A Telecom & Cable CXO Reading List

9:30 AM -- Just in time for the holidays (and in many cases, that tech industry holiday furlough), here are some book ideas from a group of carrier CTOs and telecom equipment company CEOs, who have told us what they are currently reading and why.

Tom Fallon, president and CEO of Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), is reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. “It’s a great inspirational story,” he says. He’s also reading Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine.

Why is he reading a 30-year-old book about the race to build a minicomputer for the now defunct Data General? “One of our sales guys used to work there," he explains. "It’s a great book about how you continue to spur innovation and be fast to market, and the need to do things like creating skunk works to do massive reinvention. Lots of lessons from history you forget and you have to take the time to keep relearning them.”

Oscar Rodriguez, president and CEO of Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), is reading Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. “I’ve read it 10 times," he says. "It’s one of the fundamental business books. It was written with so much market foresight, talking about the way a customer behaves, the way an early adapter behaves, and the importance of having a whole product, not just a box. There’s a tremendous amount of wisdom in that book.”

Vikash Varma, president and CEO of Stoke Inc. , is reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. “It speaks to the tenacity of the individual," he says. "How he’s able to build out schools in the remotest places on earth, and able to navigate through a foreign environment, where normal channels don’t exist. It takes some of those attributes to run a startup in the mobile broadband space.”

For business, Varma has recently been reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. “We’re going to be getting competition from pretty much everywhere in the world," he says. "There’s a sense of entitlement that many have in the developed world that shouldn’t be there. You have to earn it, and people in other parts of the world would give their right arm to get a fraction of what you have.”

Charles Kenmore, president and CEO of ANDA Networks Inc. , is reading Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles Kindleberger. “This was an old college text that charted over several hundred years those factors that created some of the famous bubbles in the economy," he says. "There are real lessons to be learned there, with the biggest one being that a bubble that is based on real demand is called growth. If there is no real demand, it’s a bubble.”

Mory Ejabat, president and CEO, Zhone Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ZHNE), is reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. “You can see the world through the eyes of a dog," he says. "It makes you look at problems from every angle."

Jef Graham, CEO of RGB Networks Inc. , is reading The Fort by Bernard Cornwell. “There are many leadership issues about what it takes to win, the need for decisiveness, and how at some point the leader can’t tolerate difficult people who aren’t in sync with the team,” he says. As for a business book, Graham is reading a prerelease version of a new book by Jim Collins (he of Built to Last fame), but was obliged not to reveal it, other than to say, “It’s really good.”

Felipe Alvarez, president and CEO of Sidera Networks Inc. , says he's reading Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, the TV celebrity chef. “He’s a wise ass and sarcastic, and very funny," Alvarez says. "Successfully running a kitchen is the ultimate test, and in some ways you could consider running network operations like running a kitchen.”

Tom Lovell, general manager and CTO, Clear Lake Telephone Company, says he's reading The Confession by John Grisham. “I’m a lawyer by education, and this is my escape," he says.

Don't forget to look at my earlier interviews to see what Carl Russo, Doug Junkins, and Rajiv Datta are reading:

— Joe Braue, Group Director and SVP, Light Reading

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