It’s officially summer and vacation countdowns are on. While we look forward to getting away from the office, it’s also prime time to catch up on reading – for business and life. No matter your career path or title, staying in tune with trends impacting the world is critical to growth, personal and professional. Business books are an important element in building your knowledge and your thought leadership – as an individual, executive or academic, and as a brand.

Here are six business books that top our summer reading list. Full disclosure, these are also books Stern Strategy Group helped introduce to the world – but we only work with the best. The stories, cases, tips and ideas you’ll find within their pages promise to provoke thought and inspire action (once you get back to the office).

Act on your “aha” moment.

After an initial moment of inspiration, does the “spark” go away? It can sometimes seems that while inspiration is a powerful stimulus, it’s not a lasting one – and there’s not much you can do to sustain it. But what if you could? The authors of “Dare to Inspire” say it can be done, and their book shows how anyone can transform a “Eureka!” moment into concrete, sustainable results. Reignite your engine of inspiration and make change happen.

Conquer digital change.

Digital disruption is real, happening now and fundamentally changing the way organizations compete. In fact, in today’s world companies face two choices: navigate to a new digital future or be engulfed by exponential competitive change. The experts at the Global Center for Digital Transformation (DBT Center), an IMD and Cisco initiative, are out ahead of this mega-trend – and “Digital Vortex,” written by four of them in 2016, demystifies it and offers leaders guidance to capitalize on it.

Orchestrating Transformation,” the DBT Center’s 2019 follow-up to “Digital Vortex,” explains exactly how to get it right. The hard truth, the authors argue, is that despite leaders’ best efforts, and the billions spent in pursuit of digital transformation, the vast majority of organizational change programs fizzle and fall short of expectations – failure that has little to do with ambition and technology and all to do with execution. “Orchestrating Transformation” reimagines complex digital change and turns the odds of success in organizations’ favor.

Make better (learning) decisions.

Do you have a child going to college soon? Or perhaps you’re considering continuing your own education? (If not you, we bet you know someone who does/is.) It’s a high-stakes decision – whether, where and when to go to school. Slated for release in early September, “Choosing College” makes it less complicated. Education and innovation experts Michael Horn and Bob Moesta of the Clayton Christensen Institute explore the motivations for how and why people make decisions at a deep, causal level. The answers may surprise you – and they’ll help you make better choices, from college to career.

Solve big problems (like global poverty).

It’s one of the world’s most vexing crises. For decades, we’ve assumed smart, well-intentioned people will eventually change the economic trajectory of low-income countries. But hope isn’t an effective strategy. While noble, our current solutions are not producing consistent results, and in some cases, have exacerbated the problem. At least 20 countries that have received billions of dollars’ worth of aid are poorer now. There is a better way, say innovation guru Clayton Christensen and Efosa Ojomo, global prosperity and development expert. Co-authored with Karen Dillon, “Prosperity Paradox” puts forward their powerful framework for economic growth, based on entrepreneurship and market-creating innovation. But their manifesto is more than a business book; it’s a call to action for anyone wanting a fresh take for making the world a better, more prosperous place.

Above all, ask the right question.

What if you could unlock a better answer to your most difficult problem – at work, within your community, in life – just by changing the question? You can, according to MIT’s Hal Gregersen. Take Debbie Sterling, the social entrepreneur who created GoldieBlox. The idea came when a friend complained about too few women in engineering and Sterling wondered aloud, “Why are all the great building toys made for boys?” Gregersen shares Sterling’s story and many others like it in “Questions Are the Answer.” Creating the conditions in which creativity thrives starts with one thing: asking the right question.

Whether you’re planning to be poolside, camping in the wild or staying close to home, add these titles to your tablet or Kindle queue this summer. Or for those of us who still can’t give up turning a paper page (raising my hand), throw a hard copy or two into your beach bag. Not only are they interesting and easy enough road trip reads, but they’ll also help you be at the top of your professional game come strategy season in the fall.

What business books top your summer reading list? Share your favorites with us @sternstrategy.

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For more than 15 years, Jen Zottola has helped bring clients’ stories to life – through media opportunities, digital and marketing content, executive presentations, employee communications and more. Fusing creativity with strategy, she crafts compelling, award-winning copy proven to reach and resonate with the right audiences in the most impactful ways. As editorial director, Jen collaborates with clients and account teams to provide counsel on messaging and voice, as well as writing and editing support. Her creativity isn’t reserved only for writing; Jen also gets a kick out of party- and event planning.