Monday, March 21, 2022

What Our Members Are Reading To Be Better Leaders

“All readers are not leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Harry S. Truman

On March 31, acclaimed author and podcaster, Jeff Brown, will be speaking at the VACEOs Quarterly Lunch on the topic of reading and leadership.

Brown, co-author of ‘Read to Lead’ makes a convincing argument that reading is the single best thing leaders can do to improve themselves. Reading more and better books creates opportunities for CEOs to learn new skills and rise above one’s competition – unmatched by any other single action.

According to Brown, having a well-lined bookshelf is something that distinguishes great leaders. The average number of books CEOs read is 60 per year (or five per month). In contrast, the average American adult reads fewer than 12 books a year. That’s a huge difference and not a coincidence.

So, that got us wondering about our own membership and how the VACEOs community feels about reading in general, as well as what books they truly love and value. That prompted us to send out a brief poll. Highlights from the responses are below.

What VACEOs Members Are Reading

The first question we asked was “What are you reading right now?” To our pleasant surprise, Jon Morris, president, and CEO of HopeTree Family Services shouted right back that he isn’t just reading one book right now – but that his normal practice is to read three to five books at the same time. Some of what he is currently reading includes;

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching and Life, by Marilee G. Adams, Ph.D.

 It Takes What It Takes: How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life,
by Trevor Moawad, Andy Staples

Connie Hom, CEO of Buckingham Greenery, is doing some fun reading in addition to books on leadership. Her list includes:

The Personal Librarian,
by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

The Lenten Cookbook,
by David Geisser with essays by Scott Hahn

Robin Green, president at Ascend Performance powered by Sandler Training, enjoys reading more than one book at a time too. And what better way to learn about power, persuasion, and perseverance than from history’s celebrated leaders? Robin is currently reading;

Leadership in Turbulent Times – the Leadership of Abraham Lincoln,
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

by Ron Chernow

And Gyrus Systems President and CEO Viren Kapadia, is reading a brand new best-seller;

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail,
by Ray Dalio

Michael W. Matthews, president and COO of Froehling & Robertson, who is also in school earning a Ph.D., carves out extra time at lunch and on weekends to read. When asked what his favorite books of all time were,  Michael picked two contemporary classics;

Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competitive Strategy,
by Joan Magretta 

by Jack Welch

In contrast, Robin’s favorite books scanned the ages including;

by Marcus Aurelius, written between 161-180 AD

7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
by Stephen Covey

The Art of War: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,
Steven Pressfield

The Must Read Book for CEOs

And last but not least, there was only one book that made it to the “Must Read” list of multiple VACEOs. It was…

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, 
by Jim Collins 

We hope you will join us at the Quarterly Lunch on March 31 to listen to Jeff Brown. In the meantime – check out one of these great books your peer’s recommend. Above all – just keep reading. It can literally change your business and your life.

About Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs)

Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) is a nonprofit organization connecting CEOs for learning and growth. Formed more than 20 years ago, member benefits include placement in a peer roundtable group and access to a thought leader network, and a robust program of events for learning and growth. This is not a networking group, but rather a group of CEO peers who are invested in the success of each member. To qualify for membership CEOs must run a business with $1M+ revenue and 5+FTEs. Learn more at

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 12:25 pm

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