I believe that a lifetime of focused learning is critical for everyone but especially critical for those that want to be successful business leaders. There are many ways to learn but one of the most cost effective and impactful ways to learn is to develop the habit of daily reading.
I tend to read one to two books a month. Most of these are business related books but I do read a wide variety of books so that I am always expanding my worldview as much as possible.
The key with reading a book is to take a few principles out of each book and apply them to your life or business. Don’t just read a book, put it on the shelf and walk away. Take something from the book and apply it so it adds value to you in some way.
What follows is a list of twelve books that I have read this year that have had an impact on how I do things. I have provided a brief description and my biggest personal take-away from each book.
- The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company by Charles Koch – This is an amazing look into one of the world’s largest and most successful private companies. The book documents some of the company’s history but more importantly describes the philosophy behind how the company is structured and operated. My take-away from this book is Koch’s Market Based Management way of doing business.
- The CEO Who Sees Around Corners by Jay Abraham and Carlos Dias – This is an unconventional business book written by two highly successful but unconventional businessmen. This book challenges the way you think about business in general. My take-away from this book is that there are many ways to solve a problem or to take advantage of a business opportunity. It is in my best interests to explore what others have done in other industries and see how it can apply to my situation.
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo – This book provides an excellent analysis of how to put an award winning presentation and speech together. It is based on the many successful TED talks that have swept the internet over the last few years. My take away from this book can be found in my blog post Why You Need to Talk Like TED
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown – This book is all about maximizing your life by maximizing what you do best and minimizing the unproductive business that you are dealing with every moment of everyday. My take-away from this book is that it takes continuous effort and diligence to refine your activities to what you do best so that you can generate enormous momentum towards achieving your vision rather than “making a millimeter of progress in a million directions.”
- The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #JoinTheRide by Darren Hardy – Darren Hardy, owner of SUCCESS magazine, explains entrepreneurialism from his personal experience and provides a comprehensive framework for existing entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs. My take-away from this book is that 90% of the success of a product or service is dependent on how effective your sales are and not on how good your product or service is.
- The SAIC Solution: Built by Employee Owners by Peter Economy and J Beyster – Although I found this book to be a little dry, it does provide a great history and a lot of detail around the SAIC corporation and the reasons for their incredible success. My take-away from this book is that major contributors to business success should have a stake in the ownership of the business.
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller – Although the author’s writing style is quite engaging and very humorous, this is quite a “deep” book focusing on the reason why each of us exists and what our purpose is while we are here on this earth. My take-away from this book is that the point of our lives is not the destination that we may reach but the character that we become and the people that we impact along the way.
- Writing Riches: Learn How to Boost Profits, Drive Sales and Master Your Financial Destiny With Results-Based Web Copy by Ray Edwards – Ray Edwards provides invaluable insight into the art of writing useful and engaging material with Writing Riches. My take-away from this book is that to sell effectively on line you must either become a master of sales copy or hire someone who is.
- Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands by Ezra Levant – Ethical Oil takes an interesting look into the oil production industry and debunks many of the harshest critics and the arguments they make against oil production and refining. My take-away from this book is that the reality of a situation can be far from how it is presented by today’s media. Therefore we must to do some detailed research before forming an opinion on any major issue.
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel – Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal, Palantir and large initial investor in Facebook, gives a glimpse of his powerful business thinking in Zero to One. My take-away from this book is that you cannot create much value if you just copy something that has already been done. You must create something unique and powerful to make a big impact.
- Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life by Tom Rath – This book identifies three keys for re-energizing your life and work; you must do something that benefits others, you must create more positive than negative moments and you must make choices that can improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. My take-away from this book is that we need to continually strive for balance in our lives. Too much focus in one area means that we are going to come up short somewhere else.
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt – This book is a great starting point for anyone thinking about starting or revamping their blog platform. It is filled with great insights and examples and references to Hyatt’s own platforms for further examples. My take-away from this book is that building a online brand is a process with well defined steps and is not an impossible task.
What books have you read this year and what principles are you applying in your life and business?
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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