A few weeks ago, I asked each of you what you’d like to read about on this blog. Robert Saric asked if I would blog, “the books you recommend and why they are great.” Since that request, I’ve been compiling a list of business books (fun reading will come during the holidays) and it follows.
1. Don’t Be That Boss. I met Mark Wiskup a few years ago, when he spoke to my Vistage group. I remember not wanting to go to that particular meeting because Mark was billed as a speaker on communication techniques and, being a bit too big for my britches, I thought he couldn’t teach me anything. Boy was I wrong! Not only did he teach me a thing or two, he quickly became a friend. He is the author of two additional books, but I think “Don’t Be That Boss” is his best.
A book that follows two managers through the same day, he teaches you the right and the wrong ways to communicate with your direct reports. He puts things in perspective; so much so, that some of the scenarios have actually happened to you and you realize how much differently you should handle some situations. It changed the way I communicate with my direct reports and it will you, too.
2. Groundswell. I don’t know if I love Groundswell as much as I do because it was the first (smart) book I’d read about social media or if it’s because I wholeheartedly agree with the philosophy. What I do know is that I’ve read it and re-read it and keep it on my desk as a bible of sorts. I love it because it talks about how to build a community of brand ambassadors by using the available technologies. It’s not about Twitter and Facebook and Google Wave. It’s about having better relationships and using what’s available today to make you more efficient.
3. Crush It. I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a book snob. It’s not something I can help; my education is to blame. So when a book hits the bestseller list or a random person on the street tells me a book is good, I’m skeptical. Which is how I was with “Crush It.”
But last week I traveled with Blair Minton to a board meeting and he read it on the plane. He finished the entire thing on the flight out and the overwhelming need to have a discussion with him about it overruled my snobbery. I downloaded it to my Kindle immediately and read it on the flight home.
It’s a simple read and it’s a fast read. If anything, it makes you think about how your personal and professional lives are intersecting even more. The premise of the book is that, no matter what we do for a living, we all have personal brands and we have to care for them above all else. I agree with this. I’m going to have my staff all read it so they understand how they can use their personal brands at Arment Dietrich.
4. When Growth Stalls. I met Steve McKee at the PRSA Counselors Academy conference in Palm Springs this past spring. He owns an ad agency in Albuquerque, he is a speaker, he writes for BusinessWeek, and he wrote this book to discuss how to bust your business back into growth mode when it’s stalled.
He wrote the book when his own company stalled and he had to figure out what to do next. He uses real examples on recognizing the signs and what to do about it. I’m a big fan of authors who have lived their advice and this book does just that. If you’re building a business and have hit a plateau, it has some helpful tips in there for you. Now I just need him to sign my copy for me.
5. Small Is the New Big. As evidenced above, I’m not a big fan of books that the entire world reads and raves about, which is why I was very hesitant to read Seth Godin’s latest book, “Small Is the New Big.” I decided to pick it up because a very good friend told me I’d like parts of it and, he said, my boutique agency is the new big.
It’s a compilation of many years of blog posts, arranged by topic. There are some that make no sense for you and there are some that really get you thinking. I think what I found interesting may not be of interest to all of you, but you will find some things in there of interest. What I liked best about the book is his style of writing. It taught me how to blog better – you don’t have to have a really well written blog post every day; sometimes it’s just about what you saw on the street that taught you something about what you blog about.
Which business books do you recommend? And why?