The best planning books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about planning and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of Your Business, Your Book: How to plan, write, and promote the book that puts you in the spotlight

Ginny Carter is another very experienced ghostwriter and in this book, she explains exactly why it is good for business people to write books in order to promote themselves, their companies, and their products. Since most successful business people do not have the time to write the books themselves, her eloquent arguments will inevitably lead them to hiring ghostwriters such as Ginny – and myself.

Your Business, Your Book

By Ginny Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Your Business, Your Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS 2020!*

If you're a coach, consultant, or speaker who makes a living from your expertise, this is for you. It's the guide you need to help you plan, write, and promote the book that elevates your authority, increases your visibility, and gets more clients saying 'yes'. Because creating such a book is a challenge. Where do you start? How do you keep going until the end? And what do you do when you've finished? Don't let your book stay in your head - allow it to come to life and make a positive difference…


Who am I?

I have been a ghostwriter for over thirty years, publishing more than a hundred books under other people’s names, as well as those under my own name. It has allowed me to live a hundred different and varied lives and it is a profession I like to encourage all writers to consider. Several of my own novels have featured ghostwriters as central characters, including Secrets of the Italian Gardener and What Lies Around Us.


I wrote...

Ghostwriting

By Andrew Crofts,

Book cover of Ghostwriting

What is my book about?

This was one of the first books explaining what ghostwriters do, how to become one, or how and why to hire one. Robert Harris quoted it extensively in his bestselling thriller, The Ghost.

Blown to Bits

By Philip Evans, Thomas S. Wurster,

Book cover of Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy

This book described the economics of the internet age as the web was taking off. It remains a classic in that it not only predicted many of the transformations that were to play out on the web, including social media, and it continues to be useful as a template for predicting the coming transformations that will be wrought by Web3 and Blockchain.

Blown to Bits

By Philip Evans, Thomas S. Wurster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blown to Bits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richness or reach? The trade-off used to be simple but absolute: your business strategy either could focus on 'rich' information - customized products and services tailored to a niche audience - or could reach out to a larger market, but with watered-down information that sacrificed richness in favor of a broad, general appeal. Much of business strategy as we know it today rests on this fundamental trade-off. Now, say Evans and Wurster, the new economics of information is eliminating the trade-off between richness and reach, blowing apart the foundations of traditional business strategy. "Blown to Bits" reveals how the spread…

Who am I?

I have taught marketing strategy to MBAs and Executives at Business Schools and companies around the world, and have consulted for major companies in financial services, consumer packaged goods, software, and others for over three decades. Some of my Harvard Business Review articles are among the review’s bestsellers, and my book on marketing strategy, TILT: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers, received the best business book award in 2014. I run a marketing strategy consultancy at Brand Strategy Group with clients on three continents. 


I wrote...

Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers

By Niraj Dawar,

Book cover of Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers

What is my book about?

This book is an antidote to product-centricity. Businesses in technology, pharma, materials, commodities, and even financial services all suffer from a turgid obsession with their product. Everything within the business is defined by the product – in fact, if you ask managers what business they’re in, they’ll talk about the product. Measures of success are product-based (units sold, market share), behaviors are linked to product moved (quotas), and even innovation is defined solely in terms of better products.

TILT helps you rethink not just the product focus, but what an organization should look like to become more customer-centric. It takes you through the thought process with sparkling examples and practical checklists. If you want to make your business more customer-centric, start with this book.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

By Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling

Book cover of The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

Four Disciplines of Execution is a great summary of the essential ideas on how to turn plans into outcomes, based on wide industry research that compared exceptional performers to teams that just wasted time. The real gem in the book is distilling the difference between lagging and leading indicators, and providing models for measuring value in the short term, so you can focus the work of your teams. 

The authors distilled the ideas into a simple model with a very clear vocabulary, that you’ll be able to use with your colleagues and stakeholders to speed up the discussions. For that alone, even if you’re up to date with modern product management methods, you should definitely read this book.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

By Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 4 Disciplines of Execution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fully revised and updated, the definitive guide for leaders on how to create lasting organisational change.

Do you remember the last major initiative you watched die in your organisation? Did it go down with a loud crash? Or was it slowly and quietly suffocated by other competing priorities? By the time it finally disappeared, it's quite likely noone even noticed.

Almost every company struggles with making change happen. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Revised and Updated is meant to help you reach the goals you've always dreamed of with a simple, repeatable, and proven formula. In this updated edition of…

Who am I?

I’m a software developer turned independent software vendor, learning about product management as a way to launch more successful products. I’m a co-founder of MindMup, a popular collaboration tool used by millions of students and schoolchildren worldwide, and Narakeet, an innovative video maker for people who are not video professionals. The books from this list helped me create successful products that users love, and successfully compete with companies that have several orders of magnitude more staff and resources. 


I wrote...

Impact Mapping: Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects

By Gojko Adzic,

Book cover of Impact Mapping: Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects

What is my book about?

Impact Mapping is a wonderfully effective method for collaborative planning that helps organisations make an impact with software. Impact mapping helps to create better plans and roadmaps that ensure alignment of business and delivery, and are easily adaptable to change. 

Book cover of The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime

Money is the biggest concern for most people thinking about retirement. Suze Orman is the queen of straight-talk about how best to manage your finances during this chapter of your life. She explains practical steps you need to take to make sure you have enough money to last your lifetime. I love that she is ruthless about making readers consider the long-term effects of their purchases and financial decisions.

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+

By Suze Orman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+ as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE PATH TO YOUR ULTIMATE RETIREMENT STARTS RIGHT HERE

When you think about planning for retirement - whether it's years in the future or just around the corner - you're bound to have questions. Can I ever afford to stop working? Will Social Security be there for me when I need it? How can I make my money last? Have I waited too long to start saving?

Suze Orman, America's most recognized expert on personal finance, answers all the questions that keep you up at night - starting with the biggest one: It is never too late to start planning…

Who am I?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people prepare for, plan, and go through major life changes, such as the transition to retirement. I’ve interviewed dozens of retirees about the challenges and opportunities they’ve experienced during their retirement. I’ve designed this guide so you can be strategic in choosing your path, overcome challenges, and make adjustments to make the most of this chapter of your life.


I wrote...

Making the Most of Your Retirement: Ways to Foster Health, Happiness & Fulfillment at Any Age

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of Making the Most of Your Retirement: Ways to Foster Health, Happiness & Fulfillment at Any Age

What is my book about?

Are you contemplating retirement? Or maybe you have already retired but are dissatisfied and are looking to improve your experience. Whatever your circumstances, you can make the most of your retirement. You can decide what is important to you and how you would like to live this chapter of your life. This self-help guide is packed with activities, examples, and ideas to help you: decide how you really want to spend your retirement; devise a plan to make the most of this period of your life; prepare for and manage the transition to retirement; take stock periodically; make adjustments and address challenges as they arise; boost your health, improve your social life, and consider your legacy.

Book cover of The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win

This book by Steven Blank is a bible for anyone trying to understand how to build lean startups. The classic mistake that most entrepreneurs make is to go build a product soon after they develop a hypothesis about what customers want. By building products before customer discovery (i.e. verify customer needs and a scalable sales model), many products miss the mark and fail. The book explains how a lean start-up can figure out what customers want before proceeding to build products. This emphasis on a customer-centered approach rather than a product-centered approach can be the difference when it comes to finding product-market fit. A must-read for any founder!

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

By Steve Blank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Four Steps to the Epiphany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling classic that launched 10,000 startups and new corporate ventures - The Four Steps to the Epiphany is one of the most influential and practical business books of all time.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup approach to new ventures. It was the first book to offer that startups are not smaller versions of large companies and that new ventures are different than existing ones. Startups search for business models while existing companies execute them.

The book offers the practical and proven four-step Customer Development process for search and offers insight into what makes some…

Who am I?

I build and use emerging technological innovations in business, and I also teach others how they might too! I’m a serial entrepreneur and a Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As an entrepreneur, I co-founded and developed the core IP for Yodle Inc, a venture-backed firm that was acquired by Web.com. I’m now the founder of Jumpcut Media – a startup using data and Web3 technologies to democratize opportunities in Film and TV. In all this work, I'm often trying to assess how emerging technologies may affect business and society in the long run and how I can apply them to create new products and services.


I wrote...

A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

By Kartik Hosanagar,

Book cover of A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

What is my book about?

If you read the news, you have probably heard the term algorithms: computer code that seems to control much of what we do on the internet, landing us in all sorts of jams. Elections are swayed by newsfeed algorithms, markets are manipulated by trading algorithms, women and minorities are discriminated against by resume screening algorithms –  individuals are left at the mercy of machines. This book offers a way to understand the implications in our personal and professional lives and how we might offset the challenges they pose.  

While this subject gets a lot of attention in popular journalism, I feel the public lacks the right mental models to understand algorithms and AI. As a result, the conversation is often fear-oriented, at the expense of being solution-oriented. This is my attempt to address these problems and start a conversation on what the solution should look like.

Good Strategy Bad Strategy

By Richard Rumelt,

Book cover of Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

There are thousands of strategy books, from personal success strategies to business strategies to financial strategy. This is one of the best I’ve read so far. It’s insightful, colorful, to the point, and paints a very vivid picture of what it takes to develop a good strategy, a concept that is not too easy to define. Precisely what is strategy? This book demonstrates that it is the skilled approach and the ability to move resources and people to achieve an objective. While the book uses many business examples, I think the lessons can be deducted for any industry if you have a desire to get ahead.

Good Strategy Bad Strategy

By Richard Rumelt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Good Strategy Bad Strategy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Richard Rumelt's Good Strategy/Bad Strategy was published in 2011, it immediately struck a chord, calling out as bad strategy the mish-mash of pop culture, motivational slogans and business buzz speak so often and misleadingly masquerading as the real thing.

Since then, his original and pragmatic ideas have won fans around the world and continue to help readers to recognise and avoid the elements of bad strategy and adopt good, action-oriented strategies that honestly acknowledge the challenges being faced and offer straightforward approaches to overcoming them. Strategy should not be equated with ambition, leadership, vision or planning; rather, it is…

Who am I?

I'm fascinated by how our world operates, from the macro-level to the microlevel and metaphysics. It creates more depth and makes life infinitely colorful and exciting, even in the most mundane things. I've been studying personal development and spirituality for almost 20 years now, and I find the journey of growth and becoming to be rewarding. Books that help me expand my horizon and think differently enable this process, and I find that to be exciting.


I wrote...

One Million Steps: Lessons From A Legendary Hike

By Ngan H. Nguyen,

Book cover of One Million Steps: Lessons From A Legendary Hike

What is my book about?

Stretching 500-miles across the northern part of Spain is the Camino Francés of the Camino de Santiago. A pilgrimage to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. It was by fate that I found this path, and it became one of the most incredible adventures of my life. The path was a unique window into historical, natural, and cultural beauty, but even more than that, it was a walk into more depth within my own being. It became a journey of healing and self-discovery.

In this book, I tell the story of that adventure as well as the countless powerful lessons I learned. May these lessons shine more light on your journey to whatever destination that may be pulling at your consciousness at this moment.

The Long Game

By Dorie Clark,

Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Dorie Clark has a way of identifying the challenges that derail careers and then proposing clear, nail-on-the-head solutions that can be executed. The Long Game clarifies that we can achieve our goals if we define our goals and then are purposeful in taking a long-game view and creating the environment that can support those goals. We need to focus, persist, and make space for thinking. I have followed the guidance in this book to help me achieve some very specific goals that were previously vague ideas.

The Long Game

By Dorie Clark,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Long Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Your personal goals need a long-term strategy.

It's no secret that we're pushed to the limit. Today's professionals feel rushed, overwhelmed, and perennially behind. So we keep our heads down, focused on the next thing, and the next, without a moment to breathe.

How can we break out of this endless cycle and create the kind of interesting, meaningful lives we all seek?

Just as CEOs who optimize for quarterly profits often fail to make the strategic investments necessary for long-term growth, the same is true in our own personal and professional lives. We need…


Who am I?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 


I wrote...

Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

By Gena Cox,

Book cover of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

What is my book about?

In this well-researched book, organizational psychologist and executive coach Gena Cox delivers the message that although human variation is normal, true inclusion that embraces these variations remains elusive in the workplace. She argues that this state of affairs will continue until executives lead inclusion from the top of their organizations. Drawing on psychological science, interviews with corporate leaders, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts, and her own experience in corporate America, Gena goes beyond the “business case” and answers the clarion call for human-centered organizational leadership.

Leading Inclusion is not a “how-to” book; it is a “how-to-be” book that educates, challenges, and empowers you and your c-suite and board colleagues to change your organization—and America—one employee at a time. 

Strategies for Change

By James Brian Quinn,

Book cover of Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism

Quinn’s book should be read by every organization and talent specialist. He reminds us through both data and case study that radical change requires a transformational mindset combined with what he calls strategic incrementalism. His book provides a rich mix of examples, tools, and methods for continuously improving the organization and workforce to meet current and likely future challenges. 

Strategies for Change

By James Brian Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strategies for Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Quinn, James Brian

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

A Beginner's Guide to the End

By Bj Miller, Shoshana Berger,

Book cover of A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

Mainly written for patients who decided to end treatment and want to prepare for death, this is a enlightening read for caregivers as well. It is a newer publication and will walk you through all the things you need to consider and talk about with the person as you plan ahead. Talking about these matters openly is uncomfortable and will bring up sadness. The gentle tone of this book will help you along the way. It will also help you prepare for your own death.

A Beginner's Guide to the End

By Bj Miller, Shoshana Berger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Beginner's Guide to the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A gentle, knowledgeable guide to a fate we all share” (The Washington Post): the first and only all-encompassing action plan for the end of life.

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” hospice physician B.J. Miller and journalist and caregiver Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner’s Guide to the End. “Our ultimate purpose here isn’t so much to help you die as it is to free up as much life as possible until you do.”

Theirs is a clear-eyed and big-hearted action plan for approaching the end of life, written to help readers feel more in control of an…

Who am I?

I have accompanied dying people for more than twenty-five years—as a counsellor, volunteer chaplain, and companion. I feel passionate about changing the perception of dying and death, the way we care for people during their most vulnerable moments, and how we support families through this painful time. Since my twenties I have been immersed in Buddhist practise which inspires and informs my life and work. Together with other clinicians and mindfulness practitioners, we created one of the first contemplative-based training in end-of-life care for caregivers called “Authentic Presence”. Daring to be present might be the hardest thing you may have done in your life, and, you may come to discover, one of the most intimate, beautiful, and rewarding.


I wrote...

Present Through the End: A Caring Companion's Guide for Accompanying the Dying

By Kirsten DeLeo,

Book cover of Present Through the End: A Caring Companion's Guide for Accompanying the Dying

What is my book about?

This award-winning small guide offers support for everyone accompanying someone at the end of life. Kirsten DeLeo shares down-to-earth advice to help you be there fully - from the moment you first learn that someone is dying through the time of death and beyond. She offers insight and encouragement when you are unsure what to do or say and shows you how to be present even though you may feel utterly helpless, and love when loss is just around the corner. You will find simple practices to help you handle your emotions, deal with difficult relationships, talk about what matters, practice self-care, and work through challenging situations with presence and kindness.

“A must-read.” Christina M. Puchalski, MD, George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health

The Brand Gap

By Marty Neumeier,

Book cover of The Brand Gap

From brand strategy to design, from validation to cultivation, Marty’s delightful read will make you not only understand what branding is, but you will turn into a design advocate along the way. And, more importantly, it will make you understand what’s at the heart of any great brand: Customer experience. Marty further has a captivating style of storytelling. I promise you won’t be putting this book down once you started. Large typography and fun design make it a quick ‘airplane read,’ which is a format that definitely inspired me as an author.

The Brand Gap

By Marty Neumeier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE BRAND GAP is the first book to present a unified theory of brand-building. Whereas most books on branding are weighted toward either a strategic or creative approach, this book shows how both ways of thinking can unite to produce a "charismatic brand"-a brand that customers feel is essential to their lives. In an entertaining two-hour read you'll learn:

* the new definition of brand
* the five essential disciplines of brand-building
* how branding is changing the dynamics of competition
* the three most powerful questions to ask about any brand
* why collaboration is the key to brand-building…

Who am I?

I am a Creative Director turned Brand Strategist who loves creating clarity for brand transformations. I do so for small companies and Fortune 500s alike, but the thrill is the same. At the end of the day that hands-on (actually more of a ‘brain on’) work coupled with my books on branding and my podcast Hitting The Mark (where I talk with some of today’s most mesmerizing founders about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success) is doing my part in creating more admired brands in this world. I hope the books on this list will inspire and enable you to do the same for your own company.


I wrote...

Bigger Than This: How to turn any venture into an admired brand

By Fabian Geyrhalter,

Book cover of Bigger Than This: How to turn any venture into an admired brand

What is my book about?

A quick read about the deceptively difficult task of turning your venture into an admired brand.

Inspired by a new wave of commodity brands that are winning hearts, using one (or more) of the eight traits and their commandments in this book will guide you to your specific path to turning your venture, may that be a commodity product or a hot startup, into a better, more beloved brand.

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