Joe's Commentary

It’s the Manager - Jim Clifton & Jim Harter - 2019

In any organization it is clear that the manager makes the biggest difference in employee effectiveness and team productivity.  The Gallup organization has been studying business engagement for more than fifty years and again documents the importance of management.

The book delves into employee and customer engagement which they document as the number one driver of productivity.  Positive culture, effective coaching and an environment of recognition are key factors in creating powerful engagement.

The writing is straight forward and right to the point -- easy to read and comprehend.  It’s all about the basics of developing and leading people. You might call it Management 101.  The book may appear to be a monster of 426 pages but the text is only 186 pages – the rest are appendices of supporting facts from the Gallup Organization.

This is a must read for business leaders.

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline - Darrell Bricker & John Ibbitson - 2019

Learn about population trends throughout the world – which countries are declining now and when others will decline. The information is fascinating and the implications for society are enormous. Almost every major population center will peak in the next several decades and begin to decline.

In Japan population has already peaked and all of Asia will soon follow. China has 1.4 billion people today and is projected to reach 560 million by the turn of the century – just think about the impact of losing nearly 60% of the population. Many European countries are already in decline and most others will soon join the downward cascade.

The United States and Canada are just shy of reproducing the population today however both countries are open to immigration which offsets much of the decline. Worldwide population trends are the exact opposite of the Malthusian projections that we have read about for so long.

Don’t miss this book! How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure.

The Coddling of the American Mind – Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt - 2018

How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure

Students today grow up in such a sheltered world that they often demand to be protected from confrontation.  The authors document recent rapid and disturbing trends on American college campuses. In many institutions the faculty are accommodating student demands not to be offended. “Safetyism” (the author’s term) seems to be taking our young folks into a near dream world devoid of the realities of life. So, we have students being educated in a protective cocoon not being prepared for the bloody noses they will actually get once in the real world.

Learn also how helicopter parenting contributes to this new generation of coddled young people. See how near addiction to our electronic devices impacts the problem. Learn how parental overreaction actually caused the peanut allergy panic. Get some real solid lessons on raising young folks to have strong character.

If you are raising children and/or involved in education this is must read.

Arne Duncan    

How Schools Work - Arne Duncan - 2018

The former Secretary of Education in the Obama administration provides a blistering analysis of public education. He emphasizes that the situation is particularly acute for the poor in the inner cities. The first chapter is titled “Lies, Lies Everywhere” which relates first to telling kids that they are doing well when in fact they are failing.  He tells a story of starting to help an inner-city high schooler get ready to take the ACT when he realized that the young man was actually reading on a second-grade level. 

Duncan takes on the teacher’s unions for their resistance to change, opposition to merit pay and hostility to charter schools. He takes on colleges of education as “an industry of mediocrity. Duncan is a reformer but was unable to institute much positive change when in the national driver’s seat. A parent from a failing school being closed accused him of being a racist to which he replied: “If I were a racist I would leave this school exactly as it is.”

The Secretary certainly knows how schools work and understands the problems. He is however short on solutions to make real change.


The CEO Next Door: The Four Behaviours that Transform Ordinary People into World-class Leaders - Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell - 2018

Ambitious business leaders – this is the book for you! The first section is all about the skills you need to run a good size business. The book focuses on the path to becoming a CEO but the basic principles covered apply to anyone in a leadership role in just about any size organization. Read this section twice and then put it all into practice.

The second section covers the various paths to becoming a CEO and the third section delves with the challenges of actually being a CEO. The stories are real and you will likely relate to many of them. One comment: most examples deal with CEOs who have changed companies multiple times but the top-quality CEOs I know spent most of their career with one organization.

A must read for future CEOs.

I love Capitalism: An American Story - Ken Langone 2018

Hear Ken Langone’s story of growing up in a blue-collar family, working hard, working smart and making it in the big time. If you think the American dream is dead read this book. Follow Langone’s career to see how diligence, integrity, inquisitiveness, networking and just plain hard work can really pay off. 

Ken Langone is an accomplished financial executive, co-founder of the Home Depot and a billionaire. He is also a family man married more than fifty years, raised three children and is a regular church goer – successful in both his business and personal life. On a personal note he sold bonds on Wall Street to my father in the 1960s.

“I Love Capitalism” should inspire any ambitious young business person.


Frederick Douglas, Self-Made Man - Timothy Sandefur - 2018

This is the story of one of the truly great African-American intellectual leaders of the nineteenth century. He rose from slavery to become a statesman, author, lecturer, and scholar who worked to help lead the fight against racial oppression. Douglass was an avid defender of the US Constitution contending that it simply guarantees the same rights for all individuals regardless of race and gender.

The lecture entitled "Self-Made Men," was delivered thousands of times in the United States and later in Europe. For those of us who did not pay enough attention in US History classes this is an excellent book covering issues that are of as much interest today as they were 150 years ago.


The Corrupt Classroom - Lance Izumi - 2017

This is an eye-opening report on what takes place in some of our public schools. I found the teachings about politics, sex and religion to be shocking – none of which I would ever want my child be taught in public school.  Safety is some schools is much worse than most of us realize. In addition, a complete lack of fiscal responsibility coupled with pandering to unions is rampant in many urban school districts.

I found the stories both enlightening and in some cases shocking but I also recognize that not all public schools are like those described. The author’s goal is to convince us that as parents we ought to have the right to send our child to whatever school is best for our child. It is hard to disagree after reading the book.  Quick read – 138 pages. 


The Education of Eva Moskowitz: A Memoir - 2017

The founder of Success Academies walks us through the challenges faced in building New York city’s largest charter school organization. She has succeeded in the most hostile K-12 education environment imaginable. There is opposition to education reform at every turn in the road and almost overwhelming support for existing mediocre and failing schools.

Learn about politics in ways most of never see. Marvel at how many leaders fight innovation. See how teacher, principal and custodial unions hold leadership hostage.  Learn also a lot about innovative classroom teaching. Read this and I guarantee you will see K-12 education differently.

A great story about charter school growth and also an insightful look into methods of teaching.

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam  - Douglas Murray - 2017

Douglas Murray paints a very disturbing picture for the future of Europe. Immigration is at all-time highs and the new population communities are not assimilating. They are functioning as almost autonomous entities maintaining their traditional cultures and showing contempt for traditional European culture. Terrorism is rampant and the immigrant communities go as far as dancing in the streets celebrating terrorist killing of other Europeans.

To make matters worse most people are afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled as a racist. Political correctness has overcome common sense. On top of all this the population trends are undermining the status quo. Europeans reproduction is at historic lows falling way below replacement levels while the immigrant population is multiplying rapidly.

The political establishment seems unable to even face reality often denying reality and pushing facts under the carpet. It is easy to see the end of traditional Europe.


Drain the Swamp: How Washington corruption is worse than you think - Congressman Ken Buck with Bill Blankschaen – 2017

This is without a doubt the best book ever on Washington corruption. It is well written, right to the point and filled with examples that will blow your mind. Payoffs, bullying and retaliation abound. Buck takes on the Democrats and Republicans with equal frankness. Think twice if you think your legislators are working in your best interest.

The final few chapters give some hope about how the swamp might really get drained.


The General vs. the President - H. W. Brands 2016

Harry Truman and Douglas MacArthur were at odds with each other for years and the conflict took the country close a nuclear war. This is the story of that conflict between politician and revered military hero. This a well written story about two passionate patriots that seemed to clash continuously.

If you are history buff Brands has written several other outstanding books.


Progress: Ten reasons to look forward to the future - Johann Norberg 2016

If you are not sure how good things in the world are now just read this book and see how far mankind has progressed recently. Ten key subjects – food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty and more – you won’t believe how far the world has come in just your lifetime. Example: world life expectancy in 1900 was 31 years - today it is 71.

Want to feel good about the future? Read this book!



Shoe Dog - Phil Knight 2016

Nike is one fabulous story of business success. Phil Knight walks us through starting his company and about many of the interesting and sometimes unpredictable characters that molded Nike success. He shares the difficulties of dealing with production in foreign countries, his frustration with bankers who were reluctant to bet on his rapid growth and his fear of becoming a public company. This is the story of a young runner who follows his 1960s dream to sell running shoes and turns it into a thirty billion dollar sporting goods powerhouse.

Budding entrepreneurs should read this story


Wake Up America: The Nine Virtues That Made Our Nation Great and Why We Need Them More Than Ever -  Eric Bolling 2016

Calling all patriots!! Eric will fire you up about traditional values and what they mean to America and how we must take a stand to return to all that made us so successful. Grit, merit, providence, individualism, thrift and pride in our country are among the qualities so essential to our success. The rest of the world looks to the United States for leadership and inspiration.  Eric challenges us to get back on the leadership track. He clearly shows how we have lost our way and outlines the path to return to greatness. 

I really got fired up reading this book. 


Red Notice – Bill Browder 2015

Red Notice is a true story of high finance, murder and Bill Browder’s fight for justice. The story revolves around investing in Russia beginning in the 1990s and subsequent uncovering of massive theft by government officials up to and including those at the very top. The good guys had to get away before the corrupt police threw them in the gulag and most wound up in London but one did not escape. Let’s hope your business never winds up in this kind of mess.

It’s a thriller – reads like a novel – could not put it down.

 Joe Calloway - Magnetic  

Magnetic – Joe Calloway 2015 

This may be the best book ever on business focus. Joe gets right to the heart of what it takes to keep your business focused on the few key success factors that can really set you apart.  “Magnetic” is a perfect read for any CEO from the corner store to the Fortune 500.  The book is full of practical stories about companies that have excelled way beyond the pack.  Many of the lessons could lead to taking your business to the top of the heap.

See also the review below of Joe’s other recent and excellent book “Be the Best at What Matters Most”.


Conquering Gotham - Jill Jonnes 2007

If you like railroads and are a student of leadership you will love this decade long story of how the Pennsylvania Railroad finally entered New Your City during the first decade of the twentieth century. It is about building tunnels under the Hudson River that  experts thought impossible and then building the largest train station in America. The book is filled with stories of both good and bad management and leadership committed to long term achievement. Much of it reads more like a novel than modern history.


The Silencing:  How the left is killing free speech. Kirsten Powers 2015

The book is filled with an overwhelming quantity of facts that will make you realize that the first amendment may still be in the constitution but in every day practice is being overridden by the “politically correct” crowd. And you should know that Ms. Powers is actually a self-described liberal.  I had the opportunity to hear her speak recently and was impressed by her command of the facts.

Prepare to be enraged reading about all the ways free speech is being suppressed in our country.


Destiny of the Republic – Candice Mallard 2011
Subtitle: A tale of madness, medicine and murder of a president.

This is the story of James Garfield our beloved twentieth president complete with little known tales of politics of the nineteenth century, political intrigue that sounds more like fiction than real life and an assassination.  The medical practices of the era are enough to give you cringe. This national best seller is hard to put down as was her other book “The River of Doubt” about Theodore Roosevelt’s trip down the Amazon.

History buffs – read a fabulous story about a little known president.


The Last Train to Paradise – Les Standiford 2002

When you driving through the Florida Keys you can often see remnants of the railroad that once made its’ way to Key West. I was interested and found this book detailing the history of the Florida East Coast Railway which was built beginning in the 1880s from Jacksonville and finally reaching Key West in 1912. The owner and visionary was Henry Flagler who was a partner with John D. Rockefeller in founding Standard Oil Company.  The railroad led to the development of Palm Beach, Miami and most of the Florida east coast.

This is a well written history of how one man’s vision led to the opening of much of Florida to the rest of the world.

Soft Edge 

The Soft Edge – Rich Karlgaard 2014
Sub title: Where great companies find lasting success
It is so easy for CEOs and senior leaders to focus on the strategy and then get our heads stuck in the metrics which, to a point, usually produces good results. But if we miss the softer side like building an organization of trust and creating an environment where teams function effectively we fail to capture the creativity of our people which is where the best new ideas reside.  The author has done a wonderful job describing the softer side with scores of excellent examples. Many of the stories in the book could become springboards for leadership discussions in your business.

Business leaders – this one is for you – best business book of the year.

 Bitter Brew

Bitter Brew  - William Knoedelseder 2012
Read about five generations of the most famous beer dynasty in the world – the Buschs. It is the story of 150 years of St Louis beer production from 1858 until the final sale of the company in 2008. There are lessons to be learned about quality, completion and sales promotion. However the greatest lessons are about family relations and mostly poor parenting.

Reads like a novel and unfortunately has a sad ending but I simply could not put it down.


The Everything Store - Brad Stone 2013
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is turning retail distribution on its head. He is re-writing the playbook on getting merchandise in the hands of consumers. The book business was just the starting point. The goal is simply to sell everything to everybody which may sound crazy but Amazon is on that path. Bezos is smart, aggressive, insensitive, ruthless and maybe a little crazy. If your career is engaged in any aspect of producing and selling consumer products you better know what Amazon is doing and where it is going.

Business people – this is a must read.

 Smart Kids

The Smartest Kids in the World – Amanda Ripley 2013
If you are as concerned about the education our kids are receiving in this country you will get a real eye opening from Ms. Ripley.  She looks at public education in other countries through the eyes of USA exchange students and exposes enormous gaps.  Many of the differences are staggering and the biggest is probably the cultural issue which might be the hardest of all to overcome.  It is going to take a lot of courageous leadership to reform our education system to catch up with so many countries that have gotten so far ahead.

And it is just possible that our economic future is riding on our ability to change.


The Snowden Files – Luke Harding 2014
This is the fast moving story of Edward Snowden filled with all sorts of cloak and dagger happenings. Learn about all the characters behind the scenes, mostly from the press, who helped Snowden stay out of the hands of the officials and get published only those things that did not put individuals in danger. Read about  the British spooks smashing computers in the offices of the Guardian in London. Regardless of your feelings for Snowden the story is fascinating. 

I could not put it down.  Is he a hero or a traitor – let me know your thoughts.

 The Myth

The Myth of America's Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies – Josef Joffe 2013
Worried about the economic future of America? You will soon forget it when you read this book. The author clearly outlines why China will not overtake America now or any time in the foreseeable future. America’s success revolves around our inherent political and economic freedom which simply does not exist in China. No freedom equals no innovation which means declining growth and maybe worse. Plus we have population growth and they have a rapidly aging population. Our current situation is similar to early 1980s comparison with Japan when so many thought Japan would soon rule the world economically.

Read and you will feel good about your country and your business future.

The Tragedy of Liberation 

The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957 - Frank Dikotter 2013

This is a new and well researched story about the revolution and the early years of rule by the communists in China.  It is a dramatic story of social upheaval and the subsequent transformation of hundreds of millions of lives through violence, intimidation and broken promises. The cruelty and unnecessary loss of life is staggering. This is another example of why single party governments always fail. Dikötter is an excellent author telling a frightening story of one the worst chapters in world history.

 Extortion: And politicians

Extortion: And how politicians extract your money, buy votes and, line their own pockets - Peter Schweizer 2013

The title of this book is an accurate description of its contents and a story that will make you want to scream. The degree of legal “corruption” is simply overwhelming.  No matter what industry you are in, sooner or later you will wind up “paying to play.”  And it is all legal!

Just let me walk away

Just let me walk away – Ray Clark 2011

My friend Ray Clark has written about his experiences as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. The story is realistic, suspenseful and often humorous.  If you want to know what life was like in those years in the air over Viet Nam this should be on your reading list. This book is exciting, fast moving and easy to read.
If you like adventure and/or military stories you will love this one.

Be the Best

Be the best at what matters most – Joe Calloway 2013

What a great book about business leadership. Joe covers the basics on so many of the core topics we all need to run any business.  The sections on strategy, branding, and culture are excellent. He keeps it simple, clear and to the point without a bevy of unnecessary words.  This is an excellent book for understanding how to operate any business large or small.

New in a business leadership role? This book is for you.

Modern Age: henry Ford

I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford – Richard Snow 2013
This is a fabulous story of how one man revolutionized our mode of travel and subsequently our way of life. Henry Ford built an inexpensive car when the competitors were all building heavy very expensive models. Ford continually drove down unit costs and manufactured using the first modern assembly line. The book also covers some of the darker sides of Ford and his relationships with others.

Learn about the foundation of modern industrial production.

Without reservations

Without Reservations – J. W. “Bill” Marriott 2012

Bill Marriott tells stories and talks about the success of the company his father started in 1927. His leadership stories are down to earth and applicable to leadership everywhere. Through the stories about starting new businesses, acquisitions and divestitures there is a lot to be learned about how important it is for business leaders to keep the organization focused the core competency and not venture off into peripheral ventures.

Read this book to learn about the very best in corporate leadership.

What to expect

What to expect when no one’s expecting - Jonathan V. Last 2013

Learn more about the huge demographic shift taking place all over the world and very specifically in the United States. Read about the statistics and the cultural changes driving the downward spiral in birth rates. There are a myriad of explanations for the change and it looks like little possibility of the trend reversing. The aging population will present challenges that we have not previously faced.

This is an easy to read and thought provoking book.


Thomas Jefferson–The Art of Power – Jon Meacham 2012

The book is an excellent biography of our third president and the first major one written since the confirmation of the Sally Hemings affair. The story is balanced, very well written and flows smoothly. It fairly covers his many accomplishments, his broad knowledge on so many topics as well as his personal fears and shortcomings.  The book confirmed for me that Jefferson was the best thinker among our founding fathers.

If have you have the time and like to read history,  you will love this one.

                                                      The Coming Jobs War - Jim Clifton 2011
Jim Clifton, Chairman of the Gallup organization, speaks with the statistics to support his conclusions. He makes a strong case for the importance of creating high quality jobs in order to maintain our leadership position in the world.  Clifton says that if we are to stay at the front of the pack we must change our attitudes about work and encourage our entrepreneurs. We need to learn to get close to customers worldwide and then market to them subsequently tripling our exports.  It is also imperative that we solve our K-12 educational system if we are going to develop good jobs.  And on the financial front we will bankrupt the country if we don’t  overhaul our approach to healthcare by changing behaviors which is the only real path to solve the healthcare problem.

If you care about the future of the United States read this book right away.
Freedom's Forge

Freedom’s Forge – Arthur Herman 2012

Freedom’s Forge is the story of how America’s free enterprise industrial base grew from the malaise of the depression to supply the world with the munitions that quickly defeated the Axis powers and brought World War II to an end.  This is a fabulous tale of the men who transformed the machinery that built cars, refridgerators, roads and dams into one that built guns, tanks, ships and airplanes in staggering quantities. And it was all done in a few years and all by free enterprise business leaders with government funds but amazingly little government interference.

It makes you proud to be an American.


The People’s Money - Scott Rasmussen 2011

Great insight into what Americans really believe – filled with facts about how voters feel on key issues. It will give you some hope for the future of our country.

The real challenge for America is how to get the Political Class out of government and get real people into government.

 Reckless Endangerment

Reckless Endangerment - Morgenson & Rosner 2011

This is a rundown of the financial meltdown with details, specific stories and names of all the key players. Greed, lack of ethics, stupidity and naiveté all play important roles in this sad and at times humorous story of staggering incompetence. The politicians started the mess by pushing impossible policies of home ownership for nearly everyone and then the bureaucrats put in place impossible lending policies. Next the mortgage brokers go crazy giving mortgages to anyone with a pulse and then the greedy Wall Street bankers buy the bad mortgages and pawn them off on any investor who will hold still long enough. On top of that the regulators are mostly out to lunch and the few who do speak up are ignored.

The writing is excellent and unfortunately the author’s conclusion is that this could happen all over again someday.
New Deal or Raw Deal – Burton Folsom, Jr. 2008

Each of the key programs is reviewed with an analysis of impact on people and the economy. It is hard to find a single initiative that had any sway bringing the economy back on track and in many cases the opposite occurred. It is almost comical the way those programs were conceived as if in a chemistry lab trying to experiment by combining chemicals.
The parallels between the actions of our government under Roosevelt and under the current administration are stark.

The New Deal was an overwhelming economic failure and today we are pursuing many of the same policies.

The Checklist Manifesto 
The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande 2009

The author makes a very strong case for the use of checklists in medicine, transportation and many business situations. It is clear how the checklist process is a key factor in the incredible safety in air transportation and how its use in the operating room can make the difference between life and death. This is important reading for all professionals and particularly for those involved in critical processes that require quick response.

Don’t miss this book.

Coming Apart – The State of White America, 1960-2010 – Charles Murray 2012
“Coming Apart” will make you stand up and take notice of the increasing divide in our society between the upper class and the growing lower class.  You should get upset about the growing damage done to our traditional societal values by government actions and handouts. You will see clearly and statistically why the standard husband and wife family unit is by far the best way to raise children. The book paints a pretty dismal picture of the direction of our society – one that we all see but seldom talk about. There is hope and it all centers on those of us in roles of influence talking about our values and beliefs loudly and regularly regardless of pressures from anywhere.

In other words – preach what you believe in.
Declaration of Independents - Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch (2011)
Two outspoken libertarians walk us through a raft of political messes of recent decades and through the many technological changes that now give us each a stronger voice in our future.  The writing is fast moving and often very funny.

Hard to put down if you love our country and share my libertarian viewpoints.

The Great A&P – Marc Levinson (2011)

This is a great story about the history of modern retailing. It chronicles the founding of A&P in the 1850s through its ascent to become and maintain its position as the world’s largest retailer for more than four decades. The parallels to the modern day Wal*Mart are simply fascinating.  Both focus on low prices/high volume, efficiencies in every aspect of operations, loyalty between company and employees, eliminating the middle man, and avoiding political engagement in the early years.  There are also lessons to be learned about ferocious governmental attacks on business and the sad story of a lack of management succession planning.

Retailers: You’ll have had time putting this one down.
Car Guys vs. Bean Counters - Bob Lutz (2011)

This is another great expose about the automobile industry from a career insider. Lutz covers the history, the successes and the fumbles with lots of criticism of both executives and processes and even defense of some recent events. There is a lot to learn about how corporate bureaucrats can practically paralyze the one time largest corporation in the world. The stories are insightful and Lutz's sense of humor will have you laughing out loud. 

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

The author tracks the life of a forgotten hero through the horror of World War II in the Pacific theatre and beyond. The true story reads like a novel - it is exciting, dramatic, mesmerizing and, in some scenes, horrifying. Hillenbrand has done a fabulous job telling an incredible story. 

Who - Geoff Smart and Randy Street (2008)

I met Geoff recently and that motivated me to read his book that has been languishing on my bookshelf for three years. 'Who' is a great how-to book on selecting the right people for the job. The most important decisions leaders make are people decisions and the process in this book is simple and very effective.

Read it and your selection skills will improve. 

The New Road to Serfdom - Daniel Hannan (2010)

This is an easy to read book written by a prominent Conservative British MP warning us not to follow the Obama path to European Union style social democracy. He outlines why the United States has been so successful and makes a very compelling case that if you don't stop the current trend we will wind up as another Europe.

Democrats: You won't like this book.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and The Business of Life -  Alice Schroeder (2008)

Learn how a single astute investor amassed one of the largest fortunes in the world and he did it all by practicing the highest degree of ethics. Read this book and you can't help ratcheting up your overall knowledge of business, but plan on spending serious time on this one - it's over 800 pages.

I rate this an accurate portrayal of the man's life. 

When I Stop Talking You'll Know I am Dead - Weintraub (2010)

A great autobiography of one of the most prolific promoters of our time - concert producer, movie maker, deal maker and world class entrepreneur. Jerry knows and works with all the big names - Presley, Sinatra, Gleason, Connery, and hundreds more. This is a fast moving rollicking story of a man with seemingly unlimited energy. 

Endurance - Shackelton's Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing (1959/2007)

This is the story of Ernest Shackelton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole. Follow the adventure of twenty seven men who survived eighteen months with limited supplies, watching their boat being crushed and simply learning how to live off the land. This is an exciting true story with a happy ending -- everyone survived. 

Gauntlet - Barbara Masin (2006)

Follow the true 1953 story of five young Czechs as they go on a month long journey to escape communism. Twenty thousand police and soldiers chase them through East Germany on their quest to reach Berlin and join the American forces who they hope will liberate their homeland. This is an exciting and suspenseful book that is almost impossible to put down.

American Colossus  
American Colossus - H.W. Brands (2010)

If you like to read history you will love this walk through American history that is usually glossed over in school. Read about Carnegie, Rockefeller, the railroad barrons, both honest and crooked politicians, union strikes, cattle drives, and rural to city migration. There are also heartbreaking stories about racism and the Indians. This is a history book that composed of stories that read like a novel.

Fortunes, Fiddles & Fried Chciken

Fortunes, Fiddles & Fried Chicken - Bill Carey (2000)

I just finished reading this wonderful history of Nashville business for the second time. If you are in business in Nashville this is “must read.” Learn about the great insurance companies, the birth of The Opry, Genesco, HCA, Ingram and a whole lot more.
The Year that Changed the World

The Year that Changed the World - Michael Meyer (2009)

Recent history, the year 1989, comes alive in this story of the emergence of Eastern European freedom and democracy that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Follow the developments in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries that culminated in the November fall of the wall.

It reads like a novel – I couldn’t put it down.

 Book - Wings Like Eagles
With Wings Like Eagles – Michael Korda (2009)

This is a wonderful account of The Battle of Britain. Learn how the Brits prepared for battle on the ground and in the air, how they first used radar to track German planes and how perseverance paid off.  This is story of daring Spitfire pilots beating the supposedly superior Luftwaffe.
 Book - Rational Optimist
The Rational Optimist  - Matt Ridley (2010)

If you want to read an inspirational book about our collective future this is it. The long term view of just about everything on our planet is and has been pointed in a positive direction for centuries. Improvement is everywhere – longer lives, healthier people, less violence, record low poverty and galloping breakthroughs in every aspect of our lives.

The future is brighter than ever before in human history no matter what the current news reports!

Crash Course – Paul Ingrassia (2010)

Take a century long walk through the American automobile manufacturing business from world leadership to self destruction. This is a fifty year roadmap of increasing and repetitive failure by some of the largest companies in the world.

Study carefully and pledge to yourself to do the opposite in your career.

 Book - Lies the Government Told You
Lies the Government Told You - Judge Andrew Napolitano (2010)

If you are a student and a believer of our constitution as it was originally conceived this book will get you fired up. The Judge delivers detailed specific evidence of seventeen big lies our government has told us over the years.

As a patriotic libertarian this book has inspired me to speak out more than ever on the issues of constitutionality.  

 Books - Gridlock
Gridlock – Randall O’Toole (2010)

This is a fact filled book about our transportation systems and how they can be made more efficient and responsive. It is about how free market improvements that pay for themselves can increase everyone’s mobility

It is also a big warning about the financial lunacy of building more passenger rail transportation – a good read for every politician.

 Book - Heart to Serve
A Heart to Serve – William Frist MD (2009)

There is whole lot more to Senator Bill Frist than most of us realize. He is a world class heart surgeon, citizen senator who returned as promised after two terms and a contributor to society in more ways than you can count.

By the time you reach the end of the book you will be inspired to drive yourself to achieve more in life.

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What's Your Learning Agenda?


  • Business Week, Forbes or Fortune, Tip: Ask for a subscription for your birthday!
  • Trade magazines in your industry
  • Nashville Business Journal, or a similar market journal


  • In Search of Excellence - Tom Peters & Robert Waterman
  • Good to Great - Jim Collins
  • The One Minute Manager- Ken Blanchard
  • Nuts (about Southwest Airlines) - Kevin & Jackie Freiberg
  • Indispensable or Becoming a Category of One - Joe Calloway

Personal Development

  • You are the Message - Roger Ailes
  • What Got You Here Won’t Get you There - Marshall Goldsmith
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman
  • Difficult Conversations - Douglas Stone
  • QBQ! The Question Behind the Question - John G. Miller
  • Now Discover Your Strengths - Marcus Buckingham
  • The Five Temptations of a CEO - Patrick Lencioni
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
  • Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

 Emerging Issues

  • The Post American World - Fareed Zakaria
  • The Empty Cradle - Phillip Longman (or books on demographics)
  • Green to Gold (winning and being green) - Andrew Winston


  • Choose business leaders who have excelled in your industry
  • Choose successful people like Sam Walton and Jack Welch


  • American history first - understand how the U.S was built
  • Read about the countries that you trade with
  • Read about China and India 

The Retail Business World

  • Sam Walton, Made in America - Sam Walton with John Huey
  • The Wal*Mart Way - Don Soderquist
  • Built from Scratch, the Home Depot story - Bernie Marcus & Arthur Blank



Executive Education - The Scarlett Leadership Institute

Beacon Center of Tennessee

Promoting awareness/discussion of Global Ethics

Marshall Goldsmith helps successful leaders become even better!

The Soderquist Center – Promoting Leadership and Ethics

Doug Stone tackles “Difficult Conversations”

Mimi Bliss prepares you to speak with confidence and credibility when the stakes are high