10 Best Books for Inspired Entrepreneurs from 2010
I’ve always believed your life is changed by the books you read, experiences you create and the people you meet. Today, I still embrace reading at least one book per week sometimes more (sometimes less).
Here are the most important books that I’ve recommended, sent to my team, talked about or ones that had an impact on me this past year.
My favorite book for 2010 is from the co-founder of a company that INC magazine described as “The coolest small business in America”.
I met Ari at the recent INC500 conference and his message really struck a chord. Perhaps you’ve heard of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI or the Zingerman’s group of companies. They’ve built a totally unique business and service culture there that thousands of people have studied their companies. (It’s weird – as soon as I started studying Zingermans random people were sending us Zingermans delicious food. Odd but yummy coincidence for sure.)
Just one of the sections I’ve found incredibly compelling in the book is Ari’s concept of Visioning for the future. It’s been proven that when people use visioning instead of simply problem solving, energy levels increased, innovative ideas flowed and people were excited about eager about their future. What’s more, visioning also gets you clear on what you do NOT want to do in your business so that you can easily turn away, seemingly, golden opportunities that come your way. I’ve sent copies of this book to our team and now before we begin a major project or hire a key team member, we work on visions first. If you missed the interview I did with Ari on visioning you can check it out -
Note: I’m planning on leading my Millionaire MasterMind group to a “field trip” at Zingermans for our first meeting in April 2011. If you’d like to be considered for the group – see details here.
I’m not sure where I stumbled onto Brains on Fire blog – but I’m glad I found it. Brains on Fire has some really awesome stuff when it comes to creating movements for your customers, advocates and zealots. They’ve done a superb job of breaking down the 10 elements that go into the mix for creating movements and tight communities.
With traditional media having less impact it may be time for marketers to stop defaulting to the yo-yo of advertising campaigns and instead really look to “ignite” a word-of-mouth movement. Some of the advice here really hits home for the conversations that are taking place around your business or brand driven from the bottom-up.
The Brains on Fire crew hands you 10 rules for how they’ve engineered self-sustaining and extremely passionate (and successful) movements like the Fiskateers and Rage against the Haze for anti-smoking in South Carolina. Those are the two you hear the most about in the book and both are worthy of case studies by themselves. Fiskateers took a 360-year old company that makes scissors and helped double their profits by tapping into advocates in key markets. If you read this book with an open mind you might just see some significant changes to make in your marketing and business.
I read this book early in 2010 and really enjoyed it on a lot of levels. In fact, I got so much out of it – it went out to Maverick1000 members along with my exclusive interview with Ted.
In fact, Maverick 10000 member, Kim Pingleton, told me this book was one of the most impactful for her this year.
Many of us think if we can just be successful in business, we’ll be happy. But all too often we see this isn’t the case — AT ALL. There are plenty of miserable rich people — you probably even know some.
There’s another theory though — Being Happy Leads To More Success!
In case you aren’t familiar with Ted – he is an Internet industry pioneer who helped build AOL into a global phenomenon. He is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple successful businesses over three decades, culminating with the recent sale of Revolution Money to American Express for $300M+. Plus, he’s the owner of two successful sports franchises, including my favorite team, the Washington Capitals.
Side note: Ted Leonsis will be one of the featured keynote speakers at Underground 7 on March 3-5, 2011. High caliber guests like this are just one reason the Underground is THE top learning and networking event for online marketers – and it’s SOLD-OUT each year.
Keeping on the same theme of combining happiness with business – my friend and former Underground® 4 & 5 keynoter, Tony Hsieh’s outstanding book on his story building Zappos and “delivering happiness”. I’ve learned so much from Tony especially about how critical core values are for your company. Quite frankly, I sorta thought most of that stuff was bullshit or only for big companies to create meaningless ones like Enron’s use of “integrity” as a core value.
Tony is a firm believer that a happy culture creates profits and not the other way around. Pick this one – it’s a pretty fast but extremely engaging read.
I think incorporating surprise into your business might just give you the most important (and totally overlooked) advantage for your business today.
It’s the ‘zag’ while others ‘zig’ that makes your product or service buzz-worthy, spreads positive worth-of-mouth and bonds customers like cement to you.
I stumbled onto an outrageous book called “POW! Right Between the Eyes! Profiting from the Power of Surprise” written by Andy Nulman. As soon as I read it I knew we share some common “DNA” as I’ve been talking a lot about my concept called Astonishment Architecture™ lately.
Andy has been a ‘surprise marketer’ before the term even appeared. He’s the former (and now current again) CEO of the ‘Just for Laughs’ comedy festival in Montreal (the largest comedy event of its kind) and founder of mobile entertainment company, Airborne Media, which he sold for nearly $100M.
Though not technically a business book, I really enjoyed 59 Seconds by Prof. Wiseman, because it takes scientific, peer reviewed researched on areas like happiness, creativity, goal setting, motivation, decision-making and more. It gives you proven research on what works and what doesn’t in these areas. The concept of the book is to take one of the main concepts – show the best peer reviewed research and then provide a 59 second action you can take.
This was a book recommendation from Maverick 1000 member, Kevin Wilke, while thee for our World Cup and Safari expedition in South Africa. I really, really liked this book. Previously I’ve grasped the importance of systems but never had the desire or motivation to get them implemented. This book has changed that for me.
I have a confession here – I hate systems but I realize how important they are. In fact, there’s an interesting section on systems in Ari’s book (#1) that talks about systems freeing you up to be more creative. I like that.
I like this book because it gives a framework around taking ideas and actually implementing them. As entrepreneurs, we often don’t lack for ideas but rather clear execution. This has a great left-brain/right-brain sort of process to it that works in the real-world.
Written by one of the most popular Harvard Business School professors, Different is exactly that. It’s a good take on how to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace by being different. Most businesses talk about being ‘different’ but so many fall into the trap becoming mediocre because they look at their competitors and try to copy some of their strengths. This only leads to being average across a bunch of different aspects instead of being unique in just 1 or 2 differentiable points.
This book is a fairly easy read and not a dull, boring college textbook. And as one reviewer on Amazon said, just skip the Harvard MBA and get this book!
Financial Times, Businessweek and Amazon named Dan’s “Back of the Napkin” book their ‘book of the year’ in 2008 and this the follow-up “How To” manual for solving problems and communicating with simple pictures. I admit it – I love doodling and I really get excited about these kind of hand drawings. In fact, I’ll make a prediction that the kind of powerful Powerpoint video sales letters you’ve seen a lot of in 2010 will be eclipsed by the effectiveness of these kind of drawings (even if you cannot draw).
What’s been inspiring you? Leave a comment and let me know which ones you’ve read or which ones I should have added to the list.