Airborne Ranger combat veteran Spencer Coursen has had a colorful career, filled with unexpected plot turns, including an appearance in the movie Zero Dark Thirty. Coursen has since moved on to the OPSEC and PERSEC industry, where he has built his business, Coursen Security Group, as a premier threat management consultant to world leaders, celebrities, Fortune 500 titans, and organizations. Coursen is a strong veteran advocate and mentor. In this article, he fields a common question about books he recommends to read.
Since I began contributing to Military.com, I’ve started fielding questions from active duty military and veterans. Some filter through my website, some come through LinkedIn, and a few get sent via direct message on my twitter account. Keep your questions coming. I’m here to help.
One of the more frequent questions is, “Hi, Spencer. I was wondering if you could recommend some good reading material? I'm going to be [some variation of] leaving the military, heading out on deployment, laid up for surgery, and I'd like to use the time to further my knowledge. Can you recommend any good reads?”
Since this question comes up so often, I thought it would be easier to share my top five picks with you here. These books are not industry specific. They are just really good books that helped me to learn more about life. My hope is they can do the same for you too,
My Top 5 Book Recommendations
Tools of Titans: Tim Ferris interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for his podcast the The Tim Ferris Show. The book is a compilation of all key takeaways from those sessions. There are some really great insights, life lessons, and success strategies from Navy Seals like Jocko Willink, celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and guru’s like Richard Branson and Tony Robbins. This is a must read book for anyone interested in learning the routines, practices, and mindsets, that empower the most successful leaders of industry today.
Tribe: Sebastian Junger combines history, psychology and anthropology in a page-turning read that helps to answer that singular question asked by everyone who has ever worn a uniform: ”Why does conflict feel better than peace.” His answers may surprise you. This book explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how we can all learn to be better in today’s fractured world.
Good Self, Bad Self: Judy Smith, co-creator of the hit TV Show “Scandal,” explains why we must all learn to live with personal screwups. This book helped me to learn how to diffuse, mitigate, and resolve issues -- for both myself and for clients -- before things went spinning out of control. If you have any interest in crisis communications or public relations strategy, this is a great book for you to explore. (Good for helping to resolve those "significant other” conflicts too.)
Rich Dad Poor Dad: Robert Kiyosaki tells his story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the wealthy father of his best friend. One man was a well-educated, but lifelong employee, the other had more of a “street smarts” education which forged an entrepreneurial path. One worked for money. The other made his money work for him. Even if you don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, this book is a must read primer to understanding the now infamous quote by former NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer “The answer to all your questions is money.”
Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell tells a fascinating story that weaves its way through the world of “outliers” — the best and the brightest, the famous, and the successful — as he shifts the focus away from who these people are to the underlying causes that helped make these people different. This is an entertaining and enlightening read that will make you see the world as never before.
Pro Tip: As a consultant, I spend a lot of time traveling. This means a lot of time spent in planes, trains and automobiles. I try to knock out a book a week. Audible (not an endorsement, just a great app) makes this easy to do. I can download a book onto my iPhone and listen whenever I have the time. Audiobooks have even replaced my workout playlists. Strong mind. Strong body. Win. Win. Onward / Upward
Spencer Coursen, Airborne Ranger veteran and founder of Coursen Security, is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy. Follow him on Twitter at @spencercoursen
-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.