Learnit CEO’s Top Books

Learnit CEO's Top 10 Books in 2018

Damon, Learnit's CEO read 47 books during 2018 and here he presents his absolute favorites

Learnit CEO's Top 10 Books in 2018
Damon Lembi
February 14, 2019
Learnit CEO's Top 10 Books in 2018

I wrote my first blog post in 2017 – “Our CEO’s Top 10 Books of 2017.” I was thrilled with the comments, book recommendations and even the emails/texts I have received in the past three months from people asking me when my Top 10 Books of 2018 blog post would be coming out. As you can see, I have been busy with Lucy! I did find time to read/listen to 47 books in 2018 (more if you include The Pout Pout Fish, Your Baby’s First Words Will Be DADA and a long list of Lucy’s favorites).  

In 2018, I set out to diversify my reading selection. My main interests / topics last year were as follows: Business Strategy, WW2 & Winston Churchill, Innovation, Company Values and Artificial Intelligence. I have selected my top 10 books for 2018. (You’ll find my complete 2018 book list at the bottom of this post.) There are several outstanding books on my complete 2018 list. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about any of the books mentioned below, or better yet, if you have book suggestions for me.

I still have a library full of books I haven’t read. I started to feel guilty about owning so many unread books until I read this great quote about Antilibraries.

Damon’s Top 10 in 2018


1. The Last Lion: Winston Churchill 1932-1940

The movie Darkest Hour jump-started my fascination with Winston Churchill and rejuvenated my interest in reading about WW2. “The Last Lion” Volume 2 takes place during the period before WW2 and shares with the reader Churchill’s personal and political struggles and his will to never give up. At times Churchill stood nearly alone against Nazi aggression and the British / French policy of appeasement. If you have any interest in Winston Churchill, I would highly recommend “The Last Lion” Trilogy. In my opinion, Volume 2 was the best of the three books.


2. Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is about differentiation and creating new market demand by reconstructing existing products / ideas to open up new market space. There are great stories and examples in this book that I found relevant and impactful for Learn iT!. I recommend subscribing to the Blue Ocean newsletter which provides a wealth of additional resources. I have the follow-up to Blue Ocean Strategy, Blue Ocean Shift, on my 2019 reading list.


3. Confessions of the Pricing Man

This is quite possibly my favorite business book of 2018. I must have recommended it to 20 people last year. If you are an entrepreneur, oversee a product line, or are just curious about how pricing structures work, without a doubt, you need to read this book.


4. The Soft Edge

Tom Peters in The Excellence Dividend (also on my list) said this book was a must read and he was right! Written by Rich Karlgaard, Forbes publisher, “The Soft Edge” argues that your company’s values foster innovation, accelerate strategy and improve execution.  

Karlgaard examines a variety of companies, shares their stories, and identifies the 5 key variables that make up every organization’s “soft edge”—Trust, Smarts, Teamwork, Taste and Story. This is a great read that you won’t want to put down.

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5. The Excellence Dividend

Tom Peters is one of, if not my favorite business authors of all-time. I’ve read a dozen of his books and have seen him speak live. “The Excellence Dividend” is a terrific book about how important human EXCELLENCE is in today’s world with artificial Intelligence and how automation will have an impact on “The future of Work” in the next 10-20 years.  

From someone in the learning and development world, I wish everyone out there would read this book. Mr. Peters has an entire chapter on how important training is to the success of individuals and the survival of their organizations.  

“Excellence Dividend” and this fabulous podcast with Tom Peters - How Better Training Can Help Companies Face the “Tech Tide” helped Learn iT! spawn our new Internal Vision Statement:

“Keeping Humans Relevant in the Age of A.I.”

I have to give props to my Digital Marketing Manager Chelsi de Cuba for “coining” the term that my team is super excited to get behind.

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6. AI Superpowers

I promised myself early in 2018 I would dedicate a significant amount of time to learning about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. I have to admit I thought this was going to be a difficult task. Anyone who knows me knows I have never really been interested in learning programming skills or becoming super technical. With that being said, once I started reading about AI and how it will impact the future, I have to admit I am addicted to learning about the impact Automation, Data and Machine Learning will have on our society now and in the future.  

To date, “AI Superpowers” is my favorite book on the subject. It not only helps identify the unprecedented developments in AI and how it will impact the world, it also provided me with my first real insight into China and the Chinese economy. This is a fascinating book. McKinsey’s The New World of Work is a great podcast on the topic of AI and The Future of Work.


7. The Virgin Way

Sir Richard Branson is someone I have always admired. His autobiography Losing My Virginity is the most impactful business book I have ever read. It was the perfect read for where I was with Learn iT! In 1999. I even wrote Sir Richard a 6-page letter (which I never did send).

The Virgin Way is also a fantastic book. I love the chapter on taking notes and on the importance of listening. There are a lot of good stories in this book, and Sir Richard Branson’s positive approach to life and work is refreshing. This is a great book to listen to; it reminds me of walking around Sausalito with my dogs (Pablo and Charlie), smiling and thinking how I can incorporate Sir Richard’s philosophies to inspire and make Learn iT! the best organization it can be for my team and customers.


8. Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance

I can’t recall who recommended this book to me. All I can say is if you love to read great crime thrillers then you have to read Red Notice – it is a true story; you can’t make up stories this good.  

Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. This is his story, and it is unbelievable!  

I also read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. This is another hard to believe is true story about Thernos CEO. Bad Blood is really good, but Red Notice is better.


9. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

“The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” is the only fiction book on my Top 10 list. I consider it to be historical fiction. After I read “Red Notice” I was inspired to learn more about Russia, Espionage, and the Cold War, in general.  

“The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” is a classic. I have read several of John le Carre’s novels since then. I also really enjoyed his Amazon Prime Mini Series, The Little Drummer Girl.


10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I would like to round out my top 10 list with “Quiet.” I originally decided to read this book to better understand Introverts in the workplace, and how I can adapt my leadership style to strengthen my work and personal relationships with introverts.

Without a doubt, every leader and parent should read Quiet. Susan Cain does an excellent job pointing out how introverts have been undervalued and provides examples of why we lose out because of it. Her research and examples are excellent. My siblings and wife laugh at me when I say this, however, after reading “Quiet,” I believe I lean towards being more of an introvert myself.

I hope you found my top 10 list useful. I am always in search of great books. Please feel free to connect with me on Linkedin or shoot me an email with suggestions of books you have enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my complete 2018 book list at the bottom of this post.

Thank you,