Sue Biggs, director-general of the RHS: My three top reads

Sue Biggs of the Royal Horticultural Society picks out three books she'd recommend.

by Sue Biggs
Last Updated: 01 May 2014

1) Aesop's Fables, Sixth century BC

Various publishers

Ten might seem a little young to develop a management style, but I remember Mum telling me Aesop's fable of the North Wind and the Sun. It stuck with me and taught me that you don't have to be cold and harsh to be strong; kindness and warmth get you a long way too. When I was negotiating hotel deals in my Kuoni days with some very tough guys, I used to tell them this story - they thought I was so crazy they gave me the deal.

2) The Road Ahead, Bill Gates

Viking £13.90

This book was a present from my boss when I was 39.

I was astounded to realise, after years of striving for success, that the world's richest man was saying: 'Success is a lousy teacher.

It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose' and 'It's fine to celebrate success but it's more important to heed the lessons of failure'. Those two statements made me challenge what success is, and maybe made me too much of a questioning perfectionist!

3) Nuts! The story of Southwest Airlines, Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

Bard Press

I love this uplifting story. Its inspiring tale of commercial and human success influenced my management style. Life is too short not to employ happy people, however short money is or however hard the work. It's a bible for great customer service, and shows why a company's culture is key (fun, efficiency and a can-do spirit at Southwest) and how, with the right attitude, you can achieve more than you ever dreamed you could.

Sue Biggs is director-general of the Royal Horticultural Society.

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