Five Surprising Must-Read Books for Private Equity Pros

February 12, 2020

Five Surprising Must-Read Books for Private Equity Pros

Just because you’ve finished Stephen Schwarzman’s What It Takes doesn’t mean you’re through reading.

In a world increasingly dominated by rapid-fire data flows, it’s a challenge to identify information that truly matters. One solution: Slow down your brain. Jason Weinstein, CEO of Cobalt, explains: “There’s nothing like an immersive few hours in a subject to help develop the instincts that discern signal from noise.” And because we’re nothing if not helpful, here are five volumes that are sure to broaden any private equity pro’s intellectual horizons, whatever the reason for hitting the books.

1. If you want to be a smarter manager

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2020: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review. A thought-provoking collection for any CFO with hopes of improving their team—which is every CFO, one hopes—this short volume is a self-curated list by The Golden Passport folks themselves. (See what we did there? That’s a sixth book for the price of five.

2. If you want to be a better manager

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. There are many justifications for reading this extraordinarily well-written bestseller—the Hollywood gossip, the drama, the fact that author Robert Iger might one day run for president—but a less-obvious reason is the master class he gives on thoughtful leadership, which is really a spread-out lesson on when to use gut instinct in decision-making, when to consider the opinions of others, and when to do both.

3. If you want to be a better detective

Financial Shenanigans, Fourth Edition: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks and Fraud in Financial Reports. This bestseller by Howard Schilit is a classic for a reason, categorizing nefarious accounting schemes and the lessons to be learned from them. A quarter-century after the first edition debuted, it’s still a must-read, but regular updates mean the case studies are as fresh as the malfeasance

4. If you want to drop the mic when you’re in the spotlight

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. As more of us become human “brands”—and as more PE types find themselves addressing large groups of strangers over whose work lives they now exert significant influence—talking the relatable and effective talks is all the more important. In this useful read, comms coach Carmine Gallo simplifies the art of effective presentation, with lessons gleaned from the platform upon which public speaking has achieved its 21st-century zenith

5. If you want to drop fewer balls at work (and at home)

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. As interesting as it is essential, as entertaining as it is short. This bestseller from The New Yorker writer and world-class surgeon Atul Gawande is the quickest way to start getting things done without needing to hire more staff. Yes, it’s that effective. Bonus: You’ll learn the truth about Van Halen’s legendary brown M&M contract rider.