Ah, the joys of summertime! Sipping sun-brewed iced tea underneath the big oak tree, grilling on the weekend with friends, and the anticipation of some down time at the beach with nothing more to think about than what bathing suit to wear.
"I don't think so!" you may protest. After all, like other busy entrepreneurs, you’re just coming off a recession that threatened to topple your business empire!
But hold on just a minute. After that gut-wrenching, economic roller coaster ride you've just had, don't you think it's time to stop and smell the barbecue?
Reading is an inexpensive and delightful way to unwind and relax this summer. And with this guilt-free reading list, you'll soon see how traveling to Beijing to sample the best of Chinese cuisine or riding across the hot South African sands on a camel will greatly benefit your business this summer.
Five Guilt-free Summer Reads
At first glance, you're probably wondering, “What do any of these have to do with running a business?”
“Ah, Grasshopper”, as Kwai Chang Caine (played by David Carradine) used to say in the 1970s television series Kung Fu, “Look deeper.” You might be surprised and delighted by what these authors have to offer you, the entrepreneur:
1. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
This is a sumptuous story about an American widow, Maggie McElroy, who journeys to China to find out whether a child born there to another woman was fathered by her late husband. She is also "on assignment" to shadow and write an article about Sam Liang, a Chinese/Jewish-American chef descended from a line of venerable masters of cuisine, who has entered a prestigious Chinese cooking competition.
From the start, you'll find yourself fully immersed in the essence of Chinese culture and familial bonds, as well as in the meaning of food and the culinary arts there. While food is, arguably, at the heart of the novel, what ties it all together is quanxi, the ever-present axiom in all personal and business relationships in China.
As an entrepreneur, you'll want to take away from this book the concept and application of quanxi, both of which are beautifully articulated here. Whether you're thinking about doing business in China or just want to learn more about how to build beneficial business connections, Nicole Mones delivers in The Last Chinese Chef.
2. The Eight by Katherine Neville
This is Katherine Neville's first novel. As such, the dialogue is a bit rough, the romance syrupy, and, at times, the action sequences a tad unbelievable. Yet the plot is amazing!
Part historical fiction, part suspense novel, The Eight, centered around the game of chess, is a masterful story.
Catherine Velis, a computer expert banished to Algeria by her accounting firm, gets caught up in a search for a legendary chess set once owned by Charlemagne. The story shuttles between the 1970s and the 1790s and weaves the two centuries together artfully.
As an entrepreneur, you can't get a better example of the difference between strategy and tactics and how both are beneficial to your business. The Eight and its sequel, The Fire, will bring home the importance of having both a long-range strategy for your business and short-range, flexible tactics to achieve your goal.
3. The first three books in the Courtney Series by Wilbur Smith
Wilbur Smith is an amazing storyteller. Beginning with Birds of Prey, followed by Monsoon, and ending with Blue Horizon, this series is definitely not a "chick" series. Instead, these are men's books that women will love to read. Packed with vivid descriptive passages of the open seas, travels along the infamous Robber's Road, and beautiful land filled with warring tribes, these three books are an utterly compelling read.
As for you, you'll be in entrepreneurial heaven. The Courtney's are born entrepreneurs. They are businessmen (and women) through and through. They make no apology for their wealth and are enterprising in the types of businesses they start up. Prepare to be success-motivated by these books.
4. Convince Them in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman
This is Nicholas Boothman's sequel to his first book, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. While this book is definitely a business book, because it is so easy and delightful to read, I thought it perfect for a summer reading list.
For the entrepreneur, this is one of the best books you'll read on how to build rapport. While the majority of the content is common sense advice, packed within this small (7 x 5 inches) book are solid strategies for building relationships, gaining a competitive edge, and making a favorable impression. Plus, it comes in audio, if you'd rather listen to it at the beach.
5. Hachiko Waits by Lesléa Newman
I know, I know, this is a children's book by famed author Lesléa Newman. However, if you are an animal lover, you'll quickly look past the genre and get immersed in this true story. The prose is wonderful, and the black-and-white illustrations by Machiyo Kodaira bring the story to life.
There is a statue of a dog in the Shibuya train station in Tokyo. It was first set in place in 1934 to commemorate the loyalty and devotion of Hachi, an Akita dog who waited for his master for 10 years.
And for the entrepreneur, this isn't just a story about a dog. There's a story inside this story about what it means to be devoted to someone, dedicated to something, and singularly focused on an outcome, no matter what. Read the book first. Then see Hachi: A Dog's Story (starring Richard Gere). You'll be glad you did.
Lush historical novels, wise contemporary stories, swash-buckling beach reads: Go ahead, indulge yourself in this guilt-free summer reading list for busy entrepreneurs. After what we've all gone through this past winter, it's time to relax and unwind. Doing so this summer will help you reap big business rewards throughout the year ahead.
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Dr. Susan L Reid - a small business expert and business catalyst - brings the gift of inner vision and insight to spiritually conscious businesswomen ready to run their business confidently, effectively, and fully aligned with their deepest inner principles. She is the award-winning author of “Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success.” Her website is Alkamae.”