Top 10 Business Books for Summer Reading

Not only are these titles readable enough for the beach, but they will help you be at the top of your game come autumn.
June 21, 2012

Summer is a good time to go on vacation and read. Unfortunately, there are over 11,000 business books published each year.  Forget about trying to sort through them all. Here are the 10 that should be at the top of your list:

1. The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz: Mike uses the analogy of pumpkin farmers as a model for entrepreneurial success. He shows readers how to identify and leverage your best strengths and cut out all the distractions that keep you spinning your wheels. Who should read it: Entrepreneurs who want to take their company from average to outstanding. Favorite quote: “Like a geeky, freaky farmer of mammoth pumpkins, I would focus all my attention, time, love, support, creativity and energy on the most promising clients in my 'patch'.”

2. Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance by Dr. Jason Selk. From his experience working with elite, professional athletes, Jason shows the key to success is not just talent or hard work. He believes that people with mental toughness and perseverance are the ones that come out on top. Jason outlines a program where anyone can learn this skill. Who should read it: Business leaders who want to improve their performance. Favorite quote: “Learn to look in the mirror every day. What is the one small thing you want to improve tomorrow?”

3. Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work by Steven Pressfield. We have all faced that moment when it’s time to step up our game and “turn pro.” We can’t let fear, self doubt or resistance stop us from the big things we want to accomplish. To achieve this goal, Steve writes about the type of work and sacrifice it takes to get there. Who should read it: People contemplating a major career change. Favorite quote: "When we turn pro, it’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood.”

4. Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston. Gini and Geoff write a step-by-step approach to demolishing the tactical silos in your company and finally integrating all marketing and communication activities. This book shows how to optimize every marketing medium from iPad to Facebook to television. Who should read it: Senior marketing executives and business owners. Favorite quote: “Chief marketing officers struggle to define their role…(they) have the shortest tenure [of any] senior executive…28 months.”

5. Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action by Rohit Bhargava.  The mantra of the social media generation is that people buy from whom they know, like and trust. Rohit says this has nothing to do with being nice. He shows how to improve your “likeability” and add more power to every relationship. The book offers a model beyond Facebook where true relationships are built on honesty, simplicity and basic human values. Who should read it: All business people. Favorite quote: “The most important global currency isn’t made of paper anymore, it’s made of relationships.”

 6. Do It Well. Make it Fun: The Key to Success in Life, Death, and Almost Everything in Between by Ronald Culberson. Ron simplifies success by stating that it only has two steps: 1. Do it well, and 2. Make it fun. By implementing these simple steps, he shows how to spice up boring meetings, relax in stressful situations and revitalize dull relationships. Who should read it: Anyone responsible for managing and motivating others. Favorite quote: “Focus on excellence and joy. Add life to your days.”

7. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. Chris shows how to have a life with meaning, adventure, purpose and still make a great living. He helps you find the intersection between what you are good at and what people will pay you to do. Chris draws the lessons from the 175 countries he has traveled. Who should read it: Entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a business. Favorite quote: “Imagine handing a letter to your boss that reads, ‘Dear Boss…your services are no longer required.”

8. Power Questions: Build New Relationships, Win New Businesses, and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas. Forget trying to be brilliant or clever on your feet to sell a prospect. This book shows that asking the right questions will attract customers more than having a ready-made answer. Power questions will refocus meetings, stop people in their tracks and help you win new business. Who should read it: Anyone in sales seeking a new approach. Favorite quote “The energy of power questions is your mightiest ally in drawing out deeply held feelings…which can transform your relationships.”

9. What’s Your Purple Goldfish: How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth by Stan Phelps. Everyday we are confronted by lousy customer service. This book is different because it highlights striking examples of businesses that give that little unexpected extra that makes a big difference. Stan also describes the 12 ways to create your own “purple goldfish” and stand out from the crowd. Who should read it: Business owners who want to wow their customers. Favorite quote: “Power has shifted. The consumer has a bigger voice and traditional sell-and-tell marketing has taken it in the shorts.” 

10. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. Most business people think that a fundamental key to their success is the relationships with their customers. Matt and Brent write that this style of selling is dead. The book disputes this theory, arguing it’s by challenging a relationship that people find success. Sales people need to use insights to change the way customers think about their business and therefore create real value for them. Who should read it: Sales people and business owners. Favorite quote: “While the competition focuses its energies on finding customers, you will be out there making customers.”

What business books are you reading this summer? Add them to the list.

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