What is an entrepreneur, anyway?
They’re not as much fun as the likes of Harry Potter, or even Fifty Shades of Grey but business and self-development books can help you get in ways A Game of Thrones never could.
Yes—being swept away into a fantasy world makes for a frolicking good time, but gaining access to the latest thinking about the challenges we face in our own realm can be just as rewarding, IF you give it a chance.
When you get to the end of Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will, you realize just how great a public service Geoff Colvin has rendered to us. Tremendously well-researched and crisply written, the book is a friendly, far-sighted and reassuring primer on how your work may be transformed by “infotech” and what you can start doing about it.
If you want to understand how the job market is about to change, what skills will be in high demand, and how you can stay competitive—this is a tome you can’t afford to ignore.
Whether you choose to define success in broad terms (i.e. “success in life”) or in more specific contextual terms (e.g. success in completing a project or achieving a goal) it is helpful to understand what behaviors or course of action can improve your chances of reaching the level of success you desire.
Endless volumes have been written about this ever-pressing question—How can I achieve success? But few manage to be as straightforward, accessible and concise as Heidi Halvorson’s, 9 Things Successful People Do Differently.
In only 112 short pages, Halvorson, a motivational psychologist, manages to lay out 9 actionable ideas gleaned from the scientific literature of success. After having scoured decades of research, she gives us the strategies that successful people use to catapult their performance far above the average. “In the end,” she states, “not only will you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along, but you’ll be able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you. More importantly, you’ll be able to use that knowledge to your advantage from now on.”
This book is a fantastic little manual, which I encourage you to read.
Personally, I’ve taken Halvorson’s framework and arranged it into 3 essential prescriptions: (1) “Be a Realistic Optmist” (2) Get Super-Specific and (3) Focus on Continuous Improvement
Here’s a brief description of each:
I read a lot of books each year and I usually learn something from all of them, but only a select few make it into what I call my Success Library—books so powerful that they deeply inform my ideas about how to be successful in work and in life. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling is one such book.
Do you have a personal or professional goal (or two) that you would desperately like to achieve? Something that you’re done talking about; done dreaming about; done making excuses about; something that you’re committed to turning into reality as quickly as possible?
Maybe you want to take that trip to Europe, lose 20 lbs, make the President’s Club, start a business or write that book?!
Or maybe you’re the manager or leader of a team that’s underperforming and it’s your job to help them get back on track?
If so, this book has many of the answers you’re looking for.
Of course, if you want to really master the 4 disciplines, you’ll have to buy the book, read it and practice it. It’s full of real world examples of how organizations have applied this methodology and achieved great results.
Today, I just want to briefly review what each of these disciplines entails, along with some key takeaways…
When I first read the subtitle of Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, I was pretty skeptical—do we really need another productivity book? Hasn’t everything about productivity already been said or written about a thousand times before? What new insights could this gifted storyteller possibly bring to the table?
Plenty, it turns out.
From startling neurological discoveries about what motivates us, to how the Marine Corps prepares its recruits for the uncertainty of war; from how Google and Saturday Night Live create effective teams, to the implications of the tragic demise of Air France Flight 447; there are productivity insights galore in Duhigg’s carefully woven tapestry of riveting stories.
We like to think that the things we do every day (in actions big and small) are the result of our conscious choices and the exercise of our free will, but scientists who study the human brain are questioning that assumption. Based on abundant research data, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we rely on subconscious habits more than we realize (or care to admit).
Are we then creatures of habit, rather than creatures of choice?
If we even suspect that the answer to that question might be “yes”, then it behooves us to understand what habits are. How do they work? How can we change bad habits and install new and better ones—habits that pull us closer to what we really want?
Answering those questions was Charles Duhigg’s precise purpose for writing, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
Explained in Duhigg’s highly entertaining and rich story-telling style, habits are thoroughly demystified allowing readers to visualize how they might apply the ideas in their own life.
In fact, using the insights I picked up in this book, I was able to finally lose 40 lbs and get back into shape. It had a real impact on the quality of my life and I can’t think of a higher tribute that anyone can pay to an author’s work.
For this reason, I’m very confident that you too can apply the ideas presented in this book, to improve the quality of your personal and professional life.
Here are 5 powerful ideas that I took away from the book (among many, many others):
Are you a forward-looking executive who wants to stay on the cutting-edge of current thinking about business, productivity, and how to create better results?
Are you a manager seeking to take your team to a higher level of achievement and performance?
Are you an ambitious individual who wants to continue learning and growing, in order to stay competitive in today’s fierce job market?
If you answered yes to any of the above, my new Outsight Business Book Club may interest you. And the best news is that this unique opportunity is FREE for all my readers.
The team at Warby Parker isn’t just obsessed with revolutionizing the eyewear industry, they’re also obsessed with books.
In a world where the vast majority of companies don’t even offer a single book club to their employees, the team of about 300 people over at Warby Parker, offers more than 10.
And if you were to step into their spacious flagship store in Lower Manhattan, you’ll see something that looks more like a book store and less like an eyewear boutique.
Even their name references their passion for the written word.
“Warby Parker” is an amalgam of the names of two characters found in the personal journals of Jack Kerouac—Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper.
So why such a strong devotion to books?
What is it about books and book clubs that appeals to this disruptive innovator?
“At Warby Parker, we’re constantly looking to find new ways to both challenge and inspire our employees,” said Neil Blumenthal, one of the company’s co-founders, in a 2014 interview with Fast Company.
“One of the most obvious, but often overlooked, ways is simply to pick up a book and read.”
Yes, picking up a book and reading it on your own may be a great individual investment of time and effort but if you were to take that experience and share it with your co-workers, it could be transformative.
Starting a book club at work not only helps you, it’s beneficial for everyone in the organization.
Here are 4 reasons why you should consider starting one at your company:
Take a look at the U.S. Presidential race, the naked graft and corruption of the Brazilian government (among many others), or the state of leadership in corporate America—there seems to be a huge disconnect between our idealized notions of the “servant leader” and the cold, harsh facts of leadership in the real world.
Basically, you should question everything gurus tell you about leadership; you should take a look at the data-based evidence and make your own judgments, and you should take care of yourself (because no one else is going to).
That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of Leadership BS: Saving Workplaces and Careers One Truth at A Time by Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.
Prof. Pfeffer studies and teaches power and organizational behavior at Stanford Business School and in his latest book he doesn’t pull any punches in attacking the burgeoning “leadership industry” for what he calls its “failure” to produce better leaders and improve the often “horrible” environments at many workplaces.
Leadership BS is insightful and provocative, but it’s also more than a little discomfiting for those poor souls in the “leadership industry” whom he takes to the woodshed for their alleged ignorance, excessive idealism, and fallacious advice.
Leadership Quackery is what Pfeffer might call it in a moment of modesty.
Leadership Bullsh*t is what he actually calls it on the cover of his new book.
The heavy-handed and perhaps unfair critique of the leadership industry not withstanding, the result is a thought-provoking and engaging book that anyone who works, leaders and non-leaders alike, needs to read.
But be forewarned, Prof. Pfeffer’s work is not always cheery nor palatable, and some have even called it cynical and Machiavellian. He calls it data-driven and sober—a clear-eyed description of reality. This is leadership as it exists, he claims, not as we would idealistically wish it could be.
Whether you agree or disagree with his analysis, the book contains many insights that you can use in your own career and in your every day dealings at work, or as you develop your own theories about how leadership works in the real world and how you can be an effective leader inside your organization.
Here are the 6 leadership myths that Prof. Pfeffer seeks to disabuse us of through his latest book: