This is the second and final part of some of my favourite books in business, leadership, sales, marketing, inspiration and motivation that have helped me tremendously and at times changed my life. Hope these books help you as much as they helped me. Enjoy the read and I do hope that you will add some of these books to your library!
The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
“Customers don’t care how much time something takes to build. They care only if it serves their needs.” – Eric Ries
Research indicates that about 90% of start-ups fail so if you don’t want to be part of that figure, I suggest you get hold of a copy of this book. Eric Ries believes that many start-up failures are preventable, and in the book, he outlines an approach called “The Lean Startup” which has been adopted by many start-up companies across the globe. The book is divided into three sections: “Vision” makes the case for a new discipline of entrepreneurial management, “Steer” dives into the Lean Startup method in detail, and “Accelerate” explore techniques that enable Lean Startups to speed through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop as quickly as possible. In addition to the framework, Eric Ries provides great real-life examples from companies explaining why they did or did not succeed. I suggest you look at this article from the Harvard Business Review titled: “Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything”, and I also invite you to check out The Lean Startup website.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
“Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world… If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” – Dr. Stephen R. Covey
About 15 years the Sales Director at the company I was working in at the time recommended this book to me. He told me that it was one of those books that had changed his life and after reading it and applying as best I can the advice given in the book, I can honestly say that it has changed mine too. Published more almost 30 years ago, the information in this book is still extremely relevant today. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is split into four distinct parts: Paradigms and Principles, Private Victory, Public Victor and Renewal. Throughout the book, Covey gives us tips on how develop the core habits we need to be successful in all areas of our lives. The seven habits identified by Covey are: 1. Be proactive, 2. Begin with the end in mind, 3. Put first things first, 4. Think win/win, 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 6. Synergize, and 7. Sharpen the saw. So, if you are looking for a book that will help you improve your personal and business life, buy this book and start practicing those seven habits. Read more about each of the seven habits here. You can also watch this great video interview with the late Stephen Covey on Choosing Success.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin
“As consumers, we’re too busy to pay attention to advertising, but we’re desperate to find good stuff that solves our problems.” – Seth Godin
Seth Godin is one of the most admired marketing experts. He is the author of 18 books, he runs a great blog on all things marketing (and more) and offers online courses and marketing workshops. Published in 2003, Purple Cow is only about 130 pages but is bursting with great insights and advice with a simple message: traditional marketing advertising to the masses no longer works, and to succeed today you need to innovate and build a remarkable product first. Godin offers tips throughout the book on how to have a remarkable brand through innovation – doing something new, being unique, interesting and different, being the opposite of normal and average so that your business is worth talking about. He also suggests that we stop trying to make a product for everyone as “this is a product for nobody”, instead target a niche and zone in on creating a remarkable product, especially for that segment. To prove his point, Godin shares many case studies where companies have become remarkable by thinking outside the box and developing a truly innovative product or service.
Watch this video interview with Seth Godin where he discusses the book.
The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
“Remember that your thoughts are the primary cause of everything.” – Rhonda Byrne
I have this book for years and still pick it up once or twice a year and read it from cover to cover in one evening. I also refer to it if I’m having a particularly bad day where I’m feeling sorry for myself and need a boost of positivity to help elevate my thoughts. The Secret is a book about the Law of Attraction and how the universe works, explaining to readers how our thoughts essentially create our reality. I’ve applied many of the tips in this book such as making a daily habit of sitting down and writing my gratitude list for the last few years. Believe me, it helps put everything into perspective, being grateful for what we have, even the little things, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or everything that we feel we are lacking in life. A great book to pick up and read in one sitting or simply to open a random page a read the message conveyed. You can find out more about The Secret here and check out the official website here.
PRE-SUASION: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade – Robert Cialdini
“The number one rule for salespeople is to show customers that you genuinely like them. There’s a wise adage that fits this logic well: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Robert Cialdini
Robert Cialdini is recognised worldwide for his research in the psychology of influence. In 1984 he published the book, Influence and thirty years later, Pre-suasion. This book explains that effective persuasion usually happens well before you share your message with your audience, this the title “PRE-suasion”. Throughout the book, Cialdini introduces case studies and research to show us exactly what separates the best communicator from everyone else. As I am still in the process of reading and digesting the messages in this book, I invite you to watch this video of Robert Cialdini explaining the power of Pre-suasion. You can also visit his official website here.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
“In business, it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters why you do it”. – Simon Simek
All businesses start out as an idea that eventually turns into a product or service. Most companies are very good at communicating what they do and what they sell but many would not be able to tell you why they do what they do and how exactly they can help you if you were to ask them.
Start with Why is a book that will help you focus on and amplify the things that work, rather than trying to fix the things that aren’t. Simon Sinek talks about the “Golden Circle” which consists of three questions, in this exact order: 1. Why, 2. How and 3. What. The book recounts stories of individuals and organisations that follow this pattern – WHY, HOW and WHAT rather than the other way around, thus thinking differently. They lead with the WHY (purpose), follow with the HOW, and then the WHAT (product/marketing/communications, etc). He explains how clarity of the Why, discipline in the How and consistency in the What is crucial. Key message – people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. A great book that I’m re-reading as I write!
I invite you to listen to his brilliant TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action.
Building a Story Brand: Clarifying Your Message so Customers Will Listen – Donal Miller
“Every day, most business leaders make a mistake that costs them money: they don’t explain clearly what it is their company does.” – Donald Miller.
If you are having difficulty connecting with your customers, this is a book you want to read. Like most business owners, you probably spend so much time on operational tasks, getting your product or service to market, you don’t have much time to focus on anything marketing related. Sure, you might have a website and a brochure of some kind jam-packed with content about how great your company and product are, but nothing that really speaks to your customer, empathising with the problems they’re experiencing, and explaining clearly what it is you do and how you can help them…. In fact, many business owners have no real knowledge of who exactly their ideal customer is and if they do, they often have no idea how to communicate with them effectively.
Many companies position themselves as the hero in their messaging – telling their own story. As Donald Miller says “this book is not about telling your company’s story…. customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own”. This is a book that will get you seriously thinking about the way you communicate with your audience and by following the seven steps in “The StoryBrand Framework” you will end up with a crystal-clear message in words that speak directly to your customers. The book will teach you how a story works and how to place your customer as the main character in the story. It will show you how to nail down your message so that your customer is the hero of your story, not you, your company or your product. By putting your customer at the heart of all your communications you’ll finally be able to reach the right audience with what they want to hear, engage with them and eventually convert them into paying customers.
You can find out more about this book and The StoryBrand Framework here.
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”- Eckhart Tolle
For those of you who have never heard of Eckhart Tolle, he is one of the biggest spiritual teachers of our times. At the age of 29, a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life some of which he explains in his book which was first published in 1997. Think about it – how many of us can really stay in the present without wandering back into the past or racing far into the future? That’s what this book is all about: living in the here and now, being conscious of your surroundings, your thoughts and the people with you. The Power of Now is written in a form of Questions and Answers which makes it easy to follow. From my own personal experience, I suggest that you read it in small chunks to fully understand and digest the powerful and eye-opening messages it holds.
Here is a fantastic video of Eckhart Tolle outlining in great detail the journey into now. It’s fairly long but well worth watching, so book an evening where you won’t be disturbed and can be 100% focused on Eckhart’s teachings. I also encourage you to spend some time on his website and to sign up for his “present moment reminders”
So that’s it, you have 15 of my top books. There are many many more, in fact, I have bookshelves of them. Maybe I will make another list in the future if this is something that you appreciate. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Part 1 where I discuss the first 8 books in the list – you can read it here.