What books do tax leaders read?

Which books inspire global tax experts? On Harvey John’s Media Hub, we have interviewed many of the world’s leading tax professionals and leaders, and one of the questions we always ask is: “Which books do you live by?”

The answers are fascinating. Some relate directly to the tax industry, some are inspirational manuals and some are just simply great reads.

We have compiled some of our favourites in a new series. Read on for the first instalment of “What do tax leaders read”…

Andrew Bohnet

Ted Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson.

“A captivating book. The concept of a Ted Talk is to talk about versatile and often unrelated topics to your audience, but with the objective of discussing a seemingly insignificant subject that then potentially sparks an idea. I think the same can be said for taxologists; your role is to keep listening whilst discovering new technology and how it may be of benefit.”

“Chris Anderson has been the curator of TED since the early 2000s and has worked behind the scenes with all the TED speakers who have inspired us the most. He shares insights on everything from how to craft your talk’s content to how you can be most effective on stage. The book is described as “The 21st-century’s new manual for truly effective communication.”

Andrew Bohnet is a international speaker on tax, a Tax Engine Expert and founder of  Innovate Tax.

Philippe Norre

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

“A very different take on how to understand people and how to interact with them. The title alone is eye-catching!”

Thomas Erikson is a Swedish communication expert and bestselling author. After a disastrous meeting with a highly successful entrepreneur, who was genuinely convinced he was ‘surrounded by idiots’, Erikson dedicated himself to understanding why we often struggle to connect with certain types of people. It offers a simple method for assessing the personalities of people we communicate with based on four personality types – with insights into how we can adjust the way we speak and share information.

Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni 

“One of my biggest compliments I’ve had was a client telling me that he finally had an efficient meeting. Every week we attend meetings that aspire to be the most painful problem in business. This book illustrates this so well, whilst also trying to give solutions.”

Lencioni takes on the most dreaded company activity – meetings – why we hate them, why we shouldn’t, and how to make them great. Death by Meeting is a fictional business tale, but based around a real-life problem – bad meetings. What Lencioni suggests is both simple and revolutionary.”

Philippe Norre is Head of Tax, Tax Technology and Digital Tax Agenda for KPMG Fahkro

Paolo Girgenti

Treasure Island: Tax Havens & The Men Who Stole The World by Nicholas Shaxson

“A really good book is Treasure Island as it gives a very interesting view of the public eye about the international tax system. It’s also a way to say that indirect tax professionals should know and understand about the international tax system, even though it may sound like the ‘world of direct taxation and transfer pricing’.”

Nicholas Shaxson shines a light on the murky and secret world of tax havens in this influential and revealing exposé. Shaxson estimated (ten years ago!) in the book that around $12 trillion, a quarter of the world’s wealth, goes untaxed in tax havens. If banks and companies were included, the amount would be at least twice that.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating An Agreement Without Giving In by Fisher, Ury and Patton.

“Another book which has been on my bookshelf for some time and I found inspiring is this classic take on negotiation. We, as a people, negotiate every day. As indirect tax professionals we always negotiate –  with tax authorities, colleagues from the sales team and external consultants.”

Published in 1981, Getting to Yes has become one of the key manuals on the psychology of negotiation. Its fundamental approach is one of “principled negotiations” – finding acceptable compromises by determining which needs are fixed and which are flexible for negotiating parties. It has influenced generations of businesspeople and lawyers.

Paolo Girgenti is Global Head of Indirect Tax at Puma Energy

Fernanda Herrmann

The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins

“When you start a new job or have been promoted, what should you do in the first 90 days to make an impression? This is the guide you’ll need to succeed in your first 90 days and beyond. Michael Watkins is a leading expert on leadership transitions and he produced this book in recognition of the fact that managers face more frequent changes and steeper expectations when they start their new jobs.”

Fernanda Herrmann is the Global Customs Head (Standards and Strategy) at Diageo

Alex Mann is Associate Director, Indirect Tax & Tax Technology at Harvey John

For expert advice on how to get the best out of your tax career, whether in a professional services firm or in-house, contact us today.

Share this article: