Non-Veterinary Focused Reading Lists for Veterinarians

Updated February 26, 2014



This is a resource list intended for veterinary students interested in developing their business expertise.

The contents are biased toward agricultural animal practice providing services to commercial agriculture, which is business-to-business (B2B) professional service business (in contrast to conventional individual animal practice, which is business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service). Although most practices are classified as small business (rather than large) and in the service sector, veterinary practice serving individual clients and individual animals is different, particularly in optimal marketing practices. Comparisons in other professions would be public accounting firms serving corporate clients vs. businesses providing individual tax return services or corporate lawyers vs. personal defense attorneys

Knowing this is important for several reasons:
  • Because motivating clients to change requires leadership, the better you understand leadership and business principles the more successful you will be.
  • Veterinarians are involved in employee selection, training and monitoring in large feedlot consulting practice and in large dairy practice.
  • Delivering new services requires innovation and entrepreneurship and new business models.

To develop expertise, make a habit of reading at a regular time each week. You have more free time in school than you will have in a busy practice. In practice the only time that you are making money is when you are doing something that is billable to a client. Anything else is at best an investment toward doing future billable work.

Note: As I am not qualified to do so, I have not verified the accuracy or usefulness of many items so you must use your judgment. Inclusion does not imply endorsement nor does omission imply disapproval. I have not made more than a brief, cursory scan of  some of these sites to determine if they appeared sufficiently interesting to warrant including.

Be careful! As watching CNBC's American Greed: Scams, Schemes, and Broken Dreams demonstrates, many are happy to give bad advice, to promise to make you rich, to abscond with your money and to otherwise take advantage of you. If it seems too good to be true, it is. For understanding what is "too good", see "Capital Management and Investment Decisions" ( PDF).  Some popular advice is very wrong; see John T. Reed's " a cautionary analysis." Popular gurus often present a different model of their history than what they actually did - see Lewis Schiff's Business Brilliant and Helaine Olen's Pound Foolish.

[Return to Contents List]

A useful question to ask the leaders and shakers of the profession is "what non-veterinary books have you read that changed how you do things and that you would recommend to veterinary students interested in livestock production agriculture?". Below is that list (my apologies to those providing the many recommendations I've forgotten over the years) as well as recommendations from others. P.S. If several people mention the same book or it appears on several lists, time invested in reading it is likely well spent!

Attributed to Earl Nightingale: “If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject.”

Remember - 20 minutes a night, 5 nights a week for 2 months ~ one university credit (50 min/session x 15 sessions)

  • Steve Blank
  • Tom Eisenmann, Harvard Business
  • Dr. Bob Milligan (2013), Dairy Strategies
    • Blanchard, Kenneth H. Cynthia Olmstead, and Martha Lawrence (2013).  Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships, William Morrow An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishing., NY.
    • Blanchard, Kenneth H. and Don Shula (1995).  Everyone’s A Coach, Harper Business, NY.
    • Blanchard, Kenneth H. and Sheldon M. Bowles (1993).  Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service,  William Morrow and Company, Inc., NY.
    • Blanchard, Ken and Jesse Stoner (2003).  Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Company and Your Life, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.
    • Buckingham, Marcus and Donald O. Clifton (2001).  NOW, Discover Your Strengths, The Free Press, New York 
    • Buckingham, Marcus and Curt Coffman (1999). First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Simon & Schuster, New York 
    • Collins, Jim (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. . .  and Others Don’t, HarperCollins.
    • Collins, Jim (2009). How the Mighty Fall . . . and why some Companies Never Give In, HarperCollins.
    • Conner, Daryl (1992). Managing at the Speed of Change: How Resilient Managers Succeed and Prosper Where Others Fail, Villard Books, New York.
    • Covey, Steven. R (1989).  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster, NY.
    • Fisher, Roger and William Ury (1983). Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, Penguin Books.
    • Horsager, David (2010). The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deepen Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line, Summerside Press, Minneapolis.
    • Kotter, John P (2008). A Sense of Urgency. Harvard Business Press, Boston.
    • Milligan, Robert A. and Maloney, Thomas (1995).  Human Resource Management for Golf Course Superintendents, Ann Arbor Press, Chelsea, MI.
    • Pink, Daniel H (2009).  DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Riverhead Books, New York
    • Useem, Michael (1998). The Leadership Moment: Nine Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lesson for us All, Three Rivers Press, NY
    • Wagner, Rood and Gale Muller (2009). Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and In Life.
  • Ms. Courtney Kealey (2013):
    • Carew, J (1987). You'll Never Get No For An Answer - Amazon
  • Dr. Bruce Vande Steeg (2013):
    • Collins J, JI Porras (1997). Built to Last: Successful habits of visionary companies - Amazon
    • Gerber ME (2001). The E-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it, 2nd ed - Amazon
    • Hanan M (2011). Consultative Selling: The Hanan formula for high-margin sales - Amazon
    • Kiefer CF, LA Schlesinger, PB Brown (2010). Action Trumps Everything: Creating what you want in an uncertain world - Amazon
    • Roth T (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0 - Amazon
    • Stanford N (2013). Organizational Health: An integrated approach to building optimum performance - Amazon
    • Inc. Magazine
  • Dr. Kelly Reed (2013):
    • Goldratt EM, J Cox (2004). The Goal: A process of ongoing improvement, 3rd revised ed - Amazon
  • AVMA Leadership Toolkit for Veterinarians (2013):
    • How to be a great leader at work
      • The Leadership Challenge by J Kouzes, B Posner
      • Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager by K Blanchard
      • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People will Follow You by JC Maxwell
      • Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results by GM Bellman, KD Ryan
      • Authentic Conversations: Moving from Manipulation to Truth and Commitment by J Showkeir, M Showkeir
      • Coaching for Performance: GROWing People, Performance, and Purpose by J Whitmore
      • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & Life, One Conversation at a Time By SC Scott
      • Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive by B Fredrickson
      • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . and Others Don't by J Collins
      • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by SR Covey
      • Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by K Ferrazi, T Raz
      • Negotiate This!: By Caring, But Not T-H-A-T Much by H Cohen
      • You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself by H Beckwith, CC Beckwith
    • Help lead and promote the profession
      • The Perfect Boardby CK Clemons
      • Race for Relevance by H Coerver, M Byer
      • First Things First by SR Covey, AR Merrill, RK Merrill
      • The Leadership Challenge by J Kouzes, B Posner
      • The Slight Edge by J Olson
      • The Will to Govern Well by GH Tecker et al.
      • Our Iceberg is Melting by J Kotter, H Rathgerber
    • Be a leader in your community
  • Bob Sutton (Stanford Prof) Work Matters blog 11/26/12 - 11 Books Every Leader Should Read: Updated
    1. The Progress Principle by T Amabile, S Kramer
    2. Influence by R Cialdini
    3. Made to Stick by C & D Heath
    4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by D Kahneman
    5. Collaboration by M Hansen - (Ten ways to get people to change - HBR blog 9/21/12,  summary pdf)
    6. Orbiting the Giant Hairball by G MacKenzie
    7. The Pixar Touch by D Price
    8. The Laws of Subtraction by M May
    9. Leading Teams by JR Hackman
    10. Give and Take by A Grant
    11. The Path Between the Seas by D McCullough
  • The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What they say, why they matter, and how they can help you
  • Motely Fool - 10 Foolish Book Recommendations for July (7/1/11)
  • Thomas Kosnick, Stanford business professor, list of best books on entrepreneurship and leadership - pdf
  • Iowa State Pappjohn Center for Entrepreneurship - Veterinary Entrepreneurship - Books
  • John Maxwell's Personal growth plan readings on 12 daily practices from Leading by Reading blog and courtesy of Chuck Cox (years 11: 2011, 10: 2010, 09: 2009):
    • January - Attitude gives me Possibilities
      • 11: Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki
      • 10: Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
      • 09: Attitude 101 by John Maxwell
    •  February - Priorities give me Focus
      • 11: Contact Capital by Bob Proctor
      • 11: Bonus: How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success by Frank Bettger
      • 10: Overcoming Time Poverty by Bill Quain, Ph.D.
      • 09: Leadership 101 by John Maxwell
    •  March - Health gives me Strength
      • 11: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
      • 11: Bonus - Being Happy by Andrew Matthews
      • 10: Being Happy B by Andrew Matthews
      • 10: Bonus: The Optimal Health Revolution by Dr. Duke Johnson
      • 09: The Optimal Health Revolution by Dr. Duke Johnson
    •  April - Family gives me Stability
      • 11: Get Married Stay Married by Paul & Billie Kaye Tsika
      • 10: Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
      • 09: Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    •  May - Thinking gives me Advantage
      • 11: 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John Maxwell
      • 11: Bonus: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
      • 10: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
      • 09: Ten Powerful Phrases by Rich DeVos
    •  June - Commitment gives me Tenacity
      • 11: I Will by Ben Sweetland
      • 10: Visioneering By Andy Stanley
      • 10: Bonus: How to be Like Rich Devos by Pat Williams
      • 09:(Women) A Woman after God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
      • 09: (Men) Four Pillars of a Man's Heart by Stu Weber
    •  July - Finances give me Options
      • 11: Who Stole the American Dream II by Burke Hedges
      • 10: God wants you to be rich B by Paul Zane Pilzer
      • 10: Bonus: The Law By Frederic Bastiat
      • 09: The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant by Terry Felber
    •  August - Faith gives me Peace
      • 11: Tongue: A Creative Force by Charles Capps
      • 11: Bonus: Tough Times Never Last - Tough People Do by Dr. Robert H. Schuller
      • 10: The Dream Giver B by Bruce Wilkinson
      • 10: Bonus: Put Your Dream to the Test By John Maxwell (or the latest Maxwell release)
      • 09: 39 Days of Destiny by Paul Tsika
    •  September - Relationships give me Fulfillment
      • 11: (Men) Wild at Heart by John Eldridge
      • 11: (Women) Finding the Hero in Your Husband by Dr. Julianna Slattery
      • 11: Bonus: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
      • 10: Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Les Giblin
      • 10: Bonus: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
      • 09: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    •  October - Generosity gives me Significance
      • 11: Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz
      • 10: Generosity gives me Significance- Acres of Diamonds By Russel H. Conwell
      • 10: Greatest Miracle in the World B by Og Mandino
      • 09: The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard
    • November - Values give me Direction
      • 11: Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman
      • 11: Bonus: How to be Like Rich DeVos by Pat Williams
      • 10: University of Success (Chapters 1 to 30) by Og Mandino
      • 09: Freedom Frame by Rick Green
    •  December - Growth gives me Potential
      • 11: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Revised/Updated) by John Maxwell
      • 10: University of Success (C (Chapters 31 to end) by Og Mandino
      • 09: Today Matters by John Maxwell
  • Robert Sutton, Stanford Business professor - Work Matters blog (8/21/10)
    • Joker One, Donovan Campbell
    • Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie
    • Narcissistic Leaders, by Michael Maccoby
    • Up the Organization, by Robert Townsend
    • Rivethead, by Ben Hamper
    • Personal History, Katherine Graham,
    • The Pixar Touch, by David Price
    • 1776, by David McCullough
    • Peter Principle, by Laurence Petter and Raymond Hull
    • Influence, by Robert Cialdini
    • Power, by Jeffrey Pfeffer
    • Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath 
    • Collaboration, by Morten Hansen
    • Men and Women of the Corporation, by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
    • Managing Leadership, by Jim Stroup
    • Notes on Directing, by Frank Hauser and Russell Reich
    • Leading Teams, by J. Richard Hackman 
  • Veterinary Economics summer reading list (2010)
    • Dale Carnegie. How to win friends and influence people
    • ME Gerber. The E-Myth Revisited: Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it
    • Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson. The One Minute Manager
    • John Maxwell. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow them and people will follow you
    • Dan Senor & Saul Singer. Start-Up Nation: The story of Israel's economic miracle
    • Katherine Catlin & Jana Matthews. Leading at the Speed of Growth: Journey from entrepreneur to CEO
    • Fred Lee. If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 91/2 things you would do differently
    • Patrick Lencioni. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A leadership fable
    • Jim Collins. Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap . . . and others don't
    • Leonard Barry & Kent Seltman. Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside one of the world's most admired service organizations
    • Betsy Saunders. Fabled Service: Ordinary acts, extraordinary outcomes
    • James Kouzes & Barry Posner. Encouraging the Heart: A leader's guide to rewarding and recognizing others
    • Tom Standage. An Edible History of Humanity
    • Johnathan Silverman, Suzanne Kurtz, Juliet Draper. Skills for Communicating with Clients
    • Jonah Lehrer. How We Decide
    • David McCullough. Truman
    • Ken Blanchard, Jim Ballard, Fred Finch. Customer Mania! It's never too late to build a customer-focused company
    • Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs and Steel: The fates of human societies
    • Jared Diamond. Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
    • Stanley Weintraub. 15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall - Three generals who saved the American century
    • Malcolm Gladwell. Blink. The power of thinking without thinking
    • Peter Bernstein. Against the Gods: The remarkable story of risk
    • Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
    • Chip and Dan Heath. Switch: How to change things when change is hard
    • Mark St. Amant. Committed: Confessions of a fantasy football junkie
  • Mr. Charles "Chuck" Cox (2010):    [DISC assessment - wiki]
    • Dale Carnegie. How to win friends and influence people
    • Dale Carnegie. How to stop worrying and start living
    • Schwartz, DJ. The magic of thinking big
    • Allen, RC. The secret of success
    • Hill, Napoleon. Think and grow rich
    • Maxwell, J. (2008) Leadership gold: Lessons I've learned from a lifetime of reading
    • Maxwell, J. (2009) Put your dream to the test: 10 questions that will help you see it and seize it
    • Maxwell, J. (2006) The 360o leader: Developing your influence anywhere in the organization
    • The Bible
    • Frederick Bastiat (1850). The Law  html  pdf
    • Russell Conwell. Acres of Diamonds html  pdf
  • Dr. Scott MacGregor (2010):
    • Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant, 2005 - Amazon
    • Understanding Variation: The key to managing chaos, 2000 (DJ Wheeler) - Amazon
      • SPC articles by DJ Wheeler
      • veterinary-related publications citing:
        • Baum DH et al. (2005). Statistical process control methods used to evaluate the serologic responses of pigs infected with three Salmonella serovars. J Swine Health Prod 13(6):304-313  - pdf  html
        • Blasi, DA (2006). Record systems for beef stocker production enterprises. Vet Clin NA: Food Anim Pract 22(2):475-492. doi:10.1016/j.cvfa.2006.03.011
        • Marsh WE et al. (1997). Monitoring Performance: Statistical process control in dairy herd management - DeVries - publications  pdf
        • NC1042: Management Systems to Improve the Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Dairy Enterprises
        • Polson DD et al. (1998). Population-based problem solving in swine herds, J Swine Health Prod 6(6):267-272 - pdf
        • Rademacher C (2004). Use of statistical process control in finishing records, J Swine Health Prod 12(3):158-159 - html
        • Reneau JK et al. (1997). Understanding variation the key to minimizing chaos on dairies - DeVries - publications pdf
        • Reneau JK et al. (2000). Process Control: Timely feedback for quality milk production at the farm, NMC - pdf
        • Thompson, DU (2007). Preparing calves for the feedlot. Proc Range Beef Cow Symp XX, pdf
        • Thompson, DU (2008). Disease outbreak in a cattle feeding operation, 80th Western Vet Conf, pdf
  • Dr. Mike Apley (2008)
  • Dr. Jeff Reneau
  • Dr. Robert Tremblay
  • Dr. John Day
  • Dr. Joseph Humble (2002): Humble JA (2001). Critical skills for future veterinarians. JVME 28(2):50-53. pdf
    • ". . . . I think the key to creating the future lies with reading and keeping up to date within the profession and having interests in the fields of philosophy, business, innovation and personal development. . . . I think communication skills such as listening and public speaking are absolutely necessary for our profession to communicate effectively with the public at large and the agricultural community. Fortunately, Toastmaster's International [ wiki] has Chapters everywhere and the organization is not exclusionary. . . . I would also suggest reading for idea and stay away from memorizing formulas, such as the seven deadly sins and the 14 points proposed by Dr. Deming. "
    • On leadership
      • Bennis, W., On becoming a leader
      • Kousas and Posner, The leadership challenge
      • Roberts, W., Leadership secrets of Attila the Hun
      • Roberts, W., Victory secrets of Attila the Hun
      • Donnithorne, The West Point way of leadership
      • DePree, Leadership is an art
      • DePree, Leadership jazz
      • Phillips, Lincoln on Leadership
    • Listening
      • Burley-Allen, Listening the forgotten skill
    • Management
      • Drucker, P., Innovation and entrepreneurism
      • Drucker, P., The post-capitalistic society
      • Juran, JM, Managerial breakthrough
      • Deming, WE, Out of the crisis
      • Deming, WE, The new economics
      • Moen, RD, et al., Improving quality through planned experimentation
      • Petersen, DE, A better idea
    • Other
      • Covey, Seven Habits
      • Lewis, CI, Mind and the world order
  • other's lists:
    • Greg Mankiw, Harvard economist honors freshman seminar reading list
      • The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers, by Robert Heilbroner - Amazon
      •  Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets, by John McMillan - Amazon
      •  Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life, by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff - Amazon
      •  Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman - Amazon
      •  Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, by Arthur Okun - Amazon
      •  Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein - Amazon
      •  How the Economy Works: Confidence, Crashes and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, by Roger E.A. Farmer - Amazon
      •  The Return of Depression Economics, by Paul Krugman - Amazon
      •  The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek - Amazon
      •  The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, by Bryan Caplan - Amazon
      •  The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy, by Steven Landsburg - Amazon
    • Charlie Munger's recommendtions
    • R.L. "Dick" Wittman
      • The Knowing-Doing Gap, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
      • Good to Great, Jim Collins
      • The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
      • Who Moved My Cheese, Ken Blanchard, et al.
      • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey
      • The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker  
    • Prof. Kent L. Womack, Darmouth Tuck School of Business
      • The Decision Making Course Bookshelf (MDM) - Amazon list
    • The 100 Best Business Books of All Time (Jack Covert, Todd Sattersten) - blog
  • blog posts on lists
    • Bock, Wally - Three Star Leadership blog
    • McCarthy, Dan - Great Leadership blog
      • How to read your way to the executive suite (9/1/10)
      • How to write a great individual development plan (IDP) (11/24/08)

[Return to Contents List]

My Business Book List



My suggested set of books, many inexpensive paperbacks, for understanding business issues underlying the agricultural animal practitioner (food supply veterinary medicine) supply issue, recognizing that that providing services to commercial livestock agriculture is a business-to-business (B2B) professional service rather than a business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service that conventional individual animal practice is. Others suggested books are listed below. If you have favorites that provided key insights or changed your path and aren't listed, please let me know.

Other Internet Resources:

Examples of sources for more reading (Googling 'best business books' hits 370K of lists):



Food for Thought:

Agricultural calculators

International Agriculture:

  • Lukefahr SD (1999). Teaching international animal agriculture. J Anim Sci 77(11):3106-13.


  • Peter Drucker quotes: (Think Exist, The Drucker MBA pdf)
    • Marketing is the whole business, taken from the customer's point of view - source
    • The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer
    • Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.
    • Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.
    • To develop yourself, you have to be doing the right work in the right kind of organization.
    • Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship, the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
    • We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
    • The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
    • Knowledge workers must take responsibility for managing themselves.
    • Opportunity is where you find it, not where it finds you. 
    • The best way to predict the future is to create it.


  • Brain Based Biz (Robyn McMaster)
  • Jim Harris - speaks on The Learning Paradox - YouTube
  • RFE: Resources for Economists on the Internet

Digital communication innovation continues changing how veterinarians access and exchange information. Instead of being isolated from your fellow practitioners, you can rapidly share information with others that have similar practice interests. The following are recent examples of developing social networking software:/p>