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What CSR and Nonprofit Leaders Are Reading – Part I

It’s always fun to find out what others are reading and peruse their book shelves. Here’s a glimpse at the summer reading lists of a variety of people from business, nonprofits, and corporate social responsibility.

It’s always fun to find out what others are reading and peruse their book shelves. Here’s a glimpse at the summer reading lists of a variety of people from business, nonprofits, and corporate social responsibility.

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Matthew Bishop, Author, Philanthrocapitalism; U.S. Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief of The Economist : “I’m reading The Facebook Effect, by David Kirkpatrick; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, by Mario Vargas Llosa; and Showing Up For Life by Bill Gates Senior. I am enjoying all of them immensely, but the Gates book most of all – not just because it helps to understand better Gates Junior, but because it serves up lots of practical wisdom about how to live an effective life, from someone who was clearly a big person in his various communities long before his son made his billions.”

Greg Belinfanti, Managing Director, One Equity Partners; Board of Directors, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC): “The Great Bridge, by David McCullough. I used to run over the Brooklyn Bridge late at night to maintain my sanity when I used to live in Brooklyn after law school and was studying for the Bar. That’s when I started marveling at the architecture and just how amazing the Brooklyn Bridge is. I had finished reading about 100 pages of The Great Bridge when it was trapped in my office at Lehman Brothers in the wake of 9/11. We just moved back to Brooklyn this summer and I’ve been running over the Bridge again. Naturally, I thought of the book I never finished and am even more amazed by the Bridge than ever before!”

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis. It’s one of those books you have to be able to say you’ve read – everybody’s talking about. Perfect for a cocktail party or cautionary tales for a Board meeting. A must read for any investment professional who is frustrated by markets and at times thinks the world has gone insane. A true testament that logic, common sense and hard work will ultimately pay huge dividends even when the world seems crazy and the cards seemed inexplicably stacked against you.”

The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore. I saw a blurb on The Other Wes Moore in The New York Times and thought that it was such an amazing coincidence that I needed to know more. There is a reggae song called “Circumstances,” that has always stuck with me. One of the verses says ‘Circumstances made me what I am.’ I’ve never been really sure if that is 100% true. The Other Wes Moore is one of those cautionary tales about how the decisions one makes impact the circumstances in which one finds oneself. Those of us who make the right decisions should always remember, ‘Therefore but for the grace of God go I.'”

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George L. Majoros, Jr., President and Chief Operating Officer, Wasserstein & Co. ; Board of Directors, Case Western Reserve University: “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New World Order, by Martin Jacques. The title provides a great summary of the book, which is a fascinating yet troubling description of the global transformation resulting from China’s inevitable emerging and accelerating global hegemony. The Chinese people, economically, militarily and culturally are ascending, and we in the West ignore this global shift at our peril. We are seemingly blissfully unaware of the changes occurring before our eyes, but will surely all be impacted in the coming years.”

Bottlemania, by Elizabeth Royte. Through specific local stories, the book sets forth challenges we will all face due to the shortage and problems of providing sufficient clean drinking water to our growing population. Despite the anti-corporate undertone, the book raises compelling issues that inevitably will define our and our children’s future. As my firm is currently raising capital to make investments in the water services and products sector, the book was especially timely and compelling.”

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Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You? By Dr. Suess. The amazing Mr. Brown can make the sounds of a cow, bee, owl, rooster . . . you get the idea. (My one-year old really seems to like it…)”

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Clara Miller, President and CEO, Nonprofit Finance Fund: “I have the bad habit of having three or four books going simultaneously so I’ve got a bunch of titles for you! On the business side (although for this nerdy dame, these three or four are actually pleasure), I returned to graze the classic, Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, by Peter Bernstein. I made significant headway on This Time Is Different, by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (okay, okay, got past the section on the limitations of the data…which goes back to 1300 and before to chart financial crises); and just started The Spirit Level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pinkett, which is another data picnic, heartily recommended. It’s actually a profound analysis, based on 30 years of international data, of what economic conditions exist in countries with high crime, alcoholism, violence and similar (as well as the opposite).”

“On the pleasure side, I’ve consumed the three Stieg Larsson books, starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They were a little like Abba music: formulaic and nonetheless (or probably therefore) highly addictive. I found the Swedish-ness quirky and oddly compelling (tons of coffee consumed, cigarettes, motorcycle clubs, wholesome multi-gender sex–what’s not to like?). Finally, I have just started an old translation of one of my very favorite books, The Iliad, by Homer, translated by William Cowper. It’s terrific but, of course, not for the faint of heart! Lots of highly emotional and very violent guys tromping around the battlefield, interrupted from time to time by noble speeches and some very arbitrary gods (and goddesses).”

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Akhtar Badshah, Ph.D., Senior Director, Microsoft Global Community Affairs: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath’s seminal work on organizational and personal change and the forces both the rational and emotional mind that competes for control. The book shows how using simple techniques one can bring about control between the rational and emotional mind, i.e. the Rider and the Elephant. Through simple examples and stories the authors show change is possible in even the most entrenched and challenging situations by starting with what is possible and using small successes to help achieve scale. This book is an interesting take on Appreciative Inquiry the change management theory started at Case Western Reserve University.”

The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine. A compelling book on how nonprofits can effectively utilize social media to help organizations to grow, change, and succeed. With deep knowledge and experience, the authors use narrative and examples to show how nonprofits can become networked and also engage people in shaping and sharing their work. By becoming organizations that are easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out organizations are able to accomplish their missions far more effectively and at scale.”

Technology at the Margins: How IT Meets the Needs of Emerging Markets, by Sailesh Chutani, Jessica Rothenberg Aalami, and Akhtar Badshah. Published by Wiley and due out in late Fall, the book highlights through rich examples how existing information technology can be used effectively to address the most pressing needs of humanity in education, health, finance and environment.”

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Craig S. Medwick, Regional Managing Partner, Clifford Chance U.S. LLP; Board of Directors, American Red Cross in Greater New York: “Summertime reading for me tends toward leisure beach reading like Scott Turow’s Innocent his follow-up to Presumed Innocent, and Lee Childs’ 61 hours, a suspense novel. On the business front, I read books such as When Professionals Have to Lead, by Delong, Gabarro and Lees. As a managing partner in a law firm, it is necessary to continue to grow leadership and management, skills which are not necessarily taught in law school.”

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children by John Wood, the founder and executive chairman of Room To Read, a non-profit organization the Clifford Chance Foundation is partnering with in Vietnam to improve access to education. It’s an inspirational story. I am also reading Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It provides a fascinating look at how different leaders successfully communicate ideas so they gain traction no easy feat today. We live in a time when the amount of information absorbed each day makes you feel like you’re drinking from the proverbial fire hose; this book provides helpful tips for breaking through the clutter and getting your points to take hold.”

While you’re waiting for Part II feel free to share what you’ve read and what you recommend in the Comments section below.

About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions.

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