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Interesting Business Books

Posted on 07-05-2014.

Recently one of my clients suggested that I buy a copy of "Strength Finder 2.0" by Tom Rath, and as I am about to leave on a trip I have a copy with me that I will be reading while I am away if time allows. It was recommended as being different to other business books, because rather than focusing on "opportunities for improvement" and working on those, the book is all about discovering and developing natural talents. At least that is what I have been led to believe......I guess I am about to find out.

This referral reminded me that I am often asked by participants in my programs to recommend some books on the topics that I cover in training. So I thought I would list a few titles that I suggest as really good reading - the content has inspired me in some way, and the writing style is such that I have usually found it easy to read.

Even though it is not a "business book" one of the first books that I recommend is Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk To Freedom" purely as something that is sure to inspire and motivate. However some of the other books include, in no particular order:

"The Leadership Pipeline" by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel

In an age where succession planning is becoming increasingly important, this book helps to break down the different passages that an individual can take in their career, and looks at the skills, the values and the time applications that are important to transition from one level to the next.

The reason I think this book is so important is that it not only helps individuals on their own journey, but puts into perspective what is required to assist others on their journey. The basic concept is so simple to follow that you wonder why it has not been so clearly articulated before, and helps in understanding how leaders need to evolve through the different milestones of their career.

"The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael E Gerber

This book is really a fantastic tool for anybody who is working in their own business. However I find that it also helps those who need to work in a business as if it were their own.

Gerber highlights 3 roles - that of entrepreneur, that of manager and that of technician, and the importance of finding a balance between all three. He clearly explains that many people who own their own business end up owning a job. One of my favourite elements is when he explains that often the last entrepreneurial decision a small business owner makes is to strike out on their own.....and from then on they are purely working as a technician within their business, and neglect the entrepreneurial and management elements that success requires. How many of us end up being simple technicians, when we are supposed to be so much more?

"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

Basically I find all of Gladwell's books fantastic. He is famous for books such as "The Tipping Point" and "Blink", but "Outliers" is my favourite. He asks - and in many ways provides compelling answers to - the question of "what makes high achievers different?"
He looks at things like assertive communication, and how some cultures are more programmed for assertiveness than others and what the consequences are. He looks at the importance of opportunity and accessibility to success, or how many hours it takes to truly master a skill. 

This is a book that can be enjoyed by the trivia to which it introduces the reader, but it is more than that. It helps us to see how important it is to provide people (whether they be your children, your team members or your employees) with the wherewithal to succeed and grow.

"The Speed of Trust" by Stephen M R Covey

This book is by the son of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" author, and it elaborates the growing importance of trust in business today, and some easy strategies for developing that trust. Most importantly it helps to illustrate how the achievement of trust can reduce the time it takes to achieve goals while also reducing the cost of doing business. 

For me the section on "Relationship Trust' is of particular significance as it highlights 13 very clear behaviours that can assist in any relationship - whether it be between family members, business associates, supplier/customer or whoever.  

"The Experience Economy" by B Joseph Pine II and James H Gilmore

A number of years ago the authors offered a new way to think about connecting with customers and securing their loyalty. This book is now a classic, and although the way we do business has changed in many ways since it was written, the way to a customer's heart has not. Indeed, the idea of staging experiences to leave an unforgettable-and lucrative-impression is now more relevant than ever as businesses strive to uncover the missing link between their products and their potential audience. 

This entire methodology is applicable to any offering, whether a product, service or experience, with direct, measurable results to enhance competitiveness and profitability. It is also a dynamic process, in which the principles are applied on an ongoing business to remain competitive. 

"Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh

This is a seriously enjoyable read! The visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success.
In 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an advisor and investor, and eventually became CEO, where he helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune magazine's annual Best Companies to Work For list.

Pay new employees $2000 to quit. Make customer service the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the #1 priority. Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too. These are just some of the things you'll discover about Hsieh's leadership philosophies.

"Serious Creativity" by Edward de Bono

Dr. Edward de Bono is regarded as the leading international authority in the field of conceptual thinking and also the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. He originated the concept of "lateral thinking".

In an easily digested style de Bono presents a range of techniques for both cultivating ideas and harvesting the usable ones. These techniques include random word generation, multiple focuses and "provocations" that provide a novel framework through which to look at things. And the well known "six thinking hats" method encourages cooperative discovery instead of adversarial thinking. His insights are broadly applicable across a range of disciplines.

This is a great way to get a short course in how to encourage "out of the box thinking" for any team.

Happy reading!

source: ehotelier, Tim Millett

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