I love books, and I get a ton of value out of the business books that help me become better and to help my team continually improve as well. This past year I have been particularly inspired by a number of books – I've shared my favorites with David Ackert, CEO of Ackert, and he has shared his with me. We decided to combine our favorites for a "Top 10 Reads of 2018" list. I'll start with David's recommendations, then share mine.
David's Top 5:
I discovered a variety of fascinating reads in 2018. Some of them were directly applicable to our business development training programs, some enhanced my capabilities as a CEO, and others just helped me improve personally. While I recommend reading these books in full (or listening to them on Audible), those of you who are pressed for time can always start with the 5-minute summaries on Blinkist (one of my favorite apps of 2018).
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod - From the moment we wake up, we rush from one task to the next in an intense effort to be as productive as possible. The only unexploited quiet time available to us is in the early morning. The trouble is, most of us sleep right through it. This book provides a series of techniques for waking up a little earlier and filling the first hour of the day with reflection, productivity, journaling, and a few other activities we all promise ourselves we’ll get to someday... When we find the time.
SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - This classic is a must-read for anyone who sells (or coaches BD) for a living. The SPIN framework provides a clear, effective structure for pitching. More importantly, it helps its readers improve their ability to understand the business problems and implications necessary for the consultative sale.
Cultivating Excellence by Darryl Cross - Full disclosure, my personal friendship with Darryl makes me a biased reviewer in this case, but if you are looking for a well-researched and thoughtful solution to the cross-selling conundrum, this book offers some great recommendations. The author emphasizes real-time simulations and team-building as a way to break down silos, counter the “lone wolf” syndrome, and improve training initiatives.
Customer Winback by Jill Griffin and Michael Lowenstein - The studies cited in this book show that we are at least 60% likely to sell (or cross-sell) to existing clients and only 5% likely to sell to new prospects. No news there. But it turns out that we are at least 20% likely to re-engage lost clients. And yet, most of us have very few initiatives focused on recapturing work from our former clientele. This book walks its readers through the process of winning back the clients who moved on, but may again return to the flock.
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza - This one is not for the traditional thinker. The author combines quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, and genetics to explain how we can gradually alter our behavioral patterns and the results we create. Think you aren’t a rainmaker? This book challenges you to (literally) think again. Those with an open mind will find that Dispenza’s ideas will open up a host of new possibilities.
Adrian's Top 5:
Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling - If 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provided guidance for personal development, Four Disciplines provides a framework for organizational development. One of my favorite concepts was that of the two opposing forces, one is the whirlwind of day-to-day work and the other is what the authors call Wildly Important Goals (WIGS). You need a system to shut out the whirlwind and focus on the wildly important, and this book provides a week-by-week framework that does just that.
Profit First by Mike Michalowics - While the title may make you think this book is the business answer to the book "Don't Buy Things You Can't Afford" skit from SNL, it's actually a book about a fundamental shift in the way you organize your money as a business. Instead of waiting until the end of the month to see how much money you have remaining, it actually requires you to take your profit out immediately after receiving money and setting it aside. This is not a book about accounting, it is a book about organizing your business so it works for you, as opposed to the other way around. Michalowics also tells some great stories.
Principles by Ray Dalio - Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was just so far above you intellectually that you had to change the subject to the weather? Ray Dalio has that kind of intellect, he was the father of the modern hedge fund and founder of Blackrock, the largest hedge fund in the world, yet his book isn't above your head. He has dialed in "principles" for his company to run by after he is gone. This used to be in a PDF that was copied and passed around, but now it is a book. All of his principles are great, but my favorite quote was this:
"When thinking about the things you really want, it pays to think of their relative values so you weigh them properly. In my case, I wanted meaningful work and meaningful relationships equally, and I valued money less—as long as I had enough to take care of my basic needs. In thinking about the relative importance of great relationships and money, it was clear that relationships were more important because there is no amount of money I would take in exchange for a meaningful relationship, because there is nothing I could buy with that money that would be more valuable. So, for me, meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals and everything I did was for them." -Ray Dalio, Principles
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni - What if my team isn't dysfunctional? Every team is dysfunctional, and this book highlights the five major dysfunctions, how to diagnose them, and how to start fixing them. Probably the most common dysfunction is "fear of conflict." Whenever I hear someone say, "in ten years of marriage we have never fought," I always think, "what I relief I know my marriage is stronger, my wife and I fight regularly." But seriously, this book allows you to stare into a mirror and see which dysfunctions are holding your team back and how to shine a bright light on them. This is a must-read for teams.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth - I run a company, but my first and most important job is that of a father to my three children. As a business owner and someone into personal development, I liked this book. As a parent, I loved it. In this book, Duckworth explains how "grit" is the biggest differentiator between success and failure. More important than talent or intelligence, grit repeatedly makes people with less do far more than their competitors. Incredibly well-researched, this book is a treasure trove of knowledge about what grit mean, how to develop it, and suggestions for raising "gritty" kids.
So, there you have it. A cornucopia of wisdom to fill that empty shelf in your library. Happy reading!