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Read, watch, listen: bluenotes’ 2022 content stocking with a special focus on leadership

With the end of year approaching and festive holidays around the world, we asked ANZ directors and senior executives for the stories which resonated with them during the year – or which they plan to read, watch or listen to over the break.

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Along with a fascinating and eclectic range of recommendations, we also gleaned some ideas our contributors found on leadership – from both fiction and non-fiction.

We hope you enjoy the suggestions – and let us know titles we’ve overlooked here

Gerard Florian – Group Executive Technology

I’m reading

On TV I’m escaping with

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Source: penguin.com.au

For listening I’ve a list of podcasts:

Richard Yetsenga – ANZ Chief Economist

Leadership lessons can be found almost anywhere, it’s just a matter of approaching material from that perspective. This year I have learnt most from: 

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Source: penguin.com.au

  • Novacene by James Lovelock - Read it once, and then read it again. 
    Let me tell you what I mean by Joan Didion - The chapter on Martha Stewart will leave you asking what will you do in the name of commerce?
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, a compelling story about one woman who refused to bend. 
  • Against White Feminism by Rafia Zaharia may well make you question your founding leadership principles. 
  • Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes may bring you a different perspective on how belief structures impact. 

Meanwhile there is quite a bit of watching I am looking forward to …

  • Hong Kong Returns - a small series of videos on Vimeo about a place with a greater ability to reinvent itself than anywhere else I can think of. 
  • The Crown - I am three episodes into Season 1. I need to make some headway. 
  • John Krasinski is back for another season of Jack Ryan - A CIA analyst with an economics degree (Love him already. Don’t you?) who chases baddies.

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Source: rottentomatoes.com

My reading list, as always, is a challenge but I am committing to get through a few specific books over the break. 

  • Kingdom of Characters by Jing Tsu - focusses on “the bold innovators who adapted the Chinese script… to the technological advances that would shape the twentieth century”.
  • Clouds over Paris by Felix Hartlaub - diaries of a German officer posted to Paris in 1940. I try to occasionally read some history written at the time; economists are not the only experts after the fact. 
  • Building the Cycling City by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett – written after a few months cycling in The Netherlands. The Dutch’s cyclical society didn’t happen without leadership, hard work and focus. 
  • What’s Wrong with Boards by Fred Hilmer argues board governance has become focussed on progress, rather than substance and insight.

Mark Whelan – Group Executive Institutional

There’s quite a bit I’m looking forward to reading over the summer break…

  • Horse by Geraldine Brooks - I’m looking forward to reading the most recent novel from an excellent Australian/American author. It looks to be a similar set-up to Brook’s earlier work People of the Book, which was fascinating. The story follows the people loosely associated with Kentucky thoroughbred Lexington, told from the perspectives of an enslaved groom, gallery owner, art historian and scientist.
  • The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall - This book has been recommended to me by our Chief Risk Officer, Kevin Corbally, and follows Marshall’s earlier work Prisoners of Geography, which I turned to again as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine came to forefront. Australia is the first chapter, so keen to see what Marshall has to say about our incredible economic good fortune.
  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins - Has been recommended to me by five or six people, who tell me it’s captivating. A real-page turner and makes you think about refugees, politics and the risks migrant families are forced to take.
  • Lessons by Ian McEwan - Has been recommended by our Chief Economist Richard Yetsenga – who described it as a ‘tour de force’. He suggested the 500 pages is best digested in one hit so the summer break is a perfect chance to do just that.
  • Superpower Transformation by Ross Garnaut - I’ve seen quite a bit of media coverage on it so I’m keen to take a closer look. It’s a follow up to his previous book Superpower and looks at how Australia can be a leader in the transition towards net zero.

I enjoy reading The Economist year-round but I’m looking forward to flipping through them again and catching up on any articles I’ve missed during the break.

Kevin Lee – Model Governance Manager and ANZ Book Club organiser

During 2022, the book club reached a significant milestone by reading and discussing its 100th book. So here are some highlights from the first hundred books:

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Following his wife’s disappearance, the suspicion falls on the husband in this twisting thriller that was also adapted into a film. The ending caused much discussion in the book club.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - A heart-warming Swedish tale of a grumpy old man whose life is transformed by his new neighbours. It’s been adapted into a Swedish film and now an American remake starring Tom Hanks.
  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo - A fiercely feminist novel that sparked much discussion, particularly in South Korea. The main character’s experiences also resonated with book club members.
  • Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss - This non-fiction anthology covers many diverse experiences of Aboriginal Australia, drawing upon both established and emerging writers.
  • The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante - An epic story tracing the decades long complex friendship of two girls from Naples. Like many readers worldwide, the book club found this series totally engrossing.

Antonia Watson, CEO, New Zealand

  • This Changes Everything by Niki Bezzant - It's about menopause, I include it because I find myself as an unlikely leader in breaking the taboo on talking about menopause in the workplace. The book is an easy-to-read guide to what to expect for us middle-aged women.

And I’m an unabashed fan of airport fiction ….

Paul O’Sullivan, Chairman

As well as being superbly researched and written, it is an engaging attempt to follow in the footsteps of a 6th century monk on a journey by land from Turkey to Egypt with observations on contemporary life along the way.

My younger brother gave it to me: we have both worked and lived in the Middle East (him as a United Nations peacekeeper) and are both fascinated by the history of the region.

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Travelling in the footsteps of John Moschos. Source: Bookhand book reviews

Ilana Atlas, ANZBGL Board Director

  • Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech – It’s been a decade since it was delivered and since then I have watched it many, many times. I admire it as a speech many women would want to have made in response to their experiences as leaders.

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Source: pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/

  • I am looking forward to reading Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real lessons by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
  • A collection of Volodymyr Zelensky’s wartime speeches will be published this month as a book called  A Message from Ukraine and I am looking forward to reading them. How does an actor and comedian become a great wartime leader? What is it in a person that drives them to step into leadership, not out, at a time of great personal peril?
  • I will be listening to Noel Pearson’s 2022 Boyer lectures. Noel is an eminent First Nations leader who always challenges our thinking about who we are as a nation and what can make us a better one. Specifically, he puts the case for the need to amend the Constitution to recognise the Voice of First Nations people in our Constitution. 

John Key, Director

  • I’ll be going with a Netflix binge:  All three seasons of Dead to Me starring Christina Applegate.  It’s very funny and all the more impressive knowing she filmed season three while suffering from multiple sclerosis.

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Source: www.justwatch.com

  • There’s also a great movie on Netflix I’ve had my eye on for a while, Sour Grapes. It’s all about counterfeit French Bordeaux in case you are planning on enjoying a few over the summer break. Real ones, not fake ones ….

Kevin Corbally, Chief Risk Officer

  • One book I read earlier this year and will definitely pick up again over the holiday period is Tim Marshall’s The Power of Geography: Ten Maps that Reveal the Future of the World. Marshall explores ten regions he believes will shape global politics. The book is written in a witty, insightful and easy-to-read manner while providing a really good mix of history, economics and political analysis – putting geography at the centre of humanity’s past, present and future.
  • I am just about to start reading Ionbhá – The Empathy Book for Ireland collated by Irish actor Cillian Murphy. It includes a collection of short stories and reflections by a range of Irish authors that aim to act as a compass, guiding the reader to things that really matter in life, looking at the healing power of empathy and the countless ways in which it shapes all of us.
  • Having watched this year the second series in the latest version of the James Herriot TV series All Creatures Great and Small, I was encouraged to pick up the books I last read as a child many, many years ago and once again enjoy his heart-warming tales, funny storytelling abilities and his menageries of animal patients from his life over many decades as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales.

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Source : www.rottentomatoes.com

I will also be spending some time at the beach over the holidays and will make sure to read:

Jeff Smith, Independent Non-Executive Director

  • My big recommendation podcast / leadership lecture series is Tom Mendoza Presents. Tom is the benefactor for the Notre Dame Business school and he interviews different leaders - it's interesting , funny and really relevant. He interviewed me as well – and found out things about me I didn't know. He's terrific - and he was the president / vice chair of NetApp, the best performing stock on the Nasdaq in the 2000s which won best place to work in more countries than any other company. 

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Shayne Elliott, Chief Executive Officer:

I am very traditional in my tastes and prefer reading over other options. And given the time invested in a book, I still feel it is a treat and privilege to have time over a holiday to indulge in a good book, fiction or non-fiction.

I start collecting books for the summer in about September and grow a portfolio to finally choose from. Sadly my ambition is greater than my ability and I generally don’t get to all those I hope for …

But in addition to my regular selection of the season’s best Crime Fiction, my starting list for this break is as follows:

  • The Quiet Americans by Scott Anderson – Four CIA spies at the dawn of the Cold War. A fascinating history of modern American espionage.
  • Regenesis by George Monbiot – feeding the world without devouring the planet. I have started following George on social media and enjoy his perspectives on social and environmental issues and am interested to understand more about the challenge of food.
  • The Land where Lemons grow by Helena Attlee – The story of Italy and its citrus fruit. This looks like a lovely mix of Italian history, geography and cooking – a great set for an Italian vacation.
  • Crassius: The First Tycoon by Peter Stothland  – Recommended by my colleague Gerard Brown. I love well written (and not too long!) biographies, particularly related to Italy. This is not a person I know much about other than his name being associated with extreme wealth.

In terms of fiction, I am going outside my safety zone and trying Geraldine Brooks’ latest novel Horse. This is based on a true story of the greatest racehorses in American history and described as a “sweeping story of spirit, obsession and injustice across American history”.

We will be holidaying in the Northern winter and so plenty of time for family movies and I am hoping to introduce my 17-year old daughter to two great classics – Ghandi and Lawrence of Arabia. Having lived in the Middle East for six years and spent extensive travel time in both The Middle East and India, I love these immense, historic and epic stories – particularly with tremendous soundtracks that really bring to life these great characters and the eras in which they lived.

However, I will try to be podcast and social media free …!

Maile Carnegie, Group Executive Australia Retail:

Here’s my list starting with books:

  • The Price of Time, Edward Chancellor – I’m interested in going back to first principles about what an interest rate is for and why we have it, especially given we are going through a reset of rates going up.
  • The Song of the Cell, Siddhartha Mukherjee – The next explosion in Venture Capital funding is potentially going to be in healthcare and the impact will be profound.  I haven’t looked at this space for about five years so I assume a lot has changed and I want to go back to school on this area.

Podcasts

  • Today, Explained – I feel like I’ve developed the habit of getting news headlines so I’m looking for media that gives me snack-sized deeper briefs on topics.
  • Down the Middle: A Political Podcast – I’m tired of extreme political views so looking to find media where thoughtful, moderate commentors debate issues.

Streaming

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  • Limitless with Chris Hemsworth – A series about longevity and quality of life that is getting good reviews.  At 53 years old, this is a topic of growing interest …
  • Dopesick – An older series that I haven’t had time to watch.  It’s about a time (late 90s/early 00s) and place (midwest USA) that I experienced and where I started to see the terrible impact of the Opioid crisis on a community I grew to love as both of my sons were born in Cincinnati.

Ken Adams, Group General Counsel:

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Source: tv.apple.com

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first season, I’m looking forward to the next one of Slow Horses, the story of misfit British intelligence operatives brilliantly led – I could barely describe it has led – by a fantastically slovenly Gary Oldman.

Good enough to re-watch over summer: The Bear. At times raw and confronting, with some lovable and unlovable characters whose backgrounds are exposed as Season 1 progresses. Looking forward to the release of Season 2.

My books on the summer read list include:

  • The Candy House by Jennifer Egan – Bix Bouton, a minor character in Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, is CEO of an internet company. The novel explores the decline of privacy in the digital age and how tech has the potential to turn the world upside down.
  • Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley – As a 20 year-old, Mottley became the youngest ever nominee when longlisted for the Booker Prize. That alone peaked my interest. The central character is a 17 year-old, described by critics as “one of the toughest and kindest young heroines of our time”.

Tony Warren, Group General Manager Communications and Public Affairs:

 On the books front, I have the following lined up for this summer:

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Source: booktopia.com

  • Horizons: A Global History of Science by James Poskett – Rather than the usual history of science that focuses exclusively on the west, this book argues the influences and feedback loops between the Islamic, African, Asian and American worlds provide a far richer understanding of something that completely changed the course of human history – science.
  • The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age by James Crabtree – Another interesting looking book to help understand a country that will be ever more important for Australia and our part of the world over the years to come. I might also try to get to Richard Eaton’s book on India in the Persianate Age.
  • Bulldozed by Nikki Savva – Tells a story of the Morrison Government. I usually find instant history books on politics tedious but Nikki is typically a good writer and apparently, if nothing else, by reading this book you will learn a lot of profanity!

On the TV front, I have the latest series of Endeavour (the early Inspector Morse shows which I would thoroughly recommend) and Shetland (good plots and lots of great scenery) to watch. I am hoping that one of the various new Nordic shows streaming somewhere will also be worth the time.

Antony Strong, Group Executive, Strategy & Transformation:

I can offer two, hopefully thought provoking, takes on leadership: Jack Reacher and John Rawls.

  • The Jack Reacher oeuvre spans nearly two dozen novels, novellas and short stories by British author Jim Grant, under the pen name Lee Child, which have been made into movies and television series.

I’ve really enjoyed them as entertainment but there is something archetypal in these stories of an outsider, travelling across a modern, challenging landscape and forced to solve – an admittedly occasionally over-the-top – series of challenges with logic, insight and daring-do.

Beneath the theatre, Reacher has an – unflinching - sense of what is right and an enduring loyalty to his team - and willingness to back them.

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Source: youtube.com

  • John Rawls on the other hand is one of the 20th century’s foremost – and most human – moral philosophers. His theories of justice and critiques of more austere philosophical systems, notably utilitarianism, are both insightful and very readable.

His notable contributions to our moral understanding are his theory of distributive justice and ‘the veil of ignorance’ – that is, you should make decisions (or act) as though you know nothing of yourself and your natural abilities or your position in society.

In essence, Rawls argues for true equality and, while acknowledging our inherent self interest, develops a theory where that self interest is restrained.

This is not the end…

Watch this space as we add more recommendations from the people of ANZ.

Do you have any recommendations of your own or would like to comment on one of ours? Join the conversation on LinkedIn here.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.