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A List of 14 Books For CEOs

A List of 14 Books For CEOs

HAN Il-Young

July 8, 2010


Welcome to our video program. I'm Il-Young Han from the Management Strategy Department.

Since 2004, the Samsung Economic Research Institute has conducted a survey of CEOs on their reading habits and recommendable books during the holiday season. This year a total of 392 CEOs participated in the survey.

SERI found that, the number of CEOs reading more than three books a month has increased for six consecutive years. As for the most sought-after reading topics, coexistence with nature, humans and society came out on top, followed by tips on new businesses and business expansion; and finding a peace of mind and achieving your hopes.

In addition, there is a growing interest in e-books. Noteworthy was that more than half were willing to read e-books.

Now, I would like to unveil the 14 books handpicked by CEOs and SERI researchers.

First, books that predict the future based on stern reality checks were picked. With the recent global economic recovery, books offering tips on how the managerial environment will change and how management should change accordingly were chosen.

"What would Google do?" written by Jeff Jarvis, first casts the question, "what would companies and public entities do if they were in Google's shoes?", then suggests the right answers.

The keywords to the Google-way of thinking are communication, connection, openness and collaboration. This book applies Google's managerial style to companies and public entities to create a fictional Google Times and Google restaurants. For example, Google Times is built based on reports from bloggers, entrepreneurs and civic groups. It collects data on what readers really want to know and offers customized news.

"Marketing 3.0" by marketing guru Philip Kotler also foretells the landscape of future markets.

Current marketing has mutated through three stages: marketing 1.0 (industrialization and mass production), marketing 2.0.(informatization and customer satisfaction) and marketing 3.0 (social business and sharing the idea of sustainable management with consumers, business partners and shareholders).

"China's Megatrend" by John Naisbitt and "Rediscovery of Japan" by Lee Woo-gwang take a closer look at where China and Japan currently stand and provide insight into how they will evolve.

CEOs duly expressed interest in books on leadership. One of the books in this category is "Kings of the Joseon Dynasty" by Lee Deok-il. This book talks about how each Joseon king coped with his difficulties, sharing the wisdom and virtues of a good CEO.

The two translated versions of the book "The Analects of Confucius and the Abacus " by Shibusawa Eiichi -- "The Analects of Confucius on One Hand with an Abacus in the Other" and "The Analects of Confucius and the Abacus"-- also made the list. The author is widely known today as the "father of Japanese capitalism.

This book says companies should strike a balance between ethics and profit ?which is symbolized by the abacus. It allows CEOs to reflect on the companies' social responsibility.

"Hon Chang Tong," written by journalist Lee Ji-hoon, is a summary of what the author learned from encounters with CEOs of first-rate global companies and great scholars. The author presents three success keywords: Hon (soul in English), Chang (Creation) and Tong (communication).

As mentioned before, the surveyed CEOs picked coexistence with nature, humans and society as the No. 1 reading topic. Four books were chosen in this category.

First is "Gan-song Jeon Hyeong-pil". This book is a biography of art collector Jeon Hyeongpil who devoted his life and a tremendous amount of his personal wealth to cultural conservation during Japanese colonial rule.

"Justice," written by Harvard professor Michael J. Sandel is a lecture note of the Harvard course 'Justice' taught by the author. The course has been offered for more than two decades.

This book deals with the conflict between utilitarianism, described by the phrase "the greatest good for the greatest number of people," and liberalism that values individual freedom.

"Aging Well" was written by George E. Vaillant, an American psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School.

The book is based on the results of a 70-year Harvard research that monitored 814 people in three different groups to dig into human growth and aging well. The book says that aging gracefully is determined by the ability to quickly transform unpleasant and serious problems in daily life into positive energy, not by the amount of agony one goes through.

And last but not least is "50 Physics Ideas" by astrophysicist Joanne Baker.

This book, geared toward a general readership, unravels basic logics of nature and deals with physics which predicts the future. As a Nature journalist as well as an astrophysicist, the author explains ideas at the cutting-edge of scientific enquiry, making them easily comprehensible and accessible to the layperson..

Also on the list are books taking new approaches to the current situation.

"The Five Forces Running World History: Desire, Modernism, Imperialism, Monsters and Religions" by Takashi Saito is on the list. Another is "Super Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt which challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything by taking an economics approach.

"Sway" by Ori Brafman sheds light on sway, the submerged mental drives that undermine rational action. It is an interesting read because psychological forces that cloud judgments are dealt with based on research results and anecdotal stories in social psychology, behavioral economics and organizational behavior.

So far I've talked about a select list of 14 books worth reading for CEOs on summer vacation.

Unveiling the iPad, Apple CEO Steve Jobs underlined the importance of the humanities at a special Apple media event in January this year, saying "The reason why Apple is able to create iPad is our consistent efforts to stay at the interface between technology and the humanities.

In that sense, reading during a vacation can be very important. So why not pick up an interesting, knowledge-feeding book for your summer vacation?

Thank you for watching. I'm Il-Young Han.

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