Laura Petrolino

Five Business Books to Read for a Successful 2017

By: Laura Petrolino | December 12, 2016 | 

Business BooksOn the fifth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you….five business books, four online courses, three productivity tools, two lies told about the PR industry, and a phrase to banish forever.

And it should come as no surprise to any frequent reader of Spin Sucks that we are big book fans.

And by “big book fans” I don’t just mean fans of books that are big (we like big books and we cannot lie, and other pr pros can’t deny).

I mean we are big fans of books in general.

We accept books of all shapes, sizes, and languages here (we just have Corina Manea translate the ones that aren’t in English).

Ok, but I got completely off track (shocker)….books, business books to read in 2017…that’s what we are here to talk about today.

The Monthly Business Book Club

Several months ago we started a team business book club.

Each month our fearless leader chooses a business book for all of us to read.

We read them on our own time and then come together for a great discussion during one of our staff meetings.

The discussions we have help us all apply the concepts to what we are actively working on and overall company goals.

I’m sure some of our book club fun—and subsequent discussions—will now expand to the full crew on the Spin Sucks Slack channel, which will make these books that much more valuable. 

Additionally, it forced me to read books I know I should, but don’t.

And why don’t I like to read business books?

Well the same reason none of us really do—we’ve read so many bad ones.

And when I say bad I mean REALLY bad.

Like hours of our lives we will never get back.

That’s why our company book club has been great, because we are reading really useful books.

Books that do provide value.

In turn, it’s inspired me to take a chance on a few other business books to read—books which I had been putting off for way too long.

A bet I’m happy to report paid off.

And because we want your 2017 to be successful, productive, and bad book free, I’m here to share some business books to read in 2017.

Business Books to Read in 2017

The first three recommendations were part of our company book club.

The last two I read on my own.

Built To Sell Helps You Scale and Define Yourself

  • Does growing your business feel impossible unless you clone yourself?
  • Do you struggle to effectively scale your business without losing quality or clients?
  • Is it increasingly difficult to provide individualized solution for clients on your available budget?

Then you need to read Built to Sell, by John Warrillow.

In fact, it’s a business book anyone who leads or works in a service business should read.

As people in the service field, Built to Sell is going to present a lot of concepts that make you resistant.

Allow yourself to move beyond that and see why those very points of resistance are a big part of what’s preventing you from growing your career or your business successfully.

Traction Provides…Well, Traction

Feel like you don’t have time to read one more up-in-the-clouds, theoretical book?

Then Traction, by Gino Wickman, is the business book to read.

It’s so action-oriented and applicable, you are going to need to read it once to get concepts, then once again to start applying, and then probably a few more times to work through the details.

Make sure you have a notebook in hand and are ready to get to work.

You need to make applying the concepts a professional goals and schedule some time on your calendar specifically to do the work, or you’ll never get it done. 

This is not a book to read if you want to just be a passive observer.

This is a book that will get you active and in the mud of building a successful business.

Hug Your Way to Great Customer Service 

I wrote about Hug Your Haters, by Jay Baer, not long ago here. So not all that much more to add.

If you want to really know the stats, data, and market research around customer service and customer complaints (excellent research done by Tom Webster and his firm Edison Research for this book), then this is the book for you.

Breaking down the numbers is fascinating and it’s a book anyone who deal with customers (i.e. EVERYONE) needs to read.

Do Twice the Work in Half the Time

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half The Time is one of those books I had purchased a year ago and never got around to reading.


Because I didn’t have the time.

Ironic, much?

Right…but anyway, I was finally convinced to read it after client and friend Amy Bailey raved about it and started applying the concepts within her team.

I’ve worked with Amy long enough I trust her opinion on these things, so I finally made the time…..and it ended up being my favorite business book of the year.

I listened to it and loved it so much I bought the hard copy. 

Scrum looks at the science behind how people and teams work best and translates it into processes.

It simply makes sense and not only does it help you be more efficient, it helps everyone work to their maximum ability and maximum satisfaction.

Frankly, I want to hire author, Jeff Sutherland, to help me organize my life.

Until then, I’m going to be applying a lot of the concepts to our the work.

Be 10 Percent Happier

I also recently wrote about 10% Happier, by Dan Harris.

You can see what I said about that book here.

While you might be resistant to associating your inner dialogue to your professional success, there is a direct link which cannot be denied.

They are most definitely connected.

What I loved about this book is it was written for smart, driven people.

People are typically skeptical about the whole “mindfulness” thing, or at least underestimate the true value.

It’s worth a read and I guarantee you’ll grab several elements from it that improve your overall personal and professional well-being in 2017.

So that’s my list of business books to read in 2017.

Which books would you add?

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • paulakiger

    I haven’t read Dan Harris’s book (yet) but I read some of his writing about having panic attacks (because I had been reading Elizabeth Vargas’s book, Between Breaths, which discusses her panic issues (among other things)). Full disclosure: this one is by a Weaving Influence client (and it won’t be out until 1/31/17) but I have been doing work related to Expensive Sentences by Jack Quarles, and I love the way he breaks down the kind of “expensive sentences” we fall into the habit of saying (such as “we’ve always done it that way) into the trio of responding to something because it is scarce, because someone is “special,” or because we are stuck. Jack has a background in procurement which creates an interesting analytical angle to the way he writes. I was commenting to my husband how glad I was that I had to be involved in many procurement processes at Healthy Kids — they really do help you understand many things about business and (in the good ones) help you have a very critical eye when being told “our product is the one for you.”

    • Ohhhh….that sounds absolutely fascinating! I’ll add that one to my list!

  • I just downloaded 10% Happier. I heard it mentioned it in a podcast and then you suggested it. All signs are pointing to – “read this book!”

    I’m currently working my way through Traction. I really like the breakdown of outlining company values and then checking those against employees. This can have so many implications. Such as, how these values are communicated in the first place, how to deal with current employees who don’t align, how to interview differently, how to work with clients, etc…

    Adding the others to my list!

    • Let me know what you think of 10% Happier! Dan Harris is pretty hilarious in it, I found myself LOLing often, as well as seeing myself in some of his stress. I think you’ll like it.

      And YES, so agree about Traction. I need to read it yearly I think, just so many great lessons.

  • Elise Perkins

    Great list, Laura! I just bought Tim Ferris’s Tools of Titans and am digging into that too.

    • Oh…I haven’t heard anything about that one yet. Looking forward to hearing what you think!

  • Great suggestions, Laura! My to-read list just keeps growing and growing.

  • Pete Salmon

    Laura I think another great business book is also called Traction. Imagine that! Its full title: Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. Each chapter is devoted to a “traction channel” for growth, e.g. Viral Marketing, PR, Unconventional PR, SEM, Social & Display Ads, SEO, Content Marketing, and more. It would be a great book for a business book reading club.

    • Ahhh….the one you read by mistake! LOL! But that does sound super interesting. Definitely worth an add!


  • Added 10% Happier and Scrum to my reading list. Thank you, Laura.

    I’m reading a mind-blowing book, called The Answer by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. Though you wouldn’t think of it this way, it is a business book that teaches you how to reprogram your brain (meditation is a big factor) to become successful in any endeavor. This is the kind of book where you read a chapter, stop, take notes, and then continue.

    Another book on my reading list for the holidays is Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, I had to google his last name!).

    • Ohhh….I want to read both of those. I’ve been meaning to read Arnold’s book for a long time. I’ll be interested as to what you think about 10% Happier, especially after reading The Answer. Mindfulness is something I’ve worked really diligently on this year (and written about quite a bit as a result), especially when it comes to my self-talk and the tone I use to speak with myself. It’s a constant effort, but I do think a worthwhile one.

      • Downloaded the 10% book and I’ll let you know. Can’t wait to read it.

  • Wait until you see what I have on our list for 2017!

    • I want to know, I want to know. May I know now, pretty please? :)))))))

  • Emily Bouchard

    I never considered reading about Scrum – have heard about it for years and know a few Agile consultants. Thanks for the nudge!