Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Some Excellent Gift Book Recommendations

I am sorry that you have not heard from me in a while, but I’ve been hard at work finishing the manuscript of my next book, in order to get it to the publisher by the due date… which was today!  I’m extremely pleased to announce that sometime this coming summer Jossey-Bass will release: Awesomely Simple: The Six Foundational Principles of Successful Organizations to bookstores nationwide.  But I don’t want you to have to wait that long to read a good book, so for those of you that are looking to buy a loved one or colleague a good business book this holiday season let me give you a few recommendations…


In the area of leadership and general management I really enjoyed: Inside Drucker’s Brainby Jeffrey Krames.  This is a short, comfortable read with some fantastic insights into the mind of one of the greatest business thinkers of our generation.  For anyone that is a fan of Peter Drucker this is a superb addition to your collection.  Also, I very much enjoyed: The Definitive Druckerby Elizabeth Edersheim. It’s a bit heftier and more intense than the Krames book, but it is full of fantastic ideas and business theories, a very valuable resource on Drucker and his contributions to management theory.

A few other really great leadership books I ran across include: Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadershipby Susan Kuczmarski and Thomas D. Kuczmarski.  This is a fantastic read with lots of great ideas and short case studies, my copy is heavily underlined with tons of notes in the margins!  I also very much enjoyed: Kiss Theory Good Bye: Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results in Any Companyby Bob Prosen.  Another short, easy-to-read book that is full of outstanding ideas. My copy looks like a yellow pen exploded on it, nearly every page is underlined with notes and stars.

I read some great books on customer service this past year, I highly recommend the two books by Joseph Michelli: The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary and The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company These are both fantastic books on how to deliver consistently superior customer service. I sent copies of both of these books to several of my clients.

Also, you can’t go wrong with anything that Joe Calloway has written: Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison; Indispensable: How To Become The Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without or Work Like You’re Showing Off: The Joy, Jazz, and Kick of Being Better Tomorrow Than You Were Today. Joe has a very approachable, fun, entertaining and informative writing style.  I love reading his books!  Along those same lines, I think Rick Barrera’s: Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty is another must read in the customer service arena.

I just finished a new book called: NOBLE ENTERPRISE: The Commonsense Guide to Uplifting People and Profitsby Darwin Gillett and Kenneth Bardach.  What a fantastic book, I also bought a stack of these to send to friends and clients, as this book deals beautifully with how to build a culture that supports and enriches the lives of your employees… so that they can take great care of your customers.  I would also highly recommend Results Rule!: Build a Culture That Blows the Competition Away by Randy Pennington, this is another easy-to-read, concise book that absolutely nails the key points about what it takes to create a successful organization.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successfulby Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter is an excellent book for how to live a more successful, happy and balanced life.  I had the opportunity to see Marshall deliver a session on this book a few months ago in Palm Desert and it was easy to see why he is considered the premier executive coach in the world.  Great information in this book, perfect for anyone who wants to take their life and career to another level.

For those of you that have to give PowerPoint presentations, I really loved: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Deliveryby Garr Reynolds, this book has completely revolutionized the way I do my PowerPoint slides. The book gives lots of specifics and clear examples, exactly what I needed to help me.

Lastly, if there’s anyone in your family that is looking to start a company: Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki is a comprehensive look at what an entrepreneur needs to be thinking about from business planning, to hiring, to finding venture-capital, to dealing with bankers… this book is full of sound start-up ideas and advice from one of today’s top business thinkers.

I could  easily list a dozen more books, there are some really great ones out there, but I am confident that any of the books I listed above would be a welcome present to the avid business readers on your holiday shopping list.

Hope this helped a little bit, and I strongly encourage any of you to add your favorite book to the list… just in case I want to make a last-minute request to Santa!

Have a safe and happy holiday season — all my best to you in 2009.

Take good care — John Spence


  1. john Geshay says:

    John- Thanks for the Christmas book recomendations. I plan on getting several for some of the folks here at BAE Systems(formerly Armor Holdings).
    Hope you have a great Christmas holiday!

  2. I am so honored! Thank you, John. Wow!

  3. Love the recommendations John, and having you in the mix…even better.

    I am so excited about your next book too. We’ll have to have a book signing party.

    Congrats and Happy Holidays.

  4. Thanks so much for another great blog John and congratulations on your upcoming book. I have read a few of your suggestions (all fantastic) and look foward to getting the rest into my head. Have a great holiday.