As the year draws to a close, we reflect on what we accomplished and what we have learned. One of my goals for 2017 was to read more books related to business and biographies. Sticking to this at times was a challenge. Thankfully, with audio books and the Kindle app on my phone, I was able to complete more than 15 books, including a few fiction novels.
One of the habits of highly successful CEOs and business leaders is that they are continuously reading, often between 2-5 books a month. I recently watched the HBO documentary on Warren Buffet and throughout his life reading and learning have been critical to his success. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Richard Branson all speak often about reading and learning. Some seek to read a book or even two per week. Our fast-paced and busy society often does not allow us to read. However, we should follow the lead of successful entrepreneurs and leaders and carve out time for this important activity. Make the commitment to continuously learn and make improvements.
The following are some of the books that I read and/or listened to this year. Some are new and others are a few years old. All offer value and for this reason, they made my best of list for 2017.
One of my favorite books I read this year is “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. Adam is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and excellent speaker if you want to check him out on YouTube.
Give and Take – Adam Grant – http://amzn.to/2gHRtRJ
The takeaways: Givers finish first and when you adopt a giving philosophy you will reap the benefits.
According to Grant, there are three kinds of people, givers, takers and matchers. We are all a combination of these styles. Givers are people who give and often do not expect anything in return. They are also the most successful in business and in their careers. However, givers are also at the bottom. Some people give too much and this impacts their ability to focus and this hurts them from a success and productivity perspective. Takers are people who are self-centered and they are the “hard sellers” that I often write about. These people take whenver possible and they focus on themselves, they may even try to hide that they are takers – there are good examples in the book – but in the end, it is clear they would rather take than give. Finally the matchers. Many people are matchers; these are people who have a sense of fairness and seek reciprocity. If they do something for you, they expect you to do something for them. This is a common style, however many people are a combination of these styles at work, at home and within relationships. The book explores these styles and how to spot them, what they mean and the rationale behind adopting a giving philosophy. Take the time and check out this book.
Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss – http://amzn.to/2gGLht9
The takeaway: An excellent book on negotiation; the author was the FBI’s top hostage negotiator.
Voss stresses that when negotiating “start with No.” No is not the end of the negotiation, it is actually the beginning. When you know where to start this is the best way to move forward in a negotiation. His practical and psychologically focused approach is excellent and I have used some of the strategies myself. Guess what? They work.
Split the difference, negotiate to what works for you. He also points out that listening is critical. Listen and ask a lot of open-ended questions. Find out what the other side wants and needs and use this when negotiating.
Finally, the name of the book is a strategy to remember. Don’t settle and just split the difference. Make the best deal for you, splitting the difference in or meeting in the middle is not always what is best for you or your company when dealing with a business negotiation.
Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (US Navy SEALs) – http://amzn.to/2xHhxBT
The takeaway: This book written by two former Navy SEALS hits home the point that we must take full responsibilities for our actions and inaction. Though the use of stories and comparisons to SEAL training, Wilink and Babin explain how to complete “extreme” ownership; a powerful philosophy and approach to life and business. I particularly liked the approach and explanation of owning everything in your life and accepting that if something did not happen according to plan that you must learn from it, improve and do whatever it takes not to fail again.
Learning from mistakes is critical and never blame others for them. They explain that organizational leaders must take responsibility for leadership both for those who are below them as well as those above them.
Most middle managers know they lead their teams and there is a hierarchy. However, managers must also look to those who manage them and work to ensure that they have all that they need to effectively provide them leadership. Additionally, clean communications and humility are critical elements of leadership.
Start With Why – Simon Sinek – http://amzn.to/2zbsVqL
The takeaway: Simon Sinek is widely known and continues to speak and write on leadership and business. Start With Why is his well-known book which focuses on lessons relating to understanding your “Why.”
Why you do what you do, not only how you do it, or what you do. Individuals and companies that understand this thrive, succeed and empower others. As a speaker and personal branding consultant for CEOs and entrepreneurs, I have found that this book is very helpful in assisting people to identify and focus on their purpose.
With this information, they can then pursue their goals and achieve them.
The ONE Thing – Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan – http://amzn.to/2yLjiTG
The takeaway: The key to success is focusing on one thing at a time. This easy to read and follow book provides strategies, tactics and approaches that I found very helpful and motivating.
Highlights included strategies for blocking time and giving your “One Thing” your undivided attention.
To achieve success, you need to build habits and this comes from discipline and unwavering commitment to your one thing.
Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger – http://amzn.to/2Bt29fU
The takeaway: We are all familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his career in bodybuilding, movies, politics and business. Many don’t know that much of his success can be attributed to keen business acumen and investing in real estate. Below are his rules for success. This book is a fun read, and having grown up watching his movies, imitating his lines and meeting him in person allowed me to have a strong connection with this book. He covers his history as well as the lessons he learned along the way. Lessons such as taking risks and learn from mistakes. Remember to admit and take responsibility for mistakes and move on.
From bodybuilding and acting – “Do the reps” simply put in the time do something over and over again to get the results you want.
Always be learning and acquire new skills. Arnold had an intense focus for learning English, how to act acting, how to run an grow a business, how to negotiate, how to be a political leader and how to cope with setbacks.
Arnold has the uncanny ability to set clear goals and have a vision for what he wanted his life to be. If you have no vision and no mission, you will not achieve anything.
BONUS: Here are Schwarzenegger’s 10 rules from his autobiography Total Recall:
- Never let pride get in your way
- Don’t overthink
- Forget plan B
- You can use outrageous humor to settle a score
- A day has 24 hours
- Reps, reps, reps
- Don’t blame your parents
- Big change takes cojones
- Take care of your body and your mind
- Stay hungry