5 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

We’re big readers here at CCC. As Mr. King reminds us below, that’s a good thing because we’re writers, and we like to be well-versed at our craft. Reading is important even if you don’t write though. Business professionals and owners everywhere can benefit from knowledge and experience shared in a good book.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.”  -Stephen King

business books on a bookshelf

A selection of business reads by UNCG Research via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2eE8A47

So let’s have a book swap! Below we’ve shared 5 books that have helped us in business (in no particular order), and we’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments.

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — Studies show that introverts are one-third to half of the U.S. population, and this book tells you how to embrace their personality and management style to improve your corporate culture and team. Introvert or not, every business professional needs to read this book.
  2. Death to All Sacred Cows — The most common negative review we’ve seen about this book is that its content is old news. Then why do so many businesses large and small still adhere to sacred cows for no reason? Beliefs such as, “The customer’s always right” can put you out of business. Read this book before that happens to you.
  3. David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants — Let’s be honest; any book by Malcolm Gladwell is a good choice, but we loved this one. David And Goliath shows how perceived underdogs may not be underdogs at all. This is a great read for small business owners everywhere who are wondering how to compete against bigger and better-funded opponents.
  4. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? The business world is constantly changing, and Seth Godin shows you how to be a linchpin. This book will help guide your career in corporate America or on your own, making you indispensable to bosses, organizations, business partners and clients. (Similar to Gladwell, any Godin book is a good and worthwhile read.)
  5. It’s Not About the Coffee — “We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people.” Howard Behar talks about taking a people-centric approach and treating employees, business partners and clients as people — not revenue sources, assets or labor costs. It’s crazy how many businesses don’t understand this concept, and the results you’ll achieve once you do.

BONUS: Things a Little Bird Told Me — Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, takes readers along on his unpredictable journey and shares smart business lessons along the way. He focuses on the power of creativity and how to harness it to achieve success.

As we were compiling this list, we kept coming up with additional suggestions. As bookworms, it’s difficult to limit any reading list to five recommendations! We’re sure we missed some, but that’s the beauty of reading lists — they’re constantly evolving.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”  -Stephen King

What books have helped you in business or in life?

Have you read a children’s or YA book that’s relevant in your adult life?

What’s your favorite literature genre?

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

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Want Your Business to Flourish? Kill Your Sacred Cows

What’s holding your business back? Probably a sacred cow.

Death to all Sacred Cows: How successful businesses put the old rules out to pasture

Death to All Sacred Cows is a business book worth reading, no matter what business you’re in.

A what?! You’ve heard them before — those magical sayings in the business world that savvy businessmen and women everywhere regard as sacred.

The customer is always right. 
Teams create the best solutions. 
Always trust your research. 

Here’s the problem with sacred cows: always and never are rarely a good idea in the business world, a place which is constantly moving, changing and adapting.

“Businesses that only look to the past to guide their futures can be doomed to failure. In a rapidly changing world, anything dated tends to be dangerous.”

We’re not saying to forget your traditions or roots; they shouldn’t be the sole decision makers within your walls. You need to make decisions based on the current situation by looking at all of your options. Making decisions based solely on past successes can cause a company to be afraid to take risks or try new things. Success breeds success, until it doesn’t.

“The point is, in order to prepare for the future you need to unchain yourself from the strictures of the past. Let the past help and inform you; just don’t let it hold you back.”

Here’s one of our favorite sacred cows: the customer is always right. Don’t get us wrong; customers are critical to the success of your business. You need people to buy your products and services. We’re lucky to work with some great customers at CCC, but that doesn’t mean they’re always right. (Neither are we.)

Unless your business operates in an industry we’re not aware of, your customers are human beings. Human beings are fallible (yep, all of us), so customers are not always right. Of course, you want to provide the best customer service and experience in the world. You need to review each situation and understand when a customer is being unreasonable or is just plain wrong. (It happens, but if you work with great people, it doesn’t happen often. 🙂 )

“We’re just saying that slavishly kowtowing to the idea that the customer is the ultimate authority on how your business should operate is a surefire way to wind up with an inoperable business.”

In conclusion, use your brains. If you’re smart enough to run a business or be a successful businessman/businesswoman, trust your gut and decision-making skills. Don’t hide behind a sacred cow; it will kick you in the face eventually. (And read Death to All Sacred Cows for sound business advice and pure entertainment.)

Your Feedback
What is your favorite sacred cow to kill?
Have you read Death to All Sacred Cows? What’s your feedback?
What other business books would you recommend?

Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too
Blink: The Power of Snap Decisions & First Impressions
Winning as the Underdog: Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

p.s. I’m not being paid to recommend this book. I just enjoyed it that much!
p.p.s. No real cows were harmed while writing this article (or the book, to my knowledge).

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

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If Only Life Were A Never-Ending Summer…

A love triangle. A historic hurricane. A marriage for money, and the ultimate betrayal. Who knew life was so glamorous in 1938?

 A Hundred Summers

 

Socialite Lily Dane is looking forward to spending another summer with her family at idyllic Seaview, Rhode Island in 1938. The small seaside community may be a little too quiet for some, but Lily enjoys the escape from the hustle and bustle of the New York social scene. Then her former best friend (Budgie) shows up with her former fiancé (Nick) in tow, and the summer promises to be anything but quiet.

As tensions mount, the truth begins to slowly emerge about why Budgie and Nick married, and how Graham Pendleton, Nick’s former teammate and current Yankees pitcher, fits into the mix. As if the scandal and intrigue aren’t enough, the New England Hurricane of 1938 storms into everyone’s lives and forever alters the future.

“Summer of 1938: A scandalous love triangle and a famous hurricane converge in a New England beach community. Add in a betrayal between friends, a marriage for money, and a Yankee pitcher, and it’s a perfect storm.” —Good Housekeeping

I finished this novel as summer came to an unofficial end over Labor Day weekend, a time that usually makes me a little sad. Summer is my favorite time of the year, and I always dread as we move into fall, only because I know what lies behind for us Northeast Ohioans — the fury of winter.

It’s always fun to explore different time periods and social classes, and I began to think about the concept of ‘summering.’

Does your family ‘summer?’

Or do you have a tradition of taking vacations together?

What is your favorite summer or vacation memory?

What’s your favorite season?

 

p.s. Summer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd, so you still have time for a good beach read!

If only life was a never-ending summer…

Wishing I was a socialite,
Jaime

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Wild: A Journey That Takes You Along For The Ride

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild, an amazing memoir by Cheryl Strayed

I recently crossed an entry off my ever-growing reading list by tackling Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Part memoir, part cathartic experience, this gripping read brings you along during Strayed’s journey of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).

“I was alone. I was barefoot. I was twenty-six years old and an orphan too. An actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I’d told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world. “

During this life-altering experience, Strayed dips back into memories or moments from her life that explain her actions, decisions and how she arrived at her starting point of the trail in the Mojave Desert, via a hitchhiked ride, completely unprepared even though she was overloaded with the weight of her pack (aptly named “Monster).

Cheryl Strayed on the PCT

Cheryl Strayed on the PCT in southern California, June 1995.

From page one, I was hooked. It’s not only the life-or-death moments (although those do happen on the remote PCT); it’s the inner journey that Strayed takes to finally heal from her mother’s death and move on with her life. Despite the rapidly changing conditions, wild animals and extreme exhaustion, the author is able to hear her own voice on long, lonely stretches where it was only her and Mother Nature.

Cheryl Strayed at Crater Lake

Cheryl Strayed at Crater Lake near the PCT, August 1995.

You actually feel like you’re along for the ride. For a lot of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to hiking the PCT, but you feel a connection with Strayed early on. Why? She’s grieving, lost and flawed, yet determined to find herself and right her ship before it’s too late.

Haven’t we all been there on some level? Maybe you’ve made a poor decision, let a close friend down or found yourself in a depressing relationship that you can’t get out of. We’ve all faced obstacles, some more than others, and had to overcome them in order to move on with our lives. That’s where Strayed’s story fits in.

Wild reaches out, grabs your heart and makes an emotional connection. When you’ve read the last page, you may feel like you’ve made a journey yourself — not hiking the PCT but tackling a demon or problem in your own life.

If I haven’t piqued your interest enough, check out the book’s trailer…

Have you read the book? What did you think?

If not, are you interested in reading this book now?

What’s the best memoir that you’ve ever read?

Photos and video courtesy of Cheryl Strayed’s website

An early happy birthday, America! Best wishes to you and yours for a fun, safe and reflective 4th of July.

Cheers,
Jaime

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From the Bedroom to the Boardroom: Why You Should Listen to the Introverts in Your Life

I recently finished a book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Have you ever read a book that was written for you? Now I have.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I’ve long known that I’m an introvert, and for just as long, thought it was a weakness, something that I needed to work on. Why? I figured out early on in life that those who made the most noise generally got what they wanted.

Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.
                                                         -Anais Nin

The book discusses how introverts struggle to be heard in a country that heavily promotes the Extrovert Ideal, which directly affects how we educate our children, position our workplaces and gauge success. There’s pros and cons to both personality types, so it makes sense to have a mix in your workplace and social circle. Why?


Bill Gates named “The Power of Introverts” as one of his all-time favorite TED Talks.

First, based upon studies, one third to one half of Americans are introverts, whether you realize it or not. “If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one,” says Susan Cain. So it’s helpful to understand this personality type to have more harmonious relationships, manage employees more effectively and tap into the positives of an introvert’s personality to apply to your own life.

Second, research has shown that introverts and extroverts can make a great team. In fact, introverted leaders are generally a better match for proactive employees while extroverted leaders are better coupled with more passive workers. Depending on your industry, you can gauge how your workforce leans and what type of managers would be more effective. Remember that you likely have both introverts and extroverts represented, so it’s a good idea to seek feedback from all types of employees.

Buzz is JFK’s Camelot,  but it’s also the Kennedy Curse.

-Susan Cain

Interestingly enough, research has shown that effective CEOs, not necessarily the most well known, often have little or no charisma and have little use for it. While charismatic leaders may be effective, their charm may also be hiding the fact they’re not performing.

Face it: where would we be without some of these introverts?

  • Rosa Parks
  • Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
  • Albert Einstein
  • Bill Gates
  • Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss
Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was an introvert despite his catchy rhymes and delightful writing.

As some of the aforementioned successful people know, you can stretch yourself to fit a certain situation, but only so far. For example, an introverted college professor can handle (and appear quite fluent) at delivering lively, enthusiastic lectures on a subject close to his heart. However, if he spends his entire day lecturing, socializing and networking, he won’t have any down time to recharge his batteries and will eventually burn out.

The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.

-Susan Cain

That’s why it’s so important to figure out what you love and do it as much as possible. You’ll be happy and ideally situated in the comfort of your personality. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary (and exciting) to step out of your comfort zone, but there’s a reason it’s your comfort zone. If you live outside of it, you can burn out quickly and affect those around you.

We all write our life stories as if we were novelists, with beginnings, conflicts, turning points and endings.

-Dan McAdams

Understand who you are, so you can write the best life story for you.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Does your life fit your personality or are you constantly stretching to be someone else? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image credits: Quiet book cover, Theodor Geisel

An introvert (who’s finally comfortable in her own shoes),
Jaime

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