15 must-reads for the High EQ Brand Manager

28 Dec,2015


By Sanjeev Kotnala


This year been a mixed bag in terms of books that I have read or plan to read. I stayed focussed on business, marketing, advertising and media books, keeping my distance from anything political or fiction. But here are 15 books I believe one absolutely must read (if you haven’t already!) though not all of them were published in 2015. I tend to categorise my books into sections like ‘interesting, but not yet there’ and ‘selected for rejection’. But this list, I would say, is ‘highly recommended’.


1. India Reloaded: Inside India’s Resurgent Consumer Market by Dheeraj Sinha

This is an attempt to demystify the complex Indian market from an insider’s perspective. It draws upon a wealth of data, from consumer research, market data, macroeconomic research, popular culture and case studies, to provide a thorough and compelling insight into what makes for success in the complex Indian market. You may disagree with some of the arguments, but you will end up appreciating the approach. Read it to sharpen your presentations –and also perhaps for a confident discussion with a confused MNC client.


2. Dream with Your Eyes Open by Ronnie Screwvala
A book for every entrepreneur-in-the-making. Just go ahead and dive into the learnings that will tell you how to manage failure, inspire success, raise the bar of ambitions and help you think big. Ronnie makes one thing simple: It’s all possible. Just dream your own dream. And when you do, dream with your eyes open.


3. Pandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On Advertising by Piyush Pandey 

You just can’t miss this transparent, one-to-one session with Piyush Pandey and how he has observed things that have become the foundation of realistic and memorable communication. Read at leisure and you will see that no observation or experience is ever wasted.


4. UNTHINK by Chris Paley

This is a book which is tough to like, as it really asks you to invest time and follow the proposed thinking. But yes, there is a bit of quirkiness about the whole concept and that is interesting. Read to start mining more things from your unconscious mind.


5. When To Rob A Bank by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner 

If you loved Freakonomics and Think like a Freak, here are 131 cherry-picked blogs from the authors. Like what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and, yes, when to rob a bank. Read on to realign yourself to start asking  questions.


6. The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

With a promise of sharing directions on ‘Why Stress Is Good for You’ and ‘How to Get Good at It’ this is a tempting book to pick up. Whether or not it will help you, is something you have to decide. Recommended by ‘The Positive Company’. If you believe that even stress can have positive impact, go for this one.


7. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard H. Thaler

We do not follow the standards of rationality while making our decisions. Want to know how to stop misbehaving in a rational, economist way and make smarter decisions? Read on. The book states that “when economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers and policy makers are both profound and entertaining”. Not much of a choice there.


8. Triggers: Creating Behaviour That Lasts, Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith 

A book by one of the world’s foremost executive coaches on how to break that cycle of pre-set reactions and bring in meaningful, sustained changes in life. What and how you can be benefited by taking responsibility for actions and failure to act. Discover a new you with this one.


9. Humans Are Underrated: Proving Your Value in the Age of Brilliant Technology by Geoff Colvin

Read it before expiry era. It banks on the belief that essential human skills like empathy, social sensitivity, storytelling and creativity can never be replaced by technology. The way we are advancing I have my doubts about that.


10. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
To build happier, stronger and more productive lives, we continuously try evolving by creating new habits. Hence it is an important need to know how to change our habits. It helps to know why some habits are tough to create, more so if that is what you love or want to do. Read if you want to change within or change something within.


11. Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter by Hastie 

Group decisions are necessary. But they are hard to arrive at and can sometimes go wrong. If you want to avoid the pitfalls of group decision like cascade effect, polarisation and over-empathising, to reach better outcomes by using some suggested technique including ‘silencing the leader’, grab copy of this one.


12. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam  

This one uses a hard, data-based approach to unearth the surprising patterns of working by women who are consistently able to strike a balance between work and family. And also being able to make time for what gave them pleasure and meaning. A must for working women like yourself


13. New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace by Susan Packard  

Where would your career be if you could understand how your colleagues –especially men–succeed and win at work? And if, in understanding and applying the rules, you could win, too? Get nearer to the gamesmanship that fosters creativity, focus, optimism, teamwork, and competitiveness. Read to start effectively using these 10 rules for workplace success.


14. Innovation as Usual: How to Help Your People Bring Great Ideas to Life by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg  

Forget brainstorming, idea jams or offsites. Create the ‘innovation architects ecosystem of 5+1 keystone behaviour’ where engaging in key innovation behaviours is part of daily work. So that innovation can happen in a way that’s both systemic and sustainable.


15. Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan 

Sweeping changes have repeatedly failed to do better, to earn more, and create happier employees.  Maybe the route to build ideal workplace cultures and create seismic shifts by making deceptively small changes, can help engage and enhance productivity. Start the journey of small shifts with this book and enjoy some real-life examples underscoring the motto.


Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior brand and marketing and management consultant. He is Founder of Intradia World. This article first appeared in dna of brands dated December 28, 2015.


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