Nike cofounder Phil Knight.

Chris Pietsch/AP

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced firms around the world to shut down their offices and their employees to work from home – with many wondering what the future holds. Perlego – the “Spotify for textbooks” – analyzed data from more than 600 of its C-suite customers to find out what business leaders were reading in these strange times. Standouts include books by Nike cofounder Phil Knight and tech investor Ben Horowitz. Perlego CEO Gauthier Van Malderen said senior execs had used their time in isolation to learn the “crucial skills” needed for businesses to survive. Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in businesses all around the world shutting down their offices and telling employees to work from home. The change of pace has forced senior executives to strategize the future of their firms while relying on video-calls and text messages. Perlego – an online library startup dubbed the “Spotify of textbooks” – has analyzed the most popular books read by more than 600 C-suite executives using its platform. Titles include bestsellers by the likes of Nike cofounder Phil Knight and Ben Horowitz, one of the best-known investors in Silicon Valley. “[Executives] are reading books on leading in times of crisis, dealing with stress, engaging a remote workforce, preparing for a post-COVID world and many more topics,” Perlego CEO Gauthier Van Malderen told Business Insider.We broke down the 20 most popular books being read by C-suite executives this summer: 

20. “Uncertainty and Strategic Decision Making” by Kristian J. Sund, Robert J. Galavan and Anne S. Huff

Sund, Galavan and Huff

Read it here>>Released in 2017, this book brings together best practices as outlined by three National University of Ireland business experts, working through ideas such as the role of intuition in decision making, managerial biases, and strategic change.

19. “Managing Oneself” by Peter F. Drucker

Peter F. Drucker

Read it here>> Widely regarded as the “father of modern management”, Peter F. Drucker’s 2017 tome is just the latest in his back catalogue of 39 books on management. A short but solid read, “Managing Oneself” promises to help employees at every level take control of their careers. 

18. “Resilient Organizations” by Erica Seville

Erica Seville

Read it here>>In “Resilient Organizations”, author Dr Erica Seville poses the question: “Do we need to wait until a crisis strikes to see how resilient an organization is?” Founder of the Resilient Organizations research programme, Dr Seville provides readers with the essential knowledge needed to allow businesses to thrive in the toughest of circumstances. 

17. “Leadershift” by John C. Maxwell


Read it here>>Released less than one year ago, “Leadershift” is the latest work by New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell. In “Leadershift”, Maxwell helps leaders make the changes the current fast-paced environment demands, including continual learning, speed, the big picture and uncertainty. 

16. “Get a Life!” by Rick Hughes

Kogan Page

Read it here>> Striking the correct work-life balance for you can be a hard task – and even harder to maintain, especially as circumstances change around you. “Get A Life!” is a practical handbook to help you get on top of it.Written by internationally renowned coach, counselor and wellbeing consultant Rick Hughes, his book covers everything from assessing your needs, workload management and roundly debunk the myths of perfectionism so prominent in places like Silicon Valley. 

15. “The Age of Influence” by Neal Schaffer


Read it here>> In many ways, social media has been a democratizing force, upending traditional notions of authority and influence, even as new information is created and consumed all around us. In “The Age of Influence”, Neal Schaffer – the internationally recognized social media marketing expert – outlines what part that shift has played in online marketing in “the Influencer Era”.”The Age of Influence” is a handbook for anyone who wants to successfully spread a message in the age of social media.

14. “Trailblazer” by Marc Benioff

REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Read it here>> When Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff called for greater regulation on the tech industry at the Davos World Economic Forum – going so far as to say Facebook ought to be reined in “the same way you regulated the cigarette industry” – he found himself at the center of a media frenzy.In “Trailblazer”, Benioff outlines a model for others to follow if they want to thrive in the modern business environment, with criticism of corporate greed bringing new pressures to bear on industry leaders. “Trailblazer” is a cutting-edge guidebook to help us all prepare for the arrival of “business for good”.

13. “The Future is Faster Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamadis and Steven Kotler

Simon & Schuster

Read it here>> Technology is accelerating far more quickly than anyone could have imagined. During the next decade, we will experience more upheaval and create more wealth than we have in the past hundred years.In this gripping and insightful roadmap to our near future, Diamandis and Kotler investigate how wave after wave of exponentially accelerating technologies will impact both our daily lives and society as a whole.What happens as AI, robotics, virtual reality, digital biology, and sensors crash into 3D printing, blockchain, and global gigabit networks? How will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? And what will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?

12. “Coronavirus: Leadership and Recovery: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review”

Harvard Business School

Read it here>> As the pandemic wreaks havoc with the global economy, forward-looking organizations are moving past crisis management and positioning themselves to leap ahead in a transformed economy after what this book dubs “Great Pause.” This book, distributed by from Harvard Business School, provides you with essential thinking about managing your company through the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping your employees – and yourself – healthy and productive, and challenging your business to continue innovating and reinvent itself ahead of the recovery.

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