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Kenneth G. Hartman

Security Consultant & 
Certified SANS Instructor

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Reading List

“‘Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are’ is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.” —Author Francois Mauriac

The following list of books are among my favorite books on information security, business, leadership, and software development. I personally prefer to listen them as audiobooks because I travel extensively and find that it is a great way to gain new insights and fresh ideas. Frequently, I will end up buying a paper copy of the book in addition to the audio because I find the ideas contained in the book so compelling that I want to highlight it and mark it up as a reference. For your convenience, you will find a hyperlink to each book on I am a Gold Member of, and I have found that this has saved me money on the audiobooks that I buy each month.

Business & Leadership

8 Ways to Great: Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life
—Doug Hirschhorn

This is a quick read but very inspiring. The author has a novel perspective and fresh insights.

Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty (J-B Lencioni Series)
—Patrick Lencioni

This book is all about being real with clients. He argues that being vulnerable with your clients creates strong bonds of loyalty. He states that however, if you have to keep confessing screw-ups–it’s not a vulnerability issue, it’s a competency issue. I loved the book. It was well written and very engaging.

The Brand You 50 : Or : Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an 'Employee' into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!

—Tom Peters

Everyone who deals with clients and/or project work needs to read this. I frequently flip through this book and it reminds me why I love the work that I do. This book inspired me to move into more client-facing work. A couple of great lines from this book that I quote often are “I am my Clients” and “Do cool stuff every day–or die trying!” Tom Peters can be very irreverent, but that’s what makes his books so provocative.

The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage

—B. Joseph Pine, James H. Gilmore

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to differentiate their service business, particularly chapter 9. It will change how you think about work. The authors discuss the radical idea of creating Transformational Experiences for clients.

Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness, with a new Introduction by the author
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When you lose all track of time you may be experiencing a flow state. Most athletes and programmers have experienced this. This author has studied the conditions that are conducive to flow–very interesting. I was originally attracted to this book because of my study of martial arts, but the content is applicable to all dimensions of life and work.

The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey

—Kenneth H. Blanchard, William Oncken, Hal Burrows

I am a big fan of the one minute manager books in general, but this one is required reading for anyone on my team–so that we have a common language to use in discussing how work gets done. Early in my career, I listened to a set of audio tapes called “Managing Management Time” by William Onkin, a co-author of this book that made a huge impact on how I lead organizations.

The Present - the Gift That Makes You Happy And Successful At Work And in Life

—Spencer Johnson M.D., Dennis Boutsikaris

I discovered this book at a used book store and couldn’t put it down. Recommended reading for hard-charging “Type-A” people who need to remember to stop & smell the roses.

GTD System Starter Kit (Vol one)

—David Allen, Marian Bateman and Meg Edwards

This has been a great investment to help keep me organized and enables me to “live in The Present.” I have also bought the Outlook Add-In, which I use to track and feed an enormous amount of monkeys. It dovetails with many of the other books on my list, but provided some valuable missing information. Until reading this book, I had never been able to use Outlook’s task functionality because I would abandon them after continuing to generate paper lists and post-it notes.

Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

—Chris Anderson

This book has shaped how I view the development of software for a niche markets. The book does tend to be a little redundant as the author gives multiple examples of how his concept can be extended into various markets and business models.

The Art of Profitability

—Adrian Slywotzky

This book will give you lots to think about regarding how your business makes money. The content is very deep but is presented as a narrative. I have the audio book and listen to it every couple of years and get new insights each time.

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"

—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Black Swans are highly improbable events, that shake our understanding of the way things are. I found this to be a fascinating survey of various schools of philosophy and it certainly changed the way I look at the world. It can be a little heady at times, but is certainly thought provoking.

Rich Dad Poor Dad Classics - Boxed Set (Rich Dad Poor Dad; Rich Dad's Cashflow Quadrant, and Rich Dad's Guide to Investing)

—Robert T. Kiyosaki, Sharon L. Lechter

Read everything that you can by Kiyosaki. This author and Tom Peters inspired me to participate in the launch of Visonex. The Rich Dad books caused me to rethink how I look at money.

The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

—Thomas L. Friedman

This book will give you a new perspective on off-shoring. The author’s premise is “everything that can be outsourced will be.” You need to read this to understand the competitive forces shaping our economy.

Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

—Sally Hogshead

This book makes the point that we all want to be fascinated and we want others to think that we are fascinating. There are seven fascination triggers–Lust, Mystique. Alarm. Prestige, Power, Vice, and Trust. The author has an online test on her website to help you determine which triggers you respond to. This book shows how marketers “push our buttons” and how you and your brands can use this insight to become more fascinating.

Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO

—Harrison Monarth

Executive presence is a textbook. It is jam packed with practical information for any executive and deserves to be studied. I bought it on Kindle but then also bought the hardcover so that I can highlight it and mark it up. Topics covered include reading people and influencing the perceptions of others as well as branding and online reputation management. The book includes very interesting concepts and applications from research in the field of organizational behavior.

Software Development

User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development
—Mike Cohn

A good quick read on the process of figuring out what you want the software that you are developing to do. The author suggests that you shift the focus to the conversation with your users and that you capture the requirements in the form of test statements that are related to the user story.

Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams

—Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory

This book has been a tremendous resource for understanding how the various types of testing can integrate very nicely into agile development methodologies.

Dynamics of Software Development (Pro-Best Practices)

—Michele McCarthy, Jim McCarthy

This book has lots of great advice for scaling up your software development systems.

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)

—Frederick P. Brooks

This book contains the incredible wisdom of Frederick Brooks. Brooks was a software project manager during the early days of software development at IBM. He coined the well-loved project management phrase, “Nine women can’t make a baby in a month.” His book discusses many of the problems that agile development methodologies attempt to address. His wisdom and use of metaphors makes the book quite readable.

Eric Sink on the Business of Software (Expert’s Voice)
—Eric Sink

Eric Sink’s book contains several well written essays on software development and the issues of a small software development shop. Anyone involved with software development will find the essays insightful and refreshing.