Must Reads

The Inspired Protagonist’s Reading List

These books have inspired me, challenged me and taught me – I hope you find them as enjoyable as I have.

The list includes the books I’ve read over the past few years that have most profoundly shaped my frame of reference on the world, the challenges we face and where the most promising opportunities lie.

  1. Presence, by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty S. Flowers
  2. The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics by Riane Eisler
  3. America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy by Gar Alperovitz
  4. Slower by Design, Not Disaster: Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster: Advances in Ecological Economics by Peter A Victor;
  5. The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing From Crisis to Sustainability, by James Gustave Speth
  6. The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker by Steven Greenhouse
  7. Capitalism as if the World Matters by Jonathan Porritt
  8. Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus
  9. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  10. The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals And The Next Episode Of Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin
  11. Revolutionary Wealth: How It Will Be Created and How It Will Change Our Lives by Alvin and Heidi Toffler
  12. Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski and Betty S. Flowers
  13. A Company of Citizens: What the World’s First Democracy Teaches by Brook Manville and Josiah Ober
  14. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus
  15. Creating Wealth, Growing Local Economies with Local currencies Gwendolyn Hallsmith & Bernard Lietaer
  16. Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson.
  17.  Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges

 Classic Books on Sustainable Business and Best Practices:

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins October 2000, Back Bay Books

Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, Herman E. Daly, Paperback, August 1997 Beacon Press Books

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies; Collins, JC and Porras, JI, Random House 1995

Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, John Elkington, Capstone1997, Can capitalism be sustainable? Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?

The Chrysalis Economy, How Citizen CEOs and Corporations Can Fuse Values and Value Creation; John Elkington, Capstone Publishing Ltd.; London; 2001.

The Civil Corporation:  The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship; Simon Zadek, Earthscan Publications Ltd.; London and Sterling, VA; 2001.

Corporate Citizenship; Malcolm McIntosh, Deborah Leipziger, Keith Jones and Gill Coleman, Financial Times and Pittman Publishing; London; 1998.

Cradle-to-Cradle: Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Wisdom on designing products, companies, and systems that embrace true sustainable thinking, from two of the leading practitioners.

Value Shift: Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Results, Harvard Business School Professor Lynn Sharp Paine’s groundbreaking 2002 book.

Planet Home: living green

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in book review, environment, green living, inspiration & reflection, Jeffrey Hollender articles, Must Reads, social responsibility, Sustainability, systems thinking | 0 comments

Planet Home is a guide to going green, but this book goes a step further and challenges readers to think deeply about how our actions and purchases are part of a much larger planetary system than we may be aware of. This book was written in 2010, but it is just as, if not more, potent now in 2015. Making ‘green’ the new normal goes beyond the material, and must spur a new consciousness of the environmental impact of any once choice; we must be aware of a larger picture where each choice benefits or harms not only our selves, but affects...

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How Multi-National Business Holds the US Economy Hostage

Posted by on Jan 10, 2013 in book review, economics, Must Reads | 4 comments

In Jeffrey Sachs’ new book, The Price of Civilization, he states in no uncertain terms that the US economy is held hostage to a narrow group of corporate interests. ”Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth,” he says. Sachs...

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The Startup Playbook

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in book review, Business Strategy, inspiration & reflection, Must Reads | 4 comments

Fantastic new book out today that I highly recommend by entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author David S. Kidder called THE STARTUP PLAYBOOK: The Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups From Their Founding Entrepreneurs.  Kidder shares the raw experiences of some of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs and CEOs, revealing their philosophies and strategies for winning in complex and unforgiving marketplaces. Drawing on his unprecedented access to these men and women in addition to his own experiences as founder of three...

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Learning to Change the World: The Social Impact of One Laptop Per Child

Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in Must Reads, social entrepreneurs, systems thinking | 2 comments

Just released today, Learning to Change the World by Charles Kane, Walter Bender, Jody Cornish and Neal Donahue delves into the implications of one of the largest social entrepreneurial initiatives, One Laptop Per Child. From Amazon’s description: Learning to Change the World is the story of One Laptop per Child—a story that will resonate with entrepreneurs and social innovators in any field. OLPC is an example of a non-profit organization with aspirations for systemic change on a global scale, yet wrestling with tough questions...

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Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts by Lawrence Lessig

Posted by on Jul 23, 2012 in economics, Must Reads | 2 comments

“There is a feeling today among too many Americans that we might not make it. Not that the end is near, or that doom is around the corner, but that a distinctly American feeling of inevitability, of greatness—culturally, economically, politically—is gone. That we have become Britain. Or Rome. Or Greece. A generation ago Ronald Reagan rallied the nation to deny a similar charge: Jimmy Carter’s worry that our nation had fallen into a state of “malaise.” I was one of those so rallied, and I still believe that Reagan was right. But...

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America the Possible?

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Corporate Responsibility, economics, environment, equity and justice, Must Reads, Sustainability, systems thinking | 1 comment

Guess which country I’m describing? This country has: • the highest poverty rate, both generally and for children; • the greatest inequality of incomes; • the lowest social mobility; • the lowest score on the UN’s index of “material well-being of children”; • the worst score on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index; • the highest carbon dioxide emissions and the highest water consumption per capita; • the lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of national income (except for...

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What I’m Reading: We’re More Unequal Than You Think

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in equity and justice, Must Reads | 0 comments

Andrew Hacker, writing in The New York Times Review of Books, reviews a collection of books on social inequality, including one of my all time favorites, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. His review also covers: The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good by Robert H. Frank The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics by Thomas Byrne Edsall Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others by James Gilligan The first paragraph of his...

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What I’m Reading: Crowdsourcing Management Reviews; The Co-operative Advantage; Why We Need an Entrepreneurial Presidency

Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 in Business Strategy, Corporate Responsibility, economics, employee ownership, equity and justice, inspiration & reflection, Must Reads | 3 comments

As I was writing The Responsibility Revolution, it gave me the opportunity to take an inside look at Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life – and, in particular, into one of their most compelling business practices: community review of executives. At Linden, the process was simple. Their CEO used SurveyMonkey to send out a questionnaire that asked: 1) Do you want to keep me or find a new CEO?; 2) Over the last three months, did I get better at this job or worse; and 3) Why? It’s the kind of open and transparent community that makes a...

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What I’m Reading: 3 Must-Have Sustainability Apps; B-Corps in CA; Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Takes on “Big Guys”

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in Business Strategy, Corporate Responsibility, Must Reads, Sustainability | 2 comments

Starting this month (and continuing every week), I’m sharing with you, every Friday, what I’m reading for the week – what intrigues me, inspires me, ignites me, irritates me – and what just makes me angry. I hope it will inspire you to read something new, and in turn, I hope you will share interesting news and reads with me. So, here goes: On the Forum for the Future blog, Sally Yuren, deputy chief executive of the organization, explores three must-have “apps” for sustainability practitioners to be mindful of in 2012. I’m partial...

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A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 in articles, Corporate Responsibility, economics, employee ownership, environment, equity and justice, inspiration & reflection, leadership, management, Must Reads, Sustainability, systems thinking | 2 comments

Al Gore and David Blood, his partner in the multi-billion private equity fund, Generation Investment Management, recently opined on “How businesses can embrace environmental, social and governance metrics,” on the Op-Ed page of The Wall Street Journal, an unlikely location for such a conversation – but, just the place it should be happening. Their narrative is spot on, worthy of reading if only to remind us of the basics that must guide us out of our current economic and environmental mess. Much of the essence of their plea is focused...

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