Recently, I was challenged by a friend to post the covers of 10 books that greatly influenced my leadership and business.


One book per day, for ten consecutive days. No explanations, no reviews, just book covers. It was really fun to do, and several people have approached me asking for a bit more information on each book. That would have broken the rules of the challenge. Instead, it’s being delivered here so you can see the explanations of why each book was chosen.


Watty Piper, The Little Engine that Could

My favourite book as a little boy, I remember sitting on mum’s lap listening to her read it. There’s a problem getting a train over the mountain and down into the valley to deliver toys and food to the children. The big engines believe they are too important to help out. A little blue engine which had never been out of the shunting yard offered to help. She had never been over the mountain and kept saying to herself as she climbed higher and higher: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” She did, and they all lived happily ever after. My first ever motivational book!


Ben Hunt-Davis & Harriet Beveridge, Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

I met Ben at one of his events a few years ago. This book tells the story of Team GB’s eight-man coxed rowing team. After coming 6th in the 1992 Olympics, the team did not even make the finals in 1996. They took the radical decision to break away from the British rowing and Olympic establishment and set up on their own. For the next four years, every decision the team members took was based on the answer to one question: will it make the boat go faster? Every decision in their personal lives as well as their training. In Sydney in 2000, Team GB won Olympic Gold.


Michael Neill, The Inside Out Revolution

Michael has written the best book I’ve read on the 3 Principles – mind, consciousness and thought. It is spiritual content presented in a very clear, well written and easy to understand way. The cool thing is, the 3 Principles operate both at the cosmic, universal level and also at an individual human level. I’ve become a much calmer, more focused and less stressed person as a direct result of the things I learned from this book. I’ve gone on to do many courses with Michael and seen him at several events.


Simon Sinek, Start with Why

I came across this book and Simon’s amazing TEDx talk when I was the co-founder of a fascinating business that was filled with promise – a clear, well-defined market, a product that was built with amazing quality by people who were experts in their respective fields and a reasonable amount of funding. We knew our Why. Sadly, the business never took off (at least, it hasn’t yet). But don’t blame Simon for that! The learnings from this book have been taken into many of my other ventures, and I’ve seen Simon talk several times and attended one of his courses.


Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

My daughter Madeleine introduced me to this book at a time in my life when I was torn between clients I had worked with for many years and a dawning realisation that what I was doing for them was no longer what I wanted to do. Brené’s research into shame and vulnerability is presented in a very human way and is supported by her excellent TEDx talk and more recently her show on Netflix. Deeply personal and important issues that many people, and society as a whole, often gloss over. Powerful stuff!


Steven R Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This was the first self-help book I read, way back in 1998. The structure of Covey’s seven habits, with the three habits of independence – be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first – followed by interdependence – think win/win, seek first to understand then to be understood, and synergise – surrounded by the 7th habit, sharpen the saw, is very effective. This book made so many of the complications of life and relationships seem clear to me. I have since shared this book with my teams in many companies.


Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference

The best book I have ever read on negotiation, and I’ve read more than a few. The author is the FBI’s former chief hostage negotiator. When a hostage’s life is on the line, you can’t split the difference! This is a fascinating and entertaining story of negotiations, both hostages and business deals. I have been able to put many of Chris’s tips and recommendations into practice and they have led to successful outcomes in difficult negotiations.


Tim Pollard, The Compelling Communicator

For anyone who is a speaker or presenter, this is the best book on the subject that I have come across. It looks at both the art and the science of communication. Tim presents a clear model that is easy to understand and implement to ensure that you get your message across and that the audience receives it. Unlike so many presentations we see that are loaded with facts and data, Tim urges the reader to focus on ideas and stories, with only the minimum of facts and data. Our brains are wired for ideas and stories. His core theme is simple: powerfully land a small number of big ideas.


Mike Dooley, Manifesting Change

After a very difficult time in my life, including a failed business and the accidental death of my father, I was on a quest for something but didn’t know what. I found it in this book. In the opening paragraphs I discovered that the author had, just like me, trained as an accountant with Price Waterhouse and gone on to work with PW internationally. When I later met Mike at one of his events, I found out that we had been at PW at the same time, but in different countries. This book played a key role in developing my nascent spiritual awareness.


Daniel Priestley, Entrepreneur Revolution

I had been out for dinner with a group of entrepreneurs, and we were talking about books that had impacted us. One person recommended this book, and I have to say it changed my life. I went on to do Daniel’s Key Person of Influence programme – a real game-changer for me and my business on so many levels. It’s because of the KPI programme that I wrote my own book. Not only that, I have the honour of being CFO of Daniel’s company, and in the second edition of Entrepreneur Revolution he wrote in the acknowledgements that I was “a great entrepreneurial friend who has stimulated his thinking.” Wow!


There you have it. That’s why I chose the 10 book covers. I hope this blog encourages you to read or listen to one or more of these books and discover some of the nuggets of wisdom you can find within.



David Horne