Annie Gough

January 16, 2023

Small Giants Community's Favorite Books

Book blog banner-3

The start of a new year is a great time to set a vision for personal or professional goals, and maybe even pick up a new skill or hobby. It’s also the perfect time to revamp your reading list! Here within the Small Giants Community, we’re all about being lifelong learners, and building your library is one way to treat every day like a school day.

Of course, our first book recommendation is always the book that started it all for us, and the reason we’re all here: Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham. We hope this one is already on your shelf! 

Below is a list of other beloved books written or recommended by Small Giants. Have a book that’s rocked your world when it comes to culture, business, and leadership? We’d love to hear about it! 


Head & Heart Leadership 


The Invisible Leader Zach MercurioThe Invisible Leader by Zach Mercurio

Zach Mercurio combines equal parts extensive research and inspiration in this book to detail how you can discover, clarify, and deliver your authentic purpose. By weaving purpose into your personal and professional life, you can become a more confident, people-oriented leader and have a great impact on your organization. 



BB_AtlasOfTheHeart-1099x1536Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown lays out 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. Through recognizing these sign posts within ourselves, we can learn to become better at telling our own stories, as well as cultivate authentic connections.



donothing rob dubedonothing by Rob Dube

Interested in picking up meditation in 2023? This book could be your entry point! With over a decade of meditation practice under his belt, Rob Dube writes about his own experience, that of other leaders, and also includes scientific explanations to showcase the various benefits of incorporating mindfulness into our lives.



permission to screw up kristen hadeedPermission to Screw Up by Kristen Hadeed

Kristen Hadeed is here to remind us that perfection is an unattainable goal. Read her story of taking a cleaning business she started while in college to new heights as an emblem of strong culture and retention rates. However, she’s the first to admit that she’s made plenty of mistakes, each accompanied by its own lesson learned; proof that action can be the greatest educator.



start with why simon sinekStart with Why by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek shows us that all great leaders think, act, and communicate in the same way, by using his framework, The Golden Circle. Simply put, at the core of any compelling and sustainable organization or movement is a common denominator: the why. 




originals adam grantOriginals by Adam Grant 

Using case studies from all different walks of life, Adam Grant details how creativity, good ideas, and a strong conviction can disrupt the status quo in powerful and wonderful ways. 



rocket fuel gino wickmanRocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters

Oftentimes, two leaders are better than one. Read on to discover how the relationship between Visionary and Integrator™ in an organization can be an integral component to successfully running a company with equal parts head and heart.




Untamed-Glennon-Doyle-Two-MillionUntamed by Glennon Doyle

For all of the female leaders out there who feel overextended, overcommitted, and maybe just a little bit over it: this one’s for you. Untamed is a book about how to be brave, and how to live for ourselves so we can also be more present for others and the things that fill us with purpose.




its my company too tom walterIt’s My Company Too! by Tom Walter

What’s the next step beyond an engaged workforce? An entangled one, in which employees are so committed to their organization, that they are part of the very essence of what keeps the organization running. Read about eight such companies and how you can apply these findings to your own organization.



why is everyone smiling Why Is Everyone Smiling? by Paul Spiegelman

Before he was the co-founder of the Small Giants Community, Paul Spiegelman was CEO of BerylHealth. There, he built a company – largely comprised of a call center – with an award-winning culture, high customer loyalty, and profits reinvested in the employees. He writes about how allowing everyone the chance to feel truly important can create a life-changing organization, as well as one brimming with success.



contagious culture anese cavanaughContagious Culture by Anese Cavanaugh

Looking to foster an interactive book club with your team? This could be a good pick! Anese Cavanaugh discusses how to build an energizing and innovative culture from the inside out. There are also discussion guides and videos available to accompany the book to help kickstart a fruitful conversation.



5 dysfunctions of a teamThe Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni 

Many of us learn best when the lesson is put into the form of a story, and Patrick Lencioni’s book is a prime example of that. This fable, centered around a new CEO trying to bring her team back from the brink, illustrates the five behavioral tendencies that pose challenges for even the strongest team, and how to combat them.



good to great jim collinsGood to Great by Jim Collins

After studying 28 different organizations over five years, Jim Collins and his team of researchers discovered some distinct, intriguing findings as to why some companies can make the leap from mediocrity to greatness, while others fall on their face. Read this compelling book to find insight as to how to energize your leadership team and culture into seeking greatness – however you may define it.



dear white friend mel gravelyDear White Friend by Mel Gravely

Over the past several years, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have become increasingly talked about topics in the workplace. Read Mel Gravely’s book for a compassionate, approachable, and research-backed entry point into what is often an uncomfortable conversation. He discusses his own journey in the business world and rise to CEO as a black man in the United States, as well as the history that has shaped our country into a fractured, yet fixable, world. 



it doesnt have to be crazy at work jason friedIt Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Goodbye hustle culture, hello calm company. The authors of this book speak from their own experience of running their company, Basecamp, as to why working smarter, with less distractions, and instilling a calm energy, allows for better productivity, profits, and culture. 



lapsed anarchists approach ari weinzweigA Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business by Ari Weinzweig

Hear from the founder of one of the original Small Giants companies! Learn the building blocks that help to create the company we all know and love as Zingerman's, and how those elements can be translated into any type of organization.



Transparency & Financials


the GGOB jack stackThe Great Game of Business by Jack Stack & Bo Burlingham

If you’re curious about open-book management, then start with what is arguably the original source. In The Great Game of Business, Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham outline how this method of involving transparency and strong communication throughout an organization can boost profits and employee engagement alike.



ownership corey rosenOwnership: Reinventing Companies, Capitalism, and Who Owns What by Corey Rosen and John Case

This practical guide filled with lots of real-life examples breaks down the history of the United State’s structure of Capitalism, and then goes on to detail how to make it work for the many rather than the few: by spreading the sustainable wealth that is ownership. Whether or not you’re interested in developing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or similar structure for your organization, this is a compelling read for anyone interested in the practicalities of economics.


SELF ELECTED lisa wiseSelf-Elected: How to Put Justice Over Profit and Soar in Business by lisa wise

Part memoir, part business book, and part manifesto, lisa wise guides us through her childhood and entrepreneurial journey to show how social justice and profit can go hand-in-hand. As a child who grew up with housing insecurity, she took that part of herself and grew it into a passion for helping others who also face the same insecurities, all while also growing a successful family of property management companies. 


60 minute CFO david duryee60 Minute CFO by David A. Duryee

Operating as a comprehensive management and financial guide, this book aims to bridge the gap between business owner, banker, and CPA. Learn how bankers analyze financial statements, insights on bank procedures, and more so that everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to your organization’s financials.


Want to hear from some of these authors live and in person? Join us for the 2023 Small Giants Community Summit. Registration is open! 

Register Today

About Annie Gough

Annie Gough is a writer who is driven by the power of a good story to bring people together. As the Small Giants Community's Chief Storyteller, she strives to bring out the human element in business, and provide a platform for people who emulate what it means to be a Small Giant and might inspire others to do the same. She has been a Challenge Detroit Fellow, holds a master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling, and has worked with a broad range of clients on vibrant marketing and copywriting content. In her spare time, Annie enjoys volunteering at the local animal shelter, writing fiction, simulating the cooking show Chopped in her own kitchen, and enjoying the company of her very lazy mutt, Paisley.