During high school I picked up John Maxwell's “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You”, and it became the catalyst for my love of books. As someone who reads a lot of non-fiction, I try not fall prey to the idea that the next business book I read should upend my life or work. I do my best to digest what I read slowly, reconcile with what resonates, put the book back on the bookshelf (or give it away to a friend) and move on.
What books have you read and recommended to others that influence your leadership style and how you've developed your career?
Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles" is a book that has been within my arm's reach for over a decade. There's no doubt that we all face "resistance" in our lives and in our work. Pressfield teaches us how to understand the enemy that all creatives face and maps out how to overcome it. This book was catalytic in the early days of Whiteboard and continues to be a resource we anchor our work to.
Written by my friends at Praxis Labs, "The Redemptive Business: A Playbook for Leaders" is for founders, funders and teams building businesses that seek to operate not only ethically but also redemptively. I'm not sure there's been a more formative book that's captured my imagination on how the power of business can contribute to the common good.
If you struggle with pace or are haunted by the word "hustle," then John Mark Comer's "The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in Chaos of the Modern World" is a must read. It's been a book that keeps me grounded when life and schedules get crazy.
In leading a variety of creative work, I believe brands possess the underlying values of what we really care about. But underneath every brand is a narrative. With narrative, your organization can challenge the way others see the world and invite them on a journey toward deeper purpose. Jason Locy's "Culture-Bending Narratives: Moving Beyond Story to Create Meaningful Brands" is a staple in Whiteboard's brand-building work.
What books have you recently read for pleasure that you're telling others about?
I'm infatuated by Walt Disney's story and the way he organized the creative teams in the early days of Disney. "The Imagineering Story: The Official Biography of the Walt Disney Imagineers" expands on the Disney+ documentary.
Tony Fadell led the teams that created the iPod, iPhone, and Nest Learning Thermostat. His book, "Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making" is next on my list along with Bono's memoir, "Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story"; Ezra Klein's "Why We're Polarized"; and with all the wild innovation happening in the world of artificial intelligence, "The Age of AI: And Our Human Future" by Henry A. Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher.
Eric Brown is co-founder and chief vision officer at Whiteboard, where he helps clients connect the dots between strategic vision, brand expression and digital experience. Since starting the company in 2010, he has served organizations across all facets of the internet -- websites, apps, branding, automation and advertising -- helping more than 400 organizations lead digital transformation, end-to-end. Brown has helped steer creative initiatives for clients such as Steam Logistics, The Tennessee Aquarium, Praxis, Airbus, NCR, Clear, TED, Immerse, Aro, Trilith Studios, Wellview, WinShape, Charityvest and more.