To be successful in business, there is one thing you must accept: You need to always be learning. Things change too fast – communication platforms, information distribution systems, marketing techniques. What works today won’t necessarily work next year. You’ve got to keep looking forward.
Top business people join business associations, attend conferences, and take training courses, all to share and learn the secrets to success. To maintain their authority and attract customers, they know they need to invest the time and money in maintaining that edge.
My philosophy is that leaders must be readers. Reading books from other business people challenges me, educates me, and reinvigorates me.
So this summer, whether in my backyard or on a beach, in my office or on an airplane, I’ll have a stack of business books by my side.
Here is what’s on my Summer ’18 stack:
Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break The Rules at Work and in Life by Francesca Gino, social scientist at the Harvard Business School. Gino’s latest book discusses the role of the non-conformist in business and how we as leaders should encourage their imagination, their passion and, to a certain extent, their rebellion. She uses insightful and entertaining examples to illustrate her ideas and wraps it all up with “8 Principles for Becoming a Rebel Leader.” As a business owner who surrounds himself with smart, creative people, I found this to be a useful reminder that businesses only grow and thrive by allowing out-of-the-box thinking.
Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, the $45 million/year maker of marketing software. Fishkin’s road to success has been full of potholes, mis-directions, and some barely-survivable crashes. With daring and brutally honest truthfulness, he brings us into the trenches of creating a startup, boiling down his successes and failures into actionable advice. “I wrote [the book] so that you don’t have to repeat the mistakes I’ve made. So you can leapfrog the wasted months, the wasted cash, and the heartache too many of us endure… I won’t share just the tactical tips and tricks; I have to include the ugly, heartbreaking realities, too…That’s why this book is so transparent about the things founders don’t normally discuss. Money. Depression. Layoffs. Failure.” Highly recommended.
Marketing in the #FakeNews Era: New Rules for a New Reality of Tribalism, Activism, and Loss of Trust by Peter Horst, founder of CMO, Inc. and global marketing leader. Horst addresses the challenges facing brand leaders today – should they take social and political stands or keep quiet? What are the benefits and risks of weighing in versus sitting on the sidelines? Not handling these issues appropriately can lead to some grim consequences – ranging from share loss to job loss to company failure. Horst offers strategic and tactical guidance on how a company must carefully navigate the waters of the #FakeNews Era, where moral scrutiny and consumer outrage abound. This is an important book. Leaders must prepare themselves for what may lie ahead.
The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter of the Potential Project. This book is eye-opening. Based on extensive research, this book sites some startling statistics that leaders should be mindful of: Seventy-six percent of leaders think they do a good job of engaging their people, yet 82 percent of employees see their leaders as uninspiring. Thirty-five percent of employees would forgo a pay raise to see their leaders fired. Wow! Obviously, there’s a major disconnect here. The authors’ argument is that rather than focusing on external enticements, such as raises, flex time, and bonuses, leaders need to focus on creating purpose and fulfillment for the people they lead. The book challenges readers to look at the way they’re leading. It also shares practical and useful tips on developing and applying key leadership skills.
Finally, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy by Lewis Howes. Released in 2015, this is one of the books that I re-read regularly. It motivates me on both a business and personal level. Howes went from being an ex-pro athlete sleeping on his sister’s couch to building a multi-million dollar business. Based on his journey and conversations with scores of people on his hugely-popular podcast (40 million-plus downloads!), Howes shares an actionable framework for achieving real, sustainable success. Not just success, but ‘greatness’ in both life and work. This is a relatable read, peppered with inspirational stories of world class athletes and entrepreneurs. There are a lot of so-called ‘motivational’ books out there, but this one stands above them all.