10 Boost Your Business Books

Last week I chatted about 10 Spiritual Growth Books. And I hope I added to your growing pile of books on your nightstand. This week I’m highlighting my favorite business boosting books. A shout out goes to Thomas Umstattd of Author Media for recommending several of these.

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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. This is a foundational book for anyone in business, particularly those who want to sell a product, service or idea. It helped me realize just how things “hit it big,” in this world. And it’s not because of huge marketing budgets. It’s often plain ol’ word of mouth.

It also helped me embrace who I was. After my daughter read The Tipping Point for class, she told me, “Mom, you’re a connector.” I sensed I might be after I read Gladwell’s words. He asserts connectors are the people who “link us up with the world . . . people with a special gift for bringing the world together . . . a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances.” I learned, too, that my husband is a maven through and through. He’s the one who finds the best airfare and hotels. My friend Suzanne Marinace is a connector on steroids. And my agent, Esther Fedorkevich is the model of a purely gifted saleswoman.

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Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah If you do anything online, you ought to read this book. It demystifies how people find you on the web, and how you can maximize your website or blog to bring more people to you.

They write, “We’re living a revolution where the companies that attract our attention are not the ones with big budgets and glitzy TV ads. Now we pay attention to the ones with great web content, like Zappos, a shoe retailer that’s quickly grown into a billion-dollar business.”

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Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Have you ever sat through a terrible power point (keynote) presentation with comic sans font and third-grader graphics (complete with dorky sound effects?) The best presentations are visual and contain very little text. Think Steve Jobs or Ted Talks.

He writes, “The majority of presentations in business and academia are still tedious affairs that fail to engage audiences, even though the content may be important.” Reynolds gives us a pathway through with amazing examples and a minimalistic style that adds nuance and beauty to your presentation.

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Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. I’m pretty sure Dr. Seligman wrote this book particularly for pessimistic me. He helped me see how to move from my “realistic” perspective to a more positive one. I realized how I often sabotage my happiness today by predicting doom and gloom, or giving into fatalism. He gives you a handy test to figure out if you’re a pessimist or not (er, yep). But the book is full of great examples of how to live more joyfully. This translates into business because our attitude affects everything about the success of our endeavor.

He offers me hope. “I have found, however, that pessimism is escapable. Pessimists can in fact learn to be optimists, and not through mindless devices like whistling a happy tune or mouthing platitudes.”

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Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. I’ve loved so many of Dr. Cloud’s books. This one came at a time when I was making some hard choices about my job, what to say no to, and what to keep. My friend Michael Hyatt recommended it to me after we had a conversation about my next steps. It helped me clarify what I needed to do and take charge of what I could control.

I learned that I’d been guilty of a learned helplessness. Cloud says, “In a learned-helplessness model, the brain begins to interpret events in a negative way, thus reinforcing its belief that ‘all is bad.’ For instance, when someone doesn’t get a sale it means, ‘I am a loser, the whole business is bad, and it isn’t going to change.'” Again, a great business flows from what is inside us. If we give into this kind of thinking, we won’t find success.

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Write it Down; Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Lauser At first I didn’t want to read this book because it sounded to me like a name it and claim it deal. But enough of my friends enjoyed the book that I decided to set aside my prejudice and dive in. While I don’t adhere to some of Lauser’s philosophies, I found that the underlying idea of getting alone and writing down things I wanted to see happen really helped me. For instance, I wrote down, “Get a tattoo.” I’d been wanting to get one for some time, but once I wrote it down, I had one within the month. I’ve also written “bestselling book,” so maybe that will happen someday. 🙂

She writes, “In life, we often need to be willing to get rid of the old, that which no longer serves us, to make room for, to prepare for the new.” Writing down your desires and goals help you see what dross needs to go away, and it makes room for accomplishing new things.

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The Power of a Positive No by William Ury. This is a fascinating book. I had the privilege of hearing Ury at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this year. The subtitle of the book is “Save the deal, save the relationship–and still say no.” This book gave me the tools I needed to say some important nos while still preserving the relationship. The reality is, in order for us to have focus, we have to say no to a lot of things. Learning to say no graciously is a skill we all need.

Ury writes, “All to often, we cannot bring ourselves to say No when we want to and know we should. Or we do say No but say it in a way that blocks agreement and destroys relationships. We submit to inappropriate demands, injustice, even abuse–or we engage in destructive fighting in which everyone loses.”

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This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin. Can you see a pattern in these books? By looking at them, you’ll discover my own issues–my pessimism, faulty decision making, stress level, and need for joy. So if you don’t struggle like me, pass this list on to someone who is my clone. 🙂 This book really helped me understand the chemistry of my crazy brain, and find ways to get rid of my sabotaging thinking. Again, in business, we need to work first on our attitude, and this book gives a great, detailed perspective.

He writes, “Surrounding yourself with positive people who believe in and champion your dreams is vital to bouncing back from sorrow or stress into joy.”

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Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson. Margin is that space we allow for ourselves so we don’t fall apart when something interrupts us. It’s developing a more realistic pace of life, not giving into to society’s crazy time demands. Swenson gave me permission to slow down, to live simply, to enjoy people more than things. He proposes a radical way to slow down life and live it more abundantly.

He writes, “Is this painful disease of marginless living curable? Is health possible? Of course it is. But the kind of health I speak of will seldom be found in progress or success. For that reason, I am not sure how many are willing to take on the cure. But at least we all deserve a chance to understand the disease.”

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Another book by Gladwell, particularly because he takes a fresh and informed look on issues that are important to us. Here he studies genius and finds that the secret of genius is a number. 10,000 hours of applied practice. This resonated with me as a writer because my “internship” of writing in obscurity lasted ten years and certainly amounted to 10,000 hours of practice. When I’ve spoken to writers, I cite Gladwell’s research. Folks roll their eyes or get frustrated. But the true writers in the audience smile because they’ve already put in some hours and will gladly put in more.

Gladwell writes, “Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.” I believe this is true for businesses as well.

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What about you? What are your favorite business books? Why?

 

 

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