Roddy’s Recommended Reading for SMB Executives – 2022 Edition

By: Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing & VAR/ISV Business Advisor 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 five years ago and have updated annually since then. The list has expanded to 192 books thanks to recommendations from many of my SMB executive friends.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve read 25 additional books, each new title identified on the list below with an asterisk (*). Roddy’s Recommended Reading is categorized by subject and then listed in alphabetical order. And since we’re closing in on a 200-title list, this year I’ve added a new feature to help make RRR more digestible. My 30 most highly recommended books are marked with a number sign (#), and they cover a range of topics and authors – from comedian David Nihill to Saint Mother Teresa. While every title on this list is at least very good, the highly recommended books are head of the class.

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

# denotes highly recommended

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. *#Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin
  38. Restauranteur: Protect Your Profits! Discover Restaurant Scams and Technology Solutions – Don Potter
  39. Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives, and Small Business Owners – Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, and Scott Schaefer
  40. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it … and Why the Rest Don’t – Verne Harnish
  41. (The) Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business – John Battelle
  42. (The) SEI Way: Values and Practices of a Growing Company – Ron Alvesteffer, CEO, Service Express Inc.
  43. Simplify – Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood
  44. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big – Bo Burlingham
  45. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  46. Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business – Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood
  47. *That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea – Marc Randolph
  48. (The) Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future – Steve Case
  49. (The) Toilet Paper Entrepreneur – Mike Michalowicz
  50. #Turning the Flywheel: Why Some Companies Build Momentum … and Others Don’t (A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great) – Jim Collins
  51. *#Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen – Dan Heath
  52. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround – Lou Gerstner
  53. *Your Stand Is Your Brand: How Deciding Who to Be (NOT What to Do) Will Revolutionize Your Business – Patrick Gentempo
  54. *Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption – Geoffrey A. Moore


  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. *(The) 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You – John C. Maxwell
  3. Authentic Leadership – Bill George
  4. *(The) CEO Next Door: The Four Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders – Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell
  5. *Great Leaders Ask Questions: A Fortune 100 List – Bob Tiede
  6. Influence – Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.
  7. Jack: Straight From The Gut – Jack Welch with John Byrne
  8. Jack Welch and the 4Es of Leadership – Jeffrey Krames
  9. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t – Simon Sinek
  10. Leadership And The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigami and Drea Zigami
  11. (The) Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs – John Maxwell
  12. #Leadership in Turbulent Times – Doris Kearns Goodwin
  13. *Leading From Anywhere: The Essential Guide to Managing Remote Teams – David Burkus
  14. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg
  15. Many Parts, One Body: Healthier Leaders, Healthier Teams, A Healthier You – Rubi Ho
  16. *(The) Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities – Patrick Lencioni
  17. #Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter – Liz Wiseman
  18. (The) Power of Thanks – Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
  19. (The) Power of Your Leadership: Making a Difference with Others – John C. Maxwell
  20. (The) Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership – James C. Hunter
  21. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness – Robert K. Greenleaf
  22. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
  23. #Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent – Sydney Finkelstein
  24. #Then Darkness Fled: The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington – Stephen Mansfield
  25. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  26. 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. *Culture By Design: Eight Simple Steps to Drive Better Individual and Organizational Performance – David J. Friedman
  7. *(The) Daily Drucker: 365 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done – Peter Drucker with Joseph Maciariello
  8. Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise – Horst Schulze
  9. #Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
  10. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  11. First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  12. How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way – Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  13. How To Be A Great Boss – Gino Wickman and Rene Boer
  14. #(The) Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues – Patrick Lencioni
  15. I Quit But Forgot To Tell You – Terri Kabachnick
  16. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy – Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
  17. Manager Of Choice – Nancy Ahlrichs
  18. #(The) One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  19. Ownership Thinking – Brad Hams
  20. (The) Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability – Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman
  21. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  22. *ROE Powers ROI – R. Michael Rose
  23. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin
  24. Telling Ain’t Training: How You and Your Learners Can Achieve Astonishing Results – Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps
  25. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business – Gino Wickman
  26. What People Want: A Manager’s Guide to Building Relationships That Work – Terry Bacon
  27. *What the Heck is EOS?: A Complete Guide for Employees and Companies Running EOS – Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer
  28. Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul – Karin Hurt and David Dye

Personal Development

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

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. *(The) Serving Mindset: Stop Selling and Grow Your Business – Farnoosh Brock
  10. Smart Prospecting That Works Every Time! – Michael Krause
  11. #(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. Run To The Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear – Paul Assaiante and James Zug
  13. Russell Rules: 11 Leadership Lessons from the 20th Century’s Greatest Winner – Bill Russell with David Falkner
  14. *Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary – Ernie Johnson Jr.
  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
  18. *Wooden: A Coach’s Life – Seth Davis


  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. *Little Book of Big “Leading with Questions” Quotes – Bob Tiede
  10. (The) Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley and William Danko
  11. #Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom – Carol Kelly-Gangi
  12. *Now That’s a Great Question – Bob Tiede
  13. *Powerful Panels: A step-by-step guide to moderating lively and informative panel discussions at meetings, conferences, and conventions – Kristin Arnold
  14. Professor Wellstone Goes To Washington: The Inside Story of a Grassroots U.S. Senate Campaign – Dennis McGrath and Dane Smith
  15. Race For Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations – Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers
  16. #Tao Te Ching: The Book of the Way and How it Manifests Itself in the World – new English version by Stephen Mitchell
  17. (The) Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcom Gladwell
  18. Wherever Men Trade: The Romance of the Cash Register – Isaac Marcosson

Jim Roddy is the Vice President of Marketing and a Business Advisor 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 has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by 420MSP, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact