“Words and ideas can change the world.” John Keating from Dead Poets Society
You know you should be reading. But if you’re like me, you can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of books that come out, the books that friends and family recommend, the books that you get for birthdays and Christmas (keep them coming, by the way!). So I thought I would help you make the most of your reading by sharing some of my favorite books (and perhaps some to avoid).
What do I like about it? Let me tell you a quick story. As I was growing up, I learned to think small/less of myself. For a variety of reasons, it seemed like a safer option for me. Maybe to protect myself from disappointment, maybe to keep from being a burden to others. But along the way, that way of thinking has taken a major toll on me and limited the amount of joy and abundance in my life. The Big Leap is helping me to renew my mind, unshackle my thoughts, and act in a way that is more congruent with who I really want to be (and believe that I really am).
If you find yourself playing small, taking fewer chances, or sabotaging yourself when you do achieve some measure of success, you should read this book. How much do I like it? I’ve already recommended it to quite a few people and have given away 5 copies (so far). If you’re struggling but aren’t certain whether it’s worth the investment (a couple/few hours of reading and less than $7 on Amazon for the paperback), email me. We should talk.
Let’s talk about Deep Work. Read it. Listen to it. Buy it, borrow it—find a way. My friend and mentor Connie Ragen Green sent me this as a gift. I loved it so much, I ended up reading it twice (hardback and Kindle) and listening to it on Audible.
No other book I read last year had such an immediate and profound impact on my work habits, life habits and peace of mind. The premise of the book is relatively straightforward—we do two kinds of work: Shallow Work and Deep Work. Shallow Work is stuff we all do that doesn’t take significant concentration and may indeed be a distraction to our work life. Emails, texts, some meetings, etc. Deep Work is work performed by focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. If you want to move beyond good intentions, learn things quickly, master hard things, produce your best work, and/or find deeper satisfaction in your work, you must acquire the habits of deep work. This book will show you how.
I just finished The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. If you haven’t heard about The Miracle Morning, it’s all about how and why you should take time first thing in the morning to put first things first, even if that means you have to sleep less. At first I was resistant to the argument—I love a good night’s sleep. But the reality is that I can choose sleep well and still get up early. Think about when you had to get up early to go on vacation. I once took my family to Disney World and we got up insanely early to get to the airport. Despite the early hour, we all woke up in a good mood, gathered our things and made it to the plane (and to Disney World) with joy and anticipation! Elrod argues that getting up each day can be like that. Here’s another truth: generally speaking, most people will hate getting up extra early for about 10 days (Elrod’s estimate). Then they’ll find it tolerable for another 10 days. After that, they’ll be experiencing many of the benefits of rising early and they’ll be glad they made the change. And what does someone do when they get up early? Elrod recommends Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (Writing). I’m going to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I can’t stop listening to Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule, even when it drives me crazy. Grant Cardone is a sales trainer, entrepreneur, and all around hurricane of a human being. He’s challenging, abrupt, forward, goading, etc. And he makes me want to be a better entrepreneur with a bigger vision and bigger actions. In The 10X Rule, Cardone challenges his readers to create a bigger life for themselves and their loved ones by choosing 10X targets and 10X actions. It sounds simple (and it is conceptually), but it will only change your life if you take action. How do you learn to take consistent action? That’s what Cardone describes in his book. This book isn’t for the faint of heart or those that don’t like being challenged, but if you read it and do what it says it will change your life.
“What if the only thing standing in the way of your greatness was that you just had to go after everything obsessively, persistently, and as though your life depended on it?” Grant Cardone
I read Daniel Goleman’s Focus for two reasons. First, I loved his book Emotional Intelligence. Second, I was looking to build on my understanding of Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which discussed to benefits of focus extensively.
It’s a good book, but not a great book. Focus really is, as the book subtitle affirms, the hidden driver of excellence. My takeaways from the book: 1) focusing is harder than ever in our crazy, distracted world, and 2) focus can be developed through practice. There were other insights, of course, but that’s the gist of it.
Bottom line: If you are going to choose one book to read about Focus, I’d still recommend Cal Newport’s Deep Work.
I read Grant Cardone’s If You’re Not First Your Last because I was inspired by his The 10X Rule. Cardone wrote If You’re Not First You’re Last in the middle of the Great Recession, and he was trying to inspire people who had lost hope or were on the verge of losing hope in their ability to affect their financial situation. Like all of Cardone’s work, it’s a kick in the pants. But if you’re up for the challenge, he offers some very practical, step-by-step suggestions to regain control of your life. When Cardone says “First,” he means First in the minds of the customer. He’s not talking about the amount of money you make or oppressing others, just making sure when people think of your industry or service, you are the first person/company that comes to mind.
Bottom Line: I think salespeople will get the most out of this book, and would recommend it to someone who needs to be shaken out of their slump.
Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing. This book has been around forever and you can find them used on Amazon for a penny (plus shipping). If you’re new to marketing for small business, you need to read this book and internalize the lessons. Marketing is not (or should not be about) interrupting people as much as it should be about building relationships. This is how you do that.
Jim Cockrum’s Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off. What do you do if you want to market your business but don’t have a ton of money? This is the book that best explains and gives real-world of examples of how people can market their businesses inexpensively and effectively.
John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing. Practical marketing tips and tricks that everyone can use, broken down into simple, straightforward steps. It was last updated in 2011, so don’t expect cutting edge social media stuff. Instead, expect top-notch information which will help you develop an effective marketing strategy and the tactics to implement.