Meeting Professionals Favorite Business Books

7:30 am February 28, 2011- Oakland, California Grass Shack Events & Media Headquarters.

I sat down to tackle a day which had a meeting production proposal and a couple video production proposals.

When I have typical day which has a full plate of work in store of me, I immediately look for a distraction.  My eyes caught a book on my desk which I was almost finished with: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo. I picked it up and finished the last chapter.

Then, trying my best to avoid work; thought about what to read next?  My usual tactic is a post Twitter or Facebook and ask my social network. This time I thought I would send out a bunch of emails to my peers in the events & meetings industry and see what has inspired them.

And you know what? Some of them actually answered my email.

It was Interesting I had already read a bunch of the books sent in.(see picture above)  I also worked with a several of these authors (who are also speakers) and I actually grew up with one of authors.

Thank you to all that responded.  Feel free to add more in the comments

So here we go!

My favorite novels of all time are The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

My favorite business books are both from last year:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action By Simon Sinek

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Here are the great friends and peers in the events & meetings business who passed along their picks! I asked for only two books, but several gave me many more.  I took the top two if they gave me more books. (sorry)


Patti J. Shock

Service America in the New Economy (Albrecht & Zemke)

The Experience Economy (Pine & Gillmore)
Carolyn Ray

Never Eat Alone by by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose Tony Hsieh of Zappos

Howard Givner

The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber. Great insight into why some people who are good at their craft do not always succeed in running their own businesses.

Jason Falls

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell because it tries to uncover the nature of word of mouth movements.

The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund because it operationalizes social media for companies to move to becoming a social business.

Nancy Spooner

These books inspire me!

The 4 Hour Word Week by Tim Ferris

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki


Janet Fullwood

Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley

Carrie McAllen

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

I want to kick Spencers Ass!  :)

Heidi Thorne

Any book by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin

Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

Lara McCulloch

Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business by Frank Wilkinson

Book yourself Solid by Michael Port


Dave Lutz

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned
While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
.  I’m a sucker for storytelling,
and this book totally rocked it. Stories have a huge place in doing better
meetings, better presentations and better experiences.

Open Community Lindy Dreyer  Maddie Grant Bottom line, this topic is more important to the success of associations than most people realize. It’s a short read and one that every Exec. Director should
buy for their entire board. It’s one of the biggest strategic needs and smart organizations will make community management part of their culture.


Jessica L. Levin

UnMarketing by Scott Stratten.  It has solid advice and it’s laugh out loud funny.

Sam Smith

Terms of Engagement by Dick Axelrod

Brains on Fire by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones

Erica St. Angel

Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li

Mark McLarry

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman  by Yvon Chouinard

Jenise Fryatt

Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Excellent for learning to develop your social media marketing strategy


Midori Connolly

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

Brett Bumeter

Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders

Hands down best business book I ever read was Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook (seriously)

(I made it required reading for all of my employees.  Both so that they
could better catch crappy behavior including my own and avoid it themselves
once they got promoted above me).

Michelle Bruno

“Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World” by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. It makes me think about the tremendous opportunities and potential of collaborative platforms to change business and the world.

Kristi Casey Sanders

Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference by Tim Sanders

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Traci Browne

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (It’s always good to know how people make decisions)

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer (When it comes to customer service excellence, this guys got it down pat)

Dennis Shiao

Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry,” by Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler. shepherded in the age of SaaS, and this book gives you behind the scenes tips, via a series of 111 plays (in a playbook style).  My favorite sections are Part 2, “The Marketing Playbook: How to Cut Through the Noise and Pitch the Bigger Picture” and Part 3, “The Events Playbook:  How to Use Events to Build Buzz and Drive Business.”

Ruud Janssen

Start with Why? Simon Sinek

Social Media for Meetings & Events (due to be published in April 2011)

Jon Pollard

I still feel there is a lot of value in what Jim Collins laid out in “Good to Great.” Most companies get the fundamentals wrong (or pay no attention to them). That book covers a lot of fundamentals.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Jessie Gray Producer/Creative Director

The Art of the Start – Guy Kawasaki

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds

Greg Ruby

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I am a naturally shy person and tend to despise the concept of “networking.”  While many of the concepts he advocates in his book have been previously advocated by other authors, his writing style gets the message across in a format that worked for me.  I try to re-read this book once a year to reinforce its message about building meaningful relationships with others.  It’s been a great help to me in getting to meet folks in this industry.

Any book by Tom Peters but I like The Little Big Things: 163 ways to pursue Excellence.  It is not your typical business book with graphs, analysis and mounds of useless information hiding nuggets.  Tom’s writing style gets you usable information almost immediately and allows for the book to be read in one sitting or over time as well.  I’ve been a Tom Peters groupie for nearly 25 years (and not just because he is originally from Baltimore ), but for his message that is is the small things that matter rather than the one big thing that will revolutionize the world.


David Spark
Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath Really great book on how to package your ideas so others remember them. They did some excellent research on this book.


Kevin Richardson

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing by Lisa Gansky. The book clearly marks a change in thinking, ushering in a sharing mentality and ushering out the ownership mentality. I see huge application for events with this idea.
Tim Sanders

My fave book, ever, is The Art Of Happiness. It taught me an elegant but profound concept: Your mission is to participate in the end of suffering!
Excerpt of Tim’s new book Today We Are Rich can be found here


Julius Solaris

Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking by Roger L. Martin

Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide by Harrison Owen


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  1. says


    Thanks for sharing this list. There are some gems on it.

    What are mine? I have so many and I’m an avid reader. I’m constantly picking up new hardcover books as well as ebooks to read. Here are some that are in my current reading stack that resonsate with me:

    Today We Are Rich by Tim Sanders (coming out this spring. I have a pre-release copy).

    How To Market To People Not Like You: Know It Or Blow It, Rules For Reaching Diverse Customers by Kelly McDonald
    (Another pre-release book that is being released in late March).

    • says

      Thanks Jeff-
      Tim Sanders has some great stuff. I remember reading Love is the Killer App and going down to Yahoo (when he worked there) to meet him after reading it. I was a total groupie and he was a really nice guy when I visited. Then we stated work on a video project right after that meeting.

      Thanks for the the suggestions!



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