10 Books You Will Find Useful in Your Changing Journey, and Why

I read and study about being an entrepreneur even for pleasure.  Nothing more pleasurable than reading about what you love doing.

I will admit that I own all of the books listed below.  And I will embarrassingly admit that some of them I read only ¾ of the book; I completely read 3 of them, and 2 I reread more than once.  But all of them are on my iPad for me to reach back into their messages to use as I need:  either as a reminder of an important issue I want to recall and use, or for a quote to reinforce a message.  And in this case, I am recommending all of them for your own library, to use as you so desire.

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) ( 2007)
by Seth Godin

I didn’t learn “when to quit” after reading this book, I just felt the message was reaffirming.  Sometimes we just don’t know what is the right thing to do: pivot, turn around, or quit.  Seth Godin advises in this book using metaphors:

“The cul de sac and the Cliff are the curves that lead to failure… the biggest obstacle to success in life… is our inability to quit these curves soon enough.”  This is especially true since we all know that “If it is worth doing, there’s probably a dip along the way.”

One of the hardest things to do, especially when you think that all you need to do is build up stamina and beat the odds, is to learn when to quit in order to find success.

Grit:  the Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)
by Angela Duckworth

This book is about grit: courage and resolve. What Angela Duckworth found after watching and learning what makes high achievers who they are:

“It is a combination of passion and perseverance that make high achievers special.  In a word, they have grit.”

Can you think of a time, a project, a change you experienced, and against all odds, where you needed, and found you had the courage and the resolve to continue?  Duckworth explains it this way:

“Staying on the treadmill is one thing and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when you’re uncomfortable.  But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit.  Because when you don’t come back the next day- when you permanently turn your back on a commitment- your effort plummets to zero.  As a consequence, your skills stop improving, and at the same time, you stop producing anything with whatever skills you have.”

You can catch her on TED.com: https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance

The Miracle of Mindfulness:  An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation (1975, 1976)
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness is NOT just meditation. To me, the power of mindfulness, or really being present in the moment, requires practice as a daily routine.   And when I want to feel sorry for myself, or anticipate the worst that can happen if I continue down a path I have chosen, then I refocus, concentrate and quiet my thoughts.  This is a book to use over and over, to build the ability to be in control of oneself in order to obtain the kind of results one wishes for.  Though the book suggested one spend six months just trying to ‘build concentration’, I’ve been working on it for several years.  Fortunately, I know I am better than I was, but not yet where I’d like to be.

“In the first six months, try only to build up your power of concentration, to create an inner calmness and serene joy.  You will shake off anxiety, enjoy total rest, and quiet your mind.  You will be refreshed and gain a broader, clearer view of things, and deepen and strengthen the love in yourself.  And you will be able to respond more helpfully and to all around you.”

Man’s Search for Meaning (1959, 2006)
by Viktor Frankl

As a holocaust survivor, having spent 2 years in a concentration camp, Viktor Frankl went on to be a teacher, educator, and a renowned psychologist.  Though this book is about survival, he documents his own personal growth in the most horrible conditions imaginable:

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.  You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

I read this book years ago, but did not really grasp the depths of its message, until I picked it up during a difficult time in my career where I thought I was just surviving and not thriving.  It led me to a better understanding of myself, and the power of one’s perspective.

Crossing the Chasm:  Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers (1991, 2001)
by Geoffrey Moore

I often used Geoffrey Moore’s diffusion of innovation in explaining to my students that whether as a technology or a service, there is something beyond all of your marketing that must be kept in mind:  the customer.  In Moore’s theory, customers are grouped according to their personal approaches to accepting new innovation into their lives.  Some eagerly wait in long lines for the newest, while others are pulled kicking and screaming into change.  The example of the release of new iPhone and the long lines of people waiting in the snow to be the first to own one compared to those who held a death grip to the rotary phone, long after those rotary phones were discontinued.

There is a reminder in the message for anything new and innovative, how you market and to whom is critical.

Competing Against Luck, The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice (2016)
by Clayton Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David Duncan

The authors suggest you ‘hire’ this book.

This book is not just about innovation, but about the struggles we all face to make progress in our lives.  This book is about why we are not innovating successfully, specifically because we do not ask the right questions:

“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” (Deming)

So this book is about learning to ask a better question:  

“What job did you hire that product to do?”

A silly example, but this might help explain this message. I recently bought a lovely salt and pepper shaker. When I got home, I realized the holes in both were so large that the set was worthless for using on the table with guests.  But I still kept them, to sit on a display shelf to look lovely. They weren’t appropriate for what I originally wanted but still worked out because I found another job for them.

If you think about it, you hire something to get a job done.  If it solves the job, it is rehired, if not, you fire it (you don’t buy it again.)  With a clear direction and purposeful message, this book teaches us about customer choices.

“Things are conceived, developed, and launched into the market with a clear understanding of how these products would help consumers make the progress they were struggling to achieve.  When you have a job to be done and there isn’t a good solution, ‘cheaper and crappier’ is better than nothing.  Imagine the potential of something truly great.”

If we settle for less than the best, we will never be innovative.

Entrepreneurial DNA:  the Breakthrough Discovery that Aligns Your Business to Your Unique Strengths (2011)
by Joe Abraham

What is your entrepreneurial DNA?  This book is a great ‘self-help’ to understanding our business selves and what we can do with this self-knowledge.  Using the BOSI profile he developed, Abraham combines entrepreneurial attributes into 4 groups:

Builder, Opportunist, Specialist and Innovator, each with a different function in business strategy.  

If you don’t know where you fit, and you are doing something different than what you are best at, then you and the business can suffer.

You can watch Joe Abraham on TED.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsU9N6A18sY

Creative Confidence:  Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (2013)
by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

I was in an entrepreneurship class in the university, and I asked the students: raise your hand if you think you are creative. Do you know how many raised their hands? None. Zero.

But I wasn’t surprised, because all the way back to kindergarten, creativity is encouraged or stifled depending on your luck with who your teacher was. Until we unravel the meaning of creativity, we all assume it is in reference to our ability to draw, or paint, or design something artistically.

This book and the 2 authors have had a tremendous impact on nurturing creativity in individuals and organizations. They have shown us that creativity is like a muscle, that needs to be developed and used in how we look at problems, how we solve those problems, and how we create positive change.“At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you. It is the conviction that you can achieve what you set out to do.”

You can check out David Kelley on Ted.com: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence/up-next

Managing Startups:  Best Blog Posts (2013)
by Thomas Eisenmann

I like this book because the author has collected blog posts of the best explanations of the business concepts that I teach.  They are here in this one book, by various authors, giving examples to the business concepts I find useful in developing small businesses today.  Though they are often referencing tech products and young techie entrepreneurs, clearly the messages are for all small business sustainability.

Concepts covered are:

Lean Startup, Business Models, Customer Discovery and Validation, Marketing and Demand Generation, Sales Marketing and PR Management, Product Management and Product Design, Business Development and Scaling, Funding Strategy, Company Culture, Startup Failure, Exiting by Selling, The Startup Mindset, and finally Management and Career Advice.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Peopled: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (1989)
by Stephen Covey 

If I told you that over 25 million copies of this book have sold worldwide, in over 40 languages, and that it continues to help millions be more effective in their lives, I think you’d understand why this book is on my list.

Covey breaks down 7 habits that could improve our lives, if we understood them.   Habits like “be proactive”, “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  My favorite, and the one that has been my personal guiding principle is “begin with the end in mind”.

Imagine you have died and you are watching your funeral unfold.  You did not choose the eulogy, who would give the eulogy, nor what would be said.  Ask yourself:  

“What would you like people to say about you, to know about you that says who you really are?”  

Identify the answers and live your life accordingly.  (My answer was that I wanted people to say I was a good mother.  And I have worked with that end in mind all of my life.)

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