Roddy’s Recommended Reading for SMB Executives – 2021 Edition

By: Jim Roddy, VP of Sales & Marketing at the RSPA

For the past 10+ years, I’ve dedicated time most every week to leadership-based reading. I’ve kept track of the highest-quality books to compile “Roddy’s Recommended Reading,” a list I first shared publicly four years ago and have updated annually since then. The list has expanded to 168 books thanks to recommendations from many of my SMB executive friends.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve read 10 additional books, each new title identified on the list below with an asterisk (*). I have a valid reason why a typically voracious reader like myself fell behind a one-book-per-month pace in 2020. In September I published my own book, The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success, profiles of 31 underdog non-scholarship athletes who parlayed their college experience into habits that led to success in a variety of professions. The book’s core message is that ordinary people will accomplish extraordinary feats when their energy is properly channeled. To learn more about The Walk-On Method, check out its Amazon page or reach out to me anytime.

Roddy’s Recommended Reading is categorized by subject and then listed in alphabetical order. In another year, I’ll update this list again so you can see what else I’ve discovered. Best of luck on your journey to become a dedicated leader and reader!

* denotes new addition to this year’s list

Customer Service

  1. Answering the Ultimate Question – Laura Brooks and Richard Owen
  2. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh
  3. (The) Loyalty Effect – Fred Reichheld
  4. Loyalty Rules: How Today’s Leaders Build Lasting Relationships – Fred Reichheld
  5. Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service – Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

General Business & Strategy

  1. (The) Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business – Patrick Lencioni
  2. (The) Art of War – Sun Tzu
  3. (The) Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry – John Warrillow
  4. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  5. Built To Last – Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
  6. Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You – John Warrillow
  7. Creating Competitive Advantage – Jaynie Smith and William Flanagan
  8. (The) Creation of Wealth: The Tatas from the 19th to the 21st Century – R.M. Lala
  9. *Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too – Gary Vaynerchuk
  10. Double Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It No Matter What – Michael Treacy
  11. Double Your Profits in 6 Months or Less – Bob Fifer
  12. (The) Driving Force: Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People – Peter W. Schutz
  13. Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future – Scott D. Anthony, Clark G. Gilbert and Mark W. Johnson
  14. (The) E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
  15. Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past – Geoffrey A. Moore
  16. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  17. From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue – Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
  18. Getting To Plan B – John Mullins and Randy Komisar
  19. (The) Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
  20. Good To Great – Jim Collins
  21. Great By Choice – Jim Collins and Moren Hansen
  22. (The) Great Game of Business – Jack Stack
  23. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies – Jim Stengel
  24. How The Mighty Fall – Jim Collins
  25. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies – Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman
  26. Innovation Made Simple – Jeff Havens
  27. Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  28. Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace – Ricardo Semler
  29. *Maximize Business Value: Begin with the Exit in Mind – Tom Bronson
  30. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World – Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
  31. Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success – Kevin and Jackie Frieberg
  32. On The Edge with Jim Roddy: Practical Advice for High-Initiative, Growth-Oriented VARs and ISVs – Jim Roddy
  33. Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow – Chip Conley
  34. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time – Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang
  35. (The) Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact – Chip and Dan Heath
  36. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade – Robert Cialdini
  37. Restauranteur: Protect Your Profits! Discover Restaurant Scams and Technology Solutions – Don Potter
  38. Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives, and Small Business Owners – Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, and Scott Schaefer
  39. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it … and Why the Rest Don’t – Verne Harnish
  40. (The) Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business – John Battelle
  41. (The) SEI Way: Values and Practices of a Growing Company – Ron Alvesteffer, CEO, Service Express Inc.
  42. Simplify – Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood
  43. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big – Bo Burlingham
  44. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  45. Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business – Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood
  46. (The) Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future – Steve Case
  47. (The) Toilet Paper Entrepreneur – Mike Michalowicz
  48. *Turning the Flywheel: Why Some Companies Build Momentum … and Others Don’t (A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great) – Jim Collins
  49. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround – Lou Gerstner


  1. Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – Jim Roddy :)
  2. Hire With Your Head – Lou Adler
  3. Hiring The Best: A Manager’s Guide to Effective Interviewing and Recruiting – Martin Yate
  4. Who: The “A” Method for Hiring – Geoff Smart and Randy Street


  1. (The) 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  2. Authentic Leadership – Bill George
  3. Influence – Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.
  4. Jack: Straight From The Gut – Jack Welch with John Byrne
  5. Jack Welch and the 4Es of Leadership – Jeffrey Krames
  6. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t – Simon Sinek
  7. Leadership And The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigami and Drea Zigami
  8. (The) Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs – John Maxwell
  9. Leadership in Turbulent Times – Doris Kearns Goodwin
  10. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg
  11. Many Parts, One Body: Healthier Leaders, Healthier Teams, A Healthier You – Rubi Ho
  12. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter – Liz Wiseman
  13. (The) Power of Thanks – Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
  14. (The) Power of Your Leadership: Making a Difference with Others – John C. Maxwell
  15. (The) Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership – James C. Hunter
  16. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness – Robert K. Greenleaf
  17. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
  18. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent – Sydney Finkelstein
  19. Then Darkness Fled: The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington – Stephen Mansfield
  20. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  21. *Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders – L. David Marquet


  1. 2-Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Lean Culture – Paul A. Akers
  2. 30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers – Bruce Katcher
  3. *Building Trust: How to Get it! How to Keep it! – Hyler Bracey
  4. (The) Carrot Principle – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
  5. *(The) Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande
  6. *Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise – Horst Schulze
  7. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
  8. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  9. First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  10. How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way – Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  11. How To Be A Great Boss – Gino Wickman and Rene Boer
  12. (The) Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues – Patrick Lencioni
  13. I Quit But Forgot To Tell You – Terri Kabachnick
  14. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy – Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
  15. Manager Of Choice – Nancy Ahlrichs
  16. (The) One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  17. Ownership Thinking – Brad Hams
  18. (The) Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability – Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman
  19. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  20. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin
  21. Telling Ain’t Training: How You and Your Learners Can Achieve Astonishing Results – Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps
  22. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business – Gino Wickman
  23. What People Want: A Manager’s Guide to Building Relationships That Work – Terry Bacon
  24. Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul – Karin Hurt and David Dye

Personal Development

  1. 5 Laws That Determine Life’s Outcomes – Brett Harward
  2. (The) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen Covey
  3. (The) Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict – The Arbinger Institute
  4. Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong – Eric Barker
  5. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem – Kevin DeYoung
  6. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  7. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  8. Difficult Conversations – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Shelia Heen
  9. Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation – Jay Samit
  10. Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill
  11. (The) Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
  12. How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life – Alan Lakein
  13. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  14. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe Change the World – Admiral William H. McRaven
  15. Mastering Executive Presence: Career-Advancing Communication and Presentation Skills – Jennifer Vautier and John J. Vautier
  16. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
  17. Nice Bike: Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life – Mark Scharenbroich
  18. (The) Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday
  19. Speak As Well As You Think: An Executive’s Guide to Excellence in Public Speaking – John M. Vautier and John J. Vautier
  20. StrengthsFinder 2.0 – Tom Rath
  21. Twelve Pillars – Jim Rohn and Chris Widener
  22. (The) Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey
  23. You2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps – Price Pritchett, Ph.D.

Sales & Marketing

  1. (The) 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries and Jack Trout
  2. (The) Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results – Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, and Nick Toman
  3. (The) Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation – Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
  4. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers – Geoffrey A. Moore
  5. Let’s Get Real Or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship – Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig
  6. Marketing Your Dreams: Lessons in Business and Life from Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Marketing Genius – Pat Williams and Michael Weinreb
  7. *New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development – Mike Weinberg
  8. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers – Seth Godin
  9. Smart Prospecting That Works Every Time! – Michael Krause
  10. (The) Trusted Advisor – David Maister


  1. (The) Carolina Way – Dean Smith, Gerald Bell, and John Kligo
  2. Coach K’s Little Blue Book: Lessons from College Basketball’s Best Coach – Barry Jacobs
  3. Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success – John Wooden and Jay Carty
  4. (The) Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership – John Wooden and Steve Jamison
  5. Everyone’s A Coach – Ken Blanchard and Don Shula
  6. Great Teams: 16 Things High-Performing Organizations Do Differently – Don Yeager
  7. Hard Work – Roy Williams and Tim Crothers
  8. How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer – Buster Olney
  9. How To Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader – Pat Williams
  10. (The) Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball – John Feinstein
  11. (The) Road to 138: The Inside Story of the Insanely Fast, Record-Breaking Grinnell Pioneers – Ross Preston
  12. Rudy’s Insights For Winning In Life – Rudy Ruettiger
  13. Run To The Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear – Paul Assaiante and James Zug
  14. Russell Rules: 11 Leadership Lessons from the 20th Century’s Greatest Winner – Bill Russell with David Falkner
  15. Walk-On: Life From the End of the Bench – Alan Williams
  16. *(The) Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success: 31 Underdogs Who Became Extraordinary (And So Can You!) – Jim Roddy :)
  17. (The) Wisdom of Walk-Ons: 7 Winning Strategies for College, Business, and Life – Dr. Paul Corona


  1. (The) Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama
  2. Before You Join a Board – John Balkom
  3. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcom Gladwell
  4. Dead On Arrival: How to Avoid the Legal Mistakes that Could Kill Your Startup – Roger Royse
  5. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack Obama
  6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink
  7. *Inspire Action: The Definitive Guide to Audience Management – David Wible
  8. (The) Last Lecture – Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
  9. (The) Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley and William Danko
  10. Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom – Carol Kelly-Gangi
  11. Professor Wellstone Goes To Washington: The Inside Story of a Grassroots U.S. Senate Campaign – Dennis McGrath and Dane Smith
  12. Race For Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations – Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers
  13. Tao Te Ching: The Book of the Way and How it Manifests Itself in the World – new English version by Stephen Mitchell
  14. (The) Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcom Gladwell
  15. Wherever Men Trade: The Romance of the Cash Register – Isaac Marcosson

Jim Roddy is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. For more information, contact