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Hello BfT fans! As promised, I am blogging the contents of Episode 1. I am also including the links I spoke about in the video, as well as a few extra gems.


Book One: Biography / Autobiography

This week: Road to Power: How GM's Mary Barra Shattered the Glass Ceiling

  • Written by Laura Colby
  • Published by Bloomberg Press
  • Fuqua School of Business Distinguished Speaker Series

Extra link: Interview with Mary Barra

This interview is from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Distinguished Speaker Series. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fuqua, it is one of the most prestigious and influential business schools in the United States. In this interview, Mary shares quite a few interesting stories as well as gives some great pointers about important elements of business, like decision making. 

I know a lot of you are thinking, Mary who? Why should I read about her? Why aren’t you suggesting Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates? Well, because they have been written about to infinity and back and you have them on your radar. Remember, our goal is to turn you onto great books that are not already on every top ten list. 

Mary’s story is the embodiment of the American dream, come true. There’s a lot to learn from her triumphs, and even more so from her trials. Mary was the CEO of General Motors during the massive recall scandal of 2014. This put her under intensive scrutiny and many of the most influential players in the auto-industry were all too keen to set fire to the up and coming female powerhouse’s credibility. This biography will show you what Mary did well and what she didn’t. It will help you understand more about the on-going fight for women to occupy top positions in business, which is an important issue for anyone in business, not only women, and it serves as proof that, when you work hard and smart, the sky’s the limit. 

Book Two: “In the words of an Expert”

This week: 40 Chances: Finding hope in a Hungry World

  • Written by Howard G. and Howard W. Buffet
  • With Foreword by Warren Buffet
  • Published by Simon & Schuster

Link: 40 Chances Website 

I am certain that many of you will peruse this website, at least once, and I am willing to bet that all of you who read the book will surf this site in detail! 

What would you do if you were given $3 billion with the condition that you had to use all of it to help solve a global problem, in 40 years? That’s exactly what business celebrity Warren Buffet proposed to his son, Howard. 40 Chances allows us to follow Howard across the globe as he opens his heart and his wallet in search of significant solutions to one of the world’s most difficult and devastating problems: hunger. 

Every chapter is its own story and pertains to one of the 40 years that Howard had to accomplish his mission.  From conversations with drug lords in war zones to the Buffet family farm, Howard’s narrative will undoubtedly spark a new mentality and you’ll want to plan out your own 40 chances. In fact, so many have been inspired that there’s even a webpage to help you plan as well as read about the plans that others have made. 

Book Three: Guidance and Orientation

This week: What Management Is: How it works and why it's everyone's business

  • Written by Joan Magretta
  • Published by Free Press (Simon & Schuster)

Extra Link: Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy 

Magretta has also been praised for her guide to the theories of well-known business strategist, Michael Porter. This read takes you quite a few steps further than the basics.  

As former chief editor for the Harvard Business Review, Magretta has read nearly every business book under the sun and she’s gleaned all the useful bits into one, concise volume. Hailed as the “new bible for management” and a perfect introduction for the beginner, What Management Is will teach you exactly that.  Seasoned executives also love this guide and deem it an excellent “refresher course” for people who are already in the game.  Magretta’s writing is simple, clear, and engaging. When you’re done with this one, you’ll feel well informed and ready to get started!  

Book Four: Inspiring and Informative Fiction

This week: The Martian

  • Written by Andy Weir
  • Published by Random House

Extra Link: Business Insider Article: NASA’s top planetary scientist told us what he thinks of the science in the Oscar-nominated film 'The Martian'

You might wonder if Mark Watney’s ingenious ideas are actually plausible in today’s world or if they are simply solutions that can only occur within the realms of Sci-Fi. Read the article to find out! 

Did you know this was a book before it became a movie that’s got Matt Damon in it? You probably already know the storyline: astronaut Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars after an accident and uses his scientific knowledge to survive while he and NASA coordinate to get him back to Earth.  What does this have to do with business? So much! Agility within a business context requires all of the qualities that Watney relies on while he figures out how to endure on an inhospitable planet. 

He is the poster child for remaining calm in stressful situations. This allows him to use his head and take stock. Once he sees what he has available, he determines how to use it in the most effective way; this ability to identify needs and use what’s accessible to create solutions is crucial for successful business people. Watney uses his creativity to improvise when his plans go awry and if he didn’t have stellar communication skills, he wouldn’t have been able to work with NASA and get home. All in all, we have more than a few excellent examples of the qualities that you’ll need to be a great leader in enterprise. 

And that’s, that, folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the selection and feel free to send your comments and suggestions our way! We’ll do our best to take them on board! Take care, and we’ll see you again the 15th  of next month!