Richard's Book Reviews

Books are an essential resource for any entrepreneur or business owner. Through their insights based on experience, we can trim time off our journey to success, learn which pitfalls to avoid and gain a broader perspective on what works for a startup business. Here are some recommended books that I have personally read. There are also links to Amazon so you can buy them right away. I add to this list with each book I read if I feel there is value.

The Innovator's Dilemma - Clayton Christensen

The Innovator's Dilemma - Clayton Christensen

Think you know what's best for your customers? Perhaps. But nothing beats putting your solution in front of them and seeing the reaction when they try and use it:

In The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen writes: “watching how customers actually use a product provides much more reliable information than can be gleaned from a verbal interview or a focus group.”

Agree? Effective market feedback can be far more accurate than guessing...

Buy a Copy

What to do when it's your turn (and it's always your turn) - Seth Godin

Hands up if you're the type that waits for permission from yourself, before taking action. Sound familiar? Seth Godin's 'What To Do When It's Your Turn (and it's always your turn)' is your call to arms.

There's no waiting necessary; it's simply your own fear and judgements based on past experiences that restricts you.

He writes:
"That voice in your head is describing what you're about to do after a different part of your brain has already initiated that action. Your body decides, the voice in your brain narrates."

Buy a Copy

What to do when it's your turn (and it's always your turn) - Seth Godin
Too Big to Fail - Andrew Ross Sorkin

Too Big to Fail - Andrew Ross Sorkin

"There aren't enough lifeboats. Someone is going to die. So you might as well enjoy the champagne and caviar!"

What a quote from an amazing book! I first read Too Big to Fail in 2009, right after the financial crash. Fast forward to 2015 and New York Times Bestseller Andrew Ross Sorkin was kindly contributing some ideas for my EightStepStartup course.

If you're interested in feeling like a fly on the wall during the meetings that went on during the crisis of 2008, this book is spot on. Furthermore, the lessons within it really focus the mind when you're running your own business.

Buy a Copy

Purple Cow - Seth Godin

Some books are timeless and Purple Cow will be such a book, in my opininon. The need to gain attention through being different; indeed the importance of it, suggests Seth Godin is the difference between being 'remarkable' and being 'safe'. And safe, we learn, "is risky".

Any marketer that recognises the need to set their company, brand, product and mission aside from the noise of the crowd needs to have Purple Cow by their side. Godin's style is accessible, intelligent and rousing. And, while it may have been written in 2004, it feels even more relevant in a world where social media is so prevallent and small businesses can make big gains.

Buy a Copy

Purple Cow - Seth Godin
Mindset - Carol Dweck

Mindset - Carol Dweck

In Carol Dweck's 'Mindset' there is a spectacular story of Marva Collins and how she rewired those she specifically selected from the bottom of a class.

The result? 4 year olds reading the likes of Shakespeare and Jane Eyre. Using language with words even adults don't know. Reading 20+ books across their summer.

I seriously recommend this, guys. This is an intelligent person's guide to mindset without all the cheesy self help fluff you have to usually navigate through on what is such a saturated topic.

Dweck covers cases from Marva Collins above, to Jackson Pollock, to Michael Jordan. She makes clear the mechanics of mindset. Truely a powerful read for the right reasons.

Buy a Copy

The Hiltons - J. Randy Taraborrelli

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit".

Hotel magnate Conrad Hilton is an entrepreneur that is often overlooked. However on studying him you see the same traits as other successful people: a focus on action and doing.

Also, there's that hallmark keenness to build a product that could be sold - he didn't spend his time polishing his logo, for instance!

Buy a Copy

The Hiltons - J. Randy Taraborrelli
Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

This is one of my top 5 biographies - Nike CEO Phil Knight is a real inspiration to those that have to fight to get their product seen and sold. For those of you at an early stage in your growth that are needing sales and playing the safe game: get a read of Shoe Dog.

“I refused to even consider ordering less inventory. Grow or die, that’s what I believed, no matter the situation.”

Buy a Copy

Read This Before Our Next Meeting - Al Pittampalli

This is recommended reading for those on my EightStepStartup course. 
As a business owner of a startup, meetings should expect used sparingly, should be swift and should have action.

The 70 or so pages of Al Pittampalli's "Read This Before Our Next Meeting" can revitalise a culture of dreary, non-stop meetings and make decision making much more punchy.

What's more, I feel even if you're a sole trader, you can benefit from the book's structure and guidance, when it comes to meetings with clients.

Buy a Copy

Read This Before Our Next Meeting - Al Pittampalli
Oversubscribed - Daniel Priestley

Oversubscribed - Daniel Priestley

A game changer for any entrepreneur that is grinding the hell out of every day and just about keeping their head above water. This is all about the importance of letting go of the "come one, come all" approach to marketing yourself. Rather, Daniel Priestley makes a compelling case for moving yourself to the prestige brand end of the market and focus on the higher ticket, lower volume way of building a business. 

Buy a Copy

Contagious - Jonah Berger

This book was very important when I went through a period of studying what really makes content 'stick' with an audience. Jonah Berger has analysed the main elements of what makes content viral and his "STEPPS" checklist means you can always ensure a strong amount of traction. Much of his research appeared to be with YouTube content for this book, but the principles are applicable everywhere. Definitely recommend this if you're starting out building your brand and want to get engagement and virality into what you produce.

Buy a Copy

Contagious - Jonah Berger
Onward - Howard Schultz

Onward - Howard Schultz

This is an eye opener and reveals much of Starbucks that you probably didn't know before. However the main takeaway is that Howard Schultz is all about integrity. This means when his business was losing the essence of what it was doing, he made bold moves to reinstate it. Closing 7,100 coffeehouses to re-educate the baristas on how quality coffee should be made was a risky move, but one that demonstrates the importance of sticking to your core values, regardless of company size.

Buy a Copy

The Everything Store - Brad Stone

Not only is the story of Jeff Bezos and the rise of Amazon a compelling one, it's far more important than that. For a startup business owner or entrepreneur, the ethos that Bezos had to "get big fast" shines through. As a result, you have one of the most inspiring reads if you are starting out. There is no doubt you will have a keeness to go bigger and faster as a result of reading Stone's book.

Buy a Copy

The Everything Store - Brad Stone
Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

A very important read that gives clear understanding of what's actually happening when we feel we're operating "in the zone", or at our best. The more you understand this, the more you can control it.

Buy a Copy

Invisible Influence - Jonah Berger

Great new book by Jonah Berger that really cracks open behavioural economics, amongst other things.

If understanding how people follow ideas or make decisions is of value to your business, make sure you have a read.

This is 2016's 'Freakonomics'......

Buy a Copy

Invisible Influence - Jonah Berger
Relentless - Tim Grover

Relentless - Tim Grover

Any one that's spent any time with me knows I'm really not big on the cheesy self-help books. I'm much more into practical, how to ones. So to pick up a book that really is nothing but a pure motivator is tremendously rare. But when the author was Michael Jordan's coach, you know it will be something special. I remember my first read and I was unable to put the thing down. 

Crucial to understand is Grover's nomenclature of the three levels of performer. From a 'Cooler' to a 'Closer' to a 'Cleaner', it's clear it's the latter that you want to be. The first stops at their limits. The second knows their limits but tries anyway. The third simply knows what he can do and does it. It's about a higher level of thinking when under pressure. Not thinking. Just executing. This is like heroin to anyone wanting to find their boost during the tough grind and hustle of building a business.

Buy a Copy

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan Miller / Satoshi Kanazawa

When I was getting into evolutionary psychology and enjoying works such as Lieberman's The Story of the Human Body and Moalem's Inheritance, I found myself craving more understanding of what and how the instincts and urges of the body were. It was interesting to me to understand why we act the way we do. In turn, this might lend itself to understanding one's body better, placing it under greater control when reactions occurred that were preconditioned or hardwired, rather than conscious. 

This book nailed it. 

Buy a Copy

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan Miller / Satoshi Kanazawa

 

 

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