Career & Success

Seven Business Books to Read in 2015

Alumni entrepreneurs share their top reading recommendations.

December 18, 2014

| by GSB Staff

A woman reading in New York, 2014 | Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Throughout 2014, we asked Stanford GSB alumni to share the best business books they have read. Check out their selections:

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

By Gay Hendricks

“It’s great if you are thinking of starting a business but you are scared.”

Vanessa Loder (MBA ’07), cofounder of Mindfulness Based Achievement

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“People frequently misunderstand data and patterns. You may not be able to control the outcome of a decision but you can control the decision. What matters is the integrity of the process.”

Eric Baker (MBA ’01), founder of Viagogo

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

By Susan Cain

“I have strong extrovert tendencies. My cofounder Jennifer is a strong introvert. The book helped me appreciate the way she needs to take time to think and turn things over in her mind.”

Christine Su (MBA ’15), cofounder and CEO of Summer Technologies

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

By Gordon MacKenzie

“It was written by a guy who made Hallmark cards. It’s about maintaining creativity in a corporate structure.”

Tristan Walker (MBA ’10), founder of Walker & Company

War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

“The most profound business education moment I had was as a senior at Stanford undergrad in Organizational Leadership. We read Don Quixote and War and Peace. I was so grateful for that class. The professor tied business and leadership to life. What I remember about War and Peace 20 years later is that characters who seem important can disappear at a drop of a hat. Likewise, someone who seems unimportant sticks around for 700 pages. Life is that way.”

Gina Bianchini (MBA ’00), founder of Mightybell

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

By Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius

“I read it during an internship I took on a hazelnut farm in Bhutan. It explains the neuroscience of meditation, how it expands the workspace of consciousness of the mind. Basically, it develops the neurons in the frontal cortex, which allows it to control and overrun the lizard part of your brain, which is the id, or ‘monkey brain.’”

Christine Su (MBA ’15), cofounder and CEO of Summer Technologies

First Nights: Five Musical Premiers

By Thomas Forrest Kelly

“The book tells of the first performances of important pieces of music; for instance, Handel’s Messiah. It provides a context to help you understand the genius of each of the composers. How does that relate to business? Because it demonstrates that genius should be seen through the context of time and place. The question is, if those people had been born in a different era, what would they have achieved? How can you do something special in your life right now, with your personal dynamics at play?”

Jeff Barnett (MBA ’95), cofounding partner of Dorsal Capital

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