Industry Trends | Read Time: 3 Minutes

5 Books That Should Be on Your Summer Reading List

June 3, 2021

Applied Systems logo By: Applied Communications

When summer rolls around, we’re all looking for an excuse to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. What better way to relax and unwind than escaping into a good book. And, if you happen to be absorbing information and insights that expand your horizons professionally, so much the better.

To help get you started, we asked some of our executives to recommend books that have inspired and influenced them. The result is a collection of must-read business and leadership books that will perfectly complement a day at the beach, or in the backyard hammock. Think of it as leisurely learning: laying out and soaking in rays has never been so productive!

  1. Taylor Rhodes headshot

    Taylor Rhodes, CEO of Applied

    The Hard Thing About Hard Things book cover

    Recommends: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz

    “I read this book a few years back when my previous company, Rackspace, was locked in the throes of the cloud computing wars with Amazon, Microsoft and Google. It’s written by the now famous venture capital investor Ben Horowitz, of Andreesen Horowitz. Prior to moving into the VC world, Ben was a technology and product leader at Netscape and other companies. I really enjoyed his book because each chapter is a vignette of stories about hard situations, hard lessons and hard decisions – basically, the inevitable hard things we all face as business leaders. Ben shares his hard won lessons, and mixes them with humor and honesty that make them accessible and entertaining.”

  2. Laura Lee Gentry headshot

    Laura Lee Gentry, Chief People Officer at Applied

    Work Disrupted book cover

    Recommends: Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work, by Jeff Schwartz

    “It was just published earlier this year and is incredibly relevant to what is changing/morphing now in our work worlds. Jeff has some incredibly clear, simple paradigm shifts that really opened up my mind to thinking of things in different ways. Jeff leads Deloitte’s Future of Work Practice so he has an incredible grasp of the research and a great deal of practical experience working with companies of all sizes and shapes. I typically find business books to repeat themselves but this one was unique and a very worthwhile read!”

  3. Greg Shiple headshot

    Greg Shiple, SVP of Support at Applied

    Make Your Bed book cover

    Recommends: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World, by Admiral William H. McRaven

    “The Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S. makes me realize how thankful how thankful I am of the men and women (along with their families) who have served our country. The liberties of our nation that they have so bravely defended make me even prouder to have veterans and families work with us here at Applied. This book by William H. McRaven, retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral, is filled with practical wisdom and encouragement that has inspired me to be better and more appreciative of the diverse teams around us. It is a very easy read with messages that have stuck with me years later.”

  4. Trevor Bunker headshot

    Trevor Bunker, Chief Customer Officer at Applied

    Shortest Way Home book cover

    Recommends: Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future, by Pete Buttigieg

    “Great stories of leadership with a particular focus on creativity and innovation. His examples really speak to me on recreation and overcoming challenges. So relevant for technology leaders as we continually face the need to reinvent and enhance our offerings to remain competitive and attract the best talent.”

  5. Courtney Rains headshot

    Courtney Rains, Chief Marketing Officer at Applied

    Call Sign Chaos book cover

    Recommends: Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, by Jim Mattis and Bing West

    “This book gives you clear insight into the battlefield of leadership and how to succeed amidst chaotic times. Mattis’ ability to thread a powerful narrative while detailing strategies of war for future generations’ learnings is impactful and demonstrative of how to hit the highest of leadership highs and survive the trenches of tough times. Its focus on leading with intent will inspire you to never lose sight of the goal and to trust and empower your people to define the plan of attack to get there.”


Applied Systems logo

Applied Communications

For more than 35 years, Applied Systems has led an industry we helped to create with a mission to continuously improve the business of insurance. Insurance agencies and brokerages have faced new challenges and demands on their businesses over time, and we have been there to guide them. Since 1983, Applied has been at the forefront of insurance technology, leading the way through innovation. As the insurance industry becomes increasingly global, we are delivering new technology and expanded multinational capabilities for this changing marketplace.