Great books to read

Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me: What Online Social Networking Means for You and Your Business by Penny Power 

If you think simply having a presence in social media will help you grow your business, you are wrong. Online networks are the new model for creating connections, so you’d better start by ditching your old ways of thinking. Being online is not about the technology – it is about the people. Technology is just the enabler. Forming deep relationships and being part of a community where you get out what you put in, lies at the heart of understanding this developing medium.

Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me takes you on a journey into the online business world. In 1998, Penny Power founded the online business network Ecademy, which has today grown to a membership of more than a quarter of a million, spanning over 200 countries. 1998 was the year Amazon.co.uk started and five years before Facebook existed. There was no route-map for Ecademy to follow and no knowing how the online world would develop. Penny was simply driven by a belief that there must be a better way for business people to meet, connect and help one another solve problems and expand their businesses.

Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me will refresh your thinking and help you truly understand the business opportunities that exist within social media, and how best to exploit them. Whether you are a multinational or an owner-manager, developing your online brand in the right way is key to making the most of the new business environment.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

Here is THE book recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, Warren Buffett. The legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but now he has allowed one writer, Alice Schroeder, unprecedented access to explore directly with him and with those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom. The result is the personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as The Oracle of Omaha. Although the media track him constantly, Buffett himself has never told his full life story. His reality is private, especially by celebrity standards. Indeed, while the homespun persona that the public sees is true as far as it goes, it goes only so far. Warren Buffett is an array of paradoxes. He set out to prove that nice guys can finish first. Over the years he treated his investors as partners, acted as their steward, and championed honesty as an investor, CEO, board member, essayist, and speaker. At the same time he became the worlds richest man, all from the modest Omaha headquarters of his company Berkshire Hathaway. None of this fits the term simple. When Alice Schroeder met Warren Buffett she was an insurance industry analyst and a gifted writer known for her keen perception and business acumen. Her writings on finance impressed him, and as she came to know him she realized that while much had been written on the subject of his investing style, no one had moved beyond that to explore his larger philosophy, which is bound up in a complex personality and the details of his life. Out of this came his decision to cooperate with her on the book about himself that he would never write.

The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan shares the story of his life first simply with an eye toward doing justice to the extraordinary amount of history he has experienced and shaped. But his other goal is to draw readers along the same learning curve he followed, so they accrue a grasp of his own understanding of the underlying dynamics that drive world events. In the second half of the book, having brought us to the present and armed us with the conceptual tools to follow him forward, Dr. Greenspan embarks on a magnificent tour de horizon of the global economy. He reveals the universals of economic growth, delves into the specific facts on the ground in each of the major countries and regions of the world, and explains what the trend-lines of globalization are from here. The distillation of a life’s worth of wisdom and insight into an elegant expression of a coherent worldview, The Age of Turbulence will stand as Alan Greenspan’s personal and intellectual legacy.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death by L Gonzales

The author delves into the science, psychology, and art of wilderness survival. His analysis is riveting, his conclusions startling.

After her plane crashes, a seventeen-year-old girl spends eleven days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference?

Examining such stories of miraculous endurance and tragic death, how people get into trouble and how they get out again (or not). Deep Survival takes us from the tops of snowy mountains and the depths of oceans to the workings of the brain that control our behaviour. Through close analysis of case studies, Laurence Gonzales describes the essence of a survivor and offers twelve “Rules of Survival.” In the end, he finds, it’s what’s in your heart, not what’s in your pack, that separates the living from the dead. Fascinating for any reader, and absolutely essential for anyone who takes a hike in the woods, this book will change the way we understand ourselves and the great outdoors.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Five years ago Jim Collins asked the question, “Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?”

In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last concludes that it is possible, but finds that there are no silver bullets to greatness. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11–including Gillette, Walgreens and Wells Fargo–and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not-so-great, Collins lays a well-reasoned roadmap to excellence that any organisation would do well to consider.

Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Now that he’s gotten us talking about the viral life of ideas and the power of gut reactions, Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the “self-made man,” he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don’t arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: “they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.”

Outliers can be enjoyed for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey players were born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill, why the descendents of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York, how a pilots’ culture impacts their crash record, how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math. But there’s more to it than that. Throughout all of these examples–and in more that delve into the social benefits of lighter skin color, and the reasons for school achievement gaps–Gladwell invites conversations about the complex ways privilege manifests in our culture. He leaves us pondering the gifts of our own history, and how the world could benefit if more of our kids were granted the opportunities to fulfill their remarkable potential.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

“The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do.”

Although anyone familiar with the theory of mimetics will recognise this concept, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject. For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanise the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a “Connector”: he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere “wasn’t just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston”, he was also a “Maven” who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day–think of how often you’ve received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.

Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the “stickiness” of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell’s closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that “tipping point”, like “future shock” or “chaos theory,” will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows–or at least knows by name.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Intuition is not some magical property that arises unbidden from the depths of our mind. It is a product of long hours and intelligent design, of meaningful work environments and particular rules and principles. This book shows us how we can hone our instinctive ability to know in an instant, helping us to bring out the best in our thinking and become better decision-makers in our homes, offices and in everyday life.

Just as he did with his revolutionary theory of the tipping point, Gladwell reveals how the power of blink’ could fundamentally transform our relationships, the way we consume, create and communicate, how we run our businesses and even our societies.You’ll never think about thinking in the same way again.

The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople by Stephan Schiffman

“Steve Schiffman is a great source of practical, real-life, results-oriented insights. You can read his books again and again.”

-Patricia C. Simpson, Vice President, Chemical Bank

 

“Steve’s techniques are practical, relevant, and easy to apply. Read this book and put his ideas to use.”

-Andrea Becker-Arnold, Director, Corporate Sales Training, U.S. Healthcare

 

Now you can join the hundreds of thousands of salespeople who have followed Stephen Schiffman’s advice and watch your performance soar. Schiffman lets you in on the industry’s best-kept secrets.

 

Learn how to:

  • Convert leads to sales
  • Motivate yourself and motivate others
  • Give killer presentations
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • This new edition includes:
  • New examples using the latest advances in sales presentation technology
  • Up-to-date cases of these successful habits in action
  • Five bonus habits showing readers how to overcome mistakes, set sales timetables, and reexamine processes to shore up weaknesses

If you’re a salesperson looking to succeed, this is the book for you!

How Come That Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not? by Robert Shemin

In this provocative and entertaining book, Robert Shemin, a multimillionaire and successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker, has a secret for you: rich people are not that smart. In fact, they’re Idiots, and if you want the wealth and fulfilment you’ve always desired, you need to be an Idiot, too.

In How Come That Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not?, Shemin shows how the average ‘smart’ person’s tendency to over-think can be financially crippling, and reveals simple principles for getting and keeping spectacular wealth. Follow the ‘Path of the Idiot’ with Shemin and realize the mistakes that smart people invariably make: they take small steps, effectively paralyzed by fear of failure, instead of acting decisively; their vanity prevents them from admitting ignorance, instead of finding the right person to help them achieve their dreams. By following Shemin’s step-by-step programme, you’ll be setting big goals, leaving your comfort zone, embracing the knowledge learned from failure – and reaping big rewards.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Personal finance author and lecturer Robert Kiyosaki developed his unique economic perspective through exposure to a pair of disparate influences: his own highly educated, but fiscally unstable father, and the multimillionaire eighth-grade dropout father of his closest friend.

The lifelong monetary problems experienced by his “poor dad” (whose weekly paychecks, while respectable, were never quite sufficient to meet family needs) pounded home the counterpoint communicated by his “rich dad” (that “the poor and the middle class work for money,” but “the rich have money work for them”). Taking that message to heart, Kiyosaki was able to retire at 47.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, written with consultant and CPA Sharon L. Lechter, lays out his the philosophy behind his relationship with money. Although Kiyosaki can take a frustratingly long time to make his points, his book is nonetheless a compelling advocate for the type of “financial literacy” that’s never taught in schools. Based on the principle that income-generating assets always provide healthier bottom-line results than even the best of traditional jobs, it explains how the former might be acquired so that the latter eventually can be shed.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2: Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

Personal finance author and lecturer This text reveals why some people work less, earn more, pay less in taxes, and feel more financially secure than others. It is simply a matter of knowing which “quadrant” to work from and when.

Have you ever wondered:

  • What the difference is between an employee and a business owner?
  • Why some investors make money with little risk while most other investors just break even
  • Why in the Industrial Age most parents wanted their children to become medical doctors, accountants or attorneys
  • Why in the Information Age those professions are under financial attack?

Have you noticed that many of the brightest graduates from our universities want to work for college drop-outs? Drop-outs such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Richard Branson of Virgin Industries, Michael Dell of Dell Computers and Ted Turner of CNN? Drop-outs who today are the mega-rich of society.

This book aims to answer some of these questions and also assist in guiding you in finding your own path to financial freedom in a world of ever-increasing financial change.

Millionaire Upgrade by Richard Parkes Cordock

Do you ever wonder if you have what it takes to become a millionaire?

Imagine finding yourself sitting next to a self-made millionaire for eight hours on a long-haul international flight. Imagine that person was prepared to share with you the secrets of their success. For one lucky person this actually happened. Inspired by a 1 story, Millionaire Upgrade is the tale of one very experienced entrepreneur and one very lucky passenger.

The story unfolds mid-air at 35,000 feet as Michael, the savvy self-made millionaire, shares his wisdom, eight-step approach, and magic ingredients for success with Tom, the aspiring entrepreneur. Their mid-air conversation contains all the secrets and practical insight you need to help you make your first million. It shows how you can turn your strengths and passions into an exciting, rewarding, and challenging enterprise.

Better than any in-flight movie, Millionaire Upgrade gets you inside the minds of successful entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires giving you the inside track on how they think and act.

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

Love him or loathe him, you’ve got to admit it, Richard Branson has drive. And guts. And enough ambition to sink a battleship–or perhaps that should be a jumbo jet–or even a whole company of jumbos if the Virgin Atlantic/British Airways debacle (which takes up a huge chunk of this already huge tome) is anything to go by.

Branson’s autobiography makes immensely fascinating reading. Whatever you think of Britain’s most famous entrepreneur, the odds are that you will enjoy reading his autobiography. You may snort at descriptions of his “poor” childhood–spent eating bread and dripping while living in a house the majority of us visit on Bank Holidays and attending a “minor” public school. You may groan at memories of early initiative tests: how about being ejected from the family car and told by his mother to find his way home–at the age of four? You may flinch at accounts of his early business days as an unwashed, unshod, hippy magazine publisher living en famille with his staff in the crypt of a West London church. But, all in all, you’ll get to understand where the guy’s coming from–man.

And, like the man himself, there’s no holds barred here. Richard bares his soul, from childhood, school days (cheating at exams), loves and losses (lost one wife when a spot of wife-swapping went drastically wrong–for him), death-defying adventures (yes, the balloons are all there), to the rise and rise of the Virgin empire. His interviews for Student magazine and the early days of Virgin Music read like a chronicle of popular music and culture in the late 20th century. Famous names bounce off every page. Prepare to be enthralled by the life and times of a walking publicity machine.

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

Throughout my life I have achieved many remarkable things. Now, I will share with you my ideas and the secrets of my success, but not simply because I hope they’ll help you achieve your individual goals. Today, we are increasingly aware of the effects of our actions on the environment, and I strongly believe that we each have a responsibility, as individuals and organisations, to do no harm. I will draw on Gaia Capitalism to explain why we need to take stock of how we may be damaging the environment, and why it is up to big companies like Virgin to lead the way in a more holistic approach to business. In “Screw It, Let’s Do It”, I’ll be looking forwards to the future.

A lot has changed since I founded Virgin in 1968, and I’ll explain how I intend to take my business and my ideas to the next level and the new and exciting areas – such as launching Virgin Fuels – into which Virgin is currently moving. But I have also brought together all the important lessons, good advice and inspirational adages that have helped me along the road to success. Ironically, I have never been one to do things by the book, but I have been inspired and influenced by many remarkable people. I hope that you too might find a little inspiration between these pages.

Funky Business by Jonas Ridderstrale & Kjell Nordstrom

Oh dear–a book called Funky Business by two Swedish academics. At first glance it has all the allure of Benny and Bjorn’s (from Abba) sadly never released concept album about life as a middle manger in a multinational conglomerate. There is something very earnestly hip about the way that Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale of the Stockholm School Of Economics present themselves. “They do gigs not seminars. These gigs sell out. They have shaved heads and wear black”, says the blurb.

But that’s what makes Funky Business worth reading. It’s not so much the novelty of its argument–which boils down to the idea that in an oversupplied world, ideas are what separate successful companies and successful individuals from the failures. It is the vitality of the argument and, dare I say it, the rhythm of the language that make it so compelling. “Traditional roles, jobs, skills, ways of doing things, insights, strategies, aspirations, fears and expectations no longer count. In this environment we cannot have business as usual. We need business as unusual. We need different business. We need innovative business. We need unpredictable business. We need surprising business. We need funky business.”

The book, which is almost a virtuoso display of rhetoric and intellectual power, bursts at the seams with the exuberant force of its argument and the weight of its highly colourful supporting evidence. Sources quoted range from the Pope to the Prodigy. Funky Inc, they say, “isn’t like any other company. It is not a dull, old conglomerate. It is not a rigid bureaucracy. It is an organisation that actually thrives on the changing circumstances and unpredictability of our times.”

This is great entertainment. But the slick veneer does not invalidate the way that the book pulls together many existing strands of thought about how business is developing and evokes a coherent and intriguing vision of a future whose main feature will be incoherence.

This really is one for all the family. Or at least all those old enough to have a job.

The Second Bounce of the Ball (Turning Risk Into Opportunity) by Ronald Cohen

In business, everyone can see the first bounce of the ball. It is the second bounce that is uncertain. Ronald Cohen, one of the world’s leading private-equity investors, argues that the entrepreneur’s aim is to take advantage of that uncertainty: for it is only in situations of uncertainty that significant gains can be made. Putting it another way, successful entrepreneurs know how to turn risk into opportunity.

The Second Bounce of the Ball is the distillation of Cohen’s 33-year career building Apax Partners into a firm employing more than 300 people, with offices in eight countries and billions under management. He draws upon Apax’s experience of backing entrepreneurial businesses in many countries, among them AOL, Apple, Computacenter, Tommy Hilfiger, Immarsat, Kabel Deutschland, Calvin Klein, Molnlyke, Panrico, Q-Cell, Travelex, Waterstone’s, Virgin Radio, Vueling and Yell.

The book is essential reading for entrepreneurs, wannabe entrepreneurs and all those who want to apply entrepreneurial approaches in all walks of life. It provides relevant background on the development of entrepreneurship and of the venture-capital and private-equity industry through the prism of Cohen’s experience at Apax.

It provides guidance about how to take advantage of business opportunity: the right people and the right money and the roles played by personality and luck and underlines the importance of ethics.

The Second Bounce of the Ball’s insights on entrepreneurial strategy provide a unique insider’s guide to turning risk into opportunity.

The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford

Who makes most money from the demand for cappuccinos early in the morning at Waterloo Station? Why is it impossible to get a foot on the property ladder? How does the Mafia make money from laundries when street gangs pushing drugs don’t? Who really benefits from immigration? How can China, in just fifty years, go from the world’s worst famine to one of the greatest economic revolutions of all time, lifting a million people out of poverty a month?

Looking at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways, THE UNDERCOVER ECONOMIST is a fresh explanation of the fundamental principles of the modern economy, illuminated by examples from the streets of London to the booming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the sleepy canals of Bruges.

Leaving behind textbook jargon and equations, Tim Harford will reveal the games of signals and negotiations, contests of strength and battles of wit that drive not only the economy at large but the everyday choices we make.

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