2022 CFO Summer Reading List

CFO Magazine asked Finance leaders from around A/NZ to recommend the books and podcasts that have inspired, entertained and motivated through 2021 for this year’s CFO Summer reading list!

We hope that this provides some thought provoking and entertaining reading, ready to inspire for the new year!  

> CFO of the Future: The trusted guide for CFOs to lead with IMPACT and create VALUE

By Alena Bennett

Boards, Investors and CEOs are looking to their CFO for the guidance and strength to drive performance now and into the future. Whether you’re juggling the spinning plates or ready to move from Business Partner to Playmaker, the 12 CFO skills Alena shares in this trusted guide will enable you to lead with significance and will allow you to walk away feeling confident in your current role and empowered to create your next.

CFO Comments – Like the 80/20 CFO, it is a quick read (less than 2hrs) and groups 12 essential skills for CFOs into 4 key areas. As a Finance Leader who is passionate about amplifying the impact of Finance within an organisation and sees the function as the co-pilot to the business, I have been using this book as a personal reference guide on a daily basis. It’s also a great reference for any finance professional wanting to increase the influence and impact they and their team has on business performance and creating strategic value.

> Bad Boss – What to Do if You Work for One, Manage One or Are One

By Michelle Gibbings

Bad Boss is for anyone who is in — or who is keen to avoid — a negative workplace environment characterised by ineffective leadership. Believe it or not, bad bosses are not bad people, and there are concrete steps you can take to improve your situation.

Inside, author Michelle Gibbings shares wisdom drawn from decades in corporate leadership. It takes teamwork at every level to create an environment where everyone can flourish. If you dare to examine your own role in your current situation and take action today, you stand to gain better relationships and greater career satisfaction.

> Atomic Habits

By James Clear

People think that when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions- doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call.

He calls them atomic habits.

In this ground-breaking book, Clears reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.

> Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

By Adam Grant

Bestselling author and TED podcast star, Adam Grant examines the critical art of rethinking — how questioning your beliefs and knowing what you don’t know can lead you to success at work and happiness at home

CFO comments – A great book which gets you thinking about how you think and to rethink your assumptions about life (personal, professional, business, etc) from having a greater awareness of your thinking. I found it useful given changing business models and previous (not challenged) shared views of how things work, which have all been disrupted in the past 21mths due to COVID. A great thought-provoking book and reference for anyone tackling post pandemic challenges.

> Meaning Matters – Results Beyond the Numbers

By Alena Bennett

Women in finance often have a disconnect between their purpose and their number crunching hyper-analytical jobs. Yet women in finance want more than money and status! They want to deliver results beyond the numbers.

This book covers exactly why prioritising discovering your purpose is the key to exceptional performance, unwavering confidence and continued career progress. In the first book specifically written for this audience, Alena shows you how to figure out where you want to go, the capabilities and principles you need, and how to bring it all to life. In a male dominated field, discovering your purpose and integrating it into your work is essential to thrive. This practical guidebook for women in finance will help you find your purpose and execute it exactly where you’re at.

CFO Comments – Whilst targeted at women in Finance, I think this is a great book for anyone (male & female) in Finance (or any profession) who wants to discover and use their purpose at work to thrive, drive change and make an impact. I found the models and frameworks within the book really helpful for identifying what’s important, how to amplify my impact as a finance leader and ways to prepare for various conversations with key stakeholders.

> The Nine Types of Leader: How the Leaders of Tomorrow Can Learn from The Leaders of Today

By James Ashton

Renowned journalist, James Ashton assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each leadership type, highlighting where and when they are best deployed, whilst helping you identify who you are and how you can improve performance. As the world seeks to recover from drastic disruption and uncertainty and the most acute test of leadership in living memory, it projects how future leaders can learn from what has gone before.

> Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work

By Sue Unerman, Kathryn Jacob & Mark Edwards

There’s never been more discussion around diversity and inclusion in the workplace. From gender pay gaps and the #MeToo movement to Black Lives Matter, it seems that every organization has finally recognised that lasting change needs to happen.

Various studies show that the most successful and productive senior management teams are those which are truly diverse and eclectic. Yet there remains only 8 female CEOs of FTSE 100 boards, and only 10 BAME people working in leadership roles across companies in the FTSE 100. While there has been a clear shift in attitudes, actual progress towards more inclusive workspaces has been excruciatingly slow and, in some cases, has ground to a halt. Following extensive research and interviews at over 200 international businesses, Kathryn Jacob, Sue Unerman and Mark Edwards have discovered one major problem that is holding back the move towards greater diversity: why aren’t the men getting involved?

Most men are not engaged with D&I initiatives in the workplace – at one extreme they may be feeling actively hostile and threatened by the changing cultural landscape. But others may be unmotivated to change – recognising the abstract benefits of diversity but not realising what’s in it for them. The time for change is long past. Belonging is the call to action we need today -the tool to turn the men in power into allies as we battle discrimination, harassment, pay gaps, and structural racism and patriarchy at every level of the workplace. The lessons in this book will help us work together to build a better workplace where everyone feels they belong.

> No Rules Rules – Netflix and Culture of Reinvention

By Reed Hastings  & Erin Meyer

It’s time to do things differently. Trust your team. Be radically honest. And never, ever try to please your boss.

These are some of the ground rules if you work at Netflix. Reed Hastings, Netflix Chairman and CEO, is sharing the secrets that have revolutionised the entertainment and tech industries. From unlimited holidays to abolishing approvals, Netflix offers a fundamentally different way to run any organisation, one far more in tune with an ever-changing fast-paced world. For anyone interested in creativity, productivity and innovation, the Netflix culture is something close to a holy grail. This book will make it, and its creator, fully accessible for the first time.

CFO Comments – I love it because it challenges all the historically cherished organisational rules and pioneers how you could treat staff as adults responsible for the success of the business as oppose to children who can’t be trusted.

> Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

By Chris Voss

After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a kidnapping negotiator brought him face-to-face with bank robbers, gang leaders and terrorists. Never Split the Difference takes you inside his world of high-stakes negotiations, revealing the nine key principles that helped Voss and his colleagues succeed when it mattered the most – when people’s lives were at stake. Rooted in the real-life experiences of an intelligence professional at the top of his game, Never Split the Difference will give you the competitive edge in any discussion.

CFO Comments – So valuable that I had to listen to the audiobook twice. It teaches the art of negotiations and how to build trust with even the most difficult people. The author was a hostage negotiator, so he would know!

> The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

By Annie Murphy Paul

CFO Comments – challenging the notion of solo thinking and decision making which often fraught with personal perceptions and biases and advocating the use of highly networked world to transform out thinking.

> A World Without Email: Find Focus and Transform the Way You Work Forever

By Cal Newport.

Bestselling author Cal Newport argues that this steady flow of distractions disrupts us from achieving any meaningful work, causes us undue stress and is costing businesses millions in the form of untapped potential. In this visionary book, he reveals how to reimagine and redesign work without the constant pings of email distracting us. Drawing on a fascinating array of case studies and offering practical solutions, Newport shows us how a world without email will liberate people to do their most profound, fulfilling and creative work – and much more of it too.

> Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life

By Susan David

Every day we speak around 16,000 words – but inside minds we create tens of thousands more. Thoughts such as ‘I’m not spending enough time with my children’ or ‘I’m not good enough to present my work’ can seem to be unshakable facts. In reality, they’re the judgemental opinions of our inner voice.

Drawing on more than twenty years of academic research, consulting, and her own experiences overcoming adversity, Susan David PhD, a psychologist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, has pioneered a new way to enable us to make peace with our inner self, achieve our most valued goals, make real change, and live life to the fullest. Emotional Agility describes a new way of living and relating to yourself and the world around you. Become aware of your true nature, learn to face your emotions with acceptance and generosity, act according to your deepest values, and flourish.

> Fear Less: How to Win at Life Without Losing Yourself

By Dr Pippa Grange

We strive for success, but we are rarely happy. The more we try to win – putting on a brave face for work or family – the more we risk losing ourselves. And even reaching our goals can feel strangely hollow. The culprit? Fear. It makes us anxious, or shameful, or turns us into perfectionists. We pretend to be someone else while aiming for a status that’s never truly satisfying.

There is another way. A way to find our true voice, to win on our own terms. Building that open mindset is at the heart of this mould-breaking book by Dr Pippa Grange, the psychologist who helped transform the England team, taking them all the way to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

In Fear Less, Pippa Grange shows all of us how, by starting to live with less fear, we can find our real passions and deeper fulfilment. Her simple manifesto enables us to replace stress with courage, and connect with the people around us on a far deeper level. This type of success isn’t about trophies or beating others, it’s about winning at the very deepest level- winning from within. It’s time to fear less.

> White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

By Robin DiAngelo

A practical, crystallising guide for how white people can change the way they communicate and fight racism

Anger. Fear. Guilt. Denial. Silence. These are the ways in which ordinary white people react when it is pointed out to them that they have done or said something that has – unintentionally – caused racial offence or hurt. After, all, a racist is the worst thing a person can be, right? But these reactions only serve to silence people of colour, who cannot give honest feedback to ‘liberal’ white people lest they provoke a dangerous emotional reaction.

Robin DiAngelo coined the term ‘White Fragility’ in 2011 to describe this process and is here to show us how it serves to uphold the system of white supremacy. Using knowledge and insight gained over decades of running racial awareness workshops, she shows us how we can start having more honest conversations, listen to each other better and react to feedback with grace and humility. It is not enough to simply hold abstract progressive views and condemn the obvious racists on social media – change starts with us all at a practical, granular level, and it is time for all white people to take responsibility for relinquishing their own racial supremacy.

> Secrets of Rockstar CFOs

By Jack McCullough

Based upon conversations with elite CFOs, from Silicon Valley startups to Fortune 500 multinationals, in this Book Jack McCullough describes their key common traits regardless of their individual paths and journeys. You’ll learn the practices that make world-class CFOs, and how these people have become leaders in finance, strategy and operations. The book is, by design, a very quick read at 5,000 words.

> Building a Winning Career – A Complete Guide to Securing & Thriving in your Ideal Senior Role

By William Cowan

Do you know how to seek out and win your next executive role? Are you well prepared to take the next steps in your career? If not, you may fail to reach your full potential and miss out on building a winning career. Most career advice available today does not address the needs of senior job seekers. Building a Winning Career sets out a proven process that has worked for hundreds of senior executives, delivering superior results for those considering their next career move.

> Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he?

> Billion Dollar Loser

By Reeves Wiedeman

Based on more than two hundred interviews, Billion Dollar Loser chronicles the breakneck speed at which WeWork’s CEO built and grew his company. Culminating in a day-by-day account of the five weeks leading up to WeWork’s botched IPO and Neumann’s dramatic ouster, Reeves Wiedeman exposes the story of the company’s desperate attempt to secure the funding it needed in the final moments of a decade defined by excess.

> The Key Man – How the Global Elite Was Duped by a Capitalist Fairy Tale

By Simon Clarke

Arif Naqvi was a man with immeasurable dreams: to end world suffering, poverty and disease. His vision: capitalism for good; profit and progress.

Naqvi was The Key Man to the global elite searching for impact investments – that would make money and do good – in what they called ’emerging markets’. He persuaded Western governments that he could help stabilise the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs and trade. When China rejuvenated the ancient Silk Road trading routes, Naqvi guided executives to business opportunities in cities they struggled to find on the map. He teamed up with Bill Gates to create a $1 billion dollar fund to improve healthcare in poor countries, managed huge sums for the American, British and French governments and sat on boards at the UN and Interpol. As the pope blessed the movement to harness capitalism for the good of the poor, Naqvi won the support of Obama’s administration and Prince Charles. He was even earmarked by Western academics as a future leader of his homeland, Pakistan. One of his investors compared him to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.

The only problem? In 2019 Arif Naqvi was arrested on charges of fraud and racketeering and faces up to 291 years in jail.

> The Cult of We – WeWork and the Great Start-Up Delusion

By Eliot Brown & Maureen Farrell

WeWork’s extraordinary rise and staggering implosion were fueled by disparate characters in a financial system blind to its risks. Why did some of the biggest names in banking and venture capital buy the hype? And what does the future hold for Silicon Valley ‘unicorns’? Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell explore these questions in this definitive, rollicking account of WeWork’s boom and bust.

Podcasts –

> Mark Pesce – The Next Billion Seconds

What you need to know about the future — so you can make the best decisions today. The rate of change we are experiencing is the fastest humanity has ever seen. Stay head of the pack with award winning podcast creator, journalist & futurist Mark Pesce as he simplifies the complex technological and societal changes we face – how we will work, connect, use money and even the food we eat.

> The Good Money Podcast

Join our host Ryan Edwards-Pritchard the Founder & CEO of Cape who he brings our listeners up close and personal with founders and finance leaders from some of the world’s most exciting, fastest-growing start-ups and scaleups that are changing the way we all live, learn, shop, work, eat and rest. In this podcast, we shine a light on how finance is another key driver in unlocking growth – just as vital as sales and marketing, as well as exploring insights that help founders, finance teams & CFOs develop themselves & their companies by understanding how modern financial management helps everyone

> Business Breakdowns

Business Breakdowns is a series of conversations with investors and operators diving deep into a single business. For each business, we explore its history, its business model, its competitive advantages, and what makes it tick

> The Peter Attia Drive

The Peter Attia Drive is a deep-dive podcast focusing on maximizing longevity, and all that goes into that from physical to cognitive to emotional health. With over 35 million episodes downloaded, it features topics including fasting, ketosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, mental health, and much more.

> As Told By Nomads

Tayo Rockson

As Told By Nomads features interviews with changemakers, global nomads, Third Culture Kids, and entrepreneurs discussing what it takes to be better inclusive and global leaders.