Small Spark Theory® Library

The Small Spark Theory® Library

Since January 2017, our hand-picked, Small Spark Theory® podcast guests have been recommending their favourite reads to our listeners, and on occasion, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing the authors themselves.

Here you’ll find the full bookshelf of recommendations episode by episode, ranging from business classics to new thinking on agency challenges and a healthy dose of fiction thrown in for good measure. Feel free to bookmark this page and check back monthly as each new podcast episode lands.

Happy reading!


(NOTE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission for any purchases made)

  1. There is No Wall by Allie Bailey recommended by Clair Heaviside of Serotonin
  2. Tim Perry recommends The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda
  3. No book recommendation but a free download instead! Help yourself to Reboot – my 5 step plan to reinvigorate your pipeline
  4. Madison Avenue Makeover: The transformation of Huge and the redefinition of the ad agency business by Michael Farmer was recommended by Emma Sexton
  5. Steve Garside from TMW recommended New Business: A guide to life on the frontline published by the IPA.
  6. Rachel Cook of ThreeTenSeven recommended How to Have a Good Day: The essential toolkit for a productive day at work and beyond by Caroline Webb
  7. Good to Great and Built to Last by Jim Collins and Sell Like Crazy by Sabri Suby were all recommended by Joe Ardeeser
  8. Tuning Up as discussed with author and consultant David Meikle
  9. Paul Halfpenny recommends Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
  10. Kat Thay recommends The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
  11. Brothers Emanuel by Ezekiel J. Emanuel was recommended by Dominic Glenn from Ingenuity
  12. Manish Dudharejia of E2M Solutions recommends Measure What Matters: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr
  13. Scary Smart by Mo Gawdat as recommended by Warren Hutchinson, founder of Else and Chair of the Design Business Association
  14. Tina Fegent recommends Buying Less for Less: How to Avoid the Marketing Procurement Dilemma by Gerry Preece
  15. Mastering Uncertainty as discussed with author and agency founder Matt Watkinson
  16. No book recommendation to see here!
  17. Mark Wilson recommended No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer and we’d like to include Mark’s own book Futurestate Design: How to step out of the past and create a business for the future.
  18. Steve Parks gave us four cracking recommendations in episode: The Alliance by Reid Hoffman, Anti-fragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport and another thumbs up for previous recommendation The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
  19. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is recommended by mindset coach Wendy Bollard together with a shout out for Small Spark Theory favourite, Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  20. Gareth Turner recommends  How not to plan: 66 ways to screw it up by Les Binet and Sarah Carter.
  21. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Dan Pink recommended by Adam Graham of BD Matters.
  22. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord as recommended by Joe Perkins of Chaptr.
  23. No book recommendation to see here!
  24. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie recommended by Kelly Molson of Rubber Cheese.
  25. Human Powered by Trenton Moss in as recommended in our conversation together.
  26. What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz and Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire, and How to Want What You Need by Luke Burgis recommended by Daniel de la Cruz at Polymensa. Also mentioned in this episode is The First Minute by Chris Fenning.
  27. The Advertising Concept Book: Think Now, Design Later by Pete Barry recommended by Roland Gurney at Treacle
  28. The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns recommended by Mark Wellings from Grist, not forgetting Mark’s own book on Herne Hill Velodrome and the history of track cycling Ride! Ride! Ride!
  29. Story Dash: Find, Develop, and Activate Your Most Valuable Business Stories…In Just a Few Hours by David Hutchens recommended by Dr Kat Arney of First Create the Media
  30. I’m An Agency Owner Get Me Out Of Here by Jonathan Leafe recommended by Rory Spence at The Wow Company
  31. The Win Without Pitching Manifesto as discussed with Blair Enns
  32. Catalyst: Using Personal Chemistry to Convert Contacts into Contracts by Louisa Clarke and David Kean as discussed in this episode
  33. Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work and Build a High-Performance Organization by Niels Pflaeging recommended by Steve Parks of Convivio
  34. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight recommended by Claire Humphris of Iris
  35. Scale at Speed: How to Triple the Size of your Business and Build a Superstar Team as discussed with Felix Velarde
  36. Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende recommended by Sarah Yeats at Sledge
  37. Greener Marketing by John Grant recommended by Jennifer Crowley at Kin + Carta
  38. No book recommendation
  39. Happy Sexy Millionaire by Steven Bartlett recommended by Ash Jones of Great Influence
  40. Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers by Tim Hughes recommended by Laura Hannan at Pitch121
  41. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There are no Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz recommended by Sarah Paterson from CommsPeople
  42. Atomic Habits by James Clear and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey recommended by Clare Rees
  43. Charlatan: The Fraudulent Life of John Brinkley by Pope Brock recommended by Ian Harris from Agency Hackers
  44. Slide:ology – The art and science of creating great presentations by Nancy Duarte recommended by Shan Preddy from Preddy & Co
  45. Insight: How to Succeed by Seeing Yourself Clearly by Tasha Eurich recommended by Alisha Lyndon of Momentum
  46. No book recommendation some podcasts from our producer Izzy Jarvis: Here’s the Thing, Desert Island Discs, The Adam Buxton Podcast and 2 Bobs
  47. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason and The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah recommended by Deepa Shah of Lab Eight
  48. Not a book, but a subscription to the Financial Times recommended by Design Business Association CEO Deborah Dawton
  49. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters by Richard Rumelt recommended by Robin Bonn
  50. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff and Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers recommended by leadership coach Sally Henderson
  51. The Innovation Book: How to Manage Ideas and Execution for Outstanding Results by Max Mckeown recommended by Michelle Cook
  52. Ogilvy on Advertising in a Digital Age by Miles Young, recommended by Dave Corlett from Shaped By
  53. The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga recommended by Emma Sexton at Hands Down Agency
  54. Ca$hvertising: How to Use 50 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone by Drew E Whitman and The Choice Factory: 25 Behavioural Biases That Influence What We Buy by Richard Shotton recommended by Roland Gurney from Treacle
  55. A Smile in the Mind by Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart, Greg Quinton and Nick Asbury recommended by Stef Brown of On Pointe
  56. Invisible Power: Insight Principles at Work by Ken Manning, Robin Charbit and Sandra Krot recommended by Phil Gripton at Waypoint Partners
  57. Do Listen: Understand What Is Really Being Said. Find A New Way Forward by Bobette Buster recommended by Catherine Allison of Master the Art
  58. Peter Czapp at Wow Company was another fan of The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns
  59. Deep Work by Cal Newport recommended by Julia Howe of Twentieth Century Fox
  60. Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms by Ronald J Baker, Take a Stand for Your Brand by Tim Williams, Buying Less for Less by Gerry Preece and Russell Wohlwerth were all recommended by David Meikle, not forgetting his own book: How to Buy a Gorilla
  61. Fear Hack by Hillary Gallo as discussed in this episode
  62. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google by Scott Galloway recommended by Jim Hawker of Threepipe Reply
  63. Technology vs Humanity: The Coming Clash Between Man and Machine by Gerd Leonhard, recommended by social selling expert Alex Low
  64. Competitive Advantage by Michael E Porter recommended by Iain Johnston of Hill Dickinson
  65. Small Data by Martin Lindstrom recommended by Pip Stock from Brandhook and Hearsay
  66. Not a book recommendation in this Christmas episode but a little productivity hack – this fabulous 15 minute timer from School of Life. What can you do in 15 minutes?!
  67. You are a Message: Meditations for the Creative Entrepreneur by Guillaume Wolf recommended by Kimi Gilbert of Future Factory
  68. The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson recommended by Nick Phipps of Rawnet
  69. No recommendation
  70. Simple Tips, Smart Ideas by Erica Wolfe-Murray as discussed in this episode
  71. Sad Men by Dave Roberts and The Diagrams Book by Kevin Duncan recommended by Tony Walford of Green Square
  72. No recommendation
  73. No recommendation
  74. Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour by Blair Enns as discussed in this episode
  75. The Elements of Style by Willian Strunk recommended by Claire and Alex Blythe at Red Setter
  76. A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin recommended by Erica Wolfe-Murray
  77. A bumper crop of recommendations from David C. Baker: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott and of course, David’s own book, the Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth
  78. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, recommended by Katie Pattison from Hammerson plc
  79. The Power of Soft: How to get what you want without being a **** by Hillary Gallo, as discussed with Hilary in this episode
  80. The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing How We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr recommended by Tony Spong from AAR
  81. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely recommended by Katz Kiely
  82. Get Things Done by Robert Kelsey – as discussed with Robert in this episode
  83. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant recommended by me
  84. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Dan Pink recommended by me
  85. The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns recommended by Alex Sibille and Dan Sudron from Future Factory
  86. Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni and Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish. Recommended by Felix Velarde of 2Y3X
  87. Gravitas: Communicate with Gravitas, Influence and Authority by Caroline Goyder recommended by Catherine Allison of Master the Art
  88. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Essential reading recommended by Tim Duncan of TDC PR
  89. Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed recommended by me in our very first episode!