Mike Donahue Recommended Books

Mike's Favorites

You can learn a lot about a person if you know what they're reading, watching and listening to. Here are some of Mike’s favorites.

Business books

You can learn a lot about a person if you know what they’re reading. Here’s a list of books that have influenced how I coach and how I lead my peer groups.

  1. Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney: This book is not for everyone. An investment banker who had studied to become a Jesuit priest wrote it. My favorite quote from the book applies to my role as an executive coach. “(A coach) encourages people to aim high and keeps them restlessly pointed toward something more, something greater. No ‘commonplace achievement’ should satisfy our ambition to excel.”
  2. The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni: I make this book required reading for every one of my coaching clients. I find that most leaders struggle with more than one of Lencioni’s five temptations and they are usually oblivious to the impact Temptations #1 or #5 are having on them.
  3. Inspirational Leadership – Henry V and the Muse of Fire by Richard Olivier: I met the author in 2003. I love sharing the lessons leaders can learn as Prince Hal morphs into King Henry. Olivier calls the coach’s role that of a “brother-mentor.” I’m especially fond of the quote from Henry IV on the importance of a coach, when young Prince Hal says to his Lord Chief Justice “My voice shall sound as you do prompt my ear…to your well-practiced wise directions.” What executive coach wouldn’t love to be told that?
  4. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith: I wasn’t impressed by this book the first time I read it; the second read changed my opinion. Goldsmith has influenced how I organize my executive coaching gigs and his “20 Habits that Hold You Back” is something I discuss with every coaching client and the members of my coaching peer groups as well.
  5. The Coaching Kaleidoscope – Insights from the Inside by Kets de Vries et al: This book is from the team at the Global Leadership Centre at INSEAD, the business school at Fontainebleau in France. It has influenced how I facilitate my coaching peer groups more than any other.
  6. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: When Pressfield wrote this book, he didn’t know he was writing a book about leadership. I think it can be a game changer. I own the paperback version, the e-book and the CD.
Other good reading

I don’t just read books that sharpen the saw; here are 4 more that aren’t in the business section of my bookshelf:

  1. Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte: This book has influenced my work style and how I view my work.
  2. Free to Choose by Milton Friedman. Friedman’s thinking has shaped my worldview more than any other public figure. He is one of four Nobel Prize winners I’ve heard speak. I took a class in graduate school from another Nobelist, and I’ve met two more.
  3. Kindling by Nevil Shute. I’ve read four books by Nevil Shute; this one was written in 1938. It’s set in England during the Great Depression and celebrates the entrepreneurial class and their ability to build businesses and create jobs. I think it should be mandatory reading for elected officials, teachers and the clergy.
  4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I read the book while in graduate school; it was a great diversion and so much better than James Bond. So was this version of the movie. I had to see it twice to get it all.
These are the five blogs or websites I follow regularly; they’re a good barometer of what interests me.
  1. www.facebook.com/FerdinandPorscheMagazine – This is the Facebook page for Ferdinand Porsche Magazine. I’m a gear head and I love Porsches. The photography on this site is gorgeous; if you like cars, you’ll like this site.
  2. www.becker-posner-blog.com – Anyone who reads this blog is clearly a geek. I’ve been a fan of Gary Becker since he heard him lecture at the University of Chicago in the mid-1970s. Becker and Posner’s points of view are decidedly libertarian; their blog is a great example of the University of Chicago’s mantra, “ideas matter.”
  3. www.amityshlaes.com  – I admire really smart people who can articulate their point-of-view effectively. Amity Shlaes is such a person. I heard her speak when she addressed the Economic Club luncheon in Indianapolis and I visit her web site regularly to read her columns. Her book, The Forgotten Man is very good.
  4. cafehayek.com - This is the very readable blog of two economists, Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts. If you believe in free markets, you’ll like it.
  5. www.stevenpressfield.com - Steven Pressfield is an author best known for the novel, “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” He’s also the author of “The War of Art, one of the books I recommend. I read his blog, Writing Wednesdays every week.
Favorite movies
  1. Casablanca. I never get tired of hearing Bogey say, “I remember every detail; the Germans wore gray, you wore blue.”
  2. The Big Lebowski. “The Dude abides.” Great stuff from the Coen Brothers.
  3. Henry V (the Kenneth Branagh version). Anyone who lists Richard Olivier’s book among his favorites has to love this movie.
  4. Streets of Fire. This movie, which stars the lovely Diane Lane, was a dud when was released in 1984. It was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek and has a terrific sound track. I have never met anyone who listed this movie among their favorites.
  1. The Saw Doctors: This is an Irish rock band from Tuam in County Galway. I own four of their CDs and have seen them perform live many times. There’s always music by the Docs in the CD player in my car. My favorite Saw Doctors song is titled Only One Girl. Fiona thinks I like it because it reminds me of my wife, Kim.
  2. Frank Sinatra: I own about a dozen Sinatra CDs and there are about five times that many Sinatra songs loaded on my iPod.
  3. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan: It’s on most lists of Dylan’s best and it’s my #1 Dylan album. My favorite cut is Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts.
  4. Rubber Soul by The Beatles. The sound track for an entire semester of my college life.