Momentum

Best Business Books For Real Growth

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Are you reading enough? Or, listening if you’re like me and are addicted to Audible’s subscription service. I always end up buying more credits! (My goal is 50 books a year. Love listening to stuff at 1.5x - 2x speeds.) In honor of World Book Day coming up on the 23rd of this month, I thought this would be a great time to share a few of my favorite business books.

And, just a note. While all reading is super important what I mean here with this post is immersing yourself in the books and resources that are designed to move you forward on your entrepreneurial journey. Although it is arguable that the Game of Thrones series is actually more of a business and political series of texts than it is a fantasy series...chew on that for a minute or two.

The great thing about reading is that it opens you up to perspectives, ideas, and mentorship that you might not have on a daily basis. Especially if you’re early in your business building or are a solopreneur. It can be tough to get out from under your to-do list and project management software to get into a book even when you know it’ll be a worthwhile investment of your time and attention. Let’s assume that you are carving a bit of time out to listen or read. Then the question is what should you be reading. I can’t force you to make time in your schedule to work on growing your knowledge and expertise but I can point you to a few of my favorite business books. Books that will help you grow by supporting your business growth efforts, sales, and help you prioritize what you’re doing in your business so that you can work more efficiently towards your business goals.

Here is my list of the 4 best business books I’ve read over the last few months or so.

1. “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss. Chris Voss is a highly celebrated and revered retired FBI hostage negotiator turned consultant. He breaks down the high stakes negotiating skills that he’s helped to shape for the FBI for your everyday benefit. His goal is to help you be more persuasive in your professional and personal life and I’d say he nails it. The book helps you hone your emotional intelligence and intuition as well as gives you real and practical exercises/principles to practice that will help you be a more effective communicator. If you are looking for a little more support when it comes to in-person or online sales, negotiating (literally anything), making big purchases, or just to get better buy-in from teammates then this book is definitely for you.

2. “Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can Too” by Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re reading this blog then it’s a safe bet to say that you probably know who Gary Vee is. Gary is an amazing entrepreneur, advisor, and master of all things marketing. He truly understands how to build messages and content that will inspire people to take action and teaches you how to do it in your business with this book. This book is a manual for maximizing your outreach and engagement in the current social/online environment. It’s absolutely a must read whether you have a business or are thinking about building one. This book is a great mix of theory and practical action for a growing brand that I think should be a requirement for any business.

3. “This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See” by Seth Godin. Seth Godin is another super influential voice in the marketing community. Though it’s another marketing book it’s very different from the Gary Vaynerchuk one mentioned above. Where Gary’s is a manual for navigating the most relevant social platforms and in this book, Seth Godin spends a lot of time helping you get clear about the people you want to communicate and engage with. You’ll also get insight on how to position your offerings and build trust with the communities you are trying to serve. This is a very customer/consumer-centric book that drills down to help you understand that you need to be clear about how you can help the people you care about better help themselves.

4. “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” by Annie Duke. As someone who really likes getting into the nitty-gritty of decision making and using concepts from fields like statistics to think through problems, I was instantly drawn. Annie Duke does an awesome job of breaking down making complex decisions into thinking in a series of bets. She seamlessly translates her experience and success in the professional poker world to real world everyday entrepreneurial applications. She uses examples from business, sports, and her experience as a business consultant to teach you the tools you can use to help navigate uncertainty and make better decisions consistently. I loved this book and it’ll definitely be one of my favotires for years to come because she does an awesome job of framing how most people make decisions, react to uncertainty, and the biases that get the best of us sometimes.

These are four of my favorites right now. If you’re at a crossroads or are looking for a little support right now as you’re building a business then hopefully one of these will help. I tried to pick four that didn’t have too much overlap and that reinforce the real skills that you need to build a business that will last. If you’re still with me here and are struggling to find the time to consume this content I would encourage you to think about all the places you have in the day that don’t require uninterrupted attention. Things like commutes to work, washing the dishes, and hitting the gym are great times to pop on an audiobook and get your learning on.

If you do check any of these out, I’d love to know what you think of them. Let me know what you liked, didn’t like, or if it was helpful. I’d definitely curious to know how you apply what you learn in your business! Feel free to find me on social, shoot me an email, or just leave a comment here.




6 Actions To Help You Build Momentum In Your Business

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” - Michael Porter
 
There is no better way to start this post or a Monday morning than with a with a quote from famed Harvard Business Professor and Strategist, Michael Porter. This is a great quote because it applies to established or more mature businesses that are focusing on allocating resources for the week at a macro level as well as to the new solo entrepreneur who is firing up GMail for the first time Monday morning and trying to decide which thread needs responding to first. 
 
Short (and most likely true) answer is none of them. 
 
#MondayMotivation
 
Monday mornings are my favorite time of the week and here’s why. They are great for setting intentions, making plans and getting your desk ready for all the epic activity that’s going to come. Monday’s also provide the interesting opportunity to decide what not to do. Choosing what not to do is important because, regardless of the size of your business, it forces you to decide on the most mission critical actions that will move the needle forward in your business. We all have constraints that we are dealing with so making deliberate choices around how you allocate resources in any given day, week or quarter is important. Long term winging-it is always a losing strategy.  It also helps to keep you from diluting what makes your brand special by trying to be too many things to too many people. 
 
I’m sure you wouldn’t have to think long and hard to find enough work to fill a 100 hour work week. But, would all of those 100 hours be efficient? Value-adding? Activities that will support the direct growth of your business? Or, would you be playing in your CRM trying to decide the perfect amount of data fields when you don’t have any data to input yet be what’s going to drive more people into your pipelines and dollars through the door?
 
Probably not. 
 
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a tidy and well managed customer relationship management system as much as the next sales driven professional but at some point the diminishing marginal utility on your administrative activities will catch up with you. 
 
With today’s post I want to offer you six actions you can take right now to start building momentum on the week and to help you decide which actions are worth the investment towards making this week count. 

1. Close on something. 
 
You don’t have to be in sales to finalize a deal or a sale. Before you hit full on Monday triage mode after an inbox ignored through the weekend take a look at your to-do list. Is there a conversation that needs to happen, an order that needs to be filled, a proposal to be followed up with? Sealing any deal helps to start to build momentum and honestly feels pretty good! 
 
2. Rearrange your tasks.
 
Front-loading your responsibilities with all the easy stuff can actually be a negative thing because you are eventually dreading doing the not-so-easy stuff later. You’ll start to procrastinate and get distracted. Moving your lists around and reordering them in a way that mixes the heavy and the light lifting will also help keep you motivated and moving through the rest of the day. 
 
3. Stop focusing on Inbox Zero. 
 
I can honestly say that for a while I was little obsessed with my email inbox. (I think a part of me still is but, it’s that part is getting smaller by the day). While effectively communicating is crucial to help you start to the week of with a bang it’s not going to magically make you more successful - and it’s a distraction. Streamline your notifications so that you aren’t getting texts, app updates, desktop alerts, or any other notifications and focus on the important stuff in Actions 1 and 2 above. I’m not saying ignore your inbox but I am saying learn to identify the stuff that needs an immediate response from everything else. (No, not everything needs an immediate response!)
 
4. Take on a new project or two. 
 
Everyone is busy or at least they think they’re busy. You are no exception. Saying yes to help out with a project or taking on a new project can help set your productivity gears in motion. Doing this accomplishes a few things: you are continuing to prove your value as a resource to the people you serve and you will have to deliberately allocate the scarcity of your time a little smarter. Showing colleagues, co-workers, clients, etc. that you can be counted on and that you are willing to jump into something new always has the potential to create new opportunities for success. 
 
5. Get your prep-work done! 
 
Just because you have a meeting on Wednesday doesn't mean that you should wait until Wednesday morning to prepare for it. That’s what everyone else is going to be doing. If you have some time today do it now. The work you do today will be more researched and prepared than anything you might rush to come up with - no you don’t work “better” under pressure. It will also help take some pressure off of your task lists and schedule. If you haven’t already, working to shift your mindset to one of investing time and not spending it will start to pay off immediately. Better prepared means more efficient, more professional, and a better chance for you to be recognized for being awesome by not wasting people’s (boss’/client’s/stakeholder’s) time. 
 
6. Read something.

If all else fails today make sure you take some time to work on bettering yourself. It can be professionally, intellectually, emotionally, or even spiritually. Invest some time in learning a new skill or sharpening ones that will help you create the week that you want for yourself. If you are an entrepreneur take some time to work on the parts of running a business that you might not be too strong in. I find that happens a lot with regards to getting the most out of a small business's financials. There are tools and websites that are all about helping you grow as a professional - this blog included! 
 
Hope these six actions help you drill down and figure out what’s not worth doing. As a business builder and grower your primary responsibility is to deliver the best experience possible to your customers and then after that it’s to figure out the work that will best bring in more of those customers. When you’re firing on the most important cylinders doing good work for great people it won’t be hard to build up a little momentum.