The best books for disruptive marketers in the 21st century

Who am I?

Ever since touching my first computer (the Apple IIC) in 1985, broadcasting a radio show in 1988, logging onto the world wide web in 1991, launching my first podcast in 2004 or producing the highly viewed YouTube show The Download in 2020 I've been interested in what Marshall McLuhan has dubbed, "The Medium is the Message." Not only how media and technology are used but how it intersects with humanity, education, entertainment, marketing and popular culture to drive word of mouth. To me, marketing isn't just about the technology or the quantified metrics but about how it shapes long lasting impressions on people and leads to sustained behavioral change.


I wrote...

Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us about Navigating the New Normal

By Geoffrey Colon,

Book cover of Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us about Navigating the New Normal

What is my book about?

In the 21st century, the best marketing comes from what Geoffrey Colon calls “creative hybrids,” marketers with training in design, video production, psychology, and statistics. Creative direction is driven by customer experience and social media research, he says. Colon brings a fresh view to marketing in this provocative and useful book.

The books I picked & why

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Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different

By Sunny Bonnell, Ashleigh Hansberger,

Book cover of Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different

Why this book?

If the Conceptual Age of marketing is here where imagination reigns supreme, will the same types of personalities in business from the Information Age be the ones to dominate? Nope. Authors Ashley and Sunny urge people to treat each one of our quirks as helpful virtues rather than harmful vices. Less logical and more emotional, things like fringe interests, strong personalities, and bold antics have their place in a creative and disruptive world. Applying your unique characteristics strategically could help you stand out, forge your path, and connect with others in ways that following rules just does not deliver. If you read this from the lens of a marketer, there are some great takeaways to apply to the personality of what brand it is you are trying to sell. Oh, and what profile am I of the 7 vices? A rebel of course.


Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

By David Epstein,

Book cover of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Why this book?

Find something you want to do. Go deep into it. Stay hired forever. Great advice? Maybe for much of the Industrial and Information Age. But in the impending Imagination Age this advice isn't good. And Epstein explains why. If you can't see how things interconnect, you can't figure out how they play off one another and work in new and unique ways. This is for all of the generalists and Renaissance folks who have been told their whole lives, "Jack/Jill of all trades and master of none will just leave you in the unemployment line." Not true and we need more imaginary thinkers than ever before. Especially in marketing.


Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

By Clay Shirky,

Book cover of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Why this book?

Shirky explained the fascination with how everyone becomes media long before TikTok was even a gleam in the eye of its founder Zhang Yiming. In this world that becomes louder, faster, and where attention is harder to come by we might think that it becomes every person for themselves. Not so. Communities become stronger and we enter the age of "We" rather than the age of "Me." A fascinating read on the power of organizations that don't rely on traditional organization hierarchies. If you want to know how good ideas spread in the 21st Century, this is a good book to read.


Future Shock

By Alvin Toffler,

Book cover of Future Shock

Why this book?

This book is a classic. It's from the 1970s and you might think, "What a joke, why would I read this, it's old?" Because Toffler explains the world we live in right now in 2022 back in 1972. How did he see it? Not through some crystal ball but by studying the remixing of history. All good futurists understand the future based on how we redesign the past to fit the present. The biggest takeaway is with regard to a 'surfeit of subcultures' which explains the modern world of online behavior better than anybody else. Tired from not being able to keep up? Toffler explains that too. Forget studying technology use cases to understand where things are going. If you want to truly understand disruption, read this book on how technology affects and moderates our behaviors/lifestyles/modes of living.


Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Book cover of Humankind: A Hopeful History

Why this book?

Somewhere in the last decade of the 2010s marketing lost the plot. Look, technology is always going to be around us and help us do things. But in marketing, the fascination became about the tech and the metrics and less about the people. In this decade we got caught up with the notion that people are bad because of what they say or do on social media. What Bregman notes is that people actually are good with econometric data to prove it. We don't create environments like Lord of the Flies. We actually do the opposite. But somehow in the 2010s this lack of trust fostered itself in the narrative. This book will help you realize team humans are pretty awesome and are important to the 2020s. Regardless of what some of the stories on the news tell us.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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