Tag: Book

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.

Leadership is an Art

Inspiring others, stoking a fire of passion in others, is an art that cannot be understated. To inspire others to follow you, embrace your dream as their own, and work towards making that dream come true, is a phenomenal though poorly understood concept that paradoxically remains of the utmost significance in the professional world, yet fails to be taught. How does an entrepreneur teach others to be the best of themselves? How does a leader cultivate ambition while retaining top talent? How does a CEO gain the loyalty of his/her workers and not encourage stagnancy?

Such are but a few of the many questions that Max Depree’s Leadership is an Art explores with versatile accuracy. Acknowledging the multitude of prevailing beliefs that currently characterize the ‘right way’ to lead, Depree concisely but comprehensively answers many of the questions that plague modern leadership. He teaches many lessons, and so I have chosen to list a few of my favorite just below:

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.

In developing any capitalistic enterprise, the leader must understand expectation and articulate what is considered success and what is failure. In achieving such, the leader must do whatever they can to produce what he or she said would be produced, be that a product or service. Yet, even when acting as a “servant,” the leader must understand they are always doing so for a price, thus acting as a “debtor.”

“Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.”

The harsh reality of running a business is that there is sacrifice. There is burden. There is pain. However, even in the face of difficulty, a leader cannot bend to the stress. To bend to the stress, to take your stress and displace it onto others, namely other employees, is to discourage those you’re supposed to encourage. In order to secure the best possible productivity from your workers, you must set a stellar example they can model. While it is hard to not internalize stress, leaders must strive to remain relaxed. Otherwise, said internalized stress will manifest in other ways, hurtful ways.

“Participative management is not democratic. Having a say differs from having a vote.”

An important though subjective distinction, it is significant to let your employees know they have a voice in the organization and where it’s going. However, an effective leader must also realize that, ultimately, the final decision is up to him or her. Moreover, employees themselves must realize this. They must understand that while their input is appreciated, it is not necessarily, or by any means really, the end all be all. Depree delves into detail on this vague idea and provides insightful advice on how to approach and implement this philosophy.

The truth is that leadership is a dynamic skill, changing with the tides and altering with the current state of the company. What leadership requires a year ago may be different today. What leadership requires at one company may differ considerably from what leadership requires at a different company. Leadership is malleable, flexible, but strong. It is an art top business executives must learn and must always continue to learn; and Depree helps do just that.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t delves into several fascinating facets of business that all-too-often go neglected. While Collins’ former book focused on establishing greatness in a company at its conception, Good to Great emphasizes the transformation. Can a company turn over a new leaf? Can a company transform a legacy of mediocrity into a legend of greatness?

Collins chose to answer this timeless question through a meticulous structure that is inherent in his novel. Using rigid benchmarks, Collins and his team organized companies by good and great, and then looked at their inner workings, examining what exactly separated the average from the spectacular.

Collins split his findings into several sections including but not limited to:

Level Five Leaders: The leadership required to achieve a level of greatness was stunning. Meticulous, inspirational, and empathetic, these leaders provide a stellar example in all that they do.

The Hedgehog Concept: Companies must exceed expectations and mere competence. They must strive for perfection. As they say, “Shoot for the moon and you may land among the stars.” One must raise the bar in order to transcend average limitations. What was average before is less than average now. As human beings, we continually improve upon ourselves in an effort to not just better ourselves, but to better the world around as well. Yet, it all starts with expectation and the mental limits we set for ourselves. We should set high expectations and not just set those expectations, but strive to exceed them. It is only by force of will that a company can become better than good, and that company must believe it will be better than good in order for that dream to come to fruition.

-A Culture of Discipline: Discipline is absolutely required for any company to transcend the mere boundaries of competence. Yet, capitalistic ventures must be sure to not fall victim to the boredom inherent in routine also. While discipline is certainly a pillar of success, so is innovation and entrepreneurship. A schedule should be maintained, but said schedule should also allot time for creativity and encourage innovation. By balancing these two integral facets of business, leaders will foster a culture of capitalistic excellence that never becomes entrenched in stagnation.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: If something is at fault with the system, CEO’s must be careful to not impulsively enact a massive restructuring program within the company. In fact, those enterprises that do so are almost guaranteed to never make the leap from good to great. Rather, company leaders should identify the issue and instead formulate a more appropriate, less extreme solution. Through compromise, a company can rectify issues and proceed to greatness despite any initial setbacks.

All in all, I’d recommend thumbing through Good to Great. Although not entirely comprehensive, it is certainly worth the read.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

BookThis timeless classic was first published in 1936 and to this day remains a prominent best-seller with good reason. Financial guru and fiscal extraordinaire Dale Carnegie details his tremendous success by laying out his pristine perception of people. By outwitting rivals, sympathizing with co-workers, and empathizing through shared experiences, Carnegie paints a comprehensive portrait of how to achieve the success most only dream of.

Mr. Carnegie gives timeless advice over and over again while supporting said advice with real-life examples that not only help you to wholly understand what is being said, but to remember what is being said. Anecdotal evidence has never proved so beneficial, until now. Utilizing literally the same techniques he preaches in the very prose of this book (anecdotes, empathy, support, rationale), Dale Carnegie transcends time through the written word to spread his knowledge.

To be a bit more specific (and perhaps to simplify a bit too much), the author stresses identifying with whom you are speaking by way of shared experiences. This way, you equalize the playing field, garner greater respect, and are able to, ultimately, exert influence. By putting yourself in the other’s shoes, you can plant a sort of desire that propels the individual to want what you want, and thus do what you want.

He goes on to speak at length about how to do this of course. Some mediums involve “throwing down a challenge,” letting the other recover from embarrassment and save face, and letting whoever you are talking with handle the majority of the dialogue. It’s funny; so much of the advice seems so simple and yet I’ve never quite put the notions into words. But here, with the words on the page in front of me, I feel the business lessons I have learned over the course of my career stand out with clarity.

These simplistically explained lessons provide explanations to nearly every situation, and are supported with comprehensive evidence. What’s more, after applying these lessons to my own life, I have experienced first-hand the success of these tactics when they’re employed. Mr. Carnegie has sincerely authored a truly easy-to-understand guide to success.

This straight-forward book is a well-written gift to the world and to all those lucky enough to pick it up. While it is certainly vastly popular, it took me awhile to thumb through its pages. Don’t make the same mistake as me; and expand your knowledge of business, of the world, and of life today.

 

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.

 

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Understanding human behavior, no matter how complex it may seem, can be valuable when launching a business or moving into a new aspect of your career. Luckily for you businessmen and women out there, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is an excellent, and highly comprehensive guide toward understanding how not rational our decisions Dan Ariely - Predictably Irrationalusually are.

Predictably Irrational, in the own words of Dan Ariely is meant to make the reader fundamentally rethink what makes them and the people around them tick. To do this, Ariely presents scientific experiments as well as several amusing anecdotes. But why should you trust what Ariely has to say about the way we make decisions? Dan Ariely happens to be the world’s leading behavioral economist and teaches psychology, as well as behavioral economics, at Duke University. Ariely is also the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, where he leads research on topics ranging from how we spend money, why people cheat to social justice.

This book is valuable for someone launching a company or starting a new career because it makes them think and reconsider if the decisions they are making truly are as rational as they think. What you will find is that they likely aren’t. For a long time, economist have painted this image of a human making the most rational and self interested decisions, but this book begins to unmask that in ways that can be beneficial to a CEO.

If, as a business leader, you first learn how your decisions are not as rational as you think they are and, at the same time, learn how your customers make decisions, you will be able to adapt and shape your business in such ways that you can take advantage of how customers think and make decision. This could potentially lead toward your business being able to better anticipate the needs of your customers.

Aside from the various experiments Ariely runs on his own students, he also presents examples on how we decide to support a business. Why do we choose to pay a few extra dollars for a cup of coffee even though the coffee across the street is cheaper and likely just as good? Companies like Starbucks Coffee, for example, have been successful in the way they have changed how customers looking for coffee think about price and the product. Ultimately, as a business leader, your goal will most likely be to change the way your potential customers think about your business in relation to the competition.

Competing for the Future

Management practices that worked in the old days shouldn’t always be counted on presently. With all the changes that have gone on in the business world, and especially in the realm of leadership, a necessary skill to have is thinking about the future. The future doesn’t mean just some 5 to 10 year plan your company has in mind, it goes far beyond that.

A great book to help business leaders learn this important skill is Gary Hamel and Des Hague BusinessC.K. Prahalad’s, Competing for the Future. Hamel is the founder of Strategos, which formed in 1995 and has since been a leading consulting firm with offices worldwide. The late C.K. Prahalad was a distinguished scholar from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan but passed away in 2010. Like Hamel, Prahalad was a prevalent voice within the business world. That they wrote this together, with the share of their knowledge, makes it a great book already.

The authors themselves state that the goal of the book is to help business leaders learn how to imagine the future and then work on creating that future that they imagined. It’s not enough to just increase performance, let’s say, or restructure your company. What you ultimately learn from Competing for the Future is strategy – how to strategize and how to execute that strategy with your company’s future in mind.

Another great aspect of this book is that it isn’t just a must read for the Executives. Managers and other leaders within a company should not hesitate in picking it up. The more people within a company’s leadership team that are working and strategizing with a future in mind the better. Management teams, for example, can learn that a moving toward the future they want for a company depends a lot on just how fast the company can learn about the upcoming future in comparison to competitors.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments

Sometimes, advice that can be extremely useful for your business can come from the strangest or most unexpected places. This time, advice coming from deep in the trenches of Hollywood may be just what you need to guide you on the long journey that comes with starting or owning a growing business.Unknown

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood, was written by Jeff B. Cohen, a former child actor and now a powerful attorney within the business side of Hollywood. To many, Jeff Cohen will always be “Chunk,” a character in Steven Spielberg’s cult classic, The Goonies. But throughout the years, it is clear that Cohen moved away from acting and focused his attention on how Hollywood does business and has found ways to apply it to business in general, not just entertainment. Cohen’s goal with this book is to share Hollywood’s applicable methodology for negotiating deals, managing time, and crisis management at the highest levels of a business.

In The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments, what you get is Cohen’s honesty and straightforward approach to becoming a better negotiator – among other things. Being a great negotiator is an essential trait for Hollywood actors and their agents, but knowing how to negotiate is essential elsewhere as well. One useful piece of advice taken from Cohen’s book is as follows: “Take Yes for Yes and take a No for Maybe.” Being persistent is important, but another piece of advice to go with that, that is also great as well is that one must deal with the reality of the situation. Accept what the reality is and don’t get caught up in what is hoped for.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments is a quick read, perfect for the summer if you are taking a small break but want to return packing great ideas and even greater motivation.