Today's Professional

Today's Professional

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Business Folks

I will be featuring a weekly Top 10 Tuesday list. This week's Top 10 focuses on books I have read that inspire me to improve professionally.
Top books for business

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
Though published in 1937, the principles of this book are still applicable today, whether for business, or self-help. How to Win Friends and Influence People is written to the point and its techniques can be applied in any social situation. The stories and real life examples assist readers in seeing how the principles are applied.

This book is highly criticized in the foreword of Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Personally for me Covey’s criticism did not sit well, as Carnegie’s points are very applicable in regards to interpersonal communication and show you how to respect others in a mutually beneficial manner.

I suggest giving this book a read and seeing if its principles have an effect on your business and personal relationships.

2. Good to Great - Jim Collins 
In Good to Great, Collins discusses the finding of his research team focusing on what characteristics are found in great business. In Good to Great, “greatness” is defined as financial performance which is several multiples better than that of the market average over a sustained period.

Of the seven characteristics described by Collins, the Hedgehog concept sits best with me. The Hedgehog concept states that organizations have three overlapping circles; What makes you money? What could you be best in the world at? And What lights your fire? By continuously ask yourself these questions you can improve your organization’s performance. In my humble opinion this is something that can be applied to the individual and transform you from a good employee to a great employee.

3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni’s the Five Dysfunctions of a Team is written as a “business fable” and addresses the ultimate causes of interoffice politics and team failure.  Lencioni uses eight characters to tell his story of dysfunction and how to overcome it. The characters all have mission critical positions, and Lencioni accurately describes the interworking of office politics and how these positions often team up against and misunderstand the objectives and motives of other departments.

What I took away from this book was the clear role each team member plays in causing dysfunction and the role each individual plays in creating unity in a team environment. I suggest reading this book both to learn how to work in a dysfunctional environment as well as how to prevent yourself from becoming a root cause to dysfunctional behavior.

4. Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West.- T.R. Reid
Confucius Lives Next Door applies Eastern philosophies to life and business practices found in the West. Reid shares his experience with living in Japan with the reader and makes multiple comparisons on the cultural differences that exist. The books is easy to read, and provides a lot of insight on everyday life, both personal and business, that encourages reader reflection on their own life.

The most memorable concept highlighted in the book in my opinion is that of the internal consultant. Reid explains the role of employees in Japan to serve as consultants on how to implement and improve efficiencies. The concept is simple, ask your employees how you can improve process, they know their job better than anyone else, why not ask them how it can be improved?

5. The Four Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferris
I debated whether or not to include The Four-Hour work Week on this list. I feel this book is a fine example of how marketing and brand creation can lead to success for an author. Who wouldn’t want to work only four hours a week and be “rich” as defined by Ferris? I included this book on my list, because I am a huge fan of productivity and efficient work. Ferris highlights multiple techniques that can improve time management and allow you to focus what is important to you.

Do I believe that if you read this book, you will be freed from a forty hour work week and be able to do whatever you want? No, save for a select few. What I do believe is that the underlying principles Ferris describes can be applied to your everyday life to allow you to have time to focus on what is important to you.

I have read this book twice and both times have found applicable efficiencies that optimize some of my work processes. The concept that has been useful for me is batch working. By completing groups of similar task at one time, I have been able to reduce work time by “automating” the task more.

6. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century – Thomas Friedman
Globalization. Need I say more?

7. Strength Finder 2.0 - Tom Rath
Strength Finder 2.0 is more of a tool than a book. Readers take a test of sorts with the goal of identifying their strengths. Roth suggests, as opposed to focusing on weakness, you should focus on your strengths and improve them even more (Read Hedgehog Concept). I found the results to be very accurate and was able to focus on further developing my strengths.

It is good to take the test and share the results with team members, and even family members as a way of gaining an understanding of where you internal strengths lie, and who to depend on in certain situations.

8. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas - David Bornstein
How to Change the World highlights successful projects from entrepreneurs with more than financial gain in mind with their various projects. This book is very inspirational for business folks who have an internal drive to leave the world a better place then they found it.

Bornstein does an excellent job telling the stories of the entrepreneurs and explains their inspiration and always present drive to make things better.

9. New Solution Selling - Keith M. Eades
New Solution Selling teaches readers how to systematically approach the sales process. It is a great resource for new salespeople and seasoned sales people for establishing a repeatable process that can lead to success.

Eades provides readers with invaluable sales tools and techniques that assist the reader and provide natural next steps to the sales process. I have utilized sales tools found in this book with great success. My post on internal selling utilizes the techniques in this book. I suggest reading this book if you have difficulties making sales, whether it be to clients or internally.

10. Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse
This is definitely not a book about business, but it is an excellent source for self-reflection. The principle behind Hesse’s Siddhartha is finding the middle path. Inspired by Buddhism, this book takes you on a journey with the main character and his experience finding himself.

Siddhartha is a quick read and will leave you thinking at the end. It inspires you to reflect on your actions and the results yielded from your behavior. This reflection can be used to assess your professional behavior as a professional and as an organization.

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