My favorite books to help you achieve your goals

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Olympic Gold Medallist rower, performance coach, facilitator, and keynote speaker passionate about high performance, teamwork, and the parallels between sport and business. In 1998 I was part of a consistently underachieving Team GB rowing eight, often placing 7th or 8th. We weren’t the strongest or most talented crew. By changing the way we worked as a team, we managed to turn it around to win Olympic Gold on the waters of Sydney in 2000. Since then, I've specialized in translating Olympic-winning strategies into business success. Specifically focusing on leadership and team development, I work with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them define their gold medal goals and supporting them in achieving them.


I wrote...

Book cover of Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

What is my book about?

I co-wrote the book Will It Make the Boat Go Faster? with Executive Coach Harriet Beveridge to share how my British men’s rowing eight crew focused only on what was most important in our quest to win Olympic Gold. This single question was at the heart of our philosophy, and we used it as a team to challenge every action and interaction around whether it would help us in achieving our goal. In our book we reveal the strategies, habits, and mindset that the crew and I adopted to show anyone how to use similar strategies to improve your own life. Our hope is that you’ll discover that whatever your challenges or goals, there are simple and straightforward concepts that you can implement right away in your everyday life.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did I love this book?

What does it take to be successful? There is a tendency in society to answer that with the response “natural talent”. In reality it is a bit different. Of course talent plays a significant role. But Angela Duckworth argues another often an overlooked factor – of effort, which she calls “Grit”. In her research, she demonstrates that where talent counts once, effort counts twice. Intertwining studies from business, sport, and academia she suggests the power of combining deliberate, purposeful, and systematic practice allows you to improve in relation to your goal. Ultimately, grit means getting “better every day”. Duckworth shares my belief that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence. Developing ‘Grit’ is key to keep improving en route to your goal.

By Angela Duckworth,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

UNLOCK THE KEY TO SUCCESS

In this must-read for anyone seeking to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth takes us on an eye-opening journey to discover the true qualities that lead to outstanding achievement. Winningly personal, insightful and powerful, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that - not talent or luck - makes all the difference.

'Impressively fresh and original' Susan Cain


Book cover of The Worst Journey in the World

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did I love this book?

This is a gripping account of expeditioner Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of the youngest members of Scott's team, recorded the experience of this adventure gone disastrously wrong. Despite the horrors that Scott and his men faced along the way, Cherry's account is filled with stories of resilience, belief in the human spirit, and to persevere in the face of adversity, no matter the cost. Through frostbitten flesh, teeth chattering so hard they spontaneously shatter in the cold of the air, to sweat freezing the instant it emerges from the pores – this is not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless it is certainly one of the most inspiring accounts of developing self-belief and pushing on in the face of brutal setbacks. 

By Apsley Cherry-Garrard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Worst Journey in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A firsthand account of Scott's disastrous Antarctic expedition

The Worst Journey in the World recounts Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard—the youngest member of Scott’s team and one of three men to make and survive the notorious Winter Journey—draws on his firsthand experiences as well as the diaries of his compatriots to create a stirring and detailed account of Scott’s legendary expedition. Cherry himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through Cherry’s insightful narrative…


Book cover of Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did I love this book?

By exploring today’s rapidly changing world, Friedman helps you take a step back and consider how we might be able to live life at a reasonable pace. Thank You For Being Late serves as a guide for how to respond to the speed of change around us. By understanding how the world is changing through the possibilities and dangers of Moore’s Law (technology and the internet), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change), Friedman encourages us to consider our own adaptability. Rather than complaining and being static as individuals, Friedman suggests we need to embrace change and look at what is in our control to adapt, learn, look forward and still achieve what we want to.

By Thomas L. Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You for Being Late as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE WORLD IS FLAT

We all sense it: something big is going on. Life is speeding up, and it is dizzying. Here Thomas L. Friedman reveals the tectonic movements that are reshaping our world, how to adapt to this new age and why, sometimes, we all need to be late.

'A master class ... As a guide for perplexed Westerners, this book is very hard to beat ... an honest, cohesive explanation for why the world is the way it is, without miracle cures or scapegoats' John Micklethwait, The New York Times…


Book cover of The Long Win: The Search for a Better Way to Succeed

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did I love this book?

My colleague and fellow rower Cath Bishop draws upon her experience in high-performance environments to examine our societal-wide obsession with winning. As a rower at three Olympic games, a senior diplomat, and a business coach & consultant, Cath offers a fresh perspective on how we might redefine success – both personally and professionally – for the longer term. Instead of a win-at-all-costs approach, Cath suggests we broaden our criteria of success by moving to a more sustainable approach with clarity, learning, and connection at its heart. Here she proposes a new definition of success  The Long Win. 

By Cath Bishop,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Long Win as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Powerful and profound.' - Matthew Syed

'Anyone interested in motivation should read this book and think deeply.' - Margaret Heffernan

***Selected as one of the Financial Times's Best Business Books of 2020***
***THE PEOPLE' BOOK PRIZE 2022/23 SHORTLISTED TITLE***

In this fascinating examination of our widespread obsession with winning, Cath Bishop draws on her personal experience of high-performance environments to trace the idea of winning through history, language and thought to explore how it has come to be a defining concept in fields from sport to business, from politics to education. Faced with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st…


Book cover of Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did I love this book?

This book challenged me greatly on a personal and professional level. Invisible Women reveals how in a world built for and by men we are systematically ignoring half of the population, often with disastrous consequences. It has made me consciously act within our business to ensure we are engaging other perspectives in our decision-making processes. Looking beyond what society, media, and advertising want us to see – Perez encourages us to evaluate how we personally can choose to either perpetuate or work towards a society that’s more equal and that sets things up to bring balance into an unbalanced world.

By Caroline Criado Perez,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Invisible Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2019 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Winner of the 2019 Royal Society Science Book Prize

Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.

Celebrated feminist advocate…


You might also like...

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

Book cover of Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

What is my book about?

A magisterial history of Indigenous North America that places the power of Native nations at its center, telling their story from the rise of ancient cities more than a thousand years ago to fights for sovereignty that continue today

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

What is this book about?

Long before the colonization of North America, Indigenous Americans built diverse civilizations and adapted to a changing world in ways that reverberated globally. And, as award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal vividly recounts, when Europeans did arrive, no civilization came to a halt because of a few wandering explorers, even when the strangers came well armed.

A millennium ago, North American cities rivaled urban centers around the world in size. Then, following a period of climate change and instability, numerous smaller nations emerged, moving away from rather than toward urbanization. From this urban past, egalitarian government structures, diplomacy, and complex economies spread…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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