Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of influential and instrumental business books, is brought to you by businessman Sean Gray.
Four Life-Changing Business Books You Probably Haven’t Read
Many business leaders like to repeat the somewhat clichéd phrase, “You gotta read to lead.” Many leaders believe this. Those who follow the advice learn that indeed, reading can change the way they lead, the way they market, and the way they communicate. Leaders, and aspiring leaders, who read the right books discover that reading and applying an important and meaningful book can literally change your life.
Here are four of those life-changing books:
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, the foundation for the now-famous Dale Carnegie Training organization, also formed the core of much “common sense” business practice. Carnegie covers the basics of communication, relationship building and creating a circle of influence. Read as a refresher for the things most people already know and do, Carnegie’s book will open the reader’s eyes to possible changes in behavior and attitude, with the power to change the way a leader does business for the better and for the future. This quote in particular is relevant for business leaders today: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
“Never Give In! The Speeches of Winston Churchill” seems, at first glance, an unlikely business book. Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of all time, also possessed an uncanny knack with the English language. “Never Give In!” contains the best of Churchill’s leadership wisdom, such as, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”
“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, another book seemingly unrelated to the hard work of business, serves a specific purpose for business leaders. “The Tipping Point” illustrates why some ideas take off and become movements or trends or popular brands, and why some don’t. Gladwell explains, and provides examples, of his tipping point theory using three rules of the tipping point. These rules can be explained in simple terms as the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and The Power of Context. Malcom Gladwell describes the tipping point like this: “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
“Influence” by Robert Cialdini fills out this list of four life-changing and business-changing books. A psychologist, Cialdini explains what causes people to do what they do and how to influence people’s actions. Using examples from psychology experiments to back up his points, Cialdini provides a course in persuasion that should be used ethically and compassionately. One tip Cialdini provides is that “a well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”
Individually, these four books can provide a business education in four disparate areas. Combined, they become a masters-level course in building relationships, leading a company or a community, understanding what works and what doesn’t and why, and persuading people to buy into ideas or buy products.
Thank you, Sean.
Sean currently runs a successful business of his own, and reading has helped him immensely. Currently he runs a business called CashForTrucks.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.