The best books for innovative thinking and achievement

Dennis E. Hensley Author Of Jesus in the 21st Century: Amassing Wealth Ethically
By Dennis E. Hensley

The Books I Picked & Why

Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society

By Jeff Davidson

Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society

Why this book?

This book offers nuts and bolts systems and practices for thinking in new ways, organizing more effectively, and producing more abundantly. The author’s insights on establishing goals, setting priorities, and meeting deadlines are spot on. Though written a few decades ago, its lessons are timeless because they focus on reaching an endgame that provides a sense of satisfactory achievement. The author’s sense of humor and his ability to avoid tedious theory give the book momentum and energy.


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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative

By Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative

Why this book?

The value of this clever, short book is that it shows that very seldom are success stories about major breakthroughs. Instead, most advances piggyback on what has been done before. Innovation derives from seeing how to make what already exists start to work faster or cheaper or stronger or louder or in ways not explored previously. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you have to figure out how to put rubber tires on it. Kleon shows how to analyze products, evaluate performances, modify systems, brainstorm processes, and conceptualize radical procedures.


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America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World

By Kevin Baker

America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World

Why this book?

Michael Nesmith was famous for being a member of “The Monkees,” but his family was rich before that success. His mother, Bette Nesmith, a secretary, and amateur artist, invented Liquid Paper in 1958. She sold her company to Gillette in 1979 for $49,500,000. This book chronicles the amazing achievement of hundreds of people just like Bette. Some became famous (Orville Wright, Levi Strauss, Fred, and Donald Trump, Helen Keller), whereas others were outshone by their creations. The author explains the thought processes, work systems, promotional efforts, and production demands behind each creative person’s journey from idea to finished product. Superb drawings enhance the explanations of machines, bridges, tunnels, and skyscrapers.


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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

By Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

Why this book?

This book manages to stay timely because it is not about specific aspects of technology or evolving business theories. It’s about challenging conventional thinking, about asking hard questions, about getting raw and real and blunt and pragmatic. This book is radical in giving careful consideration to greed, to solitude, to absenteeism, to total restarts, and to disobedience. It needs to be read slowly and cautiously, but with an open mind toward new thought patterns.


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Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Angela Duckworth

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Why this book?

Athletes talk about going for the burn, meaning exercising to the point of breaking down muscles for the purpose of having them rebuild themselves yet stronger. Duckworth believes in a mental and emotional version of this, claiming that people who succeed often are people who are obsessed with closure, with completion, with achievement. They will stick to a task with dogged determination until it is accomplished. The image of the harried artist or creative genius who hasn’t bathed in a week, has forgotten to eat, and has sequestered herself or himself in a garret while working on a project is actually not comical. Those folks who “see it to the end” have an element of grit. They don’t surrender or give up or lose sight of their end goal. They are worth studying and even emulating.


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