A provocative complement to traditional thinking about leadership, business and life.
From the 14 books I have written over the years, I now stand behind the following volumes as the truest to my current philosophy and practice.
Shaping Better Relationships & Bigger Futures — Together
"Never has communication been more important - and never have we seen more clearly the devastating effects of a world based on shouting and judging. David makes an incontrovertible case for what he calls unconditional communication - in essence, a process of giving rather than grasping. We need this book!" — Julian Treasure, author of How To Be Heard and five-time TED speaker
We are faced with a breakdown of ‘We’ - in our fragmented communities, in our polarized media, and in our vindictive public discourse. More and more there is a feeling of separation and discord, of blame and making wrong. Unconditional Communication is a new way of thinking about communication that causes ‘We’ to happen, and is characterized by:
• Genuine authenticity & vulnerability
• A willingness to name and deal with reality
• A willing invitation to co-create shared outcomes, and, above all
• The idea that our communication can be an act of service to others - rather the means to get something from others.
Unconditional Communication is thought-provoking, funny and surprising, and, above all, grounded in practical solutions for creating a better world. Together.
How to Reignite Your Mojo and Make a World in Which You’d Love to Live
I wrote this book with my good friend Charrise McCrorey back in 2019.
One of the most powerful questions we can ever ask ourselves is “What can I learn from the challenge I am facing right now?” Charrise and I believe that the current climate in the world, the huge shifts in political realities, and the personalities in play, and the failing public discourse, and everything that we talk about now every single day of our collective lives, is a challenge we being are asked to face up to at an individual level.
"I believe collectively we've lost hope that we’ll ever be able to come together to create a more peaceful, loving community. We feel unsafe in a world with new threats -- real and imagined. And that's never a good place to be. So, our book RISE is the kryptonite to feeling powerless, unsafe, and disillusioned about the way the world seems right now. The ideas in RISE inspire individual agency, placing our real power back into our own hands. I believe we should use this time to learn, grow, and expand our capacity for love." — Charrise McCrorey Co-Author or Rise
Change your World One Word at a Time
How the Way we Speak Creates our Lives
It’s a bold claim that we can create change through words. What, only words?
But then when we stop to realize that words are pretty much all we have – to describe something, to articulate a vision or purpose, to express our regrets, to beg forgiveness, to promise something better. And, with that reflection, we are left stopping hoping that something other than our words will come along to save us.
And we need to learn how to use them in alignment with what we want to create in our world. Our words can build our world up, or they can break it down.
"Show me a powerful result that is happening in your company and I will trace it back into a powerful conversation that catalyzed it.
Show me a weak result that is happening in your company – or your community, or your life - and I will trace it back to weak conversation, weak language, weak words..."— David Firth, TEDx CSU Talk
The Upgrade is Available
I wrote this book, after a fevered dream, in between writing two other books on this list.
HUMAN 2.0 is a manual, because no-one else bothered to give you one.
It is full of instructions, warnings and recommendations, without fluff or even stories. Because that is the power of a well-written manual. It says, ‘Do this, and don’t do that – or you will break your product. And we won’t give you a refund.’
Your parents didn’t give you a receipt after the purchase of your life. You cannot return it to Best Buy if you can’t make it work.
So do this. And don’t do that.
THE CORPORATE FOOL
My ex-theater partner and still-(I hope) good friend wrote most of this book whilst snowed into a cabin in Connecticut. I have lost to memory what we were doing there – it no doubt seemed a good idea at the time – but writing this book is how we filled our time.
It describes a ‘new business professional.’ VP of nothing sensible, but with nine different and powerful roles to play in keeping our crazy organizations sane by telling the truth, contradicting the status quo, stretching the limits of our usually boring ‘strategic thinking,’ celebrating what no-one else has the time to do, and so on.
When I was touring the UK giving Corporate Fool workshops, almost always someone would come up to me afterward and tell me ‘Thank you, I now know what I am.’ Prior to this, they wondered why no-one else looked at the world as they did, why no-one else had the courage to call the Emperor naked. It is to those Fools that this book is dedicated.
HOW TO MAKE WORK FUN
An Alphabet of Possibilities
This is my first book, written in 1995. In many ways, it was a very different world, but just as messed up and wonderful as our current one.
For those of you reading this and thinking ‘I’d like to write a book but don’t know where to start,’ you should know that this book started as a series of articles in our old company newsletter, together with a whole bunch of notes and scribbles on various scraps of paper. My first business mentor, Peter Sole, bless him, said ‘All you have to do is find a structure to hang all those fragments together, and you’ll have a book.’ He was right. And the alphabet seemed like a handy structure.
HOW TO MAKE WORK FUN was written when we had barely begun to talk about ‘staff morale,’ let alone employee engagement or corporate culture. I’ll be honest, I wrote it largely to show the finger to the stuffy old suits who were the heads of industry back then. I thought they were hilariously pompous and dull. But the book’s central message maintains today: if you are not having fun, why the hell are you investing your life in it?
WORK AS LOVE MADE VISIBLE
A Letter to the President of the United States of America
This little book asks a big question:
What if we explored what is possible when leaders around the world bring the energy of love into every corner of their organization or institution? And when we also follow our leaders in doing that in our own lives?
The text of this book is a letter I sent to The President of the United States in May 2014 and – over the course of 2014 – to 999 other global leaders in multiple facets of human endeavor – government, science, arts, charity, religion etc.
The most common question I receive when I talk about my 1000 Letter Project is ‘What replies did you get?’ But the replies are my business, and, besides, it was never the objective of the exercise. The real objective was to get this letter into everybody’s hands, so everyone could consider the question above, and the other question I ask at the end of the letter.
I think answering the questions could change everything. And now it is your turn.
FROM ‘MAKING A LIVING’ TO CREATING A LIFE
How to be Happy and Successful by Utterly Transforming Your Life
The central shift is from being a victim to being an owner. Unfortunately, the world is already telling us a story that work is going to be difficult, dark and unfulfilling, a have to rather than a want to, something that is so obviously and clearly only about ‘paying the bills.’
One of the great blessings of my own life was that Keri and I lived out the first 7 years of our life as theater people – which meant we were broke. Our budget at the local market in London was #10 per week. Our meals were usually beans on toast, or sometimes beans with toast on the side. I don’t share this looking for sympathy or to have you recognize our great heroism. I just offer it to make nonsense of the widely held story that you need money to be happy.
Never a week goes by without some conference promising ‘the future of work.’ Actually, they never update their story of work at all, from the old tale that work is a curse for not having been born rich, to the bigger one that work can always be the source of self-discovery, joy and hope.