Recommended Reading: CEOs Name Their Top Titles

Industry executives offer their recommendations on the books that have given them the best insights into commercial real estate and business in general.

Read any good books lately?

We posed that very question to a varied sampling of company leaders and the director of a top university real estate program for the “Leadership & Learning” report in the August issue of CPE. Seeking executives’ top reading choices, we asked them to name both contemporary and classic works that have given them insights into commercial real estate or business in general.  The responses demonstrated wide-ranging curiosity about such topics as the 2008 capital markets meltdown, business strategies and the trends shaping the 21st-century global economy.

That drive to understand the forces that influence their business was less surprising than the importance so many executives place on the actual act of reading books. In an age when the Internet and television often seem to reign supreme, the old-fashioned book clearly still carries authority. Fred Schmidt, president & CEO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affilates L.L.C. and president of ONCOR International L.L.C., made an eloquent case for books:

“I’ve always been an avid reader. When I was growing up, my grandfather used to say to me that when you’re with a good book, you’re never alone,  and I’ve lived by those words my whole life. Early morning before the workday starts is a good reading time for me. Typically, I’ll carve out time in the morning to read the major business journals and daily business newspapers. And if I’m on the road or waiting for a plane, I’ll make sure to use the time to catch up on important business reading as well.”

What follows is a complete list of recommendations from the executives queried. (Note: publication dates are for the original hardcover or paperback editions.)

Paul Daneshrad, president & CEO, StarPoint Properties L.L.C.

Endgame: The End of the Debt Supercycle and How it Changes Everything, by John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper.  John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Simon & Schuster, 1978.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not, by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. Originally published in 1997 by TechPress;  available in various paperback editions.

Doug  Frye, president & CEO, Colliers International

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. Penguin Group (USA), 2009.

How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything … in Business (and in Life), by Dov Seidman.  John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard. Penguin Group (USA), 2005.

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell.  Little, Brown & Co., 2008.

Richard Green, director, USC Lusk Institute for Real Estate at the University of Southern California

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History, by Gregory Zuckerman.  Random House Publishing Group, 2009.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis. W.W. Norton & Co., 2004.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Random House Publishing Group, 2007; second edition published in 2010.

“The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment,” by F. Modigliani and M. Miller. Published in American Economic Review 48 (3): p. 261-297. Green’s comment: “I really don’t expect people to read (Modigliani and Miller), but they should know the bottom-line finding about capital structure and value.”

Ed Indvik, CEO, Lee & Associates L.L.C.

Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Penguin Group (USA), 2009.

Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy, by Barry Ritholtz with Aaron Task. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by Ranjay Gulati. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, by Lawrence McDonald. Crown Publishing Group, 2009.

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, by David Brooks. Random House Publishing Group, 2011.

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour, by Lynne Olson. Random House Publishing Group, 2010.

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. MJF Books, 2002.

The Warren Buffett Way: Investment Strategies of the World’s Greatest Investor, by Robert Hagstrom. John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Peter Roberts, CEO, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas

Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Penguin Group (USA), 2009.

Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by Ranjay Gulati. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins. HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Friedman. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2005; expanded version published in 2006.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan. Crown Publishing Group, 2002.

Fred Schmidt, president & COO, Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates L.L.C., and president, ONCOR International L.L.C.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

On China, by Henry Kissinger. Penguin Group (USA), 2010.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown & Co., 2000.

The Autobiography of William Zeckendorf, by William Zeckendorf with Edward McCreary.  Plaza Press, 1987; originally published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1970.

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. Harper Collins Publishers, 2004.

David Twardock, president, Prudential Mortgage Capital

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

Red Capitalism: The Fragile Economic Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise, by Carl Walter and Fraser Howe. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Sea Change

While these executives place importance on reading books, they are not committed to the traditional paper format. When we asked them whether they prefer to read books electronically or in paper format, we got a definite impression they are embracing the sea-change toward electronic books.

  • David Twardock, president, Prudential Mortgage Capital : “I read a lot more now that I have an e-reader. … I download a book and read it on the plane.”
  • Doug Frye, CEO, Colliers International: “I’ve basically made the switch to electronic format. I love the Kindle App because of the ability it gives me to manage my library across a range of devices, although most typically I use my iPad2.  Tablets are fast becoming the tool of choice for many of our brokers, who are using them in the field during client property tours.”
  • Richard Green, director, USC Lusk Institute for Real Estate: “Kindle on the road; books at home.  I love nice type, and Kindles have pretty nice type.”
  • Fred Schmidt, president & COO, Coldwell Banker Commercial L.L.C.: “While I still read in the traditional paper format, over the last year I’ve been doing the majority of my reading on my iPad and I really enjoy the convenience of it. I can have all my books and publications at my fingertips in one device.”
  • Peter Roberts, CEO, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas:  “I’m betwixt and between a Kindle and paper format.  As my children upgrade to the latest versions, I inherit the older technology, so my Kindle is an early version.”

For a fuller discussion of the messages these executives have taken away from their recommended reading, see “Page Turners,” the Leadership & Learning story (page 35) in the August 2011 issue of CPE (also available in a digital edition).