There are two ways I challenge myself to become a better business leader: meeting regularly with my executive coaching group, Vistage, and reading more books. Ever since I launched BookPal in 2005, I’ve been exposed to some of the best books for business. Over the past few years, I’ve filled my bookshelf with business classics and other bestselling titles. Below is a selection of popular and lesser-known titles I read this year that taught me important lessons and influenced my business in 2015.
Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and the human brain. Influence is a classic business book on persuasion. Dr. Robert Cialdini not only explains the psychology of why people say “yes,” but also shows how anyone can become a skilled persuader. The principles I’ve learned from this book have shaped the way I talk through our sales process with my team. For instance, we no longer just say that we offer great prices. Instead, we juxtapose our discounted prices with list prices so customers can see for themselves how much money they save when buying from BookPal.
Rock Breaks Scissors by William Poundstone
Another great book on human psychology, Rock Breaks Scissors examines the everyday patterns of life to show how we can make better choices and predictions. Each chapter is a “how to” guide on outguessing common life situations, such as soccer penalty kicks, the lottery, and even the game of rock, paper, scissors. Because the book is filled with easy to understand and applicable lessons, I shared the third chapter, “How to Outguess Multiple-Choice Tests” with my kids. Believe it or not, this business book added value to both my professional and personal life. Not only did I get to share what I learned with my kids, but I had the opportunity to demonstrate how books can be a valuable resource for personal development.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs was a big influence in my life growing up. Back in the 80s when the Apple computer first came out, my brother and I were quick to become early adopters. From building my own computers to finding loopholes in games, I was fascinated with all aspects of technology. I read Steve Jobs as a tribute and enjoyed learning about who he was as a person, both the good and the bad. One thing that really resonated with me was the book’s emphasis on passion. Steve Jobs was passionate about connecting people with technology and making it very accessible, and that carried through his vision for Apple. This motivated me to reexamine BookPal’s mission with the leadership team and to ask them: What is BookPal really trying to accomplish and why?
The Charge by Brendon Burchard
Like Steve Jobs, Brandon Bruchard’s book focuses on passion and what he calls The Charge: The inherent motivation that gives you sustained drive and energy throughout the day and throughout your life. Knowing your purpose in life, or your life goal, is fundamental to living a more intentional and fulfilling life. Once you are aware of your passion and purpose, you can ground yourself each day by focusing on the things that will progress your life forward and not on what others want you to do. The Charge has really helped me prioritize my day-to-day tasks and motivated me to complete several back burner projects, such as replatforming our email and rolling out a new interdepartmental communications system.
Getting Things Done by David Allen
This was actually the second time I read Getting Things Done. I read the first edition when it originally came out, but since then, I had fallen off the wagon. Rereading David Allen’s book gave me the productivity boost I needed to get back on track. I also shared a few of the tips that stood out to me (transferring all my mental notes onto paper and listing out tasks that I’ve delegated) with my staff to encourage the entire company to rethink how they manage time and projects.
Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet
I met L. David Marquet at a Vistage event back in 2013. At that time, BookPal had fewer than 10 employees. As the business continues to grow, I rely more on our leadership team and the staff to make big decisions on a day in, day out basis. Turn the Ship Around is really about that evolution of the company; it’s important for everyone in the organization to take ownership of issues that come up and not rely on being told what to do all the time. It’s equally important for leaders to equip their team with the skills they need to succeed.
Traction by Gino Wickman
My Vistage group leader Beth gave me this book. In the book, Gino Wickman details out a process for entrepreneurs called the Entrepreneur Operating System, or EOS. This system is a set of tools that helps entrepreneurs make sure they have the right people in the right seats, develop one-page business plans, and understand the power of having core values. Traction has become especially relevant to our company as we plan for the upcoming year. The book has directly resulted in our leadership team putting together a thoughtful list of core values and helped us set specific financial targets for 2016.
The Lion Awakes by Ashish J. Thakkar
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to read The Lion Awakes and interview the book’s author, Ashish J. Thakkar. The one lesson that changed my perspective on business and life was the danger of a single story. As Thakkar points out, much of Africa is not a place in need of pity and aid—a preconceived notion that the media pushes us to believe. Instead, the continent is undergoing a remarkable transformation and economic development. For me, the book served as an important reminder to be diligent and constantly think about different sides of a story. The Lion Awakes also attests to the amazing world that we live in right now where anyone can become an entrepreneur.
At BookPal, we are fortunate to receive title recommendations from publishers on a regular basis. We have developed an amazing corporate library based on these recommendations. All employees can borrow books from the company bookshelf and request titles to be added. Providing myself and my team access to a robust collection of books has directly impacted BookPal’s growth as a business. This is why I’d recommend every company build up a company library and encourage staff to read at least one new book each month.
This article was written by Tony DiCostanzo from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.