Roddy’s Recommended Reading for SMB Executives – 2023 Edition

For the past 15+ 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 six years ago and have updated annually since then. The list has expanded to 210 books thanks to recommendations from many of my SMB executive friends and RSPA members.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve read 18 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. To help make this over 200-title list more digestible, my 31 most highly recommended books are marked with a number sign (#). While every title on this list is at least very good, the highly recommended books are head of the class.

Of the new books I added this year, one cracked the highly recommended list: Radical Trust: How Today’s Great Leaders Convert People to Partners by Joe Healey. I discovered that book not through Amazon, not through a colleague recommendation, and not as a gift. I found it in an abandoned desk while cleaning out files this summer at the former RSPA headquarters in Charlotte. (RSPA is now an all-virtual work environment with employees across five states.) I wish I could thank someone for turning me on to Radical Trust, but I’ll have to settle for tipping my cap to our old friend serendipity.

I want to call out two other special new list additions, both authored by RSPA members. Tom Bronson of Mastery Partners has added a second book to his Maximize Business Value franchise with Maximize Business Value Playbook: 65 Specific Actions to Dramatically Increase the Value of Your Business. (You might recognize the handsome devil who wrote the book’s foreword.) And RSPA Past Chair Chelsey Paulson of member Keystone Group International has co-authored with Jaime Taets The Culture Climb: How To Build a Work Culture That Maximizes Your Impact. The book is available for pre-order now (I was lucky to receive an advance copy) and will be published in 2023.

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) Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty – Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick Delisi
  4. (The) Loyalty Effect – Fred Reichheld
  5. Loyalty Rules: How Today’s Leaders Build Lasting Relationships – Fred Reichheld
  6. #Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service – Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

General Business & Strategy

  1. *3HAG Way: The Strategic Execution System that Ensures Your Strategy is Not a Wild-Ass Guess! – Shannon Byrne Susko
  2. (The) Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business – Patrick Lencioni
  3. (The) Art of War – Sun Tzu
  4. (The) Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry – John Warrillow
  5. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  6. Built To Last – Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
  7. Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You – John Warrillow
  8. Creating Competitive Advantage – Jaynie Smith and William Flanagan
  9. (The) Creation of Wealth: The Tatas from the 19th to the 21st Century – R.M. Lala
  10. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too – Gary Vaynerchuk
  11. *(The) Culture Climb: How To Build a Work Culture That Maximizes Your Impact – Jaime Taets with Chelsey Paulson
  12. *(The) Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups – Daniel Coyle
  13. *(The) Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) – Seth Godin
  14. Double Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It No Matter What – Michael Treacy
  15. Double Your Profits in 6 Months or Less – Bob Fifer
  16. (The) Driving Force: Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People – Peter W. Schutz
  17. Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future – Scott D. Anthony, Clark G. Gilbert and Mark W. Johnson
  18. #(The) E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
  19. #Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past – Geoffrey A. Moore
  20. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  21. From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue – Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
  22. #Getting To Plan B – John Mullins and Randy Komisar
  23. (The) Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
  24. #Good To Great – Jim Collins
  25. Great By Choice – Jim Collins and Moren Hansen
  26. #(The) Great Game of Business – Jack Stack
  27. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies – Jim Stengel
  28. #How The Mighty Fall – Jim Collins
  29. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies – Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman
  30. Innovation Made Simple – Jeff Havens
  31. *Inside the Magic Kingdom: 7 Keys to Disney’s Success – Tom Connellan
  32. Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  33. Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace – Ricardo Semler
  34. Maximize Business Value: Begin with the Exit in Mind – Tom Bronson
  35. *Maximize Business Value Playbook: 65 Specific Actions to Dramatically Increase the Value of Your Business – Tom Bronson
  36. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World – Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
  37. Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success – Kevin and Jackie Frieberg
  38. On The Edge with Jim Roddy: Practical Advice for High-Initiative, Growth-Oriented VARs and ISVs – Jim Roddy
  39. Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow – Chip Conley
  40. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time – Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang
  41. #(The) Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact – Chip and Dan Heath
  42. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade – Robert Cialdini
  43. #Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin
  44. Restauranteur: Protect Your Profits! Discover Restaurant Scams and Technology Solutions – Don Potter
  45. Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives, and Small Business Owners – Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, and Scott Schaefer
  46. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it … and Why the Rest Don’t – Verne Harnish
  47. (The) Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business – John Battelle
  48. (The) SEI Way: Values and Practices of a Growing Company – Ron Alvesteffer, CEO, Service Express Inc.
  49. Simplify – Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood
  50. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big – Bo Burlingham
  51. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  52. Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business – Thomas Lah and J.B. Wood
  53. That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea – Marc Randolph
  54. (The) Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future – Steve Case
  55. (The) Toilet Paper Entrepreneur – Mike Michalowicz
  56. #Turning the Flywheel: Why Some Companies Build Momentum … and Others Don’t (A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great) – Jim Collins
  57. #Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen – Dan Heath
  58. *Vivid Vision: A Remarkable Tool for Aligning Your Business Around a Shared Vision of the Future – Cameron Herold
  59. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround – Lou Gerstner
  60. Your Stand Is Your Brand: How Deciding Who to Be (NOT What to Do) Will Revolutionize Your Business – Patrick Gentempo
  61. 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. #*Radical Trust: How Today’s Great Leaders Convert People to Partners – Joe Healey
  21. (The) Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership – James C. Hunter
  22. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness – Robert K. Greenleaf
  23. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
  24. #Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent – Sydney Finkelstein
  25. #Then Darkness Fled: The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington – Stephen Mansfield
  26. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  27. Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders – L. David Marquet
  28. *(The) Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business – Michael Hyatt


  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. *Get A Grip: How to Get Everything You Want from Your Entrepreneurial Business – Gino Wickman and Mike Paton
  13. How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way – Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  14. How To Be A Great Boss – Gino Wickman and Rene Boer
  15. #(The) Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues – Patrick Lencioni
  16. I Quit But Forgot To Tell You – Terri Kabachnick
  17. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy – Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
  18. Manager Of Choice – Nancy Ahlrichs
  19. #(The) One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  20. Ownership Thinking – Brad Hams
  21. (The) Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability – Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman
  22. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  23. ROE Powers ROI – R. Michael Rose
  24. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin
  25. Telling Ain’t Training: How You and Your Learners Can Achieve Astonishing Results – Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps
  26. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business – Gino Wickman
  27. What People Want: A Manager’s Guide to Building Relationships That Work – Terry Bacon
  28. What the Heck is EOS?: A Complete Guide for Employees and Companies Running EOS – Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer
  29. Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul – Karin Hurt and David Dye

Personal Development

  1. *(The) 4-Hour Workweek – Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – Tim Ferriss
  2. (The) 5AM Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast – Jeff Sanders
  3. 5 Laws That Determine Life’s Outcomes – Brett Harward
  4. (The) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen Covey
  5. (The) Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict – The Arbinger Institute
  6. *(The) Beauty of Discomfort: How What We Avoid is What We Need – Amanda Lang
  7. Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong – Eric Barker
  8. Chief Maker: The 5-Step Blueprint to Rising Above the Pack and Getting a Seat on the Executive Team – Greg Layton
  9. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem – Kevin DeYoung
  10. #Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
  11. #Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  12. Difficult Conversations – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Shelia Heen
  13. Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation – Jay Samit
  14. #Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill
  15. Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  16. (The) Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
  17. *(The) Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea – Bob Burg and John David Mann
  18. How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life – Alan Lakein
  19. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  20. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe Change the World – Admiral William H. McRaven
  21. Mastering Executive Presence: Career-Advancing Communication and Presentation Skills – Jennifer Vautier and John J. Vautier
  22. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
  23. Nice Bike: Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life – Mark Scharenbroich
  24. #(The) Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday
  25. Read To Lead: The Simple Habit That Expands Your Influence and Boosts Your Career – Jeff Brown and Jesse Wisnewski
  26. *(The) Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career – Jack and Suzy Welch
  27. #Speak As Well As You Think: An Executive’s Guide to Excellence in Public Speaking – John M. Vautier and John J. Vautier
  28. StrengthsFinder 2.0 – Tom Rath
  29. Twelve Pillars – Jim Rohn and Chris Widener
  30. (The) Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey
  31. You2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps – Price Pritchett, Ph.D.
  32. 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. *(The) Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts – Ryan Holiday
  9. #Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers – Seth Godin
  10. (The) Serving Mindset: Stop Selling and Grow Your Business – Farnoosh Brock
  11. Smart Prospecting That Works Every Time! – Michael Krause
  12. #(The) Trusted Advisor – David Maister


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

Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT 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 The CannaTech Group, 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