Five Books to Inspire Marketers (None Are About Marketing)
What inspires you?
Every day, posts on LInkedIn tout business books with the secrets to motivate us and compete more effectively. We need to be aware of the new thinking in business literature, and once in a while, a gem or two do emerge. Still, I find most business books to be puffed up, tedious and ultimately useless.
More important, if all you think about is work and your reading is limited to business books, you’re cutting yourself off from a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.
I like to find great marketing ideas in the world of arts and literature, including novels, history, and biographies. Want to get better at storytelling? Want to understand human nature on a deeper level?
Here are a few of my recent favorites to get you started.
Let me know what you’re reading and how you were inspired.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut:
Cat’s Cradle opened my eyes to the pleasure of reading and to the idea that life is more rewarding when we are curious, ask questions, and try to see everything from multiple perspectives. Suggested by my ultra-cool, just out-of-college, long-haired, math teacher in my senior year, Vonnegut’s irrevereLnce, dark humor, and wild imagination opened up my eyes. It’s on my list for a re-read soon.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Another book inspired by a youthful moment. My best friend in high school (and still best friend) and I were in a local stationery/book/candy when he noticed the book displayed on a rack. He pompously declared something along the lines of, “This book has the answers to virtually the entire human condition.” I flied that over-the-top comment away for over 30 years but never forgot it. When I finally got to the book, it turned out that my friend was mostly right.
Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
All of Walter Isaacson’s bios are worthwhile. I’ve also read his books on Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein and recommend them all. His subjects all share a relentlessly curious nature, pushing themselves to better understand how the world works. Leonardo was the quintessential renaissance man. Reading this richly detailed work, it’s hard to imagine someone so brilliant and talented across so many pursuits. Simply awe-inspiring and a must read for anyone interested in creativity and innovation.
Churchill: Walking With Destiny
Said to say, but many of my grad students don’t even know who Winston Churchill was. And even those who know him as Britain’s steadfast, fearless, cigarsmoking, hard-drinking leader during WWII aren’t aware of his bravery as a soldier, his prolific, historical scholarship, his accomplishments as a painter and more. Do you think you have a busy schedule? Like Leonardo, Churchill likely packed more into a week than most people accomplished in a year.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Part romcom, part sci-fi and 100% social commentary, this wild, funny, and ultimately scary novel got a lot right about the future (our present) when it was published in 2011. People are tethered to their iPhonelike devices that are updated constantly. Walk into a coffee shop and want to know about the creditworthiness of all the men in the room or how attractive women find them? It’s all there.