by Jennifer Barham
Whether you dust off a marketing classic, grab something hot-off-the-press, or listen to an audiobook on the treadmill, your business success can depend in large part on your continuing professional development via reading books. In a recent post about WHY you should read and HOW to fit more reading into your lifestyle (even reading a book a week!), we discussed the importance and influence of reading for your marketing endeavors.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the best books to get you going or keep you going as you endeavor to glean more wisdom, inspiration, and knowledge in your field.
While there are thousands of books on any given subject in the universe (including books on the universe itself), here are a handful on titles particularly relevant to our industry: productivity, people skills, pure marketing, and success stories.
PRODUCTIVITY – There are a million books on how to be more efficient and productive out there, and probably half of them are maybe wonderful. These are ones I’ve personally read and worked through to help change my habits, goals list, and daily personal and work life.
- Getting Things Done, David Allen. Allen’s book is the G.O.A.T when it comes to capturing and organizing your to-do list and making it work for you with actionable steps.
- The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss. If you’re interested in how to make your work revolve around your life instead of your life revolving around your work, this is the book for you. You probably won’t agree with everything in it, but Ferriss’s book inspires readers to reap the rewards of working now instead of later.
- The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg. Transform your habits, transform your life. But how do we transform our habits?! Duhigg’s books is a fascinating view into how habits are formed and changed, allowing us to achieve success by understanding how to make our habits work for us.
- Deep Work, Cal Newport. If you desire profound focus in your life, Newport’s book is your answer. Deep work is an enviable skill that we can build when we focus without distraction on a mentally challenging task. It takes discipline, it makes you better at what you do, and it provides rich fulfillment in your work. Spoiler: you gotta turn off your device for a minute.
- Atomic Habits, James Clear. Get 1% better every day. Break your bad habits and stick to good ones. Conquer lack of motivation and willpower. The author encourages “atomic” (concerning atoms, or minute particles) habits to create huge results.
- Organizing from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern. If you are not a naturally or traditionally organized person, this book is an answer to your mess. Morgenstern encourages people to organize according to their personality style, embracing their strengths and weakness. For example, I no longer micromanage my filing system into hundreds of folders, which I never kept up. Instead, I have file BOXES for larger categories, which I easily keep up.
- Procrastination, Jane Burka. If you’re a procrastinator and loathe how it rules your life, read this book. Practical, science-based, and results-oriented, it’s a life-changer.
PEOPLE SKILLS – If you’re one of the millions of introverts who don’t enjoy the gladhanding and social awkwardness of meetings and events, or if you’re someone with the gift of gab who just likes to hone up on your interpersonal skills, check out these suggestions on communicating, living, and working with others.
- How to Talk to Anyone about Anything, James W. Williams. The title of this practical, helpful little book says it all.
- Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson. Ok, so the title is a little, um, provocative. And don’t we all feel like this at some point? Erikson’s groundbreaking method for assessing personality styles and adjusting our communications accordingly is essential for all relationships, not just work.
- Dare to Lead, Brene Brown. Named one of the best of the year by Bloomberg, Brown’s research-based book is for those who truly want to cultivate a deeper, more valuable culture within their workspace.
- The 5 Essential People Skills, Dale Carnegie. Carnegie’s classic is tried and true and a quick read for those wanting to be the best to and get the best out of those around them.
- The Fine Art of Small Talk, Debra Fine. Does the idea of a cocktail party or an industry event or lunch with co-workers send you scrambling for ideas for how to engage or avoid conversation? Fine’s book discloses techniques and strategies to help you look and feel confident and at-ease in any situation.
MARKETING – There are too many legs to marketing to cover them here, but following is a strong sample of wonderful marketing books, old and new, to get you started on your reading habit.
- The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin. Read this and everything else by Seth Godin. He’s a master.
- Positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout. The book’s subtitle, “The Battle for Your Mind,” actually reveals its purpose: how products and services stand out in a glutted marketplace. Although it’s an older book, the principles still work because every company is vying for position.
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles McKay. Not for the faint of heart but well worth the read, 19th century Scottish journalist McKay’s history of the absolute folly of man is absorbing, especially how group think becomes mob think.
- Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller. Miller is a genius when it comes to branding, so if this is a weakness in your company, read everything he has written.
- Buy-ology, Martin Lindstrom. Three years and $7 million dollars later, Lindstrom emerges with a groundbreaking neuromarketing study about why we make the purchases we do. Fascinating!
- Brand Thinking, Debbie Millman. A compendium of twenty interviews with the world’s leading branders, Millman’s book is inspiring, informational, and easy-to-read. A great plane read!
- Influence, Robert B. Cialdini (also Pre-suasion). American psychologist Cialdini uses his professional background to illustrate why we say “yes” to requests, how we are influenced, why we make the buying choices we do, and so much more. His books are science-y but readable, and mandatory for those seeking to be influential persuaders.
- Marketing, a Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers, Bernadette Jiwa. We’ve all heard the term “relationship marketing,” and this book masters the doctrine behind it, conveying the importance of building meaningful connections to communicate value to our customers.
- Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath. Another classic, the Heath brothers discuss what makes ideas survive or perish. Provocative and humorous, their book dissects the anatomy of an idea revealing what makes it actually work.
BIOGRAPHIES – These recommendations are not particularly related to marketing but more to business inspiration. Think of them as your beach read or your bedtime read. They will motivate you, shock you, and warm your heart as you read the paths of success (and/or failure) each one of them painstakingly paved. I always like to keep a stimulating biography going even as I am reading a book from another genre. These also make great audiobooks.
- Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson. Worldwide bestselling biography of Apple’s cofounder. It is honest, instructive, and cautionary.
- Shoe Dog, Phil Knight. This is the Nike founder’s rags to riches story about his start-up shoe biz became a crazy sensation almost overnight.
- Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Ron Chernow. The classic read of history’s first billionaire, Chernow’s biography reads dramatic and epic.
- The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder. Proving that nice guys can finish first, Schroeder pens a deeply personal and intimate sketch of “The Oracle of Omaha,” one of the world’s most respected men.
- Morgan: American Financier, Jean Strouse. This very human portrayal of financial colossus J. P. Morgan is a masterpiece. We get to peer right into his life, his mind, and his soul.
- Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, Geoff
Emerick. At age 15, Emerick was an assistant engineer at the legendary Abbey Road Studios and was in the studio as a new band called the Beatles recorded their first songs.
- Iococca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca. I remember my dad being rocked by this when it was released in the 80s, and I felt the same way when I read it a few years ago. An absolute rock of an autobiography.
- The Life of P. T. Barnum, P. T. Barnum. This outrageous autobiography of the outrageous schemes and antics of the outrageous life of the famous Barnum is an entertaining read.
Challenge yourself to pick a title and read a new-to-you book this month or this summer. Broaden your mind and your perspective by stepping into someone else’s experience for a few hours. Let us know what your favorite reads are!.
Photo by Toa Heftiba