It’s September — Time to Go Back to School

“Read an hour every day in your chosen field. This works out to about one book per week, fifty books per year, and will guarantee your success.”  Brian Tracy, personal development guru

It’s September. Football season is kicking off. Days are shorter, the leaves are changing colors. Put away your shorts, flip-flops and tank tees so you can buckle down – school is back in session.

If you want to stay at the top of your game, you have to keep learning after you graduate. I happened to hear Brian Tracy say “leaders are readers” on an audio program back in the 80’s. Over the past decade my learning goal has been to read at least 40 non-fiction business-related books a year. This how I gather ideas that help my clients succeed.

So here is my 5th annual compilation of books I’ve read in the past year from September, 2016 through August, 2017:

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance  Got grit?  You might have talent, brains, schmooze power, even good looks, but if you lack this you won’t get real far.

Mind Hacking How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days  Your mind works just like computer — use the hacks in this book to program it for success.

Go-Givers Sell More  If you want to sell more, give more:  More ideas, more time, more introductions, more value.  That’s the essence of this book, co-authored by Bob Burg, whose Endless Referrals is a business classic.

When I Say No I Feel Guilty, Vol. II for Managers and Executives  If you have people reporting to you, you can stop avoiding conflict by learning to effectively assert yourself.

Quench Your Own Thirst Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two  You can learn a lot about how to brew up your own success from Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch, one of the founding fathers of the craft beer movement in the USA.

And not that I’m a “beer-aholic,” but here’s a highly engaging book that happened to be perfect for this hot summer: The United States of Beer A Freewheeling History of the All-American Drink  Learn how our nation’s history was closely intertwined with the magic elixir of barley, hops & yeast.  Cheers!

The Golden Rules 10 Steps to World-Class Excellence in Your Life and Work  Anybody who can help Michael Phelps win a record number of Olympic Medals must know a little bit about big time success.  Now Bob Bowman can coach you with the same Method he uses with of all his swimming clients.

EntreLeadership 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches  Financial education guru Dave Ramsey might know a thing or two about starting up and running a successful enterprise.
Believers, Thinkers, and Founders How We Came to Be One Nation Under God  This will get you thinking about where exactly our rights as citizens come from.

Altamont The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day  A well-researched recap of the events surrounding the four-month transition from the peace and love of Woodstock to the ego and greed of Altamont.  Fascinating and horrifying at the same time — I couldn’t put it down.  (For a chilling depiction of this tragic saga, check out the documentary Gimme Shelter.)

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms  The ideas in this book from MindValley’s Vishen Lakhiani can help you rewrite your mental code.

Scrappy A Little Book About Choosing to Play Big  If you wanna be a winner in business you’ve gotta get scrappy.

Good Vibrations My Life as a Beach Boy  Lead singer and lyricist Mike Love lets you know that life in The Beach Boys, the only American band that rivaled the Beatles in popularity back in the ’60’s, wasn’t only Fun Fun Fun.

Conversations With McCartney  And speaking of the Beatles, here is a wealth of words of wisdom from Sir Paul that spans his entire prolific musical career.

Born to Run  A very personal autobiography from musical icon Bruce Springsteen, who candidly shares the good, the bad and even some of the ugly from his past.  A must read for all fans of The Boss.

Running Man  Speaking of running, if you think you’ve gone as far as you can go, check out this memoir from ultramarathoner Charlie Engle.  (I don’t think I’ve flown as many miles as he has run!)

The Challenger Sale Taking Control of the Customer Conversation  Although this book is geared toward long sales cycles, it coaches you on being appropriately assertive with your prospects to teach them something about their business they didn’t know that will distinguish you from the competition.

Why Are There Snowblowers in Miami? Transform Your Business Using the Five Principles of Engagement  Consultant Steven Goldstein believes that almost all company dysfunction is caused by a lack of engagement, and that it is fixable.

Think and Grow Rich  I reread this all-time personal achievement classic by Napoleon Hill every December before I set my goals for the coming year.  It always takes me back to the basics of success.  When was the last time you read it?

The Contrarian Salesperson  If you’re struggling to move your prospects forward and wonder what you’re doing wrong, this parable by Sandler Training ace Jody Williamson will show you how to assert yourself to close the deal.

The Wright Brothers  The stunning achievement of getting a human being off the ground into a sustained motorized flight is the subject of this detailed biography about Wilbur and Orville Wright.  Every time you see a jet fly overhead you’ll have a whole new appreciation of what it took.

The Cheat Code Going off Script to Get More, Go Faster and Shortcut Your Way to Success  Learn to “cheat” from Brian Wong, who, at 19, was the youngest entrepreneur to raise venture capital.  How did he get so damn smart so young?

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind  A fascinating, well-researched “biography” of how we evolved over the past 70,000+ years, and where we might be headed.

Competing Against Luck The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice  If you want to get luckier with your customers/clients, try looking through the lens of Jobs to Be Done to find out why they hire you to do a job for them.

The Opening Playbook A Professional’s Guide to Building Relationships that Grow Revenue  Old school “ABC” (“Always Be Closing”) is out — “ABO” (“Always Be Opening”) is IN.

Defying the Nazis The Sharps’ War  Learn how one dedicated Unitarian couple made a difference by saving the lives of hundreds during WWII.

All the Gallant Men An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor  And here’s one about the start of WWII that will take you right back to scene of the most heinous attack ever on our country’s military.  Both horrifying and uplifting, this book is hard to put down.

Al Capone His Life, Legacy, and Legend  Before Michael Jordan, the one person most identified with Chicago everywhere was Roaring Twenties gangster Alphonse Gabriel Capone.  Find out why in this one.

Tools of Titans The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers  Don’t let the size of this 650+ page behemoth scare you.  In its pages, Tim Ferriss delivers hundred of healthy, wealthy and wise podcast interview synopses, from the well-known (Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the obscure.  It’s a vast smorgasbord of insights, words of wisdom and new ways of doing life that will have you tearing through its pages, stimulate your thinking and even get you to try out new ideas.

The Undoing Project A Friendship That Changed Our Minds  Another well-crafted story by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short, Flash Boys) about how we often make wrong decisions in the face of uncertainty.

The Science of Selling Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal  Reveals that there’s a lot more science involved than you thought in the art of sales.
Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders  Some great leadership lessons from former nuclear submarine captain David Marquet, who took his sub from worst to first under his watch.

Setting the Table The Transforming Power of Hospitality  Here’s a tasty platter of savvy business advice served up by Danny Meyer, a New York City restaurateur maven because of his “hospitalitarian” philosophy.  This book is chock full of inspiring stories about Meyer’s struggles to success without compromising his values.  And it has so many great food references I was munching on something through every chapter!

Ego Is The Enemy  If you ever thought you were some kind of entrepreneurial whiz kid, then fell flat on your face (like I have) and had trouble getting up, guess what got in your way?  This useful little book will help you pick yourself up if you’re down or keep you grounded if you’re on top.

Into The Magic Shop A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart  Wanna live a rich life?  Turns out that compassion is the key, as told by Jim Doty, M.D.

Dare to Serve How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others  Popeyes was once trailing the fast-food field badly due to plenty of mistakes and mismanagement.  Since 2007, under CEO Cheryl Bachelder, Popeyes’ profits have gone up 40%.  Think Cheryl’s idea of making it all about others had anything to do with that?
What Great Salespeople Do The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story  Close more deals not with logical facts but with stories that help your prospects bond with you.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)  Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman was not your ordinary Manhattan project physicist.  He shared a number of insightful and wacky tales about science and life in this one.

The Top 1% Habits, Attitudes & Strategies for Exceptional Success There are plenty (too many?) books about how to make lots of money. You’ll be surprised to hear from author Dan Strutzel that getting in The Top 1% isn’t about your bank balance — it’s about becoming a Top 1% human being.

Win at Losing How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains  Ever fall on your face in life?  I have, and I’ll bet you have too.  It’s not that you fall, it’s how you learn to pick yourself up that counts.

The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need  While this isn’t the only sales book you should read, this one shares details on the two critical areas you need to succeed in sales:  Your mindset and your skill set.

The Magic of Getting What You Want  Another shamelessly positive-thinking book by Dr. David J. Schwartz, author of The Magic of Thinking Big.

Never Split the Difference Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It  Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss will help you understand that you negotiate with everyone in life, so you might as well get good at it.

A Sovereign People The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism  If you think that political intrigue, two-party haggling and international crises are something new for America, you’ll find out that this has been going on since the birth of our nation.

Expensive Sentences Debunking the Common Myths that Derail Discussions and Sabotage Success  If you ever say (or even think), “It’s too late to turn back now” or “We can handle that in-house” without challenging these time-worn phrases, it could be costing you dearly.

Sensemaking The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm  You can’t just look at raw data to make business decisions.  Go out into your customers’ world to find out what their experience is really all about.

The Stress Test How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper  If you believe you can overcome challenges, stress is actually a good thing.  Or, to paraphrase Nietzsche, whatever doesn’t stress you to death makes you stronger.

The Cubs Way The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse  Award-winning journalist Tom Verducci gives an extraordinarily insightful account of how Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and the entire cast of support staff and players brought home the championship after 108 years of frustration.  This is a MUST read for all Cub fans.  (PS — This 2017 team had better get back to The Cubs Way soon or it may be another 108 years …)
Rejection Proof How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection  If you fear rejection, Jia Jiang just might have the cure.  See if any of his “100 Days” can help you get over it.

You Are a Badass How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life  Let Jen Sincero slap you around a bit so you can get serious about becoming the star you are capable of being.  And if you wanna get serious about making money, pick up  You Are a Badass at Making Money Master the Mindset of Wealth.  Jen can help you with this too.
Build Your Dream Network Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World  No matter what your goal is, you need the right people in your network to help you achieve it.

The Entrepreneur’s Playbook More than 100 Proven Strategies, Tips, and Techniques to Build a Radically Successful Business  Leonard Green, one of Babson College’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, shares great tactics to help you think through your business.  He even offers business case studies with related exercises that you can complete virtually — what a mensch!

Meditations  Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was more than just a political figure.  In this tome he handed down his philosophy for living, which is like a mash-up of Buddhism, the Tao, Christianity and Stoicism.  Each chapter deserves slow, thoughtful reading about how to live one’s life.

The Outward Mindset Seeing Beyond Ourselves  Want better results?  As the late, great Stephen Covey said, “See first to understand, then be understood.”

Just Breathe Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business, and Beyond  Feeling stressed?  Let Dan Brule help you to breathe it away.

Remembering the Light Within A Course in Soul-Centered Living  If the saying “You’re not a human being having a spiritual experience, you’re a spiritual being having a human experience” resonates, this one’s for you.

The Happiness of Pursuit Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life  This inspiring book will validate the famous Earl Nightingale message in The Strangest Secret: “You become what you think about.”

My hope is that some of these titles will inspire your own reading habit.  I’m not a super-speedy reader but I willingly plowed through these books because absorbing their ideas is a critical part of my coaching job. The good news is you don’t even have to spend a dime if you have a library card. There’s no shelf room left for more books at my place so each one listed here was borrowed from my local library. And having a return date makes it likely that I’ll finish them on time – I HATE paying overdue fines!

Why wait?  If it seems daunting to begin your own reading habit, know that the journey of a thousand books starts with the first page. A good place to begin is to read one book a month, which you can accomplish by getting through just ten pages a day – that wouldn’t be too hard, would it?   Whatever reading goal you choose, go back to school TODAY so you can get to the top of your field.

PS – Please let me know what books have helped you learn and grow in the past year.

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