Top book picks for when you’re looking for inspiration

I admit I was thrilled to hear Bill Gates of Microsoft had included my book, “The Power To Compete,” on his recommended summer reading list. The book is one I co-wrote with my late father, the economist Ryoichi Mikitani, and it is great to hear of more people around the world reading the book and thinking about how an economy can become more competitive.

Bill’s reading list started me thinking about what books are important to me and could offer inspiration to business friends and colleagues. Reading is a great way to explore a topic deeply. A great book can be an ongoing source of inspiration and guidance. Here are two I like to recommend to inspire you and stimulate some new thinking:

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, by George Friedman. Published in 2009, this book by the founder of a private forecasting and business intelligence firm looks at trends in global politics and human behavior and makes fascinating predictions for the century we are in. Among them: China’s role as a world power will diminish; Mexico will become an important force on the geopolitical stage; and new technologies and cultural trends will radically alter the way we live. The book is a fascinating read and offers a lot to think about. I often recommend it to people who ask me what business trends are on the horizon and how the global marketplace will change over time. This book discusses many of those trends and examines the forces that will bring them about.

A Conversation With Japanese National Rugby Coach Eddie Jones: Coaching Is Believing, by Jun Ikushima. In 2015, Japan upset South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.  Sportswriter Jun Ikushima conducted more than ten hours of interviews with Japan’s coach, Eddie Jones, to learn more about his coaching process and the way he was able to engineer such a surprising result on the field. The book, which is currently only available in Japanese, contains two particularly important lessons. The first is about leadership. Coach Jones did not simply preside over his team. He created and executed a training process that allowed his team to function at their highest level on the field. All leaders can learn from this. It is the job of any leader, whether in sports or business or government, to envision a path forward and lead. The second is about inspiration. Often, we are faced with challenges that seem insurmountable, or goals that have been set for us that seem impossible. In late 2015, Jones left Japan to become the national coach of England, but this book about his experience here remains an inspirational tale and reminds us to never let the expectations of others define us. The Japanese team was not supposed to win. Everyone expected the South African team to win. But we can transcend our expectations. This book makes that clear.

Whatever you choose to read, look for texts that will open your mind to new possibilities.


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