Groucho Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” As the founder of a scrappy little creative agency, I’ve always been open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Mobile delivery has made it easier than ever to access the latest industry trends, insights, and entrepreneurial news. With a steady stream of media now at my fingertips, it’s tempting to devour large doses of digital content without always retaining meaningful take-aways. Sounds kind of like reading inside of a dog!
Lately, I’ve traded in my news aggregator apps for the page-turning pleasure only books can provide. Unlike the brevity of Tweets and blog posts, books have weight—they give writers a platform to flesh out substantial ideas, giving the reader the opportunity to dig deeper into topics of interest. Here’s a list of books I’ve enjoyed reading recently. I highly recommend them to any entrepreneur, business leader or creative thinker:
‘UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging’ by Scott Stratten. UnMarketing shows you how to unlearn the old ways and consistently attract and engage the right customers. You’ll stop just pushing out your message and praying that it sticks somewhere. Potential and current customers want to be listened to, validated, and have a platform to be heard-especially online. With UnMarketing, you’ll create such a relationship with your customers, and make yourself the logical choice for their needs.
‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future’ by Ashlee Vance. Veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world.
‘Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us’ by Seth Godin. Short on pages but long on repetition, this newest book by Godin (Purple Cow) argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea. Smart innovators find or assemble a movement of similarly minded individuals and get the tribe excited by a new product, service or message, often via the Internet (consider, for example, the popularity of the Obama campaign, Facebook or Twitter). Tribes, Godin says, can be within or outside a corporation, and almost everyone can be a leader; most are kept from realizing their potential by fear of criticism and fear of being wrong.
‘Be Audacious: Inspiring Your Legacy and Living a Life That Matters’ by Michael W. Leach. It goes without saying that everyone wishes to live a life that matters. But how do we harness this potential and positively impact the world around us? In Be Audacious: Inspiring Your Legacy and Living a Life that Matters, author and motivational speaker Michael W. Leach offers a simple, four-part game plan for overcoming adversity, living authentically, uncovering purposeful passion, and developing vision. Leach encourages readers to embrace nonconformity―to “shed the shackles of societal norms”―in pursuit of their dreams.
‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers’ by Ben Horowitz. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
‘What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings—and Life’ by Laura Vanderkam. Mornings are a madcap time for many of us. We wake up in a haze—often after hitting snooze a few times. Then we rush around to get ready and out the door so we can officially start the day. Before we know it, hours have slipped by without us accomplishing anything beyond downing a cup of coffee, dashing off a few emails, and dishing with our coworkers around the water cooler. By the time the workday wraps up, we’re so exhausted and defeated that any motivation to accomplish something in the evening has vanished.
– Brad Bunkers
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