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Dog-Eared and Engaging: What’s on My Bookshelf

Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting  – Edmund Burke, Irish statesman

It’s funny, but becoming an author for some reason helps establish you as a critic. After my book The Loyalty Leap came out, I noticed that friends and strangers were suddenly interested in what was sitting on my bedside table. As if writing my own book had made me a man of letters.

But what the heck. I do in fact have several books on my bedside table, my desk and my iPad. I happen to be reading a couple that are intriguing enough to warrant an early shout out. A third book is on my short list, and I am eager to get to it. So if you want the opinion of a loyalty marketer, here is what I am recommending:

The Power of WhyThe Power of Why, by Amanda Lang

I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Lang recently when I appeared on the CBC show Lang and O’Leary Exchange to discuss hockey fan loyalty following the end of the NHL strike. Lang’s book challenges the reader to use a basic childhood trait, curiosity, to improve creativity and innovation. Built around simple but solid concepts (one chapter is titled “Talk to Strangers”) Lang explores the power of curiosity through the insights of innovation gurus, little-known research, the experiences of business leaders and her own candid stories of life off-camera. This book explains how asking the right questions can change the world and how it can change you, too.

The Human Face of Big DataThe Human Face of Big Data, by Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt

Did you know that 60 percent of all human beings are active texters? And that one in three American babies has an online presence before it is even born? These tidbits and others are among the revelations in this literally big book of data. Coffee table sized and beautifully designed, it is a visual feast of factoids, photographs and infographics that illustrate how our world is being transformed by the way that we capture, share and analyze data. I plan to refer to this book often as a resource guide while I prepare for speeches, blog posts and even dinner conversations.

Conscious CapitalismConscious Capitalism, by John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO

In this book, the co-founder of Whole Foods Market promotes free-market thinking while also criticizing Wall Street. John Mackey’s denunciation of Obamacare has attracted a lot of press coverage, but his main message is that of conscious capitalism, which honors ethics, nobility and other business missions besides profit. A high priority is applied not only to shareholders but also to stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and employees. Mackey calls this “the secret to sustained high performance,” and I believe it. Conscious capitalism is what led us to create Air Miles for Social Change, which through the AIR MILES Reward Program encourages members to live healthier, greener lifestyles.

This is a short list, but I plan to add more to my blog bookshelf every few weeks. In the meantime I’d be interested in knowing what’s on your reading list, as well as your thoughts on these books and others.

As Mark Twain said: The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.

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