Whether we’re bracing for a long winter or can start seeing the return to normalcy as Pfizer and Moderna vaccines find adoption, plan for more time spent indoors. To help you get an edge on your peers, we’ve surveyed Controllers Council members and thought leaders to develop our semiannual reading list featuring six books you should settle into this winter.
From well-known classics to timely and topical analyses, these are just some of the books we recommend for professionals in the corporate finance world.
1) Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, 2020, Scott Galloway
Possibly one of the most pertinent, timely, and recently released books on our reading list, Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity was written by bestselling author and thought leader Scott Galloway.
Highlighting the challenges that 2020 has presented the opportunities for business leaders to make the most out of whichever hand they were dealt, Galloway discusses how the pandemic has not been a change agent so much as an accelerant of trends already well underway. Brash and unapologetic, Galloway goes on the offensive to explore how tech monopolies will thrive while others like education will struggle.
Whether you’re at a company like Peloton, Zoom, or Amazon who woke up to overnight demand or a company in the restaurant, travel, hospitality, or live entertainment industries who struggled to get by, Galloway’s book has something for you.
2) How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, 1908, Arnold Bennett
By far the shortest and oldest book on our list, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day might be the perfect addition to anyone dreading the return to traditional work. If anything, 2020 gave us a new look at the commute. Many of us experienced more traffic waiting for the toaster to open up than we did on the roads, and if we get back to normal, we may have to readjust to a morning commute.
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day was written in 1908 and offers practical advice on how one might live (as opposed to just existing) within the confines of 24 hours a day.
In this book, Bennett shares his thoughts on the “new” white-collar workplace, filled with people who worked to make a living and the dangers of simply existing.
With commutes returning, those dreading a daily existence that consists of waking up, getting ready for work, working as little as possible during the work day, going home, unwinding, going to sleep, and repeating the process the next day may benefit from this book.
Time is the most precious of commodities, and it should be spent as one spends money, argues Bennett. Available from Multiple authors, this century-old book is a quick read and one that’s incredibly helpful. Click here to buy on Amazon.
3) How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, 2020, Guy Raz
A name that you’ll be seeing on our Controllers Council podcast list, How I Built This was written by Guy Raz, author and host of the How I Built This podcast.
Written on the thesis that great ideas often come from simple inspiration, stories include those of a soccer player on the New Zealand national team notices all the unused wool his country produces and figures out a way to turn them into shoes, a former Buddhist monk who launched one of the most necessary apps of 2020, and a sandwich cart vendor who found a brilliant way to make use of expired pitas.
Whether you’re looking to drive value through internal entrepreneurship or are looking for inspiration, How I Built This is an exciting book to get the wheels turning. Click here to buy on Amazon.
4) The Mental Toughness Handbook, 2020, Damon Zahariades
Controllers have spent a lot of time in crisis mode. From securing lines of credit to collecting money from cash-strained customers to struggles in paying suppliers, your role has given you fire after fire to extinguish.
Released in April 2020, when we kept repeating “15 days to slow the spread,” Damon Zahariades’ book The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Facing Life’s Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity with Courage and Poise shares advice on making the most of your life in times of crisis.
The Mental Toughness Handbook shares with readers a variety of tips including the difference between mental toughness and grit, the seven most important traits that mentally tough people have, the five daily habits to embrace and much more. Click here to purchase The Mental Toughness Handbook on Amazon.
5) How to Win Friends and Influence People, 1936, Dale Carnegie
Another book considered a timeless classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the most successful books in American history. For nearly a century, this book helped readers get more from their relationships.
For controllers, especially those who want to take the step up to the CFO post, being able to move up will require a fundamental shift in the way you work. As discussed in our “5 things to avoid on the road from Controller to CFO” article, one of the most important parts of moving up is to stop explaining decisions like a controller and to shift from saying ‘no’ to saying ‘no, but…’. In Carnegie’s words, this is part of his “Twelve ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking.”
In this, Carnegie notes that “We must never tell people flat out that they are wrong. It will only serve to offend them and insult their pride. No one likes to be humiliated; we must not be so blunt.”
A classic that you can find nearly everywhere, click here to buy How to Win Friends and Influence People on Amazon.
6) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, 2020, John Carreyrou
We’re not the only one with Bad Blood on our reading list—the Financial Times & McKinsey named this their Business Book of the Year for 2020. Discussing the rise and fall of Theranos, this is one of those books on what NOT to do in your career.
For those who don’t remember, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the next Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with its breakthrough device, which performed the whole range of laboratory tests from a single drop of blood.
This would have been great—if it worked. Bad Blood explores the rise and fall of this company that was once valued at $9 billion and the insanity behind the scenes to protect the scam. Learn more about this book and click here to buy Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup on Amazon.
Bonus: The Controllers Code—Free with Controllers Council Membership
Controllers in the 21st Century need to master more than technical accounting skills to become the strategic leaders their companies need today. They need to be effective leaders and managers, explain complicated accounting at a high level for the C-suite, be a technology expert, and still ensure that their teams are doing the accounting right.
Unfortunately, these skills aren’t taught in traditional accounting classes. This book offers real world guidance from Financial professionals to help you navigate the world of the modern controller.
Written by Michael Whitmire, CEO and co-founder of FloQast, The Controllers Code was written to help corporate finance professionals to master the skills they don’t teach you in school, discussing what it takes to:
- Lead with Confidence: The leadership and management skills you need to stand out as a strategic controller.
- Build a Winning Team: Learn how to hire the right people for the right positions and create an accountable and engaged culture.
- Reduce Risk: Stay ahead of emerging problems by being willing to do things differently and using tech so you can see what others don’t.
Controllers Code – The Secret Formula For a Successful Career in Finance is a must read for anyone in the finance community, and that’s why we’ve offered it free as one of the many benefits of membership in the Controllers Council.