This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce James Strock.
James Strock is an independent writer, speaker, reformer and entrepreneur, based in California. He's the author of several books about leadership, politics, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.
QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?
JAMES STROCK: Here are my three: Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive; Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett; and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Collected Essays and Lectures.
I’m also a dedicated Tom Peters stan. What each of these books share is a focus on the human dimension of business enterprises as well as other organizations. Follett and then Drucker urge a focus on the human angle, in part, in response to the over-reliance on quantification spurred by Frederick Winslow Taylor and others in the mass-production phase of the industrial-age economy. Emerson, by contrast, might be seen as speaking more to the spirit of an entrepreneurial American in the mid-nineteenth century. In the Information Age, when entrepreneurship is reviving, Emerson has found new relevance.
QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?
JAMES STROCK: At the moment of global and national discord and division amid breakneck change, I find great inspirational, practical value in the work of George Orwell and heartily recommend his collected essays and related Everyman volumes.
QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?
JAMES STROCK: Samuel Johnson: Selected Poetry and Prose. Johnson’s moral writings are timeless gems of observation of the human condition. Not incidentally, his writing is so polished and piercing that to read it with the care it merits is to improve oneself.
QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?
JAMES STROCK: The End of Asquith, by Michael Byrne. This is a fascinating, historically-grounded account of the political machinations resulting in the accession of David Lloyd George, succeeding Herbert Asquith as British Prime Minister in the midst of the Great War.
QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?
JAMES STROCK: Read Today, Lead Tomorrow.
Reading is the master key to everything important in life and work. It holds the promise of opening the minds of readers far beyond their own circumstances. In our moment of rampant solipsism* — where many assume that the best and only necessary source of understanding is their own lived experience — the need for reading in order to extend one’s comprehension is acute. (*We cannot thank French philosopher Rene Descartes for this term, but instead, Venetian scholar Giulio Clemente Scotti in 1645.)
SHARE THIS: Reading is the master key to everything important in life and work. ~@jamesstrock #ReadingOpensMinds #DebbieLaskeysBlog
My gratitude to Jim for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing his inspiring recommendations!
Image Credit: Nav Rashmi Kalsi via Unsplash.
Connect with Jim at these links:
Check out Jim's previous appearances here on my blog:
What Happens When Leadership, Service and Encouragement Join Forces? - 2020:
Sharing Timeless Leadership Lessons - 2018:
Leadership Is All About Serving Others - 2014:
Serve to Lead - What a Visionary Concept - 2011: