C5BDI 2021 Reading List

By James Mershon

Our team at C5BDI has benefited from the time tested testaments gathered from notable literary works compiled in the shortlists that follow. These views, insights, lessons learned, and truths have served our team well in better understanding military technological needs and filling gaps with game-changing systems and processes bridged by timely innovations developed by reputable companies throughout the industry both here in the U.S. and abroad. We leverage the organizational leadership values that we have attained and have built our company upon to strengthen our core competencies while serving to accelerate the ROI for our industry clients, government customers, and to ultimately benefit the Warfighter. Our ecosystem of clients spans a range from small business startups to multi-billion dollar large defense contractors, pursuant toward bridging the gap between industry and government, with a business sense “violence of action” and a forward-leaning work ethos to ultimately keep America safe and stay ahead of her adversaries.

The first list of books below are focused on our internal C5BDI team whereby we have established multiple reading groups that meet regularly, collaborate and vet main ideas and applications from the assigned chapters, culminating in a group presentation at the end of the reading cycle. We believe that coming together in small groups #smallunitleadership promotes a unique chemistry within our company that elevates understanding and application through lessons learned and life experiences to best serve our ecosystem, generate new relationships, and experience success as a small business family.

The second list of books is focused on my personal desire to gain further insights in life-work integration #balance, with a focal point on getting things done #execution, and remembering where I’ve come from #riverinepatrolofficer #expeditionarywarfare #surfacewarfare, so that I can be effective in guiding future leaders while investing in decision makers and stakeholders concurrently #allinallthetime.

C5BDI Reading List – Top 10 in no particular order:

1. Raving Fans – A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. Written in the parable style of The One Minute Manager, Raving Fans uses a brilliantly simple and charming story to teach how to define a vision — America is in the midst of a service crisis that has left a wake of disillusioned customers from coast to coast. Raving Fans includes startling new tips and innovative techniques that can help anyone create a revolution in any workplace.

2. Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does.

3. Whale Hunting, by Tom Searcy. For thousands of years, the Inuit people of the frozen North have risked life and limb to hunt the biggest game on earth–the mighty whale. They endure treacherous seas, frigid temperatures, and deadly ice floes for days at a time in order to catch these elusive and massive mammals. Why risk so much when they could have fish and caribou so much more easily? Because the payoff is almost always worth your risk and effort.

4. Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin learned the reality of combat first-hand on the most violent and dangerous battlefield in Iraq. In gripping, firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories, they learned that leadership―at every level―is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.

5. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller. In The ONE Thing, you’ll learn to * cut through the clutter * achieve better results in less time * build momentum toward your goal* dial down the stress * overcome that overwhelmed feeling * revive your energy * stay on track * master what matters to you in every area of your life–work, personal, family, and spiritual.

6.  The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber. Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise.

7. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni. Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.

8. T-Minus AI: Humanity’s Countdown to Artificial Intelligence and the New Pursuit of Global Power, by Michael Kanaan. A recognized national expert and the U.S. Air Force’s first Chairperson for Artificial Intelligence, Kanaan weaves a compelling new view on our history of innovation and technology to masterfully explain what each of us should know about modern computing, AI, and machine learning.

9. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Gen. Stan McChrystal. McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to countless businesses, nonprofits, and or­ganizations today. In periods of unprecedented crisis, leaders need practical management practices that can scale to thousands of people—and fast.

10. The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare, by Christian Brose. This fascinating, if disturbing, book confronts the existential risks on the horizon, charting a way for America’s military to adapt and succeed with new thinking as well as new technology. America must build a battle network of systems that enables people to rapidly understand threats, make decisions, and take military actions, the process known as “the kill chain.”

In addition to the above, my personal reading list in no particular order:

1. The Seventh Prism: A Framework for Achieving High Performance Through Work/Life Integration, by Neil M. Yeager. The Seventh Prism Approach to Achieving High Performance Through Work/Life Integration is a highly refined, systematic approach to increasing organizational performance while improving the quality of life for those responsible for leading their organizations.

2. Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

3. Brown Water, Black Berets, Thomas J. Cutler. Winner of the Navy League’s Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement in 1988 when the book was first published, Cutler is credited with having written the definitive history of the brown-water sailors, an effort that has helped readers better understand the nature of U.S. involvement in the war.


James Mershon is a former US Navy Riverine Patrol Officer, Expeditionary Warfare Specialist, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, and Distinguished Military Graduate, having served in key operational surface and riverine warfare occupations between 1991 – 2011. Mr. Mershon has developed poignant core competencies inherent to benefiting organizations, leveraging internal processes, and external networks to accelerate their ROI. Since his start with C5BDI in December 2016, he has led proposal and capture efforts, connecting large and small businesses with Gov’t customers and international businesses with U.S. primes, yielding over $2B+ in awarded contract value for C5BDI clientele.

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