'The book that sprang to mind was Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to his Son, by George Horace Lorimer. It was published in 1903, and is now on the reading lists of quite a few business schools.
I first read it when I was young, before I was seriously in business.
Critics of the book might say that it's dated, preachy and written in an old-fashioned Americana style. Yet the content is timeless and the message comes through loud and clear.
The book is about people - their behaviour, their foibles, their interactions.
And for me, what's been important in business has been people: how they react, how they build teams, how they manage. It's the level of people's motivation that distinguishes a successful business from an unsuccessful one. In a service company like Adecco, your assets walk out of the door every evening. We've been so successful over the years partly because we've had good management and good people. This book offers the basis for understanding an organisation's most vital assets.'