PAGE-TURNING BUSINESS BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ THIS YEAR
That’s right, page turning. We said it and we meant it. While some business books are best used to induce a coma, act as a make-shift door-stop or just look good on a shelf, others genuinely illuminate their subject and hopefully the little light bulb that sits right above your head.
Business people are the busiest people of all. Nobody wants to labour through a well-meaning but long-winded book that feels like homework and reads like The Yellow Pages. You want something fun, fast and to the point. Something that renews your passion for business, whilst giving you bloody brilliant ideas to beat your competitors.
There have been a lot of great, snappy business books published within the last year or so. Here’s our pick of the best. Good reads guaranteed.
PRE-SUASION – A REVOLUTIONARY WAY TO INFLUENCE AND PERSUADE
By Robert Cialdini
Published September 2016
This isn’t ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. It’s much darker and more manipulative than that.
There’s nothing more interesting than the inner workings of the human mind. The subject of why people do what they do, what influences their decisions and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage should be near the top of every smart business leader’s bedtime reading list.
Yes, it all sounds a bit calculated, nefarious even, but don’t think of it as a dark art. Let’s put it another way. This book is about helping people. Helping people to see things your way, bringing them round to your way of thinking, Kellyanne Conway style, but slicker and more believable.
After all, Marketing and sales isn’t about being nice, it’s about influencing people. Pre-Suasion uses shockingly memorable but highly insightful case studies to explain the true drivers of persuasion. The book argues that it’s not just the sales pitch or the words you use in the moment that matter, it’s the scene and the stage you set beforehand that really count.
Does it work? Put it this way, we’ve read it and now we’re telling you to read it. So yes, it works. It’s an evil genius of a book. Ruthlessly charming, utterly fascinating and truly indispensable. You should read it. You’re far too nice anyway.
Read more about Pre-suasion on Amazon here.
MANAGING HUMANS – BITING AND HUMOROUS TALES
By Michael Lopp
Published July 2016
How many business books would make a great comedy? Not many but ‘Managing Humans’ would. Think of it as a darkly twisted, upmarket IT Crowd but with plenty of proper professional advice that you won’t forget. Ever. Even if you try to.
Michael Lopp, the man behind randsinresponse, tells the reader about his varied and often bizarre experiences as a manager in Silicon Valley, working for big multi-national companies including Apple, Pinterest, and Netscape.
The ongoing, often salacious saga is centred on software engineering, but before you switch yourself off and reboot, stick with us because this book is a great read for anyone in business, particularly those with subordinates.
Managing Humans covers everything you’d expect from a people management book, handling conflict, hiring well, motivating employees, building effective teams and much more all get a thorough look in. But this book isn’t your usual HR guide with supporting case studies. It’s a ballsy behind the scenes expose, full of cutting wit and sharp intellect, all wrapped up in bite-size chapters.
The brutally honest Lopp tells us plenty of stories he probably shouldn’t, but the effect cuts right to the very heart of the matter, tearing it open and dissecting it in full. Whether you're a manager, or not, or – as the sleeve suggest - just wondering what the hell a manager does all day, this book serves as the most memorable management memoir you are most likely to ever read.
Read more about Managing Humans on Amazon here.
EGO IS THE ENEMY
By Ryan Holiday
Published July 2016
Deep down, we’re all egomaniacs. Who isn’t at least a little self-centered or self-obsessed at times? We often imagine highly successful people to be completely narcissistic and full of themselves too. That’s probably how they got so successful in the first place, right? They just believed in themselves so much. Wrong.
A towering ego is a universally unattractive quality but in business, it’s often mistaken for confidence or brushed off as bravado. But is ego dangerous? Is it damaging to business and actually the key thing that’s holding us all back?
Confidence is usually touted as ‘the key’ to all success. But Ryan takes a different view, challenging that assumption, highlighting how we can earn confidence by pursuing something bigger than our own accomplishment.
As ethical as it is enlightening, Ego Is the Enemy isn’t strictly a business book. It’s also a book about life. It doesn't extol the virtues of being nice or projecting false modesty, the book focusses on the power of humility and its ability to help people develop, realise talent, see their own faults and identify ways in which they can improve.
In a world that’s telling you to seize what’s yours, jam your foot in the door and shout about your success, Ego is the Enemy tells you to stay a student, beware entitlement and be gracious in defeat. It’s a refreshing read and a must for those of us who might be getting a little too big for our britches.
Read more about Ego is the Enemy on Amazon here.
SMARTER FASTER BETTER: THE SECRETS OF BEING PRODUCTIVE
By Charles Duhigg
Published March 2016
‘Don’t be busy, be productive’ is an often-repeated business mantra that ultimately irritates. Single positive slogans rarely get to the core of any issue and have all the insight of a well-meaning but dim-witted, late-night infomercial.
Smarter Faster Better is different. It explores the science of productivity in a hugely relatable way. Pulitzer-Prize winning author Charles Duhigg draws on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and economics, but don’t let that put you off.
The team behind Disney's ‘Frozen’, FBI agents, airplane pilots, CEO’s and Broadway songwriters all provide the lively and ever entertaining real-life lessons, that will likely stick with you forever.
The book’s central message is that productivity relies on making certain choices. The way we frame decisions; the ambitions we embrace and the cultures we establish as leaders are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.
If you’re sick of being busy all the time and not getting enough actually done, step away from the keyboard, head to your local book shop and order this right away. This is the book for you.
Read more about Smarter Faster Better on Amazon here.
INNOVATION AS USUAL
By Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
Published March 2016
Picture the scene. You or your organisation are looking for creative solutions, new thinking to address perennial problems. So, you’re packed off to some workshop or day-trip, for a team brainstorming exercise complete with over enthusiastic facilitators, frenzied flip-charting and, if you’re lucky, a free lunch.
But what happens after that? You return to the daily grind and its business as usual. But there is a better way and it’s way more effective than simply scribing down a great idea on a white-board and moving on.
Innovation as Usual doesn’t see creativity as a fun sideline, they see it as an essential tool for business survival and the authors give you a systematic approach to making innovation happen.
Using examples from a wide range of companies, Innovation as Usual challenges the way you see innovation itself and offers a solution to embedding creativity in the DNA of the workplace.
If your company struggles to innovate, is stuck in a rut or you’re just looking for a quick, practical guide on how to convert innovative ideas into commercial success there is no better book out there on the subject.
Read more about Innovation as Usual on Amazon here.
It’s all too easy in business to get lost in your own workload, to never look up or take time the time to learn new things and see the world through another person’s viewpoint.
Great business-minds, from Richard Branson to Bill Gates still read business books for one simple reason. Real growth, both in life and in business, is never solely about your own experiences.
Learning from the knowledge and experiences of others is still the best way for busy business people to grow. But good books are never a chore, so bin the boring ones, life’s too short.
Binge read a genuinely brilliant book or two this year and pass it on. Sharing knowledge shapes business and shows colleagues and clients that you really care and that you really know your stuff.