14 Jan’15
The most important business books ever written

The most important business books ever written

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What business book has had the greatest impact on your career?

As a business owner for 17 years, the most valuable book for me has been ” The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” by Michael Gerber.

It taught me that I needed to set up systems so the company could run without me, and so it could run consistently every day whether I was there or not. That was a great lesson that allowed me to coach my kids’ sports teams, volunteer at church during the week, and take my family on our fair share of vacations — all without having to worry (too much) about what was happening in the business.

I’m always curious what books people are reading, so last month I asked our contributing writers to answer this question: “What’s the most important business book you’ve ever read?”

Below are half of the answers that I received (the other half will be published tomorrow, all in alphabetical order based on the title of the books).

Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company, by Jim Collins

It’s like “Built to Last” (another Collins book), but this one is for early-stage businesses. The most powerful part of the book is Chapter 2 on setting the vision for your company. ( Clate Mask, CEO and Co-Founder of Infusionsoft)

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes, by Tom Rath

Learn exactly how what you eat, how much you exercise, and how long you sleep impacts your work performance and life. Rath demystifies these elements in an easy-to-read format, backed with years of scientific research and his own experiences, as he handles personal health problems. Let Rath’s words inspire you to eat healthier (eliminate bread), sleep more (at least 8 hours) and keep active throughout the day. This book has changed my habits and has enabled me to be more productive and lead a more energetic life. ( Dan Schawbel , author of Promote Yourself)

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

This book may not have introduced the concept of strengths-based management, but it certainly provided the most research to back up the concept. I find that managing to people’s strengths rather than trying to fix perceived weaknesses provides a fresh and important look at business. This single concept can save companies money and hassle by improving performance, increasing employee engagement, and lowering turn-over. It also keeps managers from wasting time on behaviors that lead nowhere. ( Stevie Ray, executive director of training companyStevie Ray Improv Co.)

Geeks and Geezers, by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas

Geeks and Geezers is a book about leadership. An exhaustive study was performed on what makes a good leader a good leader, addressing “How does Era, Values and Defining Moments Shape Leaders.” The gold nugget in this book is about “crucibles.” Every great leader in some point of their life and career goes through a crucible moment that changes them — hopefully for the good. Have you heard the phrase “you learn more from you mistakes than your successes”? This book proves that and has some great insights. What was your crucible moment that lead you to be the leader you are today? ( Patrick Stroh, principal at Mercury Business Advisors)

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

This book is all about how to get people to say “yes.” Cialdini outlines six “weapons of influence,” including: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking and Scarcity. Whether you’re working in marketing, sales, consulting or just need to improve your persuasiveness overall (or know when someone else is trying to influence you!), you will benefit from reading this book. ( Sarah Faulkner, principal at Faulkner Strategic Consulting)

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, by Henry Cloud

Cloud vividly brings home the point that business leaders must pay attention, not only to getting tasks done and reaching goals, but to taking care of relationships along the way (customers, employees, vendors, friendships), because over the long-term it is relationships that will grow or undermine the success of your business. ( Paul White, psychologist, speaker and trainer)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

I feel validated! After a lifetime of thinking that something was wrong with me when I wanted to work alone and did not want to be part of a team, Susan Cain has written a beautiful book promoting the value introverts bring to the workplace. The basic premise of “Quiet” is that we dramatically undervalue introverts and the contribution they make in the workplace. I believe that “Quiet” is one of the most important books to hit the business press in a long time. Many leadership tomes I read applaud the extrovert ideal showing leadership as an act of utmost decisiveness and assertiveness. ” Quiet” shows us that the thoughtful, reflective leaders can be just as effective and need to be embraced, not marginalized as being without merit. ( Alice Waagen, president of Workforce Learning)

Rembrandts in the Attic: Unlocking the Hidden Value of Patents, by Kevin Rivette and David Klein

This book launched the Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) movement in the late 1990s, as it’s the first book dealing with the value of patents not only as legal assets, but as strategic corporate business assets. Written by an experienced IP lawyer and a war correspondent, this seminal book was written for senior management who are looking to create valuable intellectual property portfolios for their companies and extract value from innovation in meaningful ways. The book highlights not only success stories, but also serious strategic IP mistakes made by the likes of Kodak and Xerox PARC. ( Efrat Kasznik, president of Foresight Valuation Group)

Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, by Harry Beckwith

The chapters are short, the recommendations punchy and thought-provoking. Harry’s book will be especially interesting to those who sell services. The big point is “The core of service marketing is the service itself.” ( Joe Scott, vice president of Scott & Associates)

Article first published on The Business Journals


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