In Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory, American long-distance runner Deena Kastor takes the reader on a life journey in running. How having a positive mindset, discipline, and excellent work ethic brought her success in her running career. She also shared the rollercoaster of winning and losing, motherhood’s challenges, and her quest to balance life and running.

“I loved running right from the start. It was simple and fun. It lacked rules and structure. There was no equipment to fuss with, no technique to learn.”

Best of all, running didn’t make me feel foolish or ridiculous, like I’d done something wrong. The ease of it made me feel competent and free. Everything we were asked to do, I could do. I ran and counted my laps. I warmed up on the trails, happily shooting out the gate with my teammates to the wild open space, and ran among the rabbits and deer.

I remember thinking how lucky we runners were to be in constant motion. We were part of the action all the time. Running was also, to my surprise and delight, both solitary and social.

401: The Man Who Ran 401 Marathons in 401 Days and Changed His Life Forever is the story of Ben Smith, a marathon runner who completed 401 marathons in 401 days in England between 2015 and 2016. Ben was bullied as a child and he attempted to commit suicide as a result of that experience. As an adult, he was dissatisfied with the way he was living until he discovered his passion for running. He decided to run 401 marathons in 401 days, raise money for charity, and find himself in the process.

By the end of the run, Ben raised £330,000 for two anti-bullying charities Kidscape and Stonewall, and ran over 10,000 miles which is the equivalent of running from Syndey, Australia to London, England. During his run, Ben met and ran with 13,000+ people across England. He also Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2016, In the book, Ben shares his struggle with bullying, mental health, divorce, and navigating the vicissitudes of life.

Running is just putting one foot in front of the other – that’s the simple bit – the hard part is choosing to go running in the first place. But once you make that choice, you can start putting distance between your old life and closing in on a new one.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has constantly re-invented himself from being the world’s greatest bodybuilder, and highest-paid movie star and later becoming the thirty-eighth governor of California (the world’s sixth-largest economy.). Growing up in Austria, his father constantly encouraged him to be useful. In Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, Arnold shares seven life principles that have helped him become one of the most recognizable faces in the world and the secret to his extraordinary achievement.

I fell in love with Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, in the American political thriller television series Scandals. Her performance won her the Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and other multiple award nominations, including Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nomination. In Thicker than Water: A Memoir, Kerry Washington attempts to make sense of herself, her upbringing and her family dynamics.

I’ve written this account to more fully understand this truth, to affirm it, and to embrace it. This truth has given birth to a deeper compassion and love for my parents, and for myself. And I share it with you because I do not want to hide.

Kerry reveals how her parents did not reveal to her that she was conceived through artificial insemination until recently. She writes about her parent’s tumultuous marriage, being an only child, navigating the family secret and finding her place in the world.

In How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers, American lawyer and co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein interviews and profiles some of the world’s most successful individuals. He shares his discussions, advice, and wisdom from CEOs, presidents, founders, and master performers from the worlds of finance (Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Christine Lagarde, Ken Griffin), tech (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook), entertainment (Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma), sports (Jack Nicklaus, Adam Silver, Coach K, Phil Knight), government (President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nancy Pelosi), and many others.

David Rubenstein has had a long fascination with different individuals becoming and staying leaders. In 2008, he became the president of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and began almost monthly interviewing a prominent business, government, or cultural leader. As a follow up he started the Peer to Peer interview show on Bloomberg TV in 2016 (broadcast on PBS as well since 2018). The How to Lead Book is an outgrowth of these interviews and is designed to provide the reader with the perspectives of different kinds of leaders, with the hope that readers might be inspired to develop or enhance their own leadership skills.

Rubenstein divides the leadership experience of interviewees in the book into six categories:

  • Visionaries: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett
  • Builders: Phil Knight, Ken Griffin, Robert F. Smith, Jamie Dimon, and Marillyn Hewson
  • Transformers: Melinda Gates, Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, Ginni Rometty, and Indra Nooyi
  • Commanders: George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, and James A. Baker III
  • Decision-Makers: Nancy Pelosi, Adam Silver, Christine Lagarde, Anthony S. Fauci, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, and Lorne Michaels

English comedian, actor, writer and activist Russell Brand is a man of extremes with a loquacious and flamboyant lifestyle. Brand struggled with drugs, sex, alcohol, food, fame and online shopping addiction for several years. In Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, he writes about his journey of recovery using the twelve-step program of Alcohol Anonymous framework and principles.

Initial Resistance to 12-step program

Brand was initially resistant to the 12-step addiction program, but upon further examination of the principles he found out that self-centred, egotistical thinking is the defining attribute of the addictive condition. Self-centredness is a tricky thing; it encompasses more than just vanity. It’s not just Fonzie, looking at himself in self-satisfied wonder and flexing his little tush, no.

I can attest personally that the 12 Steps work with severe addiction issues. If you have them, you should engage with the appropriate 12 Step support group.

The Alchemists: The INEOS Story – An industrial giant comes of age is an autobiographical account of how British billionaire, chemical engineer and businessman Jim Ratcliffe built INEOS from a  single site in Antwerp to the fourth-largest chemical company in the world and Britain’s largest private company. According to Forbes, Ratcliffe is the 77th wealthiest person in the world and the second richest Briton.

The Alchemist – About the rise of an unassuming and perhaps unlikely team with a canny combination of vision, intelligence, integrity, humility and steady competence in the face of recurring high stakes. A team that, together, created a lean, entrepreneurial, expanding business quite unlike any of its kind.

“You are right not because others agree with you, but because your facts and reasoning are sound.—Benjamin Graham

In The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, author  William N. Thorndike profiles eight unconventional CEOs whose firm average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. Thorndike referred to these unconventional, radically rational chief executives as “The Outsiders.”

As a group, these CEOs faced the inherent uncertainty of the business world with a patient, rational, pragmatic opportunism, not a detailed set of strategic plans.

In My Life: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former NBA player Magic Johnson writes about how he dealt with the greatest challenge of his life: HIV diagnosis. He also delves into his life, on and off the court, his family and friends that stood behind him during the most trying time. He describes his relationship with former teammates, coaches, friends, and rivals such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Larry Bird, Micheal Jordan, and Isiah Thomas. Magic also reflects on growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, the showtime Los Angeles Lakers, his relationship with women, and his fight against HIV and AIDS awareness advocacy.

Magic writes about his wife Cookie, who he had been dating since college, retirement, and post-retirement. My Life: Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a very inspirational book on how to brave the toughest challenge of life such as a health scare diagnosis like Magic experienced. Magic smile is always radiant and gives testament that no matter what happens in life, we can always make the best use of our circumstances and keep it moving.

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography is a book of reflection by Bahamian-American actor Sidney Pottier wherein he reflects on lessons learned during his seventy-plus years of sojourn in life. Sidney described what he absorbed through his early experiences, lessons learned from his parents and adventures. Sidney Pottier was the first black actor and the first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

In Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys, the founder of Trader Joe, Joe Coulombe, shares the founding story of building the grocery store chain, lessons learned in the process and insights for navigating the entrepreneurial journey. He started the company in 1958, and as of 2020, the company generated revenue of US$16.5 billion and employed 50,000+ people.

As a partner of Rexall, Joe had started Pronto in 1958 as a copy of 7-Eleven, because there were no 7-Elevens in California.

Trader Joe’s was conceived from those two demographic news stories. What I saw here was a small but growing demographic opportunity in people who were well-educated. 7-Eleven, and the whole convenience store genre, served the most basic needs of the most mindless demographics with cigarettes, Coca-Cola, milk, Budweiser, candy, bread, eggs. Dimly, I saw an opportunity to differentiate ourselves radically from mainstream retailing to mainstream people.

In Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel, American Billionaire, and Real Estate Entrepreneur Sam Zell shares his story of how a restless, curious boy who grew up in Chicago made it to the Forbes 400. He describes the risks that paid off and those that didn’t and what he learned in the process. Sam is best known for building several commercial real estate companies with investments also in other industries such as energy, manufacturing, retail, travel, logistics, and health care.

Sam is the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Poland to escape the Holocaust and come to the United States. A former lawyer, he is the founder and chairman of Equity Group Investments, a private investment firm, founded in 1968.  According to Forbes, Sam has an estimated net worth of USD $5.2 billion as of March 2023.

Abiola Bawuah was recently appointed to become the first female CEO of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Africa operations. With her appointment, she joins the UBA Group Board as an Executive Director, overseeing the Group’s operations across the African continent, outside Nigeria. She was formerly the regional CEO of UBA, in charge of six countries (Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone).

In Government Cheese, author Steve Pressfield narrates his roller coaster journey of becoming an author, how he dealt with resistance, the multiple jobs he undertook (Marine Corps reservist, truck driver, secretary, orchard picker, copywriter, cab driver, Golf Caddie, Janitor), navigating the challenges of becoming a creative and the mentors that guided him on his path to greatness.

Steve Pressfield’s story is an excellent reminder of what a lot of creatives go through before they eventually get their breakthrough. Pressfield dealt with shame, poverty, resistance, self-doubt and rejection. But in spite of all these challenges, he persevered, endured, kept showing up daily and eventually achieved his goal of becoming a writer.

In Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, Coach Wooden shares timeless wisdom about every aspect of life, his personal philosophy on family, achievement, success, and excellence. Coach John Wooden won 10 NCAA champions in his 12 years reign as the UCLA Bruins, including seven national championships in a row: 1967, 1968, 1969,1970, 1971, 1972, 1973. He is considered one of the most successful National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches.