I read. A lot. And the reason I love a physical book over the internet (though I read both) is that it gives me a chance to consider and take notes on the types of big ideas that just aren’t found in click-bait. When a book has a good big idea in it, that new perspective inspires me to think about my life and business in a completely new way, finding insights and perspectives that reframe the way I think about my life and business. Ultimately, those ideas help me focus on what really matters so I can say ‘no’ to the rest of it.
For me, the path to personal and professional growth is a great read. Here are ten that have impacted me over the last few years...
Business owners have constant demands placed on their time - cash flow, hiring, management, new business, operations, and plenty of emails. When I head home to my family each night, I often wonder where the day went and how it flew by so quickly. The idea behind this book is that we can do less, but achieve more by constantly prioritizing the one thing that is most important and letting the rest go. If you’re spending your time reacting and not achieving the things in life you’d like to, this book can help you recognize your big picture goal and establish a path to get there.
I got this recommendation from Jamie Dimon’s reading list. His interns had requested his favorite books and he gave 25.
I’m a creative person who started a company with zero business background and this book gave me the crash course I needed of practical business advice. The author, Bob Fifer, says that having a profit is the ultimate measure of the health of your business (personally, I think good cash flow, diversified revenue, and a good company culture are right up there too) and gives great tips on how to increase revenue and decrease costs. For entrepreneurs looking for Cliff’s Notes on how to build a healthy business, this book is a great resource.
E-Myth is another great crash-course in business education. The big idea here is that business owners need to work ON their business, not IN their business. Michael Gerber gives step-by-step instructions on how to build a healthy business that can be scaled and sold. He says the big myth is that entrepreneurs need to play an outsize role in the operations of their business, when, in fact, we need to step back and build something that runs without us. It’s an especially insightful book for those just starting out.
Phil Jackson, the basketball coach that led the Lakers and the Bulls to a combined eleven NBA championships, writes about his innovative and sometimes controversial approach to leadership. If you like basketball, you’ll love hearing about the dramatic journeys his teams embarked upon to win. And if you run a company, you’ll find inspired approaches to management. Jackson covers ways to help talent realize their potential, how to build trust and camaraderie, and how to unite the team while still allowing individual team members to flourish.
The introvert/extrovert divide is one of the few things the clinical psychology world agrees is a “real” thing. Through research and her own experiences, Susan Cain shares the challenges and opportunities of being an introvert in a culture that generally celebrates extroversion. She asserts that the world needs introverts now more than ever for their perception, intelligence, and determination, and then provides ideas on how introverts can thrive in a business culture of extroversion.
I started meditating a few years ago as a way to manage stress and learn more about myself. It’s been a rewarding experience that has been beneficial both to my health and that of my company. This book helps explain why a meditation practice is helpful and also gives practical insights on how to integrate meditation into your daily life.
Charles Duhigg wrote an excellent book on how habits are the things that define us. If we are what we do then how can we create the habits that will help us become who we want to be? Duhigg asserts that, whether on a personal or organizational level, beginning with one habit can lead to big transformations.
This is a big idea book from Michael Singer that gives new perspectives on how we view life and our definition of success. I loved it because it helped me redefine my personal vision and the vision for our agency.
Joseph Campbell is often cited as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. He was gifted in his ability to examine cultures, psychology, and spirituality and convey their meaning in a way that’s relevant to how we live our everyday lives. If that sounds like too much for you, consider this: If life is about discovering who you are as a person, Campbell provides the signposts along the way. If you’re an entrepreneur, this is the big picture question and nothing could be more relevant.
Nelson Mandela was (and is) a leader worth looking up to. Ricard Stengel chronicles the ten core principles Mandela maintained through his life that guided who he was as a person and leader. Business can be tricky and your integrity will inevitably be tested. Having principles to stick to in your darker hours will help you make it without compromising your values.
Considering the big ideas they contain, books are some of the cheapest investments available for both yourself and your business.
Got any recommendations you think I'd love? Send them my way!