In 2019 I consumed a lot of books – more than one per week in fact. I keep track of every book I read and would like to read in Goodreads (highly recommended to anyone), and was, therefore, able to highlight some of my favorites from the year.
Here is a list of 10 books that I would highly recommend to any entrepreneur in no particular order.
Some people manage to build highly successful businesses in a surprisingly short time-frame, while others stay in the same place for months or years with no movement.
Smartcuts are not “shortcuts”, and the principles laid out in the book encourage the reader to work smarter, not faster.
The book encourages us to think not just 10% but 10x bigger. Read the book to learn why the “10% better” mentality can hurt businesses and ideas and how to get on a path for 10x growth.
Known as the “parenting Bible”, this book discusses how to build healthy relations between parents and children. But it can be very easily converted into a business communication book.
How to deal with your child (think: team member) when they are angry or disappointed, how to iron out family conflicts (think: team conflicts), what does and does not work to motivate your child (think: team member) instead of punishment, and much more.
“Culture” is an interesting concept, especially in smaller companies. So many founders think that it’s only for big companies, that their team of 5 doesn’t really need to worry about culture yet. That’s where they get it so wrong!
The more talented specialists you hire and retain, the higher the results you can expect, no surprise there. But what often happens is those highly capable people become unmotivated within a few short months if the founder doesn’t work to foster the right environment and build a strong culture for their startup.
Adam Bryant has interviewed hundreds of CEOs and this book lays out how leaders can develop a culture of innovation and help their employees realize their full potential.
This is the #1 book I would recommend to any entrepreneur. It dispels the most common myths about starting a business and why the majority of businesses do not survive past 5 years.
An individual may understand the technical work of a business, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can also successfully run a business that does that technical work.
Michael Gerber describes 3 distinct roles that exist within every business:
The Entrepreneur: a future-focused visionary
The Manager: a past-focused person who plans and organizes
The Technician: a present-focused doer who works on the tasks currently at hand
For a business to succeed, the founder must play all 3 of those roles. And so, solo founders are clueless lawyers, marketers, salesmen, accountants, designers and many other roles combined into one.
The solution? Applying the lessons of franchising to any business and building a business as if it was the prototype for thousands of franchises.
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business, you own a job.”
Whether you are selling a product/service or you need to motivate your team to do something, persuasion is a skill all of us need.
Rob Jolles shares how to lead others to discover for themselves what and why they need to change. While I may not be in agreement with all of his points, I still think it’s a book worth reading.
A must-read for everyone.
When we moved to Texas from Illinois and faced our first tornado, I felt unprepared. A few days later at a local conference the police department recommended this book, so I read it and think it has a tremendous amount of value.
While it’s impossible to predict how each of us will react in extreme situations, the book gave me an understanding of what a mind goes through during a disaster, and what actions can help the most.
One nugget I’m sure to remember is that when you need someone to call 911, don’t yell “someone call 911”, but make eye contact with one person and instruct that person to call 911. This helps to avoid crowd paralysis when there are dozens of people but each of them thinks that someone else will call 911 and in the end no one actually makes the call.
I have always loved the work of Seth Godin and this book is his most recent. His podcast Akimbo is full of nuggets as well. I found this book resembles a lot of what he talks about in the podcast.
Great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. They don’t just make noise with a bunch of spam emails or unwanted ads; they make the world better.
Another book for parents of young kids. If microbes result in infectious diseases, we should keep our kids away from them. That’s how parents tend to think. I was very surprised to find out that the absence of microbes can lead to diseases too.
If you have young kids, read this book. You will thank me next time your little one decides to eat something resembling poop. The book recommends letting them enjoy it (wink wink).
It turns out I was following a similar idea without even knowing that this book existed.
We all tend to make plans on an annual basis. 52 weeks! Michael Lennington suggests that the tighter your deadlines and the shorter your “year”, the more productive you (or your team) will be.
But when you have only 12 weeks to achieve your goals, you focus on the most important things and don’t get distracted by urgent but not important or strategic things.
I highly recommend everyone read this book. In fact I plan to do a workshop to help with goal setting and execution for founders based on my experience working with other startups, so let me know if you are interested in participating.
While this book was written 20 years ago and some concepts are starting to show their age, I still find this book incredibly interesting. Jim Collins and his team studied 28 companies to understand why some companies become great and others remain just good. What factors help companies make that transition from good to great.
Great companies rely on a specific type of leadership, look differently at technology, or follow a unique culture of discipline.