At the end of 2011 I made a 2012 New Year’s resolution to read as many books as I could to deepen my knowledge about marketing, business and leadership. That commitment led me to read the following 8 books this year. Some of these books are new, some are old but they are all fantastic reads and if you are going to pick up a book in 2013, please choose one of these. You won’t regret it.
Reading gives you wisdom and an abundance of knowledge. If you do not currently read, I encourage you to do so.
Purple Cow was a book I always heard about and its author Seth Godin, was someone I heard was a marketing guru. Guru would be an understatement as after quickly finishing this book, Seth has become my Yoda. This book is short, sweet and directly to the point. The whole point of it and the definition of Purple Cow is, how do you make yourself stand out and create something unique that people will pay attention to. This is a must read for all marketers and business leaders in general. It also doesn’t hurt that Jay-Z considers this one of his favourite books.
If Seth Godin is the Yoda of marketing, than Mitch Joel is the Luke Skywalker. Six Pixels of Separation is a book that not only teaches you about digital marketing but it pushes you to ask yourself the most important question when developing a digital strategy, ‘Why?’. “Why should we use these digital tactics?” “What are we trying to achieve?” Mitch also talks about ‘Personal Branding’ and various other topics to get you on your way to becoming a digital Jedi.
This book made me fall in love with biographies. I was never attracted to reading about someone’s life but after finishing this book, I felt like I was mentored by Steve Jobs. I learned so much by reading about his successes and failures. I was pro Steve Jobs before I read this book but after I was done, the man I had put on a pedestal was reduced to just that, a man, with his loveable traits but also his big faults. I highly recommend this book and just a quick tip; when you read it, have your phone or tablet near by so that when you read about his famous product unveilings, you can actually look them up on YouTube and see him in action as he tells the world about the iPod or iPhone.
Below is a video where the author Walter Isaacson talks about the journey of writing this book.
Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Bob Andelman
Along with the biography, this year I fell in love with books that detailed the history of an organization or what I like to call them, orgo-ographies (if there is a proper name for these types of books, please let me know). This book details how The Home Depot came to be and specially details the lives of its two founders, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. This book is the story of two entrepreneurs who faced struggles but in the end triumphed and were able to build an organization that surpassed everyone’s expectations. They also took a page out of the school of ‘Steve Jobs’ and made something that already existed, better.
This book is not only about the rise, fall and rise again of Starbucks, but it is the personal journey of its founder, creator and CEO, Howard Schultz. What I found most exciting about this book is that it is basically a Starbucks business case. You can’t put it down because you feel like you are with Howard as he makes great decisions for the organization and poor ones. It’s fascinating to read about the creation of some of its products and the failure of others that we no longer see. After reading this book I just had to walk to my nearest Starbucks and have a coffee. When I walked in, I started looking at their menu and said to myself, “I know when that was created and that one too!” Please do yourself a favour and read this book.
I’ve never been inside a Target but became fascinated with this retailer when I learned that they were coming to Canada. I’ve always heard amazing things about it and how they have brought affordable luxury to everyday customers. This book takes you through the history and it is quite intriguing. Beginning with George Dayton and then proceeding with his son’s, the beginnings of Target as a discount retailer and its eventual evolution to what it is today is a great business case for all.
Strengths Finder is not so much a book but a tool to help you identify your own personal strengths. The main message that the author Tom Rath preaches is, why focus on those things that you are weak at, when you should really focus on strengthening those things that you are really good at because isn’t that all that matters anyway. Why waste your time on things that you may never be good at. Focus on the things that are your strengths because those are the things that will make you succeed and stand out from the crowd. Tom definitely poses a good argument whether you agree or disagree.
This book has honestly made a huge impact on my professional life. Getting up in front of a room and speaking is a skill that I truly aspire to keep improving on and if you are looking to be a leader, it is a skill you must work on as well. In my opinion there is no harder skill than to communicate effectively to a room full of your colleagues in hopes to peak their interest and move them to action. If you want to learn about the ‘art of communication’ and learn to create an ‘audience centred’ speech, please read this book.
Watch Nick in action: