Some Suggested Books for Summer Reading ...
Why Am I Finally Writing an e-Newsletter?
One reason is...
My marketing team has been bugging me to do this for quite some time, and they finally wore me down!
But the real reason...
...has to do with the question that you're asking yourself, "Well, Todd, what's in it for me?" My answer – "I hope to pass along some content from my personal experience, communicated in an interesting and – at times – entertaining way, that may help develop you or your business."
Enough said! Let's get started!!
Some Suggested Books for Summer Reading ...
I have a confession to share – I love books. (In fact, I almost titled this "Confessions of a Book Lover.") I enjoy reading to understand the thoughts and ideas of another person. What a bargain a book is – for $20 to $30, you can share in the knowledge and experience of another person, distilled and edited into written form, in a format that you can take almost everywhere!
Now, my time available to read is probably a lot like yours – pretty limited. Life comes at you quickly, and your spouse, kids, friends, work, school activities, volunteer opportunities, physical fitness, and other good and necessary people and programs vie for your time.
Given the scarce time available for reading, here are 3 recommended business books that I have enjoyed over the past 12 months, and some comments on how they affected me. These 3 books have challenged me to think differently about aspects of Todd Herman Associates, and my leadership of the firm, and have resulted in actions being taken to improve both the firm and me.
What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business, by Harry Beckwith
Every so often, a book comes along that makes me say, "I wish I would have written it." This is one such book. While this book is nearly 300 pages, it is best thought of as roughly 120 short essays grouped into 7 major sections. The size of the book is perfect – very much like an Audubon Society field guide.
Each essay has a pithy title, 1 or 2 pages of text, and a short takeaway quote summarizing the essay. Some of my favorite essays are:
- New Economy, Same People
- Four Rules for Choosing Clients
- Lincoln Had No Slides at Gettysburg
- How to Look Expert
This book contains many nuggets of practical advice and creative thinking. But the real gem is the last section, entitled "Your Greatest Asset" – these 4 pages alone more than justify the cost of the book, because they succinctly lay out what clients truly love.
Takeaway lesson – I gave copies of this book to all firm members and – just for grins – created a 50 question quiz on this book. As a group, we discussed these concepts – and how to incorporate them into our daily routine – for almost 3 hours.
The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber
This book's subtitle says a lot – "A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership." Set in southern California and taking place over 7 days, this "business fable" follows the lives of leadership consultant Steve and his friend Janice, as Steve helps her work through a leadership crisis at her company, caused when its founder retired from the business, leaving an unpopular CEO from outside the company in charge. The book illustrates why "LEAP" (cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity, and provide Proof) is important to a leader. Another benefit of reading this book – you'll learn what an "OS!M" is.
Takeaway lesson – This book helped me understand the importance of giving my passion and energy to my team – not only do I feel good in sharing, but others feel good when they receive passion and energy, and they in turn pass it on to others in their lives.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni
This "leadership fable" focuses on a fictional high–tech start-;up that has much potential – the executive group, however, cannot get past their egos and do what is best for the company. Kathryn Peterson is brought in as CEO by the board – but this causes its own set of problems, as her experience lies in manufacturing, not technology. How Kathryn develops the executive group into a team comprises most of this book. Following the end of the fable is an appendix outlining the methods illustrated in the fable.
Takeaway lesson – While sharing passion and energy is important, thriving teams are more a result of trust, healthy debate, public commitment, mutual accountability, and a focus on results. Lacking these elements, there is no team – only a group of individuals.
And, lest you think I read only business books, I've included one "pleasure" book to prove otherwise. Oh, and I never recommend a book that I did not read myself and enjoy – life is too short to read bad books!!!
Powersat, by Ben Bova
I confess – I'm a science geek. I saw this book advertised in Scientific American – but don't hold that against the book (or me). Bova is a successful and respected author of science fiction, winning six Hugo Awards (given for science fiction). Set in the near future on an island off the coast of Texas, this book traces the efforts of space entrepreneur Dan Randolph in launching a space plane to finish work on a prototype power satellite – one that will test the feasibility of gathering solar energy and transmitting it back to Earth which, if successful, could break the United States' dependence on foreign oil. Naturally, many nations and special interest groups are determined to derail this project, providing good action with a believable dose of science fiction.
Takeaway lesson – This is a fun book, with interesting characters and a solid plot!
We are still in the beginning stages of launching our monthly e–newsletter, so I would appreciate your comments on content and format, as well as suggested future topics.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Todd L. Herman