Every year, dozens, if not hundreds, of books on business or related to business are published. Some go on to become bestsellers while others languish on booksellers' shelves. As you're shopping for the business reader on your list, how do you wade through the glut of books to find the gems in the mix?
This year on OPEN Forum, we've reviewed or featured a number of books and authors. Here in no particular order are the books that belong on any small-business owner's shelf.
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink. Bestselling author Pink argues that selling has changed more in the past 10 years than it did over the previous hundred. "We’re all in sales now," Pink says. "One in nine Americans—some 15 million people—make a living trying to get others to make a purchase. But the other eight in nine work in sales, too—we’re persuading and influencing others to give up resources in exchange for something we have."
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin. Martin, one the world's foremost authorities on strategy and former dean of the progressive Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, teams with one of the top CEOs of all time, Lafley, of Proctor & Gamble. Together they boil strategy down to two critical questions: Where to play? How to win?
Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation, by Debra Kaye. Innovation demands looking at the world differently and finding connections between seemingly disconnected things. According to Kaye, the book's theme is based on an Oriental legend, which she believes provides a powerful metaphor for the way in which the right connections can lead to brilliant insights and ultimately result in commercially viable innovations.
What's the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, by Brian Solis. Solis argues that now is the time every business must go beyond price, performance or value. "The future of business is about creating experiences," Solis writes. "Products, programs and processes that evoke splendor and rekindle meaningful and sincere interaction and growth. At the center of this evolution—or (r)evolution—is the experience."
The Fearless Front Line: The Key to Liberating Leaders to Improve and Grow Their Business, by Ray Attiyah. Attiyah argues that all too often, the front line activities of a business are so unpredictable, unreliable and complicated that business owners and leaders can’t seem to pull themselves away from them. But if you're spending most of your time on the day-to-day operations of your business, you've left a critical gap.
Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics, by Jackie Huba. The author argues that Lady Gaga hasn't just created a brand but cultivated a fanatical group of consumers—"Little Monsters"—that will follow her for the next two decades of her career and beyond. Huba distills seven key strategies from the Gaga approach.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The bestselling Heath brothers expose what’s wrong with how decisions are made by our political and business leaders, and by us individually in our personal lives—from how much we save for retirement to choosing a job, spouse or college. By curating the latest psychological research, the authors first reveal why our brains are hardwired to make foolish decisions.
CTRL ALT Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It, by Mitch Joel. According to Joel, we are in business purgatory, but he believes there's a way of navigating out of it: reboot. Hence the title, a retro reference to the original Windows keyboard combination you'd use when your computer was frozen. Rebooting never moved you forward, but it did allow you to regain stable footing and position you to move in whichever direction you wished.
Disrupt! Think Epic. Be Epic, by Bill Jensen. Using the real-life stories of not only well-known business figures and founders but also everyday innovators who've created everything from a Craigslist for people with disabilities to a Pakistani school for young boys who had been indoctrinated into the Taliban, Jensen's interviews offer an inside look at the character of some of today’s greatest change makers.
The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets, by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits. The authors describe why our economy is primed for a new wave of entrepreneurship using new methods of disruptive innovation, then go on to provide real-world examples of how entrepreneurs are creating new markets and disrupting others. This books shows anyone interested in starting a new business or launching a new idea how to get started creating value.
Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential, by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. Everyone wants to know how to be more influential. But most of us don't really think we can have the kind of magnetism or charisma that we associate with someone like Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey or Jon Stewart unless it comes naturally. According to the authors, however, it's something we can learn, and they show us how in a book that's already being taught at Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown.
Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business, by Bruce Poon Tip. Looptail is Tip’s extraordinary first-person account of his entrepreneurial instincts to start and develop G Adventures, a highly successful international travel adventure company. Along the way, he reveals his unusual management secrets that not only keep his employees fully engaged but also keep his customers extremely happy.
The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, by David Burkus. Much has been written about creativity in business in an effort to understand just how great ideas are born, and much of it is just plain fiction, according to the author. Based on the latest research into how creative individuals and firms succeed, Burkus sets the record straight on 10 popular but mistaken beliefs.
Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D. An internationally recognized personality expert exposes the dark side of confidence and offers a strong case for the upside of negativity and pessimism. Chamorro-Premuzic shatters much of the conventional thinking about confidence with compelling scientific research. The bottom line: Confidence is overrated.
Each of these books would make a great holiday gift for the business reader on your list.
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