth the legal reality that firms must be managed in the best interests of all of their constituents. This is a brief but critically important book for those who care about the future of democratic capitalism.
–Rachelle Sampson, associate professor of business and public policy
Being a World War II aficionado, I love to read about the ingenuity and creativity that people display under extreme situations.
This is the amazing true story of the people who thought way too far outside any boxes.
–Oliver Schlake, clinical professor, management & organization
Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation
By Gary Shapiro
This book is an essential read for college students who strive to remain relevant in the rapidly changing global economic environment. Author Gary Shapiro explains how global trends and innovative technologies are transforming business and society. Shapiro urges individuals to embrace the mentality of feudal Japan’s secretive and efficient ninja warriors. According to Shapiro, Ninja business is about living by the motto “innovate or die!” Shapiro is president of the Consumer Technology Association and will come to Maryland Smith in September to discuss his book.
–Mark Wellman, clinical professor, management & organization
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.