At home I have a huge collection of top business books that I’m constantly reading and rereading, referring to, and studying for ways I can improve myself and my businesses. If you have seen me present at Live it Now or any of my other trainings, you would have heard me repeat one mantra time and time again: Readers are Leaders!
But what do I mean by this?
Well, if you’re not growing you’re sliding.
You see, all the answers you need are in others people’s stories, in books! In the study of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, we call this modelling behaviour. You find people who have achieved great success, and model the behaviours that got them to that point, so you can utilise those behaviours in your own life.
Libraries are full of incredible stories! Here are five of my top business books and why you should read them.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk
I built my businesses through word of mouth referrals, because I started them in the days before social media and things like Facebook ads or Google Adwords. However, I understood that as times and markets changed, I had to change with them.
One of the first ways I did this was by watching Gary Vaynerchuk videos on YouTube, then through his book on telling your story via social media; Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. I fundamentally believe that one of the biggest reasons this book is so powerful is the way Vaynerchuk explains each social media platform, how to use it effectively, and gives examples that you and I can model for success.
You may have noticed this when you’re on social media these days, there are so many people shouting at you to buy their product or sign up for their online course, but very few people are giving out information as a way to build trust and create rapport. It’s very simple. If you want people to engage with your online content and share it with their network, you have to provide real value!
This is a concept I talk about during The Disruption Tour. Under promise, over deliver. Give, give, then give some more. Then ask. Part of giving is sharing stories, and Vaynerchuk explains how each platform has a different way for stories to be told. So many top brands still don’t recognise this. When you’re running your own business you have the ability to be more agile, so I strongly recommend picking up a copy of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and auditing your own social media accounts.
Four Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss
It sounds like a nice idea right? Work four hours a week, watch the money come rolling in. The reality is, in the first 12-24 months running your business, you’re going to work harder and longer than you ever did in the 9-5 world.
I remember when I was first launching my coaching business, I would often go two or more days without sleeping or eating! I was so engaged in what I was doing, I simply forgot to eat. When you’re living your passion, this is what happens. You’re so focussed, so committed, nothing else matters.
What Four Hour Work Week does is flip the script on the traditional approach of slogging away in an office for years, taking the odd holiday here and there, and saving for retirement, into creating a life you love now.
Ferriss was working 14 hours a day for a sports nutrition company when on a holiday to Europe he discovered that there had to be a better way to live life. He then travelled extensively and developed a systematised approach to work, such as checking emails only once per day and outsourcing smaller tasks to a virtual assistant.
The key takeaway of the book is Ferriss’ explanation and implementation of the 80/20 rule (80% of profits come from 20% of your customers) and in particular his militant application of this rule in everything he does. By using this principle, he has been able to solely focus on his key dollar producing activities, and not get bogged down in administrative tasks.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
Good to Great is a product of years of research done by Jim Collins and his team, analysing some of the biggest companies in the history of America. By studying the data over the lifespan of a company, they were able to pick out the key characteristics that saw some companies make the leap to icon status, while others shrunk and eventually folded.
This project spanned five years, with the team studying 6000 articles, and generating more than 2000 pages of interview transcripts!
What Collins discovered was that the main reason certain companies would go from good to great was they found their niche, and focussed all of their resources on the field that they were best at. We talk about this in the Business Breakout. When you try to be all things to all people, chasing dollars, you end up watering down your product or service. By getting really specific on your niche, you can work out exactly who your target market is, what their problem is, and specifically how your product or service can solve that problem in the fastest possible timeframe.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
You may wonder why one of my recommended business books is a book about tidying your home. Well, it’s simple really. The process you need to go through to get to a place where you declutter your whole life and throw away things you have been holding onto for years is exactly the same as the process you need to go through mentally to let go of psychological wounds from the past in order to grow your business!
You see, a business will never outperform the psychology or skillset of the leader.
So absolutely, you could go out tomorrow and throw away every item in your house. However, your psychology wouldn’t be any different, and you would quickly find yourself filling shelves and cupboards again.
At the heart of Kondo’s book is the theory that everything in your house, from shoes to plates, should spark joy in you when you hold them in your hands. Business is no different.
If doing the work required to grow a successful business doesn’t bring you joy, your unconscious mind will take the path of least resistance to joy, and you will go and watch TV when you should be working on your business.
Aside from being an incredible book that will declutter your mind as well as your house, it is a powerful story about having a passion, being committed to that passion, and turning it into a global business.
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
First published in 1936, the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie has stood the test of time and is a book that I still refer to and recommend to people today. I have a copy with me whenever I go on a recharge holiday! This book is a fundamental tool for building relationships or friendships, and who couldn’t use more friends?
The most successful leaders in business have all read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ for the simple reason being the techniques work. Even entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffett use this book as a manual. If it’s good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me!
There are so many things that ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ will teach you. Of all of these things, there are twelve that form the most basic building blocks for relationships and life in general. This book will help to get you past any mental blockages. You will find yourself being filled with new and positive thoughts, as well as new visions, and new ambitions. Soon, you will begin to make friends with ease. You may become popular and have a reputation that people look up to. By doing this you will start to win people over to your way of thinking.
Soon, you’ll begin to win over new clients, customers, and influence people in society. Then you will notice that your earning power increases. From there you will be better placed to make moves as an entrepreneur, investor, and business executive, staying ahead of the market.
Top Business Books
As I mentioned at the start of this article about my top business books, Readers are Leaders. Did you know Bill Gates reads at least one book per week? If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. It also means you can’t use the excuse ‘I don’t have enough time to read’ because I’m going to suggest that Gates is a bit busier than you!