By: sapna malhotra

Winter 2018 Issue

In an age where bite-sized content usually dominates our social feeds, leaders are reminded that longer-form content still has an important role in education. When Warren Buffet was once asked about the keys to success, he pointed to a stack of books: "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."

As part of my own content development efforts, I launched the CanInnovate Podcast last year to highlight Canadian innovators that are changing the game in their respective fields. A surprising benefit of this experience has been getting some terrific book recommendations from my interviewees: both new and old material. 

I compiled this list, which should come in handy during our cold Canadian winter. We can always use some inspiration, especially from innovators who are crushing the competition in their respective industries. Below are some book recommendations, along with the Canadian leaders who recommended them. 

1. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
Dr. Ann Cavoukian mentioned this book to me: she read it many moons ago, but the book still left a massive impression on her. Dr. Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world’s leading privacy experts: she’s consulted with Facebook, the European Union, and many others on privacy. So, hearing about a book that still resonates with her makes this a worthwhile read.

The book explores a variety of concrete techniques to turn passivity into assertiveness. The tips can be applied to any situation, whether it's business or personal. I’ve even noticed lately that there has been a few mid-twenty somethings from the UK sharing this book on Instagram, demonstrating its value across different generations. 

2. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Jake Phillips, one of the co-founders of Elastic Thinking, highly recommended this book; in fact, he suggested that it be introduced in high-school curriculums. The book provides a solid framework of how to get things fully executed in an organization with accountability and full transparency. It’s an oldie but a goodie. If you check Amazon, it pairs with Good to Great by Jim Collins (also on the list below).

3. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Yves Le Goff, also a co-founder of Elastic Thinking, recommends this book. He raved about this publication and said he’s addicted to the Freakonomics podcast. This book provides a different way of thinking, and it may inspire some creativity in your life, business, and career. 

4. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity by Kim Scott
Ray Kanani, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Coffee’s on Me, highly recommends this book, a must-read for those who want to be a better boss and a better colleague. According to Scott, a great boss 'cares personally' and 'challenges directly'.  Following that approach will help leaders create a culture of feedback (both criticism and praise), build a cohesive team, and achieve great results. The stories are hilarious, with plenty of valuable insights.

5. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
This book was highly recommended by Marc LaFleur from TruLocal, who feels this book is a must-read for anyone in the services industry. Tony Hsieh is mostly known for his unique approach to leadership as CEO of Zappos. The book illuminates his unique approach to customer experience and corporate culture, which led to Amazon purchasing Zappos for over a billion dollars in 2009.  

6. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Ben Walters, one of the co-founders of the Feedback App, recommends this great read, once featured by Oprah as one of her 'favourite things'. The book takes the reader on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and emphasizes the importance of sitting still and clearing the mind. Silencing the mind to hear inner thoughts and fears can be a great tool to get them to the surface and help conquer them. If one New Year’s resolution is to practice mediation or mindfulness, this is an amazing read!

7. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
This book was recommended by both Rob Catalano from WorkTango and Jake Phillips from Elastic Thinking, as well as a number of business schools. It focuses on the secret ingredient that makes companies amazing: spoiler alert , it’s the company’s culture. There is so much valuable insight that no matter where the stage of life, the reader will get some value. It helps companies become more innovative, inventive, and creative, and create an environment where all employees are singing the same tune, motivated to make their place of employment something they're proud of. 

8. Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman
Not to be mistaken for the movie of the same name, this is another recommendation from Ben Walters from the Feedback App. Ben won the WeWork Pitch competition, so his recommendation carries additional weight here given the subject matter. Author Bill McGowan coaches some of the biggest names in business, sports and entertainment, including Jack Welch, Kenneth Cole, Eli Manning, and many more.

We all know the importance of being able to tell a story that really delivers a reaction: this is another must-read for anyone who works with a start-up or those pitching for anything.  

9. Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
Marc LaFleur, CEO of TruLocal, highly recommends this book, stating that it was inspirational in helping him gain clarity of vision for his business, which is redefining the role of the traditional local butcher. Rocket Fuel examines the key roles of Visionary and Integrator in an organization, and outlines how a prosperous relationship between the two can help boost a business. 

10. How We Can Win: And What Happens to Us and Our Country If We Don’t by Anthony Lacavera and Kate Fillion
We had Anthony Lacavera on the CanInnovate podcast. This book received a stamp of approval from such well-known figures as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Michele Romnaow, from CBC’s Dragons’ Den. It's a great read about how we are perceived globally and what we need to do to be more competitive. This is one of the main reasons why I started this podcast

11. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Matt Fernandez, founder of Save with Sprout, recommended this book, which has been around for decades and was even a Woody Allen film. What is more impressive is how this book is still relevant today, even in the social media age. Dale Carnegie's Golden Rules of Success, include, "make the other person feel important  – and do it sincerely", which has been invaluable in my own career progression. It's still a useful book many years after its initial release.  

12. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
Matt Fernandez, of Save with Sprout, also highly recommends this book, which describes how Phil Knight put in every penny to make Nike happen. Knight truly believed in his vision and he openly shares his mistakes, challenges, and what it took to achieve success. We all know how the Nike story turns out at the end, but do we know where it all began?

These are the recommendations from some Canadian Innovators who are changing the game and conversation. I hope you find something new to inspire you and your journey in 2018. We are all innovations in progress: I'd love to hear your own thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

You can listen to the CanInnovate podcast on iTunesGooglePlayStitcher, SoundCloud, TuneIn RadioPodbeanYouTube and Spotify.

Sapna Malhotra brings more than two decades of domestic and international management consulting experience in sales and business operations in the technology, financial services, and telecommunications industries. She has significant experience in leading large-scale business and IT transformation programs to deliver consistent end-user experience in demanding and fast paced environments. Sapna is known for her constant industry curiosity and new and emerging technologies that will enable different industries to be on the forefront of this digital revolution. In June 2016, she started the Women Digital Network (WDN) in Canada with over 400 members and growing. Its focus is to enable digital literacy and mindset.

She has also started CanInnovate podcast focusing on Canadian innovators that are changing the game. She truly believes that education and awareness is instrumental in overcoming any obstacles and perception challenges both globally and locally. She is a globally recognized Certified Management Consultant (CMC), and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). She also holds certificate in Change Management Leadership, Lean Six Sigma accreditation and DevOps & UX Design foundation certifications. You can find Sapna walking / hiking & exploring new areas, trying to win the world’s greatest aunt award, discovering new brunch places, and inventing new recipes. Contact her at: Sapna@digiruptor.ca