10 Books That Made a Difference in My Business
Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation by Stephen Wunker and David Farber
When your brother (who has a BA from Princeton, an MA from Columbia SIPA and an MBA from Harvard) writes a book, you read it. He has actually written 3, but I digress. The central argument he and his co-author David make is that people purchase products and services to solve a specific problem or need. If you, as a company, can focus on a client's “job to be done” by using YOUR product or service, what you offer will be much more successful and relevant. The truth is that we need to go beyond what customers say they want and understand why they have the wants that they do. As Henry Ford once said: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." I include Jobs to be Done here because it was really actionable in my business. We used the Jobs to be Done framework to categorize, define, and prioritize our clients' needs and pain points (which is different whether they are buyers, sellers or investors). We then mapped out solutions and timelines around those specific needs and problems. We call these our “client experience maps” and all that we do revolves around making that experience top-notch.
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
Jeff Olson writes about the "slight edge," a concept showing that making daily small positive changes will gradually create dramatic positive results and success (while repeating small negative changes will eventually lead to failure). Very simple yet very effective lessons. We all know the things we need to do to become the best version of ourselves. These things are easy to do, but they're also easy NOT to do. This book is about how getting the little things right, day in and day out, will eventually put the "slight edge" to work and give you an extreme advantage.
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington
This is a great book if you want to ramp up your implementation game. This book redefines a year to be 12 weeks and is essentially a guide for how to compress our goals into timeframes that allow us to get more done, sooner rather than later. If you’ve gone through annual goal-setting exercises, you know that a million distractions or procrastination can set in and hijack your objectives. Sometimes your vision and goals may change over the course of a month or two and you no longer feel emotionally connected to your original intentions. I, for one, tend to make my yearly goals so lofty that they become unrealistic but the exercises helped me set more attainable goals. In 12 weeks, which are then broken down into weekly and daily tasks, there is no time to get complacent. By shortening the feedback loop, your goals stay top-of-mind.
Conversion Code by Chris Smith
Chris Smith is the co-founder (along w/ Jimmy Mackin) of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing, and sales coaching company and I have been a client of theirs for over 5 years. Chris and Jimmy are true mentors with minds that are always looking to be at the cutting edge of customer service, technology and marketing. They keep my team and I engaged and in constant innovation-mode. You can feel Chris’ passion and charisma throughout the book, which was written to be a road map to help businesses attract, cultivate, and convert online leads. It dissects every aspect of the process. It has helped us become more relevant online and improved our abilityto provide helpful and useful conversations with our clients. Most importantly, the fortune is in the follow up. Most of our business is based on past client referrals, but this book helped me realize that we were leaving a lot of opportunities on the table by not engaging in more targeted and purposeful online marketing.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, Michael Reese, Jay Kinder and Honoree Corder
It is truly a miracle what you can accomplish in the morning that you didn't think you could and how that can change your life for the better. This book is the reason why I wake up at 4:45AM every morning. The concept of waking up early and having a "competitive edge" on the rest of the world was also espoused by former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink in his book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. I have not read it, but do recommend his podcast! There is truly nothing like being wide-awake and done with some of the most important items of your day before sunrise.
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Gary Keller is CEO of the largest real estate company in the world. Bottom line, this book is an open challenge to simplify your life and priorities so that you can reach your goals. Keller writes that "going small" is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. I've learned that in building a real estate business and growing a team, there are always a gazillion things to be done. This book serves as a reminder that multi-tasking isn’t effective and that we really only achieve when we focus and do one thing at a time. In this instantaneous era of digital-everything, multi-tasking, over-scheduling and busy-ness as a way of life, this book reinforces that we should take a step back, simplify, focus and be purposeful. Actually, this book is a good stocking stuffer as it can prime you for formulating your New Year's resolutions.
Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
No one understands (and puts into practice) the power of social media better than Gary Vaynerchuk. This is really a book of stories from people who have taken to heart Gary V's advice (from his book Crushing It). It dissects what they implemented and what platform they did it on and proves that if you are willing to put in the hard work around your passion, it will come back to you tenfold.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
I was drawn to this book once I read it was based on ancient Toltec wisdom. The author’s story is intriguing - Don Miguel Ruiz was born in rural Mexico to parents who were healers and practitioners of ancient Toltec shaman traditions. As a young adult, he graduated from medical school in Mexico City and then went on to become a neurosurgeon. A near-fatal car crash changed the direction of his life and his new path to awareness helped him develop a deep understanding of the physical universe and the virtual world of the mind. He stresses how self-limiting beliefs can strap us down, rob us of joy, and create needless suffering.
The Four Agreements, at its core, is a “code of conduct” which has impacted me personally, as well as professionally. They are simple, but profound. (see photo)
One of the agreements which has impacted me the most in my business is that you simply cannot build and sustain a business if you aren’t “Impeccable With Your Words” because trust is essential. The other was to not take anything personally – real estate can be a nasty, competitive business and this book serves as a powerful reminder that people’s perspectives are based on their own experiences. We should not react to them or have them affect our decision-making.
Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
Who doesn't want to live a happier, healthier, more productive, and fulfilled life? Seligman, father of the new science of "positive psychology" draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism truly enhances one's quality of life. My primary takeaway was that the main difference between optimistic and pessimistic people is in their explanatory style - the filter through which they explain things to themselves. When we have a system of negative thoughts it makes us feel disempowered and helpless. We all have them, but we also all have the option and power to change the filter through which we see things. We are what we think and this book taught me to be more mindful of my “head trash”.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Though I hate the name of this book, it often takes a catchy title to help make a paradigm shift around something so ingrained in our culture, such as the 9-5, 5 day work week. Tim Ferriss is all about a simple, uncluttered, efficient, mobile lifestyle. His whole notion of taking "mini-retirements" throughout your life, instead of one long one at the end of life (when you are too old or sick to do anything on your bucket list) is spot on. This book actually helped me take the guilt out of going on vacations. He has some great tips on eliminating clutter as well as helpful suggestions on efficiency and outsourcing. I also recommend listening to his podcast interview with Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. He spews out a lot of content in his books – so it’s best to adopt what you think you can apply to your life and business and take the rest with a grain of salt.