Books to help you think big or start small

Dec 29, 2014
0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
BOLD AND SMALL MOVE BIG CHANGEPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World

Release date: February 2015 / by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

“Humans are hardwired for challenge,” write Diamandis, CEO of the X Prize Foundation, and his co-author in this handbook for corporate moon shots. The bigger the challenge, they say, the bigger the payoff. How big, you ask? Think mining asteroids for minerals, as one of Diamandis’s companies is attempting. Sure, “you can start a company on day one that affects a small group,” they write. “But aim to positively impact a billion people within a decade.”

0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
BOLD AND SMALL MOVE BIG CHANGEPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently

January 2014 / by Caroline L. Arnold

Every big hurdle is made up of countless smaller goals along the way. Even everyday resolutions like “be tidier” or “get in shape” require self-control in dozens of tinier aspects of our lives. Arnold’s  answer? Microresolutions. Instead of “eat healthier,” says the Goldman Sachs managing director, try just avoiding the cookies in the conference room. And instead of “get organized,” consider keeping reminders in a single notebook. The successes are easy to achieve, and set the stage for larger gains.

0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
THEW SMALL BIG AND THE LITTLE BOOK OF THINKING BIGPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence

September 2014 / by Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein, and Robert B. Cialdini

Sometimes it pays to think small. The world is full of minuscule—almost imperceptible—signals that can affect behaviors in profound ways. Martin and his co-authors offer data-based evidence, and tips on using subtle cues. For example, if a restaurant puts its expensive wines at the top of the drinks menu, patrons spend more because the mid-priced bottles look like a bargain. “Small changes can make a big difference for one fundamental reason: They are small,” the authors write. “They fly under the radar.”

0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
THEW SMALL BIG AND THE LITTLE BOOK OF THINKING BIGPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

The Little Book of Thinking Big: Aim Higher and Go Further Than You Ever Thought Possible

December 2014 / by Richard Newton

A hit in the U.K., Newton’s book tells readers to “beware the preoccupation of narrow thinking.” His advice: Map out big priorities, and don’t be derailed by the modern-day “cult of busyness.” Work expands to fill the time available, the adage goes, and since smartphones and the like have made us available all the time, we’re always working. Try to focus on the big stuff. “When you deliberately put your energy in a single direction you generate momentum and then you make progress,” Newton writes.

0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
PLAYING BIG AND ESSENTIALISMPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message

October 2014 / by Tara Mohr

Mohr, a San Francisco–based leadership coach, gets tired of seeing women “play small.” Too often they’ll start sentences with “I’m not an expert but,” needlessly apologize, or wait for validation and praise before moving forward. She says women should do what all great leaders do, and go big—by pushing the controversial idea and cultivating a little arrogance. The secret is not developing supreme confidence, she writes, so much as it is recognizing self-doubt and not letting it dictate your actions and behavior.

0115 FORTUNE EXECUTIVE READ MICHELLE TAYLOR
PLAYING BIG AND ESSENTIALISMPhotograph by Manfred Koh for Fortune Magazine

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

April 2014 / By Greg McKeown

Instead of taking on the big, sexy goals, this bestseller advocates going small and doing less. Write down your top six priorities on a Post-it note, McKeown advises, “Then cross off the  bottom five.” By saying no to busywork and homing in on one thing you do really well, you have a better shot at real progress. Begin with the little stuff, celebrate incremental change, and pursue “the small and simple wins that are
essential,” he writes, rather than the flashy ones that ultimately matter less.

This story is from the January 2015 issue of Fortune.

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