In our The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, we included a chapter of recommended biographies. Jack has always championed the form as a valid way to learn valuable business lessons, not just as good entertainment. In the opening of the chapter, we explained: How did they do it?
How did they do it? That is the question we all want to ask when we meet someone famous or wealthy. We want to mimic them, thinking that if we just follow their footsteps we'll arrive at the same place. But, as Mark Twain said, "History rhymes; it does not repeat." Biographies provide a direction and a context so we can better plot our own course."In that chapter, we included these 7 biographies: Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow; My Years with General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.; The HP Way by David Packard; Personal History by Katharine Graham;
Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon; Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton with John Huey; Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson. Today, Fast Company came out with their own list of recommended biographies. They chose: Mary Kay: Miracles Happen by Mary Kay Ash; Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard; Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry; by Michael Dell and Catherine Fredman; Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca with William Novak; Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy; The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company by David Packard; Body and Soul: Profits with Principles, the Amazing Success Story of Anita Roddick & the Body Shop by Anita Roddick; Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang; Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story by Sam Walton and John Huey Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond by Thomas J. Watson and Peter Petre; Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch and John A. Byrne While our recommendations are quite dissimilar (we only have two matching titles, The HP Way and Sam Walton), some of these books (the Ogilvy and Watson) made our original shortlist, and we also write a bit in the new paperback version of The 100 Best coming out in November 2011 about the game-changing effect that Iococca's book had on the business book genre. Looking at the sub-genre of business biographies as a whole, unlimited lessons can be learned from the lives of others, and we are privileged to be let into the lives of these masters of business through their books.