Books that influenced me

Our CEO, Jim Prior, reflects on the books that have influenced him and shares the six that have made the most profound impact with Admap (WARC).  Valuing skilled craft, insightful business research, deft exploration of human truths and the simple beauty of language, Jim's choices are an eclectic mix of works that should be read by anyone looking to have their perspectives shifted and sharpened. 

A TECHNIQUE FOR PRODUCING IDEAS

By James Webb Young

When it comes to business books, my telic nature wants to get to the point rather more quickly than most readers do – especially as the writers rarely have the writing skills to hold attention through long-winded sections. So this book strikes a resonant chord with me. It’s short. And it’s well written, albeit in an old-fashioned, kind of folksy way. It’s as good a summary of the creative thought process as I have seen.

STONER: A NOVEL

By John Williams

An unremarkable storyline around an unremarkable character, made astonishing by the simple beauty of its language and the profound human truths that occupy the spaces between the lines. I’m a great believer in playing the long game and this novel captures the patience and perspective which this demands and is the most meaningful prose I have ever read.

A SMILE IN THE MIND

By Beryl McAlhone & David Stuart, Greg Quinton & Nick Asbury

It’s every designer’s essential compendium of the use of wit in design. But ASITM is much more besides. It’s a manifesto for a world in which human intelligence and sensitivity combine to simplify life’s interactions. Brilliant ideas and outstanding craft are the operating system through which that is delivered, and while everyone may not have those skills in abundance, they can certainly all be inspired by the intellectual and emotional joy that their union spawns.

THE HITCHHICKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

By Douglas Adams

True creativity lies in the ability to open up possibilities that no one else sees but that make perfect sense. Adams was a creative genius and throughout the four-book trilogy he takes science, philosophy, sociology and other disciplines through an intellectual and comical workout to present a universe that is absurd, yet logically sound. Essential reading for all creatives, but preferably before the age of fifteen.

BUILT TO LAST

By Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

There are countless books promising insights into what makes businesses great. Where this one scores over all those rivals is by concentrating on giving properly researched information rather than opinion. And there’s plenty of it – eighteen case studies that, despite the book’s age, remain relevant today. It’s the brand consultant’s go-to reference book: the Gray's Anatomy of the business strategy world.

ILLUSTRATED MOTOR CARS OF THE WORLD

By Piet Olyslager

This is a glorious collection of hand-drawn images of every significant car in history to that point in time. Contemporary car executives and designers ought to peruse this and hang their heads in shame when they see how, today, they’ve compromised craft and thrill in deference to risk-averse engineers and economists. It reminds me not to make that same mistake in my own line of work.

Originally published by Admap (WARC).