The books which influenced me: Jim Coleman
Ed Catmull – Creativity Inc.
In Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull articulately and honestly charts his personal career journey, as well as the journey of building Pixar into the world’s most successful film and animation business. It’s a book that I’ve taken so much from over the last three years as we’ve grown as a business and our culture has changed as we’ve become larger. Ed’s approach is that in all organisations today we faces major, complex challenges and only through fostering an environment for creativity and innovation will we be able to solve these problems. Creativity Inc. is a guidebook for all aspiring managers. I’ve bought copies and photocopied sections of this book for teams in our business. A must read.
William Fotheringham – Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike
Fueling my unhealthy obsession for cycling, I’ve churned through a fair few biographies of cyclists but this one has stuck with me. Merckx was a prodigious talent and this story of his life and unconventional approach to racing blew me away. What I loved about him was the relentless drive to win everything and not abide by the normal rules and etiquette that occur within cycling. He would enter everything, and generally tear the competition apart. He had a relatively short but ferocious career but epitomised the approach of doing your best at everything you decide to go for. An inspirational athlete with meteoric stats and an enviable and uncompromising focus and desire to be the best at everything he did.
Jon Krakauer – Into Thin Air
An exceptional first hand view of the 1996 Everest disaster, told by a journalist who was invited to join one of the growing number of expedition groups charging big money to take people up the summit. Reading this tale touches on the brutal simplicity of every decision counting. I came away from reading this with a new appreciation for risk and it really put into perspective that well known mantra of ‘it’s only advertising, no one’s going to die’. All too true.
Ian McEwan – Enduring Love
There are few authors who can articulate emotion more clearly than Ian McEwan. This was the first book I read of his and, story aside, it was a book that made me reread sections, not because I didn’t follow the plot, but because the articulation of feelings was so well constructed. Beauty in writing isn’t as common as you might think, but McEwan seems to do it effortlessly. This has undoubtedly influenced my card and email construction, and has made me not underestimate the power of words to those you love and those you work with.
Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers
Most of Malcolm Gladwell’s books tell a similar tale of looking at the conditions that surround why things happen and why some things are more successful than others. Outliers and Gladwell’s theories particularly speak to me because of how we’ve grown as a business. It was the right combination of people, luck, timing and clients – rather than one intellectual stroke of genius. Gladwell carefully deconstructs that it’s all these things which create success, rather than one clever action or insight which is so often retrofitted to successes, and something that I 100% believe in.
William Finnegan – Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
This biography of a surfer turned political journalist ticked multiple boxes for me. Stylistically, it’s written like a Kerouac book (an author I heavily read as a student), but with slightly more form; and from a surfer’s perspective, the detail of each surf break, each ride, the description of etiquette and politics in the lineup was fascinating. Ultimately it made me want to quit my job and follow waves around the world – totally unrealistic but the right level of escapism to saturate my love of being in the water.