I’m deep into some of these, just begun on others, and re-reading a few. Many are by people who I am glad to call friends. All are worthy of your attention. (And in these days of online everything, there’s still something fine about curling up with one of these analog, random access, feels so good in the hand, symbol carrying packets of coiled sunlight. And yes, I’m sure you can get ’em on your iPad or Kindle too. 😉
The latest from ever-fresh and inventive John Elkington, founder of SustainAbility and Volans (and coiner of term “triple bottom line”), The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier tells the story of the the “inventors, entrepreneurs, intrepreneurs, investors, managers and educators who promote wealth creation while driving adverse environmental, social and economic impacts toward zero.” While I’d argue that zero impact isn’t a worthy enough goal compared to, say, enhancing human well being, and the regenerative capacity of the living systems that sustain the human economy (which John no doubt would agree with), this very creatively constructed book will challenge you to look beyond…
Winning the Story Wars is a marvelous and terribly important read from Jonah Sachs, the man who gave us the viral video hits The Story of Stuff, The Meatrix, and Grocery Store Wars. Subtitled “Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future,” Story Wars uses the “hero’s journey” — the framework that Joseph Campbell asserted is at the heart of the core myths of most human cultures — to encourage marketers and change agents (and those who are both) to “change a media landscape that has done great damage to people and our planet”… and show them how.
Many of you know that Buckminster Fuller has been one of my main inspirations and mentors in my 40 years in the sustainability revolution. In A Fuller View: Buckminster Fuller’s Vision of Hope and Abundance for All, Steven Sieden has built a masterful, three-layered story: potent, prescient, insightful quotes from Bucky; rich context and exploration from Steven; and often personal essays from dozens of notables, from David McConville to Lynne Twist, who share their experience of the man. Other than Bucky’s own Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, this is one of the more accessible introductions to this astonishingly creative “earthian.”
If Bruce Piasecki’s Doing More with Less: The New Way to Wealth borrows its title from Bucky’s famous maxim, design goal and observation of the trend of technology, it draws its heart from Benjamin Franklin. A seasoned management consultant and head of AHC Group, Bruce sees the riches that frugality can grant (far deeper than “a penny saved is a penny earned”) and shows a path to prosperity that is closely linked to purpose and meaning, and that nourishes both.
In The High-Purpose Company: The TRULY Responsible (and Highly Profitable) Firms That Are Changing Business Now, Christine Arena researches this “purpose” meme, examining 75 major companies to understand the relationship between purpose, responsibility and profitability. Founder of Aiko Agency (and who I’m proud to have on Natural Logic’s board), Christine was one of the first to provide such an abundance of evidence for the insights and challenges that so many of us now bring to our corporate clients.
I only discovered The Ecology of Eden: An Inquiry into the Dream of Paradise and a New Vision of Our Role in Nature this year, and have no idea how this treasure eluded me since 1998. Evan Eisenberg (a scholar of philosophy, classics and biology who has been a music columnist, a synagogue cantor and a gardener for the NY City Parks Department) has done a remarkable job of weaving scientific, cultural, religious, political and artistic perspectives into a deep and deeply challenging, multi-eon exploration of the human dance between the Mountain and the Tower… or the place of wilderness and civilization… or the challenge of how to live wisely and well as humans in the living world. It’s one of the richest works I’ve read on the essential questions that underlie all the work we all do.
And, if you’ll permit me a little shameless self-promotion, I invite you to visit — or re-visit — my own first book, The Truth About Green Business. I like to think of it as a “green business for dummies” that’s not for dummies — simple, clear, accessible, bite-sized, and yet with depth and durability that make it value for the newbie and the seasoned executive alike. (I’m not re-reading it, but we are rolling out an eLearning suite based on it.)
So, a few new, and a few not so new. As the venerable Seth Godin wrote this morning, “A book like Permission Marketing could be updated weekly, in a vain attempt on my part to keep it shiny. But that makes no sense, as the ideas in it are important because they’ve been right for a decade, not because they’re new.”