Books, books, books! Love them or loathe them – this is one blog post you can’t miss if you are serious about growing your business and building the life of your dreams!
These last few years have seen a lot of public attention on self-help, self-care and self-education. I am a big fan of all three and I find reading is a great tool for personal growth of any kind. But with so many recommended books out there, it can be hard to know where to start! Plus, as busy business owners – we wanna know our time spent upskilling, or broadening our mind, is going to pay off in the right areas… right?!
So I’ve cut through the clutter to present you with my Top 10 Reads. As a business owner, coach and financial consultant – these are the books I refer back to regularly, that fill me with inspiration and clarity not only for my business but my personal life alike.
With each recommendation I have shared my insight into why you might might it useful or what you can expect to discover between the pages. Let’s jump right in!
1. Traction by Gino Wickman
My number one goal is to help companies become the best versions of themselves, by freeing up their finances, so when I found a practical method like described in Traction by Gino Wickman you better believe I was all over it! In this book, Gino described the 6 key components of business: Vision – People – Data – Issues – Process – Traction. Do you want more focus, more growth and most of all more enjoyment? or can you relate to any of these problems?
– Lack of control (over your time, over the market, or over your organization)
– People problems (Employees, customers, vendors, partners)
– Money (managing the bottom line)
– Hitting the ceiling (halt in growth
– Nothing works (spinning wheels)
If you answered yes to any of the above, this book is an incredible place to start. It’s probably no surprise which was my favourite section! (Hint: it rhymes with funny)
2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
“What makes a winner?”
That’s the question posed in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the first time I read it, thousands of possible responses came to mind….
– You’re a winner when you finally understand your own spreadsheets (that’s why my clients tell me at least!)
– You’re a winner when you stay up to date on all your tracking (and don’t just cram it all in before the end of month!)
– You’re a winner when the launch if your new project / services / product / campaign goes well (we all love that feeling!
…Really the question was rhetorical. It was a jumping-off point to shift our thought process and help us “think ourselves rich” by making us more conscientious and in control of how we use/work with money. Many people first discover this book after hearing Tony Robbins recommended it, so I guess I am in good company there! But it’s not just for the influential people like Tony Robbins, Bob Procter, John Maxwell and the like. This book is for the regular, everyday people like you and me, who want to find their purpose in life and feel like a success.
This book offers a 13-step process that sounds so easy and almost comforting. The author is offered referred to as ‘grandfather of all motivational literature” ‘ and aptly so – I felt like I was walking through it with an old friend, a wiser friend, someone not unlike my own grandfather.
3. Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Although young in writing standards, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is third on my list for good reason (and not just because it’s a New York Times Best Seller). I love this book because, as they say, “you cannot improve something until you measure it.”
How do you improve your profitability until you know how profitable you are or aren’t? How do you strive for a good ROI (return on investment) if you don’t know what your current ROI is? As an accountant, I use numbers to measure everything. I want to make sure I’m accountable in every possible way, and that is why I think the extension of that quote, “always take 100 percent responsibility for your actions” resonates with me so well.
This book is described as an easy, step by step guide that helps you “multiply your success, chart your progress and achieve any desire.” I love it because I am dedicated to helping you be your most successful and confident self, when it comes to your business finances and this book reminds me that, in everything we do, it is the “little everyday decisions will take you to the life you desire, or disaster by default”. If you struggle with accounting or managing your books and never ask for help, that’s a decision that could lead to disaster. When you come to me (even for something as simple as advice, or some of my free resources) that is a decision that sets you on the path to greatness
4. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
Are you stuck in a rut in your work or home life? Take some time to sit and read Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, it will help you re-train your brain to approach work and life situations in a way that takes full advantage of the little daily details, that usually seem insignificant. When you continue to do this over time you increase your potential to achieve maximum results from your efforts.
Do you see how all these books are feeding into each other? Neat isn’t it! Actually, in the 8th-anniversary edition of this book, Olsen talks about “The Secret to Happiness and the Ripple Effect” – and I firmly believe that by stacking our learning and continuing to push the boundaries of our personal development, we create a ripple effect in our lives and businesses too.
This quote really stood out for me in particular, “A positive philosophy turns into a positive attitude, which turns into positive actions, which turns into positive results, which turns into a positive lifestyle. A negative philosophy turns into a negative attitude, which turns into negative actions which turns into a negative lifestyle.” If you desire it, it should be the thing most prevalent on your mind.
5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This absolute gem of book could not be missed from my list! Often called a ‘global phenomenon’, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho tops the best sellers list in over 72 countries and is said to have been read by over 60 million people!
There are 4 lessons within The Alchemist – and they spoke to me deeply:
1) No matter what you do, make sure you do it because it’s what your heart and soul desire
2) You will fail, don’t give up in the process
3) Maktub – arabic for “It is written.”
4) It is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary
… So, what does it mean? “Listen to your heart, read the omens strewn across life’s path and above all, follow your dreams.” In order to do this, we have to look inward and discover what our heart and soul desires. Then reflect on how we spend our days, and what we are working towards. Take pleasure in the small things and practice gratitude for the big things. And ask ourselves – if we love it, why would we stop fighting for it?
6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I wondered if the title of Big Magic might throw some of you a bit, but I promise this one plays into the ripple effect, too! If you’re not familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert she has also written Eat Pray Love, and City of Girls, which are both very popular books with a ‘journey of exploration’ theme too.
As you may have guessed, my brain is maths-orientated more than creatively-inclined. I like to think I am a bit creative at least… I design epic spreadsheets, I take pride in my beautiful branded website, I’ve decorated my house (with some help of course) and I find some pretty creative solutions to my client’s financial hurdles sometimes! That all counts too – doesn’t it? I wasn’t sure, so I picked this book up primarily out of curiosity and with a little apprehension… which I’m sure the author would be tickled about, since the tagline is “creative living beyond fear”. But when PopSugar reviewed the book (as a NY Times #1 bestseller) they dared anyone reading it, NOT to be inspired to be brave, free and curious – so I couldn’t resist!
Big Magic is all about breaking out of your own creative ruts, finding fulfillment, and facing your fears. And, with this book, timing is everything. Where you are in your life, when reading it, is directly connected to how you will receive the topics discussed. That means you can read it again later and get something totally different out of it, too! If you’ve ever believed we are all inherently creative, but aren’t sure you’re tapping into your true potential, then give this book a read, and keep it around to come back to, as well. It’s a permanent fixture in my office now – and a great conversation starter!
7. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
I know I’ve said many of the books on this list are a favourite but Essentialism by Greg McKeown might just top the list! Maybe it’s because this is the point that people are often at, when they seek me out, or maybe it’s because I have seen such an incredible change in my business and everyday life by implementing the practices I read about in this books like this. In either case – it shook me, disrupted me, made me uncomfortable, but at the same time I somehow felt insurmountably grateful while reading this book.
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” – How true is that!?
If we don’t make our goals a priority, we will always be working towards the goals of our boss, or other organizations. This book allowed me the freedom to look inside myself and my life – how I went about living, the priorities I gave to tasks and projects, and what I really wanted in life. It was a wake-up call.
In this book I recognised a lot of questions I often ask my coaching clients…. are you struggling with information overload? are you feeling overworked and underutilized? always busy but not productive? I would reassure anyone who said ‘yes’ even to just one, that I could help. That they could do and feel and thrive, better. But when reading this I realised I had never really asked myself these same questions. The moment I made essentialism an active part of my life, was the moment my life changed exponentially. McKeown had me challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’. What if we replaced that with doing ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.’ I have chosen to prioritise me, my family, my business and my goals – and I will continue to do so. What are your priorities?
8. The One Thing by Gary Keller
Following the theme of prioritising your life and cutting through the clutter, The One Thing by Gary Keller is another ripple in this pond of amazing reads. This book talks about having both less and more at the same time. Keller shows us we can have less in volume but more in quality, and that we can create these results in every area of our life – personal, family, spiritual and work.
We are constantly being told we need to be everywhere and do everything (hello, social media!) but The One Thing challenges that notion. It slices right through the noise of everyday life, and shocks us into realising that the practices outlined in this book are actually common sense.
I meet so many people who try to multitask but never finish projects on time. People who feeling torn between different goals in the life and business. And hey – I’m not immune either! Looking back now, I didn’t know what I wanted when I first started out in business. Of course, I had a general idea but in truly detailed sense, in terms of attainable, measurable goals… I didn’t know. But this one question changed the way I worked and thought, in a single moment – “What is THE ONE THING that you need to work on to either make everything else easier or to make it unnecessary?”
9. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
On the topic of taking back control of our lives, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a must-read. Are you living a win-win life? Do you know what a win-win life is?
If you answered ‘no’ to either of those, please pick up this book, and read it cover to cover. One of the biggest takeaways in this book is actually in the charts within it. As Tony Robins says – don’t just buy this book, use it! It can sit on your bedside table or in your reading nook all you want, but it’s nothing more than a dust collector until you use it. Maybe books like this sing especially strong to me because I love, love, love spreadsheets and graphs – they are my jam! The words and lessons are phenomenal too, but I have to say, the charts went straight to my heart!
Remember – “fundamentals are the key to success and Stephen Covey is the master of them”. Once you understand the 7 habits and how they support you in each stage of your journey, your life will never be the same again.
10. Atomic Habits by James Clear
To round it out, let’s talk daily routines with James Clear. He calls them Atomic Habits and as the Financial Times says – “this is a step by step manual for changing routines”. (You can see why I read this one now, can’t you?)
Here is a quick tease of the four laws he lays down, to help you set and maintain good habits:
- Make it Obvious – ‘point and call’ a Japanese custom
- Make it Attractive – make a habit pleasurable and it sticks
- Make it Easy – friction prevents habits from forming
- Make it Satisfying – no matter how small give yourself an incentive
It’s absolutely worth reading in full! What I love is that this is a no-nonsense, practical and methodical guide, with takeaways that anyone can apply and fit in with their lifestyle. It is so down-to-earth in its approach, with a great mix of research, anecdotes, real-life stories, tools, and references.
I’d love to hear what habits you started to stack after reading this one!
Now that you’ve got your reading list, what books are you going to start with? Are there any you’ve already read, or extras that you think I missed? Let me know!
I also want to say thank you for sticking with me through my ‘ripples’ analogy; by the end there I was picturing myself in this beautiful pond, knee-deep and picking up each book, creating a ripple effect as I passed it along….
And I think that imagery sums up my intention here, too. I want you to succeed just as much as you do. Reading is different for everyone – some find they are most receptive first thing in the morning, with the tea or coffee in hand, while other prefer to curl up after dinner is done and the dishes are cleaned, and you can let your mind focus on nothing but the words on the page. But whatever time works for you – if there is one last piece of advice I can give it would be this: Journal as you go. Take notes, write out your action steps, and keep the takeaways handy to save you from having to pause to implement the steps as you go along. It’ll be easier to read 10 books in a year this way.
What’s on your Top 10 list?
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You might also be interested in some of the resources on my freebies page – including a ‘guide to managing your business finances’ and some extra info and checklist for those who don’t yet have an accountant!