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General Thoughts:
The average US citizen reads one book a year.  The books on this list represent a mix that I find helpful in order to get a broad picture.  Marketing, branding and public relations requires an open mind, a willingness to suspend disbelief, and an enormous amount of interest in different cultures, ideas, designs, and beliefs.  Usually, the best in this field, the truly creative types, are right brain dominant.  That’s the part of the brain that loves big ideas and endless possibilities. This reading is for the Jack-of-all-Trades types.  The linear experts in specific fields will end up reading one section and become expert in that area—that’s great too.  All are welcome.  Enjoy.  (Oh, by the way…no TV)


Daily Reading: Always

  • "The Almanac of American Philanthropy," Karl Zinsmeister [Read one chapter a night]

  • "Whatever It Takes," Moadad with Dan Zadra

  • "Speeches That Changed the World,” Published by Smith-Davies [Read part of a speech each day, run through the whole book, and then start over.]

The Futurist Books:
This is not science fiction Jules Vern stuff.  These books are scenario books.  They give glimpses into what could happen in the future and/or trends that these authors have begun to notice.  Try and read the older books first and work towards the most recent.  This will give you a historic perspective and an appreciation for what has already come to pass. One other note: I have pals who read the same kinds of books and we tip each other off when a great new one comes on the market.  If you have a few, then please email and let me know your favorites. (I have listed them in order of most recent.) 


  • "Rise of The Robots," Martin Ford

  • "What Should We Be Worried About," John Brockman

  • “The Signal and the Noise,” Nate Silver

  • "The World in 2050", Laurence C. Smith

  • "The Third Teacher," OWP/P Architects+VS Furniture+Bruce Mau Design

  • “Micro Trends," Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalensne

  • “Everyware, The Dawning age of Ubiquitous Computing," Adam Greenfield

  • “Radical Evolution, The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies--and What it Means to be Human,” Joel Garreau

  • “The Experience Economy, Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage,” B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore

  • “The Art of the Long View, Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World,” Peter   Schwartz

  • “The World in 2020 Power, Culture and Prosperity,” Hamish McRae

  • “Fuzzy Logic, The Discovery of a Revolutionary Computer Technology – and how it is Changing Our World,” Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger



Product Marketing:

  • “Made to Stick , Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” Chip Heath & Dan Heath

  • “Design of Things to Come," Craig M Vogel, Jonathan Cagan, Peter Boatwright

  • "Stirring It Up, How to Make Money and Save the Planet," Gary Hirshberg


Right Brain Must Reads:

  • "Curious," Ian Leslie

  • "The Social Animal," David Brooks

  • “The Art of the Idea,” John Hunt

  • “The Power of Impossible Thinking,” Yoram (Jerry) Wind & Colin Crook

  • “Change by Design,” Tim Brown

  • “Creative Intelligence,” Alan J. Rowe

  • "Imagine," Jonah Lehrer

  • "What the Dog Saw," Malcolm Gladwell

  • "How We Decide," Jonah Lehrer

  • “Outliers, The Story of Success,” Malcolm Gladwell

  • "Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ," Daniel Goleman

  • "The Introvert Advantage, How to Thrive in an Extrovert World," Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D.

  • “Frederick,” Leo Lionni (The shortest book on the whole list & the best!)

  • “A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,” Daniel H. Pink

  • “Massive Change,” Bruce Mau

  • “Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” Malcolm Gladwell

  • “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” Betty Edwards

  • “A Guide to Rational Living,” Albert Ellis & Robert A. Harper

  • “Let Your Life Speak,” Parker J. Palmer



Business Books:

The only books that one really needs to read areNicomachean Ethics by Aristotle and the Natural Way of Lao Tzu.  The rest all have interesting views, original ways of improving how to run a business, how to manage people (well), and how to get ahead of the pack. Begin to notice how many times Tom Peters is quoted in books and notice that many authors in different groups quote or talk about many of the same people.  Also look at the progression and the difference between Peters’ style twenty years ago and now. 

  • “The Creator’s Code,” Amy Wilkinson

  • “Decisive,” Chip & Dan Heath

  • “Thanks for the Feedback,” Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

  • “Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,”Greg McKeown

  • “Copy This!” Paul Orfalea

  • “The Truth About Trust,” David DeSteno, PhD

  • “The Art of Non-Conformity,” Chris Guillebeau

  • “The $100 Startup,” Chris Guillebeau

  • “The Opposable Mind,” Roger Martin

  • “The Medici Effect,” Frans Johansson

  • “Top Dog, The Science of Winning and Losing” Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

  • “Wired to Care, How companies prosper when they create widespread empathy” Dev Patrnaik with Peter Mortensen

  • "What Would Google Do?," Jeff Jarvis

  • "The Power of a Positive Attitude," Roger Fritz

  • “In Search of Excellence,” Tom Peters [read before Re-Imagine!]

  • “Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age,” Tom Peters

  • “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” Harvey Mackay

  • “Bringing Out the Best in People,” Aubrey C. Daniels

  • “First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

  • “New Rules for the New Economy, 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World,” Kevin Kelly

  • “Trout on Strategy, Capturing Mindshare, conquering Markets,” Jack Trout

  • “Alpha Dogs, How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of the Pack,” Donna Fenn

  • “Contented Cows, The Plain Truth About Employee Relations and Your Bottom Line,” Bill Catlette & Richard Hadden

  • “Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

  • “Selling the Invisible” Harry Beckworth

  • “Maximum Leadership,The World’s Leading CEOs Share Their Five Strategies for Success,” Charles M. Farkas & Philippe De Backer

  • “Search Engine Optimization, An Hour A Day,” Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin

  • “Coach Yourself to Success, 101 Tips from a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals,” Talane Miedander

  • “Create Your Own Future, How to Master the 12 Critical Factors of Unlimited Success,” Brian Tracy

  • “How to Argue and Win Every Time,” Gerry Spence

  • “The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders,” John H. Zenger & Joseph Folkman

  • “The Power of Full Engagement, Managing Energy, Not Time, Is Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal,” Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz


Umbrella Marketing:

  • “Twitter Marketing an Hour a Day,” Hollis Thomases


A lot has been written about this workplace conundrum.  I see creative people open to all ages, types, sizes, and colors - as equals - as long as they think outside the box, love to brainstorm, and consider no new idea too strange.  Still there have been a few interesting studies and books written about the subject of generational differences. The first, Generations, takes a while to wade through, and Aging Well is a much faster read.  It is also interesting that Aging Well discusses a longitudinal study and how the cultural beliefs held during the various questioning of the participants over 80 years skewed the results.  So all of these theories should be taken with a grain of salt, andthere are some general interesting conclusions that seem to be drawn universally throughout each of the following books.  Enjoy.


  • “Generations,” William Strauss and Neil Howe

  • “Aging Well,” George E. Vaillant. M.D.

  • “Geeks & Geezers, How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders,” Warren G. Bennis & Robert J. Thomas

  • “Generations at Work,” Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, & Bob Filipczak


Writing Advice: Do it Often and Keep a Journal

  • "Writing Down the Bones," Natalie Goldberg

  • "Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome WORDS,"Bill Bryson

  • “The Elements of Style,” William I. Strunk, Jr., & E.B. White

  • “The Elements of Editing, A Modern Guide for Editors and Journalists,” Arthur Plotnik

  • “The Elements of Grammar,” Margaret Shertzer

  • “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” Lynne Truss

  • “Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamott

  • “Thinking Like Your Editor, How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published,” Susan Rabiner & Alfred Fortunato


The Merits of Books About Famous People:
Most leaders have interesting stories.  Presidents, generals, politicians, leaders of huge corporations and famous coaches find remarkable ways to lead people and take hard knocks and keep coming back for more.  Great leaders see the big ideas.  They inspire me whether they have won or lost. I’d say just start with one leader that you’ve heard about and then just keep going. I had the great fortune of meeting Ed Rendell at a reception in Philadelphia and when he saw my nametag, he said, “Hey, trade me.”  I still have that nametag safely tucked away in one of my journals.  Then shortly after that day of being Ed Rendell, I saw that Rendell’s favorite book was Atlas Shrugged so I read that book (and loved it).  Then I heard about A Prayer for the City and how he changed Philadelphia and I read that book.  That’s kind of how I find these books.  I moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia and I read about all of the leaders, North and South, of the Civil War.  If you like sports start with Walsh, Wooden and Holtz.  Maybe read a book about every president.

  • “A Prayer for the City,” Buzz Bissinger

  • Make your own list, just get going.


Etiquette: It never goes out of style no matter what may be politically correct.

  • “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuck

  • “365 Thank Yous,” John Kralik

  • “The Art of the Handwritten Note,” Margaret Sheperd

  • "One Minute Manners," Ann Marie Sabath

  • "Anything," Letitia Baldrige

  • "Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers," Walter Hoving


Worthy Fiction:
Each one of these books and authors has had a major influence on my way of thinking.

  • “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Mark Twain

  • “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand

  • “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll

  • “The Hobbit,” J.R.R. Tolkien

  • “As I Lay Dying,” William Faulkner

  • “Deliverance,” James Dickey

  • “Trout Fishing in America,” Richard Brautigan


Stories: Empathy & Humor – a great asset of the creative mind.

  • “The Incredible Journey,” Shelia Burnford

  • “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson

  • “Tuesdays with Morrie, An Old Man, A Young Man, and the Last Great Lesson,” Mitch Albom

  • “About Alice,” Calvin Trillin



  • The Wall Street Journal

  • The Sunday New York Times

  • The Saturday Investor’s Business Daily



  • The Harvard Business Review

  • AdWeek

  • Inc.


  • Fast Company


  • Ad AGE






Marilynn Mendell - WinSpin CIC
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