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January 6, 2011 
 
 
What Do Execs Read?

We're curious what you think are the hottest topics in the association world this year. Have an idea or topic for a future event? Send us an email.

 
Well, Bisnow, of course. But we hear sometimes they also pick up this ancient technology called "books." We asked a wide range of association and non-profit execs to share what they're reading.
 
Joe Bhatia, CEO of the American National Standards Institute  Book: Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality by Danny Meyer
Joe Bhatia, CEO of the American National Standards Institute
Book: Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality by Danny Meyer

Joe travels so much he carries an American Airlines black card with four million miles on it. When you travel that often, Joe tells us you're eating out almost every night: "Sometimes the food is great, but the service is lousy. Sometimes the waiter is perfectly nice, but the food is underwhelming. And sometimes, everything comes together into a real experience." These are the experiences that New York restauranteur Danny Meyer describes in his book. Though Joe may not be in the hospitality biz, he says there are vital leadership lessons about the importance of people skills and customer service. As the author writes: "Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction."

Christie Tarantino, CEO of the Association Forum of Chicagoland  Book: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Christie Tarantino, CEO of the Association Forum of Chicagoland
Book: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Christie tells us her entire board and staff read this book over the summer. Author Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com and tells the story of how he and others created a culture that has driven success, growth, and happiness. Their focus on empowering the team to provide outstanding and sometimes outlandish customer service hit home for Christie. "The book sparked a lot of great conversation about not only the culture of Association Forum as a membership organization, but also internally as well," she says. "It’s an easy and inspiring read that I’d recommend for anyone interested in taking a fresh look at your organization and your culture."

John Gay, CEO of the Natural Products Association  Book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
John Gay, CEO of the Natural Products Association
Book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Written by the author of Seabiscuit, Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic runner turned World War II Navy bombardier. His plane ditched in the Pacific, where he floated for weeks, only to be picked up by the Japanese and tossed into a series of horrific POW camps. "While his courage and determination under extreme circumstances is well beyond admirable, the rest of his life is perhaps even more inspiring," John says. "His story is a reminder that what passes for 'adversity' for most of us, pales in comparison to what many have suffered." John tells us he received this book for Christmas, and it didn't even last to New Year's Eve.

Anne Mahlum, Founder and President of Back on My Feet  Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Anne Mahlum, Founder and President of Back on My Feet
Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Anne calls this book one of her favorites and constantly refers others back to it. She says that while reading this book could benefit anyone, it should be mandatory for anyone in a leadership position. "It reminds us of how important and effective it is to show people appreciation, value, and gratitude," Anne says. "If that is not a part of your everyday strategy, you will not be nearly as successfully or happy as you could be." She says the best principle of the book is one that is far too easy to forget: always seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

Fred Krebs, President of the Association of Corporate Counsel  Book: Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig Symonds
Fred Krebs, President of the Association of Corporate Counsel
Book: Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig Symonds

Fred just finished this historical non-fiction book whose author taught for years at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He tells us it's a good book "for those who like to read about Lincoln, the Civil War, and the history of the U.S. Navy. It provides insights on leadership while covering a little-known subject."

 
Debra Ben Avram, CEO of the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition  Book: Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business by Douglas Hubbard
Debra Ben Avram, CEO of the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Book: How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business by Douglas Hubbard

Author Douglas Hubbard talks about how to assess value in areas that seem impossible to measure. Debra says Hubbard breaks this concept down in interesting ways, demonstrating that truly anything can be measured. "This has far reaching value for me as I work to figure out ways to measure accomplishments in various areas of our strategy. Some are easy to measure—increase membership—and others are far more difficult." She recommends the book for those who want a new model for developing useful data to support decisions in areas that seem difficult to assess.

 
Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute   Book: How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute
Book: How Successful People Think by John Maxwell

Tom says this leadership book about just what it says—how successful people think—is one of the best. So much so that he bought one for every member of his staff. He says one of his favorite comments from the book is "creativity is where intelligence meets fun." Tom has his own version of the line: "Creativity is where smart as hell meets party like a rock star."


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Jon Wachs and Bill Thomas
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Got your own book recommendation? Let us know. And while you're at it, send story ideas to reporter Jessica Sidman, jessica@bisnow.com.
 
 
 
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