Four books that meant business in 2018
Six months ago
by Melissa Webber
This little collection of books created a big impact on me and my approach to business last year.
I have never really immersed myself in business or self-development books except for two notable exceptions – The E Myth by Michael E Gerber which I dutifully read as a newbie small business owner and one of my all-time favourites, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson which I read in 2017 and have been completely evangelical about ever since.
Early last year, I reluctantly started reading a book that had been recommended to me but I had not got around to reading and one thing lead to another…
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
This book is a complete gift to anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by their to-do list, or anyone who is too busy to even write a to-do list. It systematically outlines how to become an ‘Essentialist’ – to prioritise what is really important in our lives, to regain balance both at work and at home, and to fully appreciate your life in the present.
There is only now. Life is available only in the present moment.
This line from the book is more than just the motivational sentiment you find all over Instagram – this book actually explains how to fully understand this universal truth and how to live accordingly. I find it is great to be reminded of this at various times throughout the day so it is at the top of my to-do list.
This incredible book reframed my approach to managing my work load and living in the moment, even during times of stress. It also set me up for the amazing books that followed as I soon realised that reading books of this kind are…essential.
Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul
by Shawn Askinosie
Having established Holy Cow! on my own values and having always provided pro-bono services to a range of charities over the years, I love the whole ethos of Askinosie Chocolate, founded by the author Shawn Askinosie.
Askinosie Chocolate is a small-batch, fair trade chocolate manufacturer in Missouri, USA that sources all their cacao beans directly from farmers around the world. To support their sustainability, his business model provides profits back to these farmers to support and develop their communities.
They also provide meals to thousands of school children in Tanzania and the Philippines and drill wells in villages without drinking water. They are the very definition of a social entrepreneur.
This book proposes that any small business can have a vocation or a ‘calling’, regardless of what they do or sell. Askinosie believes that a business’s vocation lies at the intersection between their talents, their passions and what the world needs.
This beautifully bound book includes insight into team dynamics and practical exercises to help enhance the culture of your business through dignity, kindness and appreciation.
My favourite chapter is:
Find Meaning in Your Work or Else It Just Might Kill You
It definitely got my attention.
I recommend this book to any business owners or leaders who are seeking more meaning in their work or hoping to inspire their teams.
by Gary Vaynerchuk
Love him or not, Gary Vaynerchuk is undeniably one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. Foul-mouthed, irreverent and unapologetically outspoken, he a unique voice – and a very loud voice – in the complex world of digital marketing.
His foresight and savvy investments in start-ups such as Twitter and Snapchat have lead to incredible financial success but he seems just as proud of his monumental failures, such as passing on first-round investment in Uber (and therefore $400 million) as he has learnt invaluable lessons from them.
Crushing It! is an update of his 2009 book, Crush It! in which he described how building a personal brand by harnessing the power of social media would lead to certain success. Thousands of his devotees followed his principles and did indeed ‘crush it’.
In this latest book, Gary documents several of these real-life success stories and provides detailed descriptions of each social media platform and several emerging digital technologies, how to use them and why they are important right now.
His rock-star status (and rock-star friends) means he is now one of the world’s highest-paid speakers and having heard him speak in Sydney recently, he deserves every penny. He is also all about seeking out happiness in your work, remaining true to yourself and forgetting about other people’s opinions. I think he is the full package.
This book helped me to recognise more of the incredible opportunities available online for businesses and reminded me of the thrill of being an entrepreneur.
Dare to Lead
by Brené Brown
I think that Brené Brown is a genius.
She has written a number of books on abstract concepts such as shame, vulnerability, courage and empathy and has managed to craft simple, understandable definitions for each based on years of research. Data informs all of her work which primarily focusses on developing authentic leadership and wholeheartedness in families, schools and organisations.
She takes the most challenging parts of being human, holds them up to the light, then explains how to make the most of them in your life and in the workplace in very simple terms. Genius.
Even though she holds a PhD, she is a research professor at the University of Houston and she is a #1 New York Times bestselling author several times over, I think her biggest achievement is her honesty.
In Dare to Lead, she bravely uses highly personal examples from her own life to illustrate her themes and shares stories of her previous struggles with addiction and self-esteem to explain her strategies. She doesn’t have to but she does, and this makes her messaging hit home all the more.
In this invaluable book, Brené defines a leader as, “…anyone who takes responsibility for finding the true potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
She uses language, tools and skills to help leaders think differently about leadership to make lasting cultural change in their organisations. She has also developed a ‘Dare to Lead’ hub on her website which includes resources, a workbook, book recommendations and role play videos to help embed her framework into your organisation.
This book has given me a deeper insight into the various aspects of leadership that affect company culture with practical steps to take make them last.
The subtitle of the book, Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts. sums it all up perfectly.
Myself and the Holy Cow! team are looking forward to the books that mean business this year! Happy reading.