Audrey Russo, President & CEO of Pittsburgh Technology Council, Has an Active Reading List of 20 Books at a Time
The Pittsburgh Technology Council helps new businesses grow by connecting them to the right capital source or helping them grow their workforce. Their platform is a combination of elements that are key for a thriving business, such as government relations, talent retention or business development.
For the past 11 years, Audrey has been in charge of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, North America’s oldest and largest technology trade association. Her background in information technology, operations and finance have made her a firm believer that technology is the key to progress and that drives her in her mission to facilitate strong interaction across all sectors of the regional economy.
She is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Science. Even more, she also has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs. Her particular set of skills make her an extremely competent professional, since she knows about finance, business planning, technology economic development and possesses analytical skills.
Her resume includes work for significant, Fortune 500 companies, such as Alcoa or Reynolds Metals. All that and more made us very eager to chat with Audrey about her favorite reads.
The book-talk below is going to leave you with an impressive number of books that both men and women interested in business and tech should read. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
So many favorites! In my high school days – Manchild in The Promised Land absolutely unhinged me. It was as if my whole world turned upside down and made me understand the narrow thinking and bubble I was living in.
Business books come and go, with the times and trends but anything by Peter Drucker, as in the collection of The Essential Drucker.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
Reading Atlas Shrugged. For quite a few reasons, not just her thinking about Objectivism, but about the role of a woman in business – in architecture and construction. There were few stories where women of strength and endurance were captured in roles outside of Hollywood. Additionally, this final book of Ayn Rand’s delved into the mechanics of business, including the complexities, nuances and the role of government. No academic studies had ever provided me with the contextual nuances AND importance of business.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
So many novels; Lord of the Flies, Great Gatsby, Great Expectations; all the Nancy Drew books; Catcher in the Rye, Books written by Zora Neale Hurston; Pat Conroy – all because of the view about different people who endure despite adversity while kindling the hearts of the human spirit.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
- Anything by Peter Senge.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
- Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sarah Lacey
- Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
- Black Swan – Taleb
- Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao
- Creative Class – Richard Florida
- Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
- Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
- American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
- Any book by Herman Hesse
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I have at any given time 20 books that I am actively reading. That’s in tangible form. Electronically I download the Amazon books of the month and glance through what’s in there. I also read the Sunday New York Times – all week. I read fiction and nonfiction. These days I gravitate also to journals or magazines that support the writings of cities, new urbanism.
How do you make time for reading?
I just do. I read a ton on the weekends. So much so that in the winter months I have to kick myself to get up and move!
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I write in books that I own – particularly the non-fiction ones.
I am a big user of Twitter. I look at trends in what people are tweeting about – in particular as it relates to innovation, business and the newer world of work.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I receive suggestions. I ask people what they are reading. I am on the board of City of Asylum – keeping up with their writers and their bookstore is a near impossibility BUT filled with amazing writers.
Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
People who are accomplished in business and make suggestions to me on what to read – I read.
I have close friends who are maniacal readers, I listen to what they read.
Sometimes I get on a jag about a particular topic and I seek that out.
Of course, I have my indulgences – Anne Rice 🙂 Love vampires.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Nudge – was recommended by a friend and board member who is wicked wise (Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness – I imagine I will gain kernels of wisdom).
So You Have Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson (we are living in interesting times and I am trying to have perspective on how social media has altered our personas).
Links where you can follow Audrey Russo or find out more about her projects:
- Pittsburgh Technology Council
- Audrey Russo @ LinkedIn
- Follow Audrey Russo @ Twitter
- Audrey Russo at Going Deep with Aaron Podcast
All books mentioned by Audrey in our interview:
- Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
- The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management by Peter Drucker
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1) by Carolyn Keene
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 by Sarah Lacy
- Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives by Alvin Toffler, Heidi Toffler
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
- Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
- American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics by Kathleen Spears
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
- So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
- The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida