10 Books From 2010 That Are Required Reading For Self-Starters


Flickr User Ian Wilson (www.flickr.com/photos/foolstopzanet/151936713/)

As a new year quickly approaches, make sure you don’t miss out on the great information 2010 has to offer.Get proven advice from experienced entrepreneurs as well as practical marketing techniques and more from these authors. 

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – Seth Godin

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labour. Now there's a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there's no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organisations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they're indispensable. And in today's world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn't reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable, by overcoming the resistance that holds people back.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh

Rework – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business – David Siteman Garland

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Dan Heath & Chip Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that's built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems--the rational mind and the emotional mind--that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort--but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people--employees and managers, parents and nurses--have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results:

  • The lowly medical interns who managed to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients.
  • The home-organising guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping.
  • The manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service

In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup – Brad Feld & David Cohen

It is a cold, hard fact of business life that most startups fail. Even many of those entrepreneurs who ultimately succeed have stories of personal challenges, unsuccessful companies, and difficulties along the way. The founders of TechStars, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator, have worked with entrepreneurs and companies over the past 20-five years, and have seen a number of the same issues come up again and again.

In Do More Faster, the founders of TechStars identify the key issues that first-time entrepreneurs encounter, and offer proven advice from successful entrepreneurs who have worked with the TechStars program.

The authors organise the most critical issues into seven themes: Idea and Vision, People, Execution, Product, Fundraising, Legal and Structure, and Work and Life Balance. Many of the examples are personal experiences from the entrepreneurs themselves, integrated into a cohesive narrative--while at the same time able to stand on their own. Throughout the book, they debunk numerous myths about startups and reveal some surprising truths. They explain, for instance, that the core of a startup is not always a world-changing and earth-shattering idea--in fact, it is often the case that successful startups started out doing something else. They also underscore the efficiency of execution: great entrepreneurs know how to synthesize data, make a decision about the path they are going down, and execute. And they offer some alternatives to traditional ways of raising money, while stressing that you shouldn't start with the assumption that you need to raise money.

Mastering the seven themes may not ensure success, but understanding the issues, reading the stories, and getting advice pertaining to these issues will increase your chances dramatically. And if nothing else, you'll realise that you aren't alone in facing these challenges.

The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence – Tom Peters

In his latest book, business guru Peters (In Search of Excellence) combines observations he has gleaned from his travels, current news items, conversations, and followers of his blog in a compact guide that aims to help readers realise effective projects, customer contentment, employee engagement, and business profitability. No doubt, Peters is on target as he advises readers to appreciate the angry customer, work on their last impressions, make sure that the restroom is clean, and 160 other ways to guarantee success. Each suggestion contains a rationale, example, and method of implementation, all in two pages apiece.

VERDICT Those who want to improve their business, whether a boss or an employee, will find great ideas in this compelling and very browsable book.--Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ

UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging – Scott Stratton

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself – John Jantsch

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