Adcoms’ Must-Reads For Incoming MBAs

Yale School of Management admissions chief Bruce DelMonico

Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible

William N. Goetzmann

I would recommend Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible by William N. Goetzmann. Goetzmann is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management and Director of the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. He also holds BA, MPPM (MBA), MPhil, and PhD degrees from Yale, so he knows a little bit about the University, and his book exhibits a distinctly Yale approach.  By that, I mean that he takes a traditional topic and applies a deeply rigorous and intellectually broad approach to it. The book traces the role of finance throughout history and across cultures in the growth of civilization, from ancient Mesopotamia to Greece and Rome to imperial China, Europe, and into the New World. It focuses not just on finance, but how finance has driven developments in arts, culture, politics, and a host of other areas.

The value of the book for incoming MBAs is not just the information it imparts, but the approach it espouses. An MBA is not merely about acquiring skills; done well, it also involves developing a mindset that allows you to break down functional silos, recognize and understand complexity, and draw meaningful insights from disparate disciplines. Goetzmann’s book is a roadmap for how to do just that; and it is a fascinating, broadly relevant, and intellectually lively history to boot.


Bruce DelMonico,

Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions

Yale School of Management


Harvard’s Chad Losee

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Dr. Seuss

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Clayton M. Christensen

My first thought is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. Although my kids love this book, it has great advice for anyone of any age who’s about to embark on a new journey in life, with all the opportunities and challenges:  “So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act…And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)”

I would also go with How Will You Measure Your Life?,  co-authored by HBS professor Clay Christensen, a renowned expert on innovation who provides an inspiring guidebook “for achieving a fulfilling life,” helping us use the theories he’s developed as a businessperson and academic to examine what’s really important in our own lives, including integrity, personal relationships, and career satisfaction.

Chad Losee

Managing Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid,

Harvard Business School


UCLA’s Alex Lawrence

Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success

John Wooden and Steve Jamison

John Wooden’s book provides a common sense approach to understanding many of Wooden’s leadership concepts. The most valuable part of the book, in my opinion, is the reminder that there is no one right way or “only way,” but many ways to being a great leader. It is a practical book in the sense that there are examples, quizzes, exercises, etc. that will allow you to improve your confidence, create meaningful relationships with those you lead, increase your awareness of your surroundings, and more. What more could you ask for……You will be learning from the greatest coach in the 20th century!

Alex Lawrence

Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid

UCLA, Anderson School of Management


UCLA’s Emily Taylor

The Start-up of You

Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

We recommend The Start-up of You written by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, to all of our incoming students. The average job tenure for Millennials is three years and corporate America has changed over the last few decades as well. There is now more career uncertainty, but also more opportunity. This book teaches the reader how to use the best practices of startups to empower their own career—investing in building networks, taking intelligent risks, and develop competitive advantages.  We have found that students come to campus more open minded about career opportunities and paths, and we even had one give copies of this book to all of her family members for Christmas!

With a third of our students interested in the tech industry, the Silicon Valley Career Guide is a great resource. It is an eBook is by Andy Rachleff, the founder of the investment management firm Wealthfront and co-founder of Benchmark Capital. The tenet is that picking the right career is more important than picking the right financial investments. His advice: join mid-size private companies with momentum, and each year Wealthfront publishes a list of career launching companies.

Emily Taylor

Director, Career Education and Communications Startups, Social Impact & Human Resources

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Emory’s Julie Barefoot

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Daniel Pink

A world-class MBA education consists of more than your coursework. It’s important to continue personal development as business professionals by expanding your knowledge through exposure to theories and concepts on motivation and leadership. As such, one book we recommend to incoming students is the New York Times bestseller is Drive: The Surprising Truth About Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. And, reading is embraced after enrollment at Goizueta.  Our students can participate in a Core Values book club which has discussed a number of thought-provoking books, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Dr. Maya Angelou, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith, and How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen.

 Julie Barefoot

Associate Dean of MBA Admissions

Emory University, Goizueta Business School 

Go to next page for suggestions from Michigan, Cornell, North Carolina, and Vanderbilt.

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