2014 Reads to Stimulate Success

At the beginning of 2013, Chris Brogan challenged his readers to pick only three books to read for the coming year. His argument was that we read so many books, without truly studying and indeed digesting the contents, central themes and takeaways from the work. I struggled mightily with the concept, as reading is a true passion and did not adhere to the full premise of the challenge. However, I did take the concept to heart and took three books that I revisited time and again in 2013. My choices were Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”, Dave Evans (with Jake McKee) “Social Media Marketing” and Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith’s “Born to Blog (no affiliate links, links for Sinek/Scaeffer in “Essential Reads“).

Book Willpower Instinct

For 2014, I’ve decided to maintain that tactic, but will be focusing on four books to study over the course of the year and thus the 2014 reads to stimulate success. I’ve added two additional works that I’m really looking forward to reading and owe a debt of gratitude to the authors, their publishers and others for my copies of their works.

2014 Books to Study in-depth:

1. “The Willpower Instinct” – Kelly McGonigal Ph.D.

Inspired to pick up a copy of the book after watching McGonigal interviewed on TVO’s the Agenda (find both segments here), I read the book in early 2013. Though the author’s instructions are precise, to read through the work in stages, taking time to work through the practical assignments at the end of each chapter, I’ve learned that I need to read the work first straight through, and then return to study it more in-depth. Thus why it is first up in 2014 and I’m looking forward to becoming a “Willpower Scientist”.

2. “The Element” – Ken Robinson, Ph.D. with Lou Aronica.

Originally released in 2009, Robinson’s seminal work has inspired many educators and others alike. His witty, informative much viewed Ted Talks have inspired many of us to think about the way our children and even adult learners are being educated and how we can support the obvious need for change. “The Element” is a great work to help you find the intersection between your skills and your passion, so that you can love what you do while provide service to others. In 2013, Robinson released “Finding Your Element” that will assuredly be on next years list to study.

3. The Signal and The Noise – Nate Silver

My desire to read this book was inspired by a recent HBR article by Walter Frick. Nate Silver’s ability to distinguish a true signal from all the noise, is a skill that I believe all marketers, and indeed all decision makers will want to master, or at the very least get good at (especially if you look at my spectacular fall from first in the College Football pool). As consultants, trainers and educators of clients/staff, it is imperative that we help them learn how to make better decisions, using good data. The lack of data isn’t the problem, it is knowing how to sort all the data available to us, make sense of it and determine what is a signal or just noise. Unlike the works above, I’ve yet to read this work and I’m really looking forward to it.

4. “Leaders Eat Last” – Simon Sinek.

Not only as a devotee of Sinek’s work, but as a father of an 11 year old, I’m looking forward to reading his latest work. I’ve watched his presentation to 99U on YouTube that covers the central themes in the book and look to add the tools to my toolbox. Though it’s true I don’t have formal staff anymore; I know that I’ll need to cultivate strong working relationships with others to help achieve my clients goals. Leadership is a topic I’m very interested in and believe that Sinek’s work covers it very well. Here’s a short excerpt from Leaders at Salon.com, “How Baby Boomers screwed their kids…

Those are my four “study reads” for 2014 and I’m looking forward to discussing them with you throughout the year.

I have to give thanks for two other books that I’m really looking forward to reading in 2014. Both came my way in the spirit of generosity and had to quickly be struck from my Christmas wish list when they were gifted.

Neal Schaffers Maximize Your Social

The first is Neal Schaffer’s “Maximize Your Social” that arrived very generously from Neal and Hootsuite after Neal’s very informative Social Selling webinar. The work focuses on how to build an effective social media strategy for various platforms, from inception through to maintenance. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the work in a future blog post. Neal is one of my “virtual mentors” that I’ve followed since seriously jumping into Social in May of 2010, and I’m really looking forward to this effort, as I enjoyed his other works on LinkedIn. This signed copy will be a treasured addition to our bookshelves. I’m very grateful for Neal to share with Hootsuite and to Hootsuite for sending it on (luck of the draw).

Steve Paikin on Ontarios Premiers

The second is a personal passion, hobby, if politics can be anyone’s hobby. I’ve been involved in politics as a volunteer for quite sometime (though stepped away from active party politics in 2010). To that end, in Canada, one of the best trusted sources of information on Canadian politics, especially provincially is Steve Paikin. Paikin is widely respected for his interviewing skills, knowledge and generosity to his guests, though he’s not one to lob softballs. A fan of sports, particularly the Boston Red Sox, Paikin always comes across as personable and someone you’d enjoy having a chat with (unless you were on the wrong side of a political story). His audience always comes first and why I’m very interested in what he has to say in “Paikin and the Premiers“. The book covers his time in broadcasting and he’s interviewed everyone one of the 9 premiers in the book. Thanks to TVO (Ontario’s public broadcaster) and to Steve Paikin for making a copy available.

There are many more books I want to read and some assuredly will find themselves into posts over the course of the coming year, but I’ve taken enough of your time.

What’s on your list to read this year?

Essential Reads from 2013

Essential reads in 2013

As a small business owner, I live by the adage that you must always be learning to grow and develop. To that end I read quite a bit (as I’m sure many of you do) and I wanted to share with you some of the books that had the most impact on how I have been and will be conducting business in 2014. Not all of the books were published in 2013, however, they were revisited or in one case, updated in 2013.

All have a great deal of valuable advise, strategies and tactics that the authors generously share that you can implement directly into your marketing and businesses immediately.

The list is by no means exhaustive, there were many great books to dive into this year and some are on my list for 2014 (next post). The seven +1 books are in no particular order and provide a brief description of why they made my ” Essential reads from 2013″ list. I’ve provided links for each book for your convenience (no affiliate relationship).

1. New Rules of Marketing & P.R. (4th addition) – David Meerman Scott.

The seminal book for all marketing, public relation and business leaders. As I understand it, this book is one of the main text used in most digital media training. The latest edition includes updates on the various platforms from previous editions and has included new platforms such as Pinterest. Full of interesting case studies and step-by-step processes that anyone can adapt to your current efforts.

1 +1 Bonus. Real-Time Marketing and P.R. – David Meerman Scott.

As a bonus edition, Scott’s Real-Time makes the case for how the days of planned full on campaigns are a thing of the past. A great example is the “United Breaks Guitars” case beyond just the complaint, lack of response and infamous YouTube video, but how Martin Guitars and a deal on a sturdy travel guitar case evolved from it in real time. It’s an eye opener that illustrates the need to not only be on social, but to be paying attention.

2. Start with Why – Simon Sinek.

You’ve likely seen the Ted Talk. The book gives you the opportunity to spend more time with the ideas and illustrations. As Sinek indicates, explaining “why” you do what you do and “why” it will matter to others, is clearly the hardest thing to articulate. The book provides excellent food for thought and guidance on your path. I’ve seen positive results with clients when they’ve changed the “feel” around their messages, not only in marketing, but even in calls for board members and others to share their journeys.

3. Born to Blog – Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith.

As with many I know, I struggle with writing. This book is a great resource to help you overcome the barriers that may be holding you back from reaching your audience. Filled with practical and easy to use tips, it is an edition that you will revisit on a regular basis. As a fan and devotee of both Schaefer’s and Smith’s work, it was not surprising to find that the book makes blogging accessible to everyone.

4. The Go-Giver – Bob Burg and John David Mann.

Written as a parable, this book is easy to digest in a single sitting, but you’ll want to take your time with it. We’ve all experienced those moments when our backs are up against it and we’re not sure how to proceed. The ideas for ultimate success captured in a week’s journey are interesting and inspiring. In today’s world of instant access, remembering that old adages hold true “The more you give, the more you get”.

5. Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Jonah Berger.

Berger’s research and body of work on what makes things of interesting and why they get shared is a fascinating read. Filled with illustrative case studies and examples, Contagious provides the six (STEPPS) keys that will give you ideas that you can apply to your work and markets. In addition to the book, there are free resources available at Berger’s website to help you implement the ideas.

6. Epic Content Marketing – Joe Pulizzi.

Are you looking to make “Content Marketing” a central point of your 2014 efforts, then you will benefit greatly from reading Pulizzi’s new book. It is an essential tomb that will take you from the start of your journey and squarely place you on the road to success (success of course will depend on your efforts). To stand above the noise in your communities, you’ll need to be telling effective, interesting stories; Epic Content Marketing will provide you with the tools to do so, from developing your niche, understanding the content you have, and how to effectively distribute your message.

7. To Sell is Human – Daniel Pink.

Hate to tell you this, but we are all in sales, no matter our roles in our organizations. You’ve been in sales from the get go, every since you learn to try and influence outcomes for what you desired. Unfortunately, sales as a term has gotten such a bad reputation. In Pink’s latest effort, we learn why we are all in sales and how to do so without being slimy or overly salesy. Using lessons from social science, Pink builds a case for how sales can and is a honorable profession and indeed how most of our assumptions on what makes an effective sales person are likely wrong.

Finally, I want to share with you a wonderful post from Anne Kreamer in the Harvard Business Review “The Business Case for Reading Novels”. Kreamer starts by sharing her concern that we’ve all likely shared, guilt for taking the time to read for pleasure when there are so many worthy resources to help with our professional development. I used to feel the same way and my partner Joan only recently has rediscovered the absolute joy and benefits of reading for pleasure. The post makes a strong case for adding fiction to your reading list, based on research she discovered in Scientific American. Researchers have indicated that reading fiction helps build our understanding of real human emotion.

My fiction suggestion is a Canadian favorite. Robertson Davies’ “Fifth Business“. The book demonstrates how our actions, no matter how intended can impact others beyond what we can see.

What was on your Essential Reads from 2013 list?

Other best of reading lists:

Intuit’s Best Business Books 2013

Globe and Mail’s Top Business Books of 2013

INC’s Best Books for Entrepreneurs 2013

What I’ll be studying in 2014