Something different is afoot in the workplace these days, due in no small part to the rise of the Millennials, aka Generation Y—loosely defined as people born between 1980 and 2000. According to a Harris Interactive survey taken in 2012, workers age 25–34 are less likely to communicate face-to-face, preferring text messages and e-mail. They don’t see great value in remaining in the same job and are not big believers in punching the clock—they feel that it’s more important to get their work done than to arrive in the office at a specific time.
Unsurprisingly, the so-called Net Generation relies heavily on technology and the fluidity that it creates. And, as Joel Stein grudgingly admitted in a Time magazine cover story a few weeks ago (unflatteringly titled “The Me Me Me Generation”), Millennials want to do good work in the world—as soon as they’ve finished paying off their massive student loans.
As Millennials go, so goes the nation. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that there are now about 80 million of them, meaning they outnumber Baby Boomers by 10 million. According to an August 2012 article in the Week, Millennials will account for 40% of the American workforce by 2020, and employers are starting to adapt to their needs and demands. As a result, Millennials are the audience—and in some cases the subjects—of a new crop of business books, and those books reflect the values and goals of a generation whose members aren’t aiming for corner offices. The title of a book from Harper Business, slated for release in July, pithily summarizes the dreams of today’s young workers: Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After. The $24.99 hardcover is by Miki Agrawal (who opened a farm-to-table pizzeria and launched a high-tech underwear company) and features a foreword by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos.
Rick Wolff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Grand Central’s Business Plus imprint, says, “Today’s newer and younger generation of employees are totally different from the staid and conservative ‘slowly climb the corporate ladder’ approach. There’s a different mindset these days. There’s been a sea change, and now the younger generation is saying, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do, and if I can find a way to pursue this and pay my bills I don’t have to work for a corporation.’ ”
In October, Business Plus will publish Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian, the cofounder of Reddit.com, a site where users post content and vote on the content that others have posted. Ohanian started the Web site when he was still an undergraduate. When he was 24, he sold Reddit to Condé Nast for an undisclosed price estimated somewhere between $10 and $20 million. Wolff expects Millennials and others to be eager to read the story of how Ohanian managed to be so successful on his own terms at a young age; the publisher notes that the book is so unusual that it sports a cover with no title on it, just the author’s name and three common icons.
Business Plus is also publishing CTRL ALT Delete: Reboot Your Business, Reboot Your Life, Your Future Depends on It by Mitch Joe, due out this month, about the need for businesses to reinvent themselves constantly, a process the author refers to as “squiggle.” And Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, the world’s largest travel-adventure firm, has written Looptail, a Business Plus title coming in September. The book is about using social responsibility for success in business—in line with a 2010 title from the same publisher by Zappos founder Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, which according to Nielsen BookScan has sold 292,000 copies. “We’ll continue to publish traditional business books,” Wolff says, “but these three Business Plus titles represent in many ways how traditional business management is evolving, and evolving quickly.”
The younger generation is not just an audience for business books; it’s a huge market segment for all sorts of products. In July, Amacom will publish Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever by Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton. And Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics by Jackie Huba, which extracts lessons from the musician’s use of social media to be applied in a larger business context, enjoyed a 25,000-copy first printing earlier this month from Portfolio.
There are also management titles geared toward Millennial executives. In June, the press will publish Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin. “Demographics are changing, and the oldest Millennials are now entering management positions. This generation brings a new perspective to the workplace in general, and [it has] a fresh take on what it means to lead and manage,” says executive editor Christina Parisi.
And as Millennials take over the workplace, their focus on giving back is moving to the fore. Simon & Schuster has two related titles in the works. In Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?, Jim Ziolkowski (with James Hirsch) discusses his organization buildOn, which trains inner-city youth to be community leaders, and 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World by Howard G. Buffett (with his son Howard W. Buffett) looks at investing the author’s famous investor father’s billions to put a dent in world hunger.
At St. Martin’s, associate editor Matt Martztin says, “The slow economic recovery has businesses doing more with less, and this will most likely be the case for some time to come. With the focus on being lean and flat, professionals are finding that every job [like working at] a startup and that their ability to influence employees, colleagues, and clients is essential to building successful careers.” In September the publisher will release Dan Schawbel’s Promote Yourself—specifically targeted to Gen Y and social media users—to be followed in October by Dana Ardi’s The Fall of the Alphas, about the shift to collaborative and more open business styles and the decline of the strong-male-with-the-corner-office model. Editor-in-chief George Witte says, “As the climate for business changes, books about igniting change and innovation, managing diverse and often remote teams, marketing via social media, and re-conceiving your own career are touching nerves.”
A More Traditional Bent
The most high-profile entrants in the business category may be books that put a new spin on business relationships, but the old guard is certainly in no danger of disappearing altogether. Ashgate’s fall list includes titles such as Delivering High Performance: The Third Generation Organization by Douglas G. Long and Leadership Resilience: Lessons for Leaders from the Policing Frontline, edited by a business school academic and a police officer. Both books are due out in October. In April 2014, Jossey-Bass will publish Smart Leaders Smarter Teams: How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results by Roger Schwarz. Richard Koch’s The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More (to be released by Little, Brown in October) seems to have potential to appeal to the Millennial mentality, as well as to older readers who recall the author’s 1998 Doubleday title, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less.
Joel Fotinos, the publisher at Tarcher, a Penguin imprint, reports, “The titles in the business/leadership category that sell the best for Tarcher are those that have the most practical applications. There are a number of books in the market on management theory, leadership theory, or general business theory—and they may all be excellent books—but in our experience the more specific, practical, and down-to-earth the book is, the better chance it has in the marketplace.” He points to executive coach David C.M. Carter’s Breakthrough: Learn the Secrets of the World’s Leading Mentor and Become the Best You Can Be as one such example.
Two political heavyweights are sharing their leadership secrets with executives this fall. HarperCollins this month published Rumsfeld’s Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War, and Life by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And on the other side of the spectrum, former New Mexico governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson offers advice suitable for the boardroom in How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator (written with Kevin Bleyer) coming from Rodale in October. Publisher Mary Ann Naples says, “Rodale has long been committed to publishing thought leaders and opinion makers whose work aims to answer important questions and help our readers live better lives. This ethos certainly applies to the kind of business/leadership titles we aim to publish, and we’ve seen tremendous success with books and authors whose values resonate with our own, such as Howard Schultz’s Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul . In these uncertain times, readers need to be reassured that dealing with the difficult people in their lives doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge, especially in the workplace, where so many of us spend the majority of our time.”
Erika Heilman, cofounder and publisher of Bibliomotion, says, “We continue to find that business books that serve an immediate need—whether for growth, innovation, or straight management issues—do well.” The house’s Ego vs. EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence by Jen Shirkani identifies pitfalls that executives and others should avoid, and Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser examines the science and structure of communication. Both books are due out in October.
John Duff, publisher of Perigee Books/Prentice Hall Press, says, “In this category in general I look for books that offer practical solutions to problems that organizations and the people in them face. I hope that the books in my list will appeal to a wide range of readers, no matter whether they are on the assembly line or in the corner office. The titles should empower people at every level to help effect change within their organizations—[from the] bottom up or top down. I leave the big-issue books and management theory to others.” Duff notes that August will see the release of a revised and updated version of Rules & Tools for Leaders by Perry M. Smith and Jeffrey W. Foley in trade paperback.
In short, these days, workers of all ages and at all stages of their careers need to think outside the box, but that very phrase may be headed to obsolescence. Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg (coming in June from S&S) encourages readers to rely on the familiar to land new solutions, and in Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity (slated for September from Random House), Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny argue that we cannot help using mental models to organize our thinking; they are hardwired into the human brain, making instructions to “think outside the box” ineffective.
Biography of a Corporation
Business leaders such as Lee Iacocca (whose Iacocca: An Autobiography, which he authored with William Novak, was a bestseller in the 1980s) have been frequent subjects of biographies and autobiographies, but these days biographies of companies rather than individuals are aspiring to inspire. One example of such a transition: Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, from Simon & Schuster, sold 379,000 copies in its first week on sale, back in October 2011. This month, Trafalgar Square changes the viewpoint by distributing The Apple Revolution: Steve Jobs, the Counter Culture and How the Crazy Ones Took Over the World by Luke Dormehl (published by Virgin Books, an imprint of Random House U.K.), which focuses more on the company than the man behind it.
And that’s not the only close look at the life of a business. In September, Simon & Schuster will publish The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald. Executive editor Priscilla Painton says, “McKinsey is not just the most famous consulting firm in the world—it invented consulting. Because of that, it has played a role in almost every stage in American business, which is is why this book is also a terrific history of American business. This is also the only time a journalist has cracked this very private firm. The audience is anyone interested in 20th-century American business, but also anyone who has ever had a consultant knock on his or her door.”
In June, Crown Business is publishing the history of an iconic toy company: Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David C. Robertson with Bill Breen. Mary Choteborsky, publishing manager and editor of Crown Business, says, “Everyone has a memory of a Lego—from the excitement of opening a new set to losing a brick under the couch for a decade—but not everyone knows of the near-fatal collapse this legendary company experienced with the onslaught of the digital age. How they transformed themselves by learning to innovate ‘within the brick’ is a story with lessons for Lego enthusiasts and business readers alike.” Also publishing in June is A Curious Discovery (HarperBusiness) by John Hendricks , who founded the Discovery Channel in 1985.
McGraw-Hill Professional associate publisher of business Mary Glenn says, “In the fall, we’ll be releasing books about strategies and tactics of iconic companies: Leadership the Starbucks Way by Joseph Michelli; Repeating the Remarkable, about IBM by insider Perry Holley; The Caterpillar Way: Lessons in Leadership, Growth, and Shareholder Value by Craig Bouchard and James Koch; and The Cleveland Clinic Way by Cleveland Clinic president and CEO Toby Cosgrove. We’ve seen companies cut back on formal training programs, so individuals are taking it upon themselves to take charge of their own professional development, seeking out insights in business books. Also, we seem to be seeing a growing market of business owners opening up small businesses or consulting services. Many are in leadership roles for the first time so they are looking for management and leadership guidance.”
And Portfolio is publishing a book that examines not just one successful company but 394 of them: Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed’s The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think. The authors selected the companies from a larger group of 25,000 that were studied over a 45-year time span. Rules will be published later this month with a 30,000-copy printing.
We’re Leaning In—Now What?
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has made waves in the business management category since its publication by Knopf in March. With some 286,000 copies sold according to Nielsen BookScan, the title has had considerable cultural impact, too, renewing discussions of women’s particular challenges in navigating the workplace. Several publishers have similar (or contrasting) titles scheduled for the coming months.
At Amacom, publicity director Irene Majuk says, “Sandberg’s book has been generating a lot of buzz and controversy. In Stiletto Network : Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business, author Pamela Ryckman offers her own unique view of how women’s power circles are changing the face of business, and I think the book will appeal to a much broader audience because it addresses the needs of the average working woman and working mom.” PW’s starred review of Stiletto Network called Ryckman’s book “essential reading for any woman who wishes to further her career while remaining true to herself” (Mar. 4).
Amacom executive editor Ellen Kadin says, “Stiletto Network was born at a women’s conference in California, where each female executive the author met introduced her to another, and another. The author heard them recounting hilarious stories that would often begin with ‘In my dinner group...’ She followed a hunch and found that there were dinner groups, salons, and networking circles across the U.S.—gatherings of successful women eating, drinking (a lot), gossiping, and actively helping each other.”
In November, Bibliomotion will publish Liz O’Donnell’s Mogul, Mom and Maid: The Balancing Art of the Modern Woman. Bibliomotion cofounder and publisher Erika Heilman says the book “will add to the dialogue generated by Lean In” by giving voice to “dozens of women from the trenches who can speak to the continuing choices, opportunities, and challenges faced by women in the workplace.”
In October, Penguin’s Portfolio imprint will publish the memoir In My Shoes by Tamara Mellon, with William Patrick. Mellon is the founder, former CEO, and later the chief creative officer of Jimmy Choo; she led the fashion house for 15 years and helped build it into a billion-dollar brand. She has since sold her stake and plans to launch a new lifestyle brand this fall. In Berrett-Koehler’s The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success (due in June), author Joyce Roché reveals that she suffered from “impostor syndrome,” even as she was serving as CEO of Girls Inc. and COO and president of Carson Products Co. (now part of L’Oreal).
In the April Da Capo title Working with Bitches: Identify the 8 Types of Office Mean Girls and Rise Above Workplace Nastiness, psychologist Meredith Fuller offers women solutions to office unpleasantness. “Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In explores why women are having trouble attaining leadership roles in the workplace. Fuller’s title suggests that it may be because they’re holding each other back—via dismissive, rude, or even nasty behavior,” reports John Radziewicz, publisher of Da Capo. The book has received coverage in the Wall Street Journal and on NPR’s Marketplace.
Judy Wicks, founder of Philadelphia’s famed White Dog Cafe—a groundbreaker in the local and sustainable food movement established in 1983— and author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business (published by Chelsea Green in March), may just be the anti–Sheryl Sandberg. Chelsea Green senior editor Joni Praded says, “Judy’s story illustrates a completely different road map to success—one that creates community wealth instead of concentrated wealth, that values relationships with customers and suppliers far more than the potential profits that could come from taking advantage of them, and that gives more than it takes from people and the planet. Judy talks a great deal about needing more women-run companies, and [argues] for women to not adapt to the male approach to running a business—so cooperation over competition, which is, in a sense, the opposite of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In message.”