I’ve always been an avid reader but these days you’re just as likely to see me listening to podcasts and audiobooks as you are to see me with my nose in an actual book. Especially convenient when you’re in the car or out for a walk, but also when making dinner or doing housework.
My partner gave me a Kindle for my birthday a couple of years ago and that was also a bit of a game changer in a few different ways.
For one, I spend more money than I used to. I see something I want to read and I buy it with that devious Buy-with-1-click feature of Amazon’s. I have at least 10 books on my Kindle that I have bought and either never read, or never finished reading. Yet.
I do plan to read them. It’s just that I’m a bit of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of girl so I forget about them. I’ve had to create a list in my To Do list so that I don’t forget about them.
In addition to the e-books there is also a backlog of physical books and audiobooks that I haven’t read. And then there are the podcasts I’ve downloaded and the online courses I’ve bought. I do the same thing with them, buy them or download them because I really want to read or listen to them. One of my goals for next year is to get through them all.
That said, over the last few years I actually have managed to read quite a few books and so if you’re looking for some books to read, or listen to, then have a look at this list I’ve pulled together for you. This list is just business-y books. I also have a list of non-business books and novels to read but that’s a list for another day.
The books below I handpicked from my bookcase to share with you. Full disclosure; their link is to my affiliate account at Book Depository (my favourite for actual books – free shipping anyone?) so if you happen to buy one I’ll make a small commission. But I don’t care where you buy from. Buy from wherever you want. I also like supporting local bookstores, and of course I buy from Amazon for my Kindle books, and it’s also becoming really simple and easy to borrow books, even audio or ebooks, from your local library so check that out.
Good to Great – by Jim Collins
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Get the right people on the bus” this is where it came from. There are many brilliant business concepts in this book and so it’s not surprising that it’s on many must-read lists.
“Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about who and then about what. When facing chaos and uncertainty, and you cannot possibly predict what’s coming around the corner, your best “strategy” is to have a busload of people who can adapt to and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
The Subtle Art of not Giving a F**k – by Mark Manson
Not strictly a business book but I really like it. It’s irreverant and funny and it’s a good reminder not to take ourselves so seriously.
“There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter.”
I had a bit of a fan-girl moment when he was a speaker at 2018 Xerocon in Brisbane. I also subscribe to his website where, for a very small price, you can read more member-only articles and he has some small online courses for members as well. I like his writing. (Sub-note: I also bought his most recent book. It’s on The List.)
Getting Things Done – by David Allen
GTD is a productivity methodology which helps us to cope with the overwhelm of information and to-dos that are part of our day. There are a lot of concepts in here that will certainly help you to be more productive and to feel more in control of your life.
For example – the 2-minute rule: will it take less than 2 minutes? If yes, do it straight away. If no, delegate or defer it (to your calendar or your Next Actions list) This rule can be applied to many areas of life, such as putting the damn cup in the dishwasher instead of the sink, and hanging up that item of clothing instead of leaving it on the floor.
“Your mind is for ideas, not holding them – David Allen”
Start With Why – by Simon Sinek
I read this book ages ago (probably due to read it again) and I’m including it here because it’s well recognised as a bit of a classic these days. The premise being that you are far more likely to achieve success, and leaders to inspire others to take action, because you are very clear on your Why.
I do a lot of work with my clients on mission and vision statements and purpose which fundamentally comes down to why? Why do you care? Why should your clients care? It shifts everything and becomes the lens through which you do business.
Sinek has a couple of Ted Talks as well, which you can find on YouTube. Here is his “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
Profit First – by Mike Michalowicz
A system for managing cash in your business. The system of different bank accounts for different expenses is similar to my Set and Forget banking (I wrote a little bit about it here) but Michalowicz goes much further and into a lot more detail.
A key lightbulb moment that I got from this book is that, as a business owner/shareholder, we should be getting paid a profit on our investment of time, effort and money that we’ve put into our businesses, over and above what you should be getting paid for working in our business. Seems obvious in hindsight and is a key distinction but in my experience not many small business owners separate out and compartmentalise their roles like that.
If you were paying someone else to do your job, how much would you have to pay them. You should at least get paid that. On top of that, any business’s owner/shareholder/investor would expect a return on their investment. Just because you started a business from scratch instead of investing in buying one, doesn’t mean that you should think any differently. Your investment was time and smarts. That’s still an investment worthy of a return.
The E-Myth Revisited – by Michael E. Gerber
Another oldie but a goodie. I’m not sure when I first read this book, I think it was when my ex-husband and I owned a hair salon, so close to 20 years ago now.
The E-Myth is a must-read for anyone in small business, it’s kind of like a bible for small business success when it comes to systems, and is where the concept of working in your business versus working on your business became popular. Gerber tells us in this book how to build a small business that works!
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”
There is also an E-Myth for Bookkeepers as well, written by a business coach and a bookkeeping business owner in Australia. I’m about half way through that one. It’s also on The List.
The Checklist Manifesto – by Atul Gawande
I love me a good checklist and this book explains why checklists are crucial for “how to get things right.” Gawande is a surgeon and a public health researcher and, of course, an author. He’s now written four books.
How do you lessen the number of mistakes made in medical procedures where the stakes are so high? Well, how do other high-stake occupations, like pilots and people that build skyscrapers, do it? Turns out the humble checklist is the answer.
Gawande and his research team developed a safe surgery checklist which became widely-used around the world with significant, and somewhat staggering, improvements to patient safety and health.
Business can definitely learn from this. I use and train in WorkflowMax which has to-do checklists to manage tasks. Set each task up as a job template and you have an outline of standard operating procedures. Ticking them off holds you and/or your staff accountable.
Whichever system you use, the point is to have checklists. Combined with Getting Things Done this is a powerful way to make sh*t happen, done right, and on time.
Tribe of Mentors – by Tim Ferris
I first came across Tim Ferris, as I’m sure many of you also did, with his book The 4-hour Work Week, published in 2013 and never far from the best-seller lists ever since.
I couple of years ago I started listening to his podcast which is now one of the most popular podcasts on the internet. He interviews high performing people from all walks of life and they are interesting! They’re long though, so I don’t get to listen to all of them unfortunately.
Tribe of Mentors came about when Ferris asked more than 100 “brilliant” (his words) people 11 identical questions that he really wanted to know the answers to, and asked them to answer their favourite 3-5.
My favourite question is #7 – In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life? The answers are wide-ranging and include a story of significant health improvements after changing to a plant-based diet, a committment to get more sleep, starting a meditation habit, a morning swimming habit, and exercising 7-12 times a week (he recommends starting slowly towards that goal by the way, develop the habit). Interestingly it’s the health and wellness habits that these people reported most as improving their lives.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for list #2, my Kindle reading list, which may or may not happen before Christmas, let’s be honest. And a list of novels that I’ve enjoyed.