Category: Books (page 1 of 2)

The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs

The best are the best for a reason. The most wealthy, most ambitious, most successful entrepreneurs in the world—Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Sara Blakely from Spanx, Mark Pincus from Zynga, Kevin Plank from Under Armour—have all oriented their perception in order to be as successful as possible. They have changed their very way of thinking; they have developed The Entrepreneur Mind.

The author, Kevin D. Johnson, of The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs has boiled down these characteristics to their very essence in his insightful landmark novel. After running his own multi-million dollar corporation, Johnson Media Inc. in addition to founding and investing in a host of other entrepreneurial ventures, Kevin Johnson has developed the wherewithal, the resilience, and the motivation that has driven the planet’s most successful capitalists over the course of history.

Written specifically for both emerging and established entrepreneurs, the book concisely articulates one hundred key lessons that aid the new and the experienced alike. Restricted to seven categories, Strategy, Education, People, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Leadership, and Motivation, this valuable advice makes the bumpy road to true fiscal freedom a smooth path free from hiccups. Relying on his own experience, Johnson delves into detail on several particular points in his life, potentially the most captivating of which is a life-changing visit to Harvard Business School.

Yet, these life experiences merely support his main points and illustrate how to change, and the value of changing, your perception of the contemporary economic climate. Some of his tremendous tidbits of advice include but are not limited to: learning to think big, understanding who makes the best business partners, knowing what captivates investors, comprehending when to let go of an idea, and figuring out where to avoid opening a business bank account. Perhaps one of his most engaging ideas is his belief that too much formal education can actually hinder your entrepreneurial growth, a seemingly paradoxical idea that, in reality, largely rings true.

For those looking to dip their toes in the water of entrepreneurial instability, The Entrepreneur Mind is a wonderful introduction to the groundwork of capitalism.

How to Rectify Flaws in the Creative Process

While creative thinking and problem solving are both key concepts that are interconnected with the notion of business, entrepreneurship, there comes a time when these strongly ingrained ideas can hinder any sort of innovative process moving forward in your brand.

The inspirational book titled ‘Winning the Brain Game; Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking,” by Matthew May provides readers useful insight to tackle managing and developing your creative side once challenges in your business seem out of your reach.

Known as a very prolific author, May has crafted a myriad of books that include “The Elegant Solution”, “In Pursuit of Elegance”, “The Shibumi Strategy” and “The Law of Subtraction” that all collectively examine different strategies from design thinking to lean thinking. In terms of “Winning the Brain Game,” May gives advice to his readers so they can utilize their minds in ways to more effectively produce complex solutions to issues or problems that you previously felt were impossible to successfully approach.

winning the brain game

Although May discusses business related issues when it comes to approaching a new business plan, he also takes a step back to access how the various flaws of our educational system. He finds the root of our incapability to brainstorm from the ingrained mentality from school to never question or create new ways to approach a problem, but rather find the correct answer through a standardized exam.

In turn, May notes the fact that this does not only obstruct the problem solving process from an early age, but also conditions us to think very narrow-mindedly in a stage of our lives when innovation should be maximized in every way possible. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that to advance the creative side of your brain, the first step is to come up with various questions as a means to address the problem instead of forming solutions.

The logic is that these questions have the potential to initiate new ideas or ways to approach the problem instead of immediately conjuring up solutions with a limited originality.

As doubt is one of the many fundamental hindrances that negatively affect the creative process, May makes it known that censoring this is essential not only for your sanity, but also in terms of bettering yourself in your respective field. He then claims that in order to muster up the courage or bravery to improve creatively, we need to return to a mental state similar to how children act upon their curiosity or desire to experiment without concern of the outcome.

Also, he finds that this “ideacide” is rooted from fear, which allows us to engage in self-censoring to a point when we become completely incapable of producing anything that challenges normalcy or the situation’s conformed state. Thus, May argues that among all of the fatal flaws, self-doubt is by far the most dangerous any form of innovation.

To better respond to the self-doubt fatal-thinking flaw, the author makes an interesting point to undertake new scenarios or situations with a mindful framework as a means to better approach the matter at hand with active thinking, instead of indifference or perhaps rejection. The act of questioning or taking other perspectives into account is highly important when it comes to any sort of professional, personal or academic growth as you move forward in your path.

The 100$ Start-Up

So often people question why they are doing what they are doing. As people, how can we spend 40+ hours doing something we don’t enjoy? Life is too short, and Chris Guillebeau explains in The 100$ Start-Up how to monetize your passion. However, the difference with this self-help/how-to book is in the specifics. Whereas most books of this genre often speak in generalities and hypotheticals, Guillebeau dives in with both feet, having identified, researched, and interviewed 1500 different individuals. He delves into the finances, the time spent, and whether or not the risk was worth the reward.

Spoiler alert: it was. Chris himself lives a similar lifestyle. Only in his early thirties, Guillebeau has traveled to over 170 countries and has never received a “regular” paycheck. Although a nomadic young man may not seem like the quintessential entrepreneur I would want to take advice from, I must say that while reading through his book, I found myself not just hearing what was being said, but truly listening and understanding. Certainly Chris’ own story is inspiring, but what really makes the book is when it goes onto speak of others who have achieved monetizing their passion. Take for example the Canadian snowboarder.

Tired of earning a meager income as an instructor, he decided something needed to be done to better his annual salary. After brainstorming different possible opportunities, he realized that there was a market for a DVD set of instructional videos. After creating, taping, and producing his own original films, this former snowboard instructor became the CEO of his very own 300,000$ dollar/year business. Although not exactly conventional, Chris’ bold defiance of traditional business models are intriguing, and in many cases, compelling.

He claims that “you don’t need outside investment (of any kind), an MBA, or a 65-page business plan that no one will ever read. You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to buy it, and a means of getting paid.” That being said, I am not advocating throwing the rules out of the window. I am saying his narrative is engaging, impressive and most of all, inspiring.

Getting paid to do what we love all too often seems impossible. Yet, maybe it isn’t. Maybe all we really need is a relevant, marketable idea, a little bit of confidence, and a push in the right direction. After reading The 100$ Start-Up, doing what you love doesn’t just seem possible. It seems plausible.

100$ Start-up, Chris Guillebeau

 

Finding Your Strengths

There is no question that the ability to find and be secure in your strengths is an incredibly difficult task that is becoming increasingly hard to deconstruct. Insecurity about strengths or weaknesses in the workplace is something everyone feels from their day to day lives, which the author of “Standout” examines with the release of his most recent book. Marcus Buckingham, who many people believe is a prominent presence in what is called the strengths movement, has been a leading voice in rethinking how we can uniquely succeed in the workplace through the process of specific online tests.

people at work

 

 

Different from his previous books that have focused on the first two steps of finding your strengths, his latest book titled Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution, emphasizes the last step of the process is utilizing the online assessment to discover what your two primary strength areas are to essentially excel in the workplace.Instead of taking the approach to improve your certain weaknesses, Buckingham supports the evidence used in his book on thorough behavioral and statistical research which he used to analyze some of the world’s top business leaders. In terms of the exam itself, below are the twenty strengths that are in the assessment crafted to find areas in which you stand out and should further capitalize on in the workplace.

 

Connector

Charismatic people that have the innate ability to connect and interact with people on a high energy level very different from the average person. They value collaboration and better understanding people through interaction.

 

Provider

This role depicts someone who essentially values the community around them and does their best to support their environment in any way they can. Some forms of this include knowledge or other intellectual resources.

 

Advisor

The person who is constantly guiding others either on your team or others in the office who are willing to learn.

 

Creator

You create and are constantly coming up with new ways to approach a certain process or idea. Generating interesting ways to tackle a specific situation is something you love to do.

 

Equalizer

These types of individuals strongly feel as though everyone’s work should be at an equal level as their own. They strive to be better, while expecting the same strong work ethic in return.

 

Influencer

Based on very clear verbal directness, influencers are keen on finding ways to achieve a goal in various circumstances by capitalizing on charm or other enticing means of communication.

 

Pioneer

Intrigued by the spontaneous or exciting experiences, these individuals love to constantly challenge themselves by trying to break out of their comfort zones.

 

Stimulator

A nature leader, your high energy influences other to engage what you have to say or do at a level very different from the other strength areas.


Unlike other books that have a clear focus on improving or finding your strengths, Buckingham does not use excessive theoretical jargon or complex language to effectively achieve his message to his readers. More than anything, he holistically explains the highlights of his research so that you, the reader can find success in your respective career path full of skills that are waiting to be tapped into.

Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!)

Best Business Books: Damn Good Advice: Des Hague Reviews Blog The book, Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!)  contains in-your-face advice and life lessons from advertising guru, original Mad Man, and acclaimed cultural provocateur, George Lois. According to an online source, George has profoundly changed the marketing and cultural world we live in with his unique and inspirational creative thinking. He has been referred to as  a “prodigy, enfant terrible, founder of agencies, and creator of legends” by the Wall Street Journal.  

I found George’s book to be quite inspiring in a very practical way. I would highly recommend it to readers who are interested in design, specifically advertising.  With that said, the book also offers countless indispensable lessons, facts, anecdotes &, in general, worthy advice. 

 His advice essentially falls into two categories which he uses his own work and experiences from his own life to illuminate. The first is a series of variations on “Trust your gut” – whether that’s expressed as believing in your ideas when presenting them to the client, or believing in yourself when clients, industry peers and common sense all say you’re wrong, or, and perhaps most importantly, believing in your talent when you’re trying to solve a problem.  – Source 

The other piece of advice is “Never give up” and again, it has several permutations. Don’t give up learning – creative people who have closed their minds are, in Lois’s eyes, useless. Don’t give up trying to solve a problem – no matter the hurdles, the outrageousness, the setbacks. And don’t give up on yourself – because really, you’re all you’ve got. And while one could look at this advice as merely an excuse for ego, I think it’s more rewarding to think of it as representative of commitment, loyalty, perseverance and hard work – all qualities anyone in this industry would do well to practice. – Source

Best Business Books: Damn Good Advice: Des Hague Reviews BlogAll in all, the book is a timeless creative bible for all those looking to succeed in both their personal and professional lives.

Read an excerpt from the book, Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!) 

The 5 Levels of Leadership

Des Hague Book ReviewThe 5 Levels of Leadership provides clear steps for leadership growth. Lead people well and help members of your team to become effective leaders, and a successful career path is almost guaranteed. In the beginning of the book, author, John C. Maxwell talks about how he conceived each level as a practice that could be used to lead more effectively.  As time went by, and he used and taught the levels, he realized they were actually principles. Here’s the difference: a practice is an action that may work in one situation but not necessarily in another.  A principle is an external truth that is as reliable as a physical law.

Each of the sections of this book is dedicated to one of the 5 Levels.  In them you will learn the upside of the level, the downside, the best behaviors for that level, the beliefs that help a leader move up to the next level, and how the level relates to the Laws of Leadership, your understanding will be enhanced by seeing how they fit into the 5 Levels.  But even if you are new to the laws, you will understand the basic concept behind each and how it is applicable. There is also a growth guide for each level.

This blog post includes an overview of the 5 levels and how they fit together.

Des Hague Book Review

Level 1 – Position 

Position is the lowest level of leadership– the entry level.  The only influence a positional leader has is that which comes with the job title. People follow because they have to.  Positional leadership is based on the rights  granted by the position and the title. Nothing is wrong with having a leadership position. Everything is wrong with using position to get people to follow. Position is a poor substitute for influence. People who make it only to Level 1 may be bosses, but they are never leaders. They have subordinates, not team members. They rely on rules, regulations, policies and organization charts to control their people. Their people will only follow them within the stated boundaries of their authority. And their people will usually do only what is required of them. When positional leaders ask for extra time or effort, they rarely get it. Positional leaders usually have difficulty working with volunteers, younger people, and the highly educated. Why? Because positional leaders have no influence and these types of people tend to be more independent. Position is the only level that does not require ability and effort to achieve. Anyone can be appointed to a position.

Level 2 – Permission 

Level 2 is based entirely on relationships. On the Permission level, people follow because they want to. When you like people and treat them as individuals who have value, you begin to develop influence on them. You develop trust. The environment becomes much more positive — whether at  home, on the job, at play, or while volunteering. The agenda for leaders on Level 2 isn’t preserving their position. It’s getting to know their people and figuring out how to get along with them. Leaders find out who their people are. Followers find out who their leaders are. People build solid, lasting relationships. You can like people without leading them, but you cannot lead people well without liking them. That’s what Level 2 is all about.

Level 3 – Production 

One of the dangers of getting to the Permission level is that a leader may be tempted to stop there. But good leaders don’t just create a pleasant working environment. They get things done! That’s why they must move up to Level 3, which is based on results. On the Production level leaders gain influence and credibility, and people begin to follow them because of what they have done for the organization.  Many positive things begin happening when leaders get to Level 3. Work gets done, morale improves, profits go up, turnover goes down, and goals are achieved.  It is on Level 3 that momentum kicks in.

Level 4 – People 

Level 4 leadership is about people development. It reflects your ability to develop and reproduce other leaders. This is the stage where your leadership gains depth, sustainability, and begins to extend your influence beyond what you can accomplish on your own. This is the result of investing into others and helping them become better people and leaders.

Level 5 – Pinnacle 

Rare is the leader who reaches Level 5—the Pinnacle. Not only is leadership at this level a culmination of leading well on the other four levels, but it also requires both a high degree of skill and some amount of natural leadership ability. It takes a lot to be able to develop other leaders so that they reach Level 4; that’s what Level 5 leaders do. The individuals who reach Level 5 lead so well for so long that they create a legacy of leadership in the organization they serve.

Pinnacle leaders stand out from everyone else. They are a cut above, and they seem to bring success with them wherever they go. Leadership at this high level lifts the entire organization and creates an environment that benefits everyone in it, contributing to their success. Level 5 leaders often possess an influence that transcends the organization and the industry the leader works in.

The Zigzag Principle

In the startup industry, there is a widespread ‘get it done’ mentality, through which entrepreneurs are urged to push forward to their goal at all costs. Rich Christiansen challenges this mentality in The ZIgzag Principle, in which he postulates that forging a straight path toward a goal does not produce lasting results. Instead, Christiansen advocates for taking time to raise money, acquire resources, scale, and learn to fail. By following a select set of ‘zigzag’ principles, he asserts that a business will become profitable and surpass its initial startup stage.

The Zigzag principleThe zigzag principle stemmed from a skiing session that Christiansen had one winter with his son. The two were beginners, and accidentally ended up on the most difficult slope. Instead of attempting to ski straight down the hill, which was very dangerous at their level, Christiansen decided he and his son should zigzag down the hill until they reached the bottom. This allowed them to get safely off of the slope without injury. Christiansen says the same mentality should be applied to life and business – while shooting straight toward a goal may get you to that goal faster, there is more chance of sustaining lasting repercussions along the way.

The zigzag principle starts at the very beginning of forming a business. Christiansen challenges his readers to look at their internal motivation, rather than focus on mission statements. He believes that the motivation behind beginning a company will help determine if the company is sustainable to its founder, and therefore if the mission statement should even be written.

The first ‘zig’ principle focuses on making money. The book guides its reader through a process to determine how to make a business profitable. Far too many startups do not focus on profitability at the beginning, which increases their chance of failing. The second ‘zag’ principle is all about additional resources. Once a new business becomes profitable, it can focus on adding more people and capital to expand. The third and final ‘zag’ principle involves scaling in a big way. Christiansen guides readers through deciding how large they want to make their business, and through determining how they will get there.

The rest of the book helps its readers navigate how to deal with a creative team and how to track progress. Christiansen also includes demonstrative success stories from himself and other companies.

This book is a must-read resource for all people looking to start a new business. Christiansen’s zigzag principle is a revolutionary approach to starting a business that can guarantee lasting success.

The Power of Habit

THe Power of HabitA large portion of success depends on habit. What we do on a day to day basis and how we do it can determine how much we get done. Adopting beneficial habits can boost productivity but, unfortunately, bad habits run rampant as well, and these are hard to change.

Charles Duhigg, a reporter for the New York Times, takes a business approach to the concept of habit in his book The Power of Habit, which explores the psychology behind forming habits, and how to break the bad ones. His insight is based on years of reading scientific research and interviewing scientists. He chronicles his findings in an interesting way, which makes this book an authority on habits for everyday readers.

Duhigg wrote the book with the idea that people can change what about themselves they understand. He believed that recognizing the science behind forming habits would be able to help not only individuals, but also entire companies. Changing personal habits can influence group changes and lead even companies that struggle the most down a successful road.

His focus in the book is three-pronged – the psychological formation of habits, how habits are used in and by companies, and how habits have sparked social movement. He refers to habit formation as ‘The Habit Loop.’ Habits, he reports, are formed based on repetition until they become routine. One trigger from the environment can lead to a constant behavior that is connected to a reward. This is true for all habits; even ones detrimental to our health or productivity are associated with rewards. Additionally, our habits take up almost half of our daily operating.

Duhigg spends the first section of the book emphasizing how prevalent habits are in our daily lives and how every habit, no matter how small it may seem, can drastically affect our performance. In the second section of the book, he approaches habit formation from a company standpoint. More specifically, he writes about a feedback system to help instill habits in others. This system involves making a reward at the end of an action known and desirable, to making the action itself routine. Entire corporations have been altered by this feedback system. Creating habits based on company values instills a company culture based on value of the company and respect for its work.

The third and final section of the book, and arguably the most important, describes why habits change, and therefore how a change can be made. Duhigg writes that recognizing and addressing a specific habit’s cue is all a person, or a company, needs to change that habit entirely. He uses this part of the book to investigate how entire social movements were influenced by habit. Leaders of such movements initiate habits that are followed by others, which is how a small routine can become a societal change. Habits instilled by leaders become a part of an individual’s identity, and it is there that they thrive and endure.

This book is an important read for anyone looking to become more productive, or to boost the productivity of their team. Duhigg has written an invaluable resource that, if heeded, will surely lead to success.

 

The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership

Leadership Steve Farber explores an entirely new leadership model in his book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership, where leaders aren’t afraid to take risks, make mistakes in front of employees, or actively solicit employee feedback.  

 

Farber’s modern parable begins on a sunny California beach where he has a strange and unexpected encounter with a surfer named Edg. Despite his unassuming appearance, the enigmatic Edg seems to know an awful lot about leadership and this brief interaction propels Steve into an unforgettable journey. Along the way, he learns extreme leadership through the concept of L.EA.P.—and what it means to take the Radical Leap.  In the last 10 years, the book has sold over 100,000 copies and inspires business leaders all over the world to bring Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof to their work and their life. 

Written as a novel, the book keeps you engaged from start to finish and the ideas and concepts are subtly woven into the fabric of the book. Unique but believable characters, a genuine sincerity in the message and an “acceptable” way of introducing Love into your organization.  Steve Farber encourages us to remember why we took that job, started that business, or simply trek in to the office each day. He encourages us to reconnect, to be real, and to live publicly on the ‘skinny branches’ of life and work.

To be a leader requires that you take full responsibility to equip yourself so that your impact on your “world” will be as positive as it can be – both in the very measurable metrics of business performance, and in the less quantitative “atmospherics” of business and the lives you can potentially impact through your leadership actions and activities. Geared to people at any level who aspire to change things for the better, The Radical Leap is creating legions of Extreme Leaders in business, education, non-profits and beyond.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Succes. No, that’s not a typo. Succes, or SUCCES, is the acronym used by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, the latter a Duke University professor and the former a professor at Made to Stick - Chip and Dan HeathStanford Graduate School of Business, in their bestselling book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007). For two years, Made to Stick was on the bestseller list for BusinessWeek which makes it not very surprising if you have heard of this great book by now.

What does SUCCES stand for? It stands for six principles or traits that the Heath brothers have identified as essential to making an idea “stick.”

Sticky ideas have these traits – sticky ideas are remembered, easily understood, and they also change something. The recommendation is, that by using these six traits, or most of them at least, when communicating ideas and strategies, one can make those ideas “stick.”

Simple – Strip the idea to its core

Unexpected – Getting attention and keeping it

Concrete – Easy to accept

Credible – Creating credibility without having authority

Emotional – Making people care

Stories – Telling it like a story

Dan and Chip Heath use a combination of funny, fictional stories/urban legends and case studies, some of which cover memorable events, figures and companies in recent history. Through this, they show how certain principles were employed in their respective moment and how the reader can do something similar.

One of the many tips and tricks that the authors provide is the idea of using people’s own memories to pitch ideas. These “memory schemas” could be used by Hollywood movie producers, for example, when they pitch ideas by putting the new idea in perspective with a hit movie that already came out. When pitching the idea for the 1979 sci-fi thriller, Alien, a producer could say “Alien will be Jaws on a spaceship,” which came out 4 years prior to Alien.

A big takeaway from this book is that a person who is sharing an idea, be it a CEO, manager, or politician, has to consider that they already possess knowledge that their audience does not. The audience is unable to frame the issue in the same way that the idea sharer can. In all, this is where making ideas sticky comes into play.