A stack of books to read recommended by Kraken Marketing.

13 July 2020

Books to read if you want to be a badass boss bitch

Lyssa is a marketing badass and founder of Kraken Marketing. She is all about using Data-Driven Marketing using Agile methodologies to help businesses level up. Google Women Techmaker, public speaker, and GIF aficionado. She was one of Cornwall's 30 under 30 and Young Business Person of the Year.
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I love to read.
I love getting lists of books to read almost as much as I love sharing lists of books to read. 

My numerous bookshelves are full of the classics, true crime, fictional crime (love a crimey read), sci-fi, and business books.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to limit myself to business book recommendations, if you want to know what else I read, hit me up. 


There are so many business books out there it can be hard to know which books to read.
Some of them are often recommended but are actually awful – I am looking at you The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.
Every single Agile conference I have attended has had at least one speaker recommend this book. It teaches you how to think strategically and to look at time priorities.
But it is extremely problematic.
It is full of sexist bullshit. Every single female character is a stupid stereotype. Would not recommend. 


OK, mini-rant over.
Let’s move onto the must-read books. 

The Middle Finger Project

The Middle Finger Project – trash your imposter syndrome and live the unfuckwithable life you deserve. By Ash Ambirge

This is my current read, so I will update when I have finished devouring the book.
But, I am just too excited about it to not include it in this list. 

One of the chapters is called: “Welcome to the real world is tiny penis syndrome in disguise.” ?
Loving it.
I think this is the feminist business book I have been looking for.  

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team written by Patrick Lencioni. 

If you are looking for leadership books to read, this one is a must. It is also available in a Manga addition which is pretty fun. However,  if you are an avid Manga fan you may be disappointed at some of the style consistencies.  If you are someone looking for a slightly different presentation style for a business book, you will like it. 

So, the content! 


Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech’s CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? 


The book looks at the different ways a team can be dysfunctional and what you can do about it. 

  • Absent of trust
  • Fear of conflict 
  • Lack of commitment 
  • Avoidance of accountability 
  • Inattention to result 


Having even just one dysfunctional team member can be insidious and extremely detrimental to a business. It is your job as a leader, and as a team member, to stop this dysfunction. 

Sometimes people just aren’t the right fit. 

Building a Story Brand

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller.

If you have anything to do with branding, messaging, or storytelling add this to your list of books to read. 

The concept is so simple you may find yourself saying duh whilst reading the book. It seems so obvious – how have you never realised or articulated it before?

You are the guide, you need to make your customer or user the hero.
You are Yoda, they are Luke. (Anything with a Star Wars analogy is always going to be a hit with me.)
People buy through stories, so learning how to turn your brand into a story should help you convert more. Who doesn’t want that?


Lego yoda on white background.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.
If you are looking for books to read that don’t sugar coat it. This could be the one.
“Fuck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it.”

This book says that being able to improve our lives doesn’t revolve around our ability to make lemonade, but on us learning to stomach lemons better.  

There are only so many things we can give a fuck about, and we need to figure out the ones that actually matter. 

He uses Metallica and Megadeth as examples of self-worth in a way that really resonated with me. 

Whilst I didn’t agree with everything in the book, it was a dose of tough love that I needed. 



Traction by Gino Wickman. 

If you are looking for books to read that will help you level up your business – this is one to read!
It gives you clear plans, tools, and strategies for improving how you run your business.
Having been part of an organisation that pivoted and put this into place, I can say it works. 

It champions transparency and communication. Having the whole team working towards one well-communicated goal is powerful. 

Having the right people in the right roles is powerful. 

Working in 90-day cycles is powerful. 

Read this book! 



Scrum the art of doing twice the stuff in half the time: By Jeff Sutherland.  

If you are looking for books to read about Agile – this should be on your list. Jeff Sutherland is an Agile OG.  He created Scrum and helped write the Agile Manifesto.


He wrote this book after writing “Software in 30 Days” because he wanted to share his knowledge with people outside the software world.
This book explains Scrum for people who are not techies and is suitable for all business readers.

Want to improve productivity, focus your team, and deliver value. This is the book for you.
One of the big lessons is to change or die. Clinging to the old ways of doing things will result in failure. 


Technically Wrong

Technically Wrong: Sexists apps, biased algorithms, and other threats of toxic tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
If you work in the tech industry, add this to your list of books to read. 


Why do Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have female voices?
Is it because of the cultural stereotype that women have service roles? Is it because the engineers tend to be male and privileged so are accustom to women being in those roles? This is just one example, there are many and they can be extremely damaging. 

Diversity, ethical awareness, and historical context can help prevent bias within tech.

This book isn’t a long read but is well worth reading to help give you a top-level education on this complicated subject.

How to Build an Ark: Project Leadership for the 21st Century

How to Build an Ark by Martin Crump and Matthew Theobald. 


Oh yeah, have I mentioned my dad wrote a book? Goals! 

If you want books to read that change the way you look at and run projects, add this to your reading list. 

It is a shorter read but it is crammed full of useful info. 

Stop focusing on KPI’s and measurements and have space to get on with the project and make it successful. 

83% of projects fail on delivering expectations, budget, and/or on time. Why is that?
Read this book to find out.


What’s missing?

Is there a book missing from this list? Are you shouting its name out loud eager for me to read it?

Get in touch and share the title and author with me. I always love getting new books to read!


Books in my ‘to read’ pile next to my bed

The Multi-hyphen Method by Emma Gannon 

Beta: Quiet Girls Can Run the World. By Rebecca Holman 

A Good Time to Be a Girl. By Helena Morrissey

Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smart. By Liz Wiseman
Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. By Kerry Patterson and Josephy Grenny

Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. By Daniel Goleman
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. By Stephen R Covey

Business Adventures. By John Brooks