Business leaders like to “pick the brain” of powerhouse players for insight and to learn from their mistakes. What’s the best way to engage leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Arianna Huffington? Read what they’re reading. As Bill Gates has famously revealed, getting to know 50 new books a year has helped make him who he is. Here are our staff picks:

“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott
Recommended by Tracy as a study in candor with clients, reporters and your team.

Scott uses engaging and hilarious personal stories from her experiences at Apple and Google to illustrate her approach to effective management – radical candor. She theorizes that effective leaders must “care personally” and also “challenge directly.” More than just a management book, radical candor informs how we communicate with one another while remaining compassionate and empathetic.

“The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli
Recommended by Trish, an avid reader and firm believer that “one must be a fox.”

“There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.” A classic and one of the most impactful books on power. Ruthless? Yes. Yet this book contains tremendous insight on the importance of controlling the narrative. Machiavelli’s debate on which is more valuable to a leader, being feared or being loved, fits right in with today’s “Game of Thrones.”

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Recommended by Ashley, who uses every party she attends as practice for Carnegie’s tactics.

Every high school student should read this before graduation, and so should we all. After 80 years, this book still has a cult following. Warren Buffett said “it changed my life.” It’s one of the best public relations reads because when you are genuinely interested in what others say, you create a bond. Carnegie also presents useful insights on the psychology behind social interactions and great tips on how to approach people.

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
Recommended by Wes, who says its take on establishing core values can serve as the guideline for every decision.

Born from his 2009 TED Talk on his book Start with Why, the third most popular TED video of all time, Sinek speaks to a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. His theme is that leaders who’ve had the greatest influence all think, act and communicate in the same way, which is the opposite of everyone else: they start with why, not just how, their company is different.

“Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences” by Nancy Duarte
Recommended by Paulo, OWC’s content creation guru, who says the book is visual and informative, making it a great mix of concept with how-to instruction.

Creating a presentation can be a daunting task: How many words are too many for one slide? Does this image make sense here? Am I boring them to death? Duarte’s answers can help wake the sleepers and lead to better and more entertaining communication.

Our staff commutes from Simi Valley and Pasadena to Silver Lake and Santa Monica, so podcasts are the medium of choice for getting our daily dose of news, insights and learning:

“The Moth”
Recommended by Trish, who listens to at least five podcasts every day to maintain sanity while driving “the highway of the damned” (aka the 405) during her 3-hour daily commute. See Trish in The Wall Street Journal.

Communication requires an effective storyteller and what better way to learn than to follow the examples of the most skilled. The Moth podcast is a collection of people telling true stories in front of live audiences. Topics and lengths vary, but the level of excellence is consistent.

“The Intelligence Squared Podcast”
Recommended by Ashley, who says it sharpens argument skills and helps us incorporate witty, well-reasoned positions into conversation.

If you love a good debate, this is the podcast for you. It’s like eavesdropping on the brightest visionaries and most intelligent leaders from around the globe as they deliberate hot topics.

The New York Times’ “The Daily”
Recommended by Paulo, who recommends it as the ideal podcast for a quick news fix during the morning commute.

Hosted by Michael Barbaro, each 20-minute episode is a deep dive into the latest news, all told by the Times’ award-winning staff. It summarizes the day’s hot-button headlines with original reporting from those covering the stories from the front lines and commentary from policymakers and interviews with persons involved.

We’d like your book and podcast recommendations. Please share them with us on Twitter @owcpr or via email, and we’ll include them in our next newsletter.