Market, Manage and Measure Growth: 6 Motivating Business Books for Autumn
Make fourth quarter your best quarter with insights and strategies from these titles.
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Adam Witty is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Charleston, South Carolina, and founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists in working with business professionals to elevate brands and grow businesses through publishing. Adam has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 U.S. states and 13 countries. As an author and CEO, we asked Adam what's on his reading list. Here's what he shared.
With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, do you need a nudge to upshift from a slower summer pace to your regular work schedule? Now is the time to freshen strategies in preparation for a strong final quarter.
Here are six titles in my autumn 2018 stack that inspire me:
1. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr
Doerr, an original investor and board member at Google and Amazon--dubbed "the Michael Jordan of venture capital"--calls this his handbook for setting and achieving audacious goals. That's a modest assessment. As a company leader, I've had my share of successes and failures with traditional goal-setting systems. Doerr re-introduced me to Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)--setting up transparent, ambitious, time-bound and actionable objectives, then measuring for quantifiable results. OKRs focus company effort and foster coordination, creating an environment of candor that brings problems to the surface. From startups to large corporations to non-profits, Doerr makes it easy for the reader to model how OKRs could work at their company. A game-changing read.
2. Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz
Michalowicz is a successful entrepreneur and author of, among others, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, often deemed the entrepreneur's cult classic. You started a business so you could live life on your own terms, right? Many of us, though, get bogged down by the daily grind, tied to our phones and constantly on-call. This book is about not letting a successful business eat you alive. Michalowicz offers practical, applicable advice and tools for removing yourself from day-to-day operations to enable your business to run itself. He discusses the four phases of a successful business owner--doer, decider, delegator and designer--and shares tips on how to graduate from one phase to the next. A must-read for any entrepreneur who wants to have both a successful business and a life.
We're only as strong as the team around us. Brown, a certified Entrepreneurial Operating System implementer, has written a guidebook for creating healthy, thriving companies where every employee is on the same path. He offers a litmus test--seven questions that all employees must answer "yes" to: Do they feel like they belong, believe in the company, know what they're accountable for, understand how they're measured, know how their opinion is being heard, understand how they are developing as professionals and fit the organization's work-life balance expectations? Brown asserts that only with this knowledge can management create a company that can healthfully move forward. He shares tools and concepts that illustrate how to engage your workforce, with a focus on millennials. A highly valuable read.
4. From Problem Solving to Solution Design: Turning Ideas into Actions by J. Eduardo Campos and Erica Campos
The Camposes run a consulting firm which helps business leaders design solutions to their most complex organizational problems. As we know, business issues, left unaddressed, will crop up time and time again. Complicating the initial problem with layers of bureaucracy, differing opinions and egos is a recipe for disaster. The authors reveal how to find the root cause of a problem and create lasting change. They've engineered the I.D.E.A.S framework: Identify the problem, Design the solution, Engage stakeholders, Act on recommendations and Sustain the solution. Their language is simple and clear, and the tools they share are invaluable. This book is not only recommended; it is necessary.
5. Leading with Dignity: How to Create a Culture that Brings Out the Best in People by Dr. Donna Hicks
Dr. Hicks discusses the vital but under-recognized role of dignity in the fabric of good leadership. She defines dignity as our inherent value and worth--not earned like respect, but conferred as part of the human experience. When leaders fail to recognize and respect the dignity of others, conflict and distrust ensue. She highlights three components of leading with dignity: What one must know in order to honor dignity and avoid violating it; what one must do to lead with dignity; and how one can create a culture of dignity in which everyone thrives. Hicks previously facilitated diplomatic efforts in high-conflict regions, which is how she realized that opposing sides were fighting for their dignity--recognition as valuable, worthwhile human beings. That epiphany led her to write this provocative book.
Now for an oldie-but-goodie:
6. The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema
The premise of this 1997 classic is still relevant and directed toward any business striving to achieve market dominance (isn't that all of us?). The message is that "no company can succeed by trying to be all things to all people. It must instead find the unique value that it alone can deliver to a chosen market." Why and how this is done are the two fundamental questions addressed. The authors propose that companies which try to excel at everything ultimately excel at nothing and should instead focus on one of three disciplines: leading with low costs, great products or an outstanding ability to solve customers' problems. While all are essential and interdependent, Treacy and Wiersema make the case that companies must fully commit to one of the three disciplines in order to build and sustain market leadership. The information presented is timeless.