Wall Street Hits the Beach
It’s that time of year again when Wall Street’s finest like to grab a beach chair and a good book and hit the beaches. I checked in with more than 100 finance professionals – traders, bankers, analysts, and hedge funders to see what’s on their summer reading list.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup John Carreyrou
Sometimes finance professionals like to get away from work-related topics when they dive into a book. They get enough of that talk during the week, but some stories are too juicy to avoid. And Bad Blood is one of those stories. Most everyone on Wall Street is aware of the Theranos tale, where CEO Elizabeth Holmes was seen as a Silicon Valley darling. Her startup, which promised to revolutionize the medical industry with blood testing, rose to a $9 billion valuation. It had a who’s who list of investors and one tiny secret – its technology didn’t work. So many of the people I spoke with were first in line to read up on the most prominent corporate scandal since Enron. John Carreyrou weaves an inside look at the eye-opening corruption, fraud, and deceit that fooled some of the best and brightest investors. The cautionary tale of entrepreneurship combines third-person narrative with investigative reporting. And the early feedback is that this book doesn’t disappoint.
While I didn’t ask anyone their political affiliation before polling them about what they’ve recently read, are reading, and will read in the near future, my guess is most of these selections came from people more conservative in nature. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has become quite popular over the years – he’s an Internet celebrity, with some characterizing him as a controversialist. And 12 Rules fits into the self-help genre that uses advice from his clinical practice and stories from his personal life.
Living With the Monks: What Turning Off My Phone Taught Me About Happiness, Gratitude, and Focus
Full discloser, I’m friends with the author and play a small role in the book. I’m the guy who picks him up at the airport and drives him to the monastery in my filthy, multi-dented Honda Civic. And many of the people I spoke with are friends/fans of Jesse Itzler from his many years of living in the city and reading his first book Living With a SEAL. For that one, Itzler had one of the baddest men on the planet, an ex-Navy SEAL, move into his home for 31 days to get in the best mental and physical shape of his life. So readers were eager to pick up his encore… For this book, he lived with monks who are world-renowned dog trainers/breeders. In this ultrafast world that seems to be getting too hectic, Itzler moved into a monastery for a self-imposed time-out. It’s a spiritual journey like no other.
Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall – and Those Fighting to Reverse It
Perhaps market, political, and cultural anxieties are prompting people to pick up a copy of Steven Brill’s new book. Even though everyone I spoke with is on the more desirable side of income inequality, it’s a topic that fascinates. Tailspin is a deep dive into what happened to America over the past 50 years, a question on a lot of people’s minds. “America has increasingly become a Moat Nation, producing a parade of unfair advantages for those with the resources to deploy the knowledge workers to build and fortify their moats while contributing to the overall decline of the country.” Brill goes into everything, including politics, business, and culture, and he even explores plausible solutions at the end of each chapter.
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs
When a book gets a blurb from Bill Gates, it usually catches the attention of Wall Streeters far and wide: “I’d recommend John’s book for anyone interested in becoming a better manager.” It also doesn’t hurt when the author was an original investor and board member at Google and Amazon. So it wasn’t surprising to hear that many of the finance professionals are cracking open this book. There’s usually a constant drive to get better and make more money in the industry. John Doerr explains how “OKRs” (Objectives and Key Results) can help leaders achieve their goals. He also explains how he learned this concept from Andy Grove at Intel in the 1970s.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
Brain science isn’t usually at the top of the Wall Street nonfiction list, but How to Change Your Mind isn’t your run-of-the-mill scientific research book. The author experimented with mushrooms, LSD, and other psychedelics while researching this book. It’s a fascinating journey into psychedelic drugs and aims to determine whether psychedelic drugs can rework your worldview. And Michael Pollan delves into the field of mental health and potential treatment… There’s new hope suggesting psychedelic drugs can help with depression, PTSD, anxiety, and fear.
When Life Gives You Lululemons
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger brings back her character Emily Charlton from The Devil Wears Prada. And it’s inspired many to purchase her latest book. Some have labeled the novel as “chick lit,” but it checks all of the summer reading boxes like fun, easy, and relaxing – perfect for the beach.
David Sedaris is considered smart and funny – two things Wall Street loves. Although he’s too liberal for some, that didn’t stop many readers from buying his new book. Over the years, Sedaris has built a rabid fanbase who love his wit, emotionally rich stories, and like to partake in his sometimes-crass observational humor.