Small Business Development Center

Leaders are Readers

Leaders are Readers

If you’re signed up for any business magazine’s RSS feed, titles like these probably frequent your inbox:

  • What CEOs are reading in 2017 from McKinsey & Company
  • These are the Books that CEOs are Reading Right Now from Fortune
  • 10 Books that famous CEOs loved reading from Business Insider


Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, who had a diverse consulting career and was an advocate for personal and professional development, famously said: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” If we want to be great entrepreneurs, managers, industry and community leaders and humans, then y’all, we had better start reading and networking!

As I approach the end of my 5th quarter in Western’s MBA program, I’m wrapping up two courses: Operations Management and Leadership and Management. Both were reading intensive (13 books plus case studies in 9 weeks) and showcased managerial techniques, operations principles, networking ideas and leadership qualities.

One course required students to select an individual book from a different list of “books for CEO’s.” I opted for Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, which recounts his true story of climbing Mount Everest in May 1994. Though the book is well known, and well regarded, my initial thoughts were, “how is this even relevant?” Not surprisingly, that sentiment didn’t last long.

Let me tell you what I picked up:

Train, train, train your team! Especially as new hires come in, catch them up on skills and company culture.

This might look like:

  • Hiring the right person for the right job or company
  • On the job training programs
  • Thorough skill development and practice as new programs are implemented
  • Professional development opportunities


To lead a lean operation and be successful as an organization, it is essential to provide proper training that will allow each team member to feel confident in his or her role. This confidence may cause more employee engagement that allows individuals to see issues, make decisions and contribute to improving the process.

Furthermore, focus on improvement. If proper procedures and culture are established, consider how they might be made better. At all costs, try not to forgo protocols that work.

Overall, I’m grateful I drowned in books this quarter. More and more, I am relating to the sentiment of Mr. Jones. I understand the intent. In five years, I intend to be better than today—and still improving.

If you want to know the specific details of Into Thin Air and how mountain climbing relates to business management, I recommend you pick up a copy. Draw your own conclusions and ponder the lessons that resonate with you.

If you’re just looking for an end of summer read or don’t know the story, I also recommend you pick it up. After all, we are in Bellingham where outdoor recreation is near and dear and many athletic principles can be applied to life for personal or professional growth.

As Charlie Jones put it: “Leaders are readers.”

by: Haley Halverson