US Airways President Scott Kirby scours New York Times book reviews and other sources to create the reading list he carries.
About every two months, he goes online and orders a dozen or so books from the list. This month, he started Diarmuid Jeffreys' recently released “Hell's Cartel: IG Farben and the Making of Hitler's War Machine,” about a major chemical maker's collaboration with the infamous dictator.
Since he was a child, Kirby has enjoyed reading about history, particularly the World War II and Civil War eras. Early reading about military aviation led him into the Air Force, where he served at the Pentagon.
“I've found that you learn a lot about the world, even practical applications, particularly for management,” he said of his reading preferences. “I read about historic situations, how people handled them, real life examples you can learn a lot from.
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“I don't like and don't ever read these management/self-improvement books. They all seem to say things that are obvious.”
Kirby, who is 41 and the No. 2 executive at Charlotte's dominant airline, has iPods but doesn't use them. He increasingly reads news online but also takes the Wall Street Journal and the Arizona Republic, the local paper for the airline's headquarters.
He catches up on papers while flying. Come summer, that's every weekend, as he zips from his Tempe office to the family's second home in Flagstaff, Ariz. He prefers an aisle seat.
“I view flying on an airplane as an opportunity to read.”
Kirby borrows life advice from Nike: Just do it.
“Don't be afraid to make decisions,” he said. “Far too often in business, people worry only about risk. … Not making a decision is risky also.”