If you’ve ever picked up a copy of one of Verne Harnish’s books, you know the Entrepreneur’s Organization founder puts serious stock in habit development. 

As the author of “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” and the later update “Scaling Up: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0,” Harnish knows the value of making a plan and sticking to it. And while you can look to his books for a step-by-step guide to the ones that’ll make your organization grow, there’s one habit that supersedes them all: Reading. 

“Leaders are readers,” Harnish writes in “Scaling Up.” “When Larry Page (now former-) CEO of Google was asked how he learned to run a company, he responded, ‘I read a lot.’” 

Mark Cuban reads the news and catches up on tech developments for several hours every day. Mark Zuckerberg created his own book club in 2015, launching an annual release of suggested tomes. Former president Barack Obama routinely releases lists of titles.  

“All these great biz leaders know one thing — nothing interesting can come out of your brain that you don’t put in first,” Harnish writes. “Having a natural curiosity and thirst for learning separates the good from the great in our experience. Happy reading!” 

With that in mind, we asked Harnish ahead of his keynote discussion for SURGE Growth to provide us with his own reading list for association industry professionals. While these aren’t required reading for the keynote, they are a great place to get started in thinking about the steps you can take to grow your organization. 

The titles, Harnish said, correspond with each of the core decisions in the “Scaling Up” framework. 

“To scale (a) business requires getting four key decision sets — People, Strategy, Execution and Cash — absolutely right, and there are right and wrong answers,” Harnish writes. “Shortchange any one element and you’re not maximizing your opportunity.” 

Ready to get started? Here we go:  

PEOPLE

Bringing Out the Best in People” by Aubrey Daniels 

This classic business title was first published in 1985 and recently updated for today’s workforce. 

STRATEGY

Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Another classic, this book’s authors took an objective look at a variety of businesses and nailed down what separates those who thrive in an uncertain world. As they write, “Greatness is not just a business quest; it’s a human quest.” For any organization facing market disruption, this one is a must-read. 

EXECUTION

Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders,” by David Marquet

The now-retired U.S. Navy captain recounts his experience of challenging the military’s status quo, which required a league of followers. In challenging that history and empowering his sailors to transform from followers to leaders, he turned his nuclear submarine into one of the best in the Navy’s fleet. 

CASH

The Customer-Funded Business” by Dr. John Mullins

Growing an organization is a quick way to suck up all your capital, so how do you fund a new idea? Mullins suggests five models that get your customers — or members — to pony up the cash. 

 

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

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