Its been an exciting year friends. One of my goals was to read 30 books this year for my 30th birthday year and we did it! (32 in total)
Below is my top 10 list with my thoughts and review followed by the other 20 books in no particular order.
- Setting The Table by Danny Meyer
Possibly my favorite book of 2018. Meyer’s story of his life in the restaurant business serves as an instructional manual for anyone involved in business and leadership. It was also inspirational in helping me to realize how far hospitality can take us in many other areas of our professional and personal life.
His philosophy of “Enlightened Hospitality” has proven not only a fantastic way to run a business, but also an amazing way to create an atmosphere of constructive camaraderie that supports long term growth for the business and individuals that run it. I was able to take a handful of things to add immediately into our hiring process, which was a huge value. I also can’t wait to try a few of his many restaurants in New York someday!
- Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, M.D.
Recommended from a friend (thanks Adam), this is a great book with a wealth of sound advice. As a father of 2 girls now, this one hit me hard and really prompted me to reflect on the long-term effects of how we treat our children.
This book is not only jam-packed with practical suggestions and tips but, a lot of the research comes form real-life scenarios and stories of people as they experience life raising their daughters. For father’s who are raising daughters, and are looking for a down-to-earth, practical and inspirational material based on real accounts of how to connect with daughters, this is the book you want and maybe my second favorite read of the year.
- Secret Service by John R. Dijulius III
No matter what type of business you are in, you deal with customers, and keeping the customers happy and satisfied should be the mission of any business.
Secret Service gives many examples of simple inexpensive things that can be done to enhance the customer experience so that they become loyal to you and gladly recommend your services to the circle of their friends and acquaintances. I was able to take a few ideas and incorporate them into our business to show my appreciation for the patronage to deepen the bond with our customers. I think the book is a great-read for any business interested in improving customer service and to understand how training and paying attention to every detail becomes the key component for business success and return business.
- Why Do You Hate Money? by Joey Percia
Joey knows his stuff! His approach to copywriting as an art is incredibly refreshing. The idea that it must be developed internally through better understanding yourself, as well as externally by better understanding the people that you’re serving.
His advice is both practical and motivating. Being from the fitness industry, as is Joey, I also found the book easy to relate to as most of the names mentioned I was familiar with: which I found comforting.
- Quite by Susan Cain
It’s ok to be introverted! I am an introvert who struggles, and has always struggled in a world that suggests we all need to be more extroverted. What this book did for me was basically validate a lot of secret thoughts I’ve always had AND back them up with actual psychological studies. It’s a very interesting read and a liberating read for someone who identifies as an introvert. It is not a self help book, but more so a compilation of clearly summarized psychological studies.
- The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
Christopher Knight is such a fascinating man to read about and I had a hard time putting this book down once I started! In all, this is an amazing account of one the most unique persons that you’ll ever encounter. I went online after to read a bit more of his story as well as look up the actual pictures of what was described in the book. There is also a full website dedicated to Christopher if you want to learn more about his story.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
As the title suggests, it teaches you how to effectively work with other people, how to become a better manager, leader and connector. Carnegie provides strategies for you to manage relationships more effectively, build friendships and to encourage people to agree with your way of thinking.
Carnegie covers much more than just trying to convince people to agree with you in this book. It’s a guide for how to get along with people. It also shows that if you want to get along with people, you have to be genuinely nice to them and show an interest in their lives.
- Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
A great book about 14 companies that chose to stay small instead of growing. All of these companies are wildly successful in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons.
As a small-business owner, I think most of us often feel a push to grow our business much larger, which is fine for some. But, the Author Bo Burlingham shows it’s clear that growing for growth’s sake makes absolutely no sense. I would recommend this book to any small business owner who is on the fence about whether or not to grow their company.
- The Power Of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath
Dan and Chip Heath are some of my favorite authors. In business, and in life, emotionally based moments are very important, as that gets held in long term memory. No matter if it is good or bad. We remember the peak of something and the end of something. The idea’s in this book are making me rethink my perspective on a lot of ways to achieve moments that standout both professionally and personally.
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
The book summarizes the results of many interesting case studies and research trials about stress and anxiety in the workplace, group dynamics, obedience, trust and happiness, as well as financial strategies and market performance.
Each story and study provides a take-away for any leader, to help you take better care of your employees and stay focused on the well-being of your organization.
Here are a few great quotes:
“Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers.
“Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”
Above The Line By Urban Meyer
You don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate this book. Coach Urban Meyer details his leadership system that has worked at every coaching stop along the way to great success. Another aspect I liked about this book was Meyer’s willingness to talk about his personal failings and the role of faith in his life. The takeaways are numerous for both your personal and professional life. #GoBucks!
High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
One of my favorite takeaways, and now most often used, is enhancing energy by managing transitions. We move from one activity to another without a break in our focus or feelings. Burchard describes this as “release tension, set intention.”
After finishing work for example, before I walk in the door at home I pause in my car and simply instruct myself to ‘release’. Repeat the word until I am released from the mindset and feelings of whatever I am coming from. Then focus on the mindset and feeling you intend for the next activity.
Unpulgged by Brain Mackenize, Dr.
Despite being more connected than ever before, we are now more disconnected than we have ever been. Disconnected from each other. Disconnected from our lives. Disconnected from our environment. Disconnected from our bodies. Many have forgotten how to communicate with others. Many have forgotten how to observe the world around them. Many have forgotten how to feel how they are feeling.
This book is a great conversation about how to think about how “fitness: technology benefiting us and tethering us. A fun quick read.
“Technology is an excellent tool and a terrible master.”
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
“Death ends a life but it does not end a relationship”
Sheryl Sandberg shares how her & her kids life changed when she unexpectedly lost her husband while on a vacation & how she has learned to cope with that grief ….
This topic is definitely not a one size fits all approach, but the methods and stories Sandberg shares still are incredibly valuable.
The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes has done great work in the personal development space. This was my second book by Lewis (School of Greatness was the first). The book draws from his amazing host of podcast interviews and his world class network across all industries and walks of life. As a man, I could relate to some of the fears and challenges he mentions, so it was very real. I found it to be a book that can make you reflect on the person you are and your journey in life. Overall an enjoyable read.
Smarter Faster Better
Smarter Faster Better is a unique book in the productivity space because it offers up a new definition of what it means to be productive. It teaches you how to shift your focus to managing how you think rather than spending time managing what you think. It’s core principle is that you can transform your life by making certain choices—and Duhigg gives you the tools to rewiring your decision-making process.
Duhigg lays out a compelling case for how the traditional goal-setting model of focusing primarily on our big ambitions and ignoring all of the smaller decisions & easy goals along the way is inherently flawed if you want to create big change in your life or business. He argues that the people and companies who innovate quickest and get the most done have finessed the art of achieving the small goals—that eventually ladder up to bigger ones.
The Happiness Track by Emma Seppala, PhD
This book showed me how happiness and productivity go hand in hand. Seppala makes her case by showing how research has overturned myths about productivity and success. The overall theme of the book- you don’t have to kill yourself and be miserable today, in order to be happy tomorrow or to fulfill your dreams. That living a life that makes you happy in the present can also lead to greater productivity and long-term success is a bold claim, but the case is made with such strength you have to accept it.
The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojal
Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Shelia Heen
I found this book very useful in lots of different social situations. It’s not just about the feedback we receive at work, but also about the countless feedback interactions we have every day with family, friends, acquaintances, customers, etc.
We learn about ourselves, how we often react to feedback and how some of those reactions prevent us from taking advantage of it. We learn what we could do to control those reactions and emotions and how we can explore that feedback a little more and find hidden pearls of pure wisdom in it. We also learn to differentiate the different kinds of feedback we receive and how it not always matches the kind of feedback we need or would like to hear, and therefore how to control the conversation to go in more constructive directions. This was a hard book for me to get through but I am glad I did!
Switch by Chip & Dan Heath
Another one from the Heath brothers! They first lay out the three big things: the Rider, the Elephant and the Path and describe what each of these are and provides examples so the reader can get it on his level and not some abstract thoughts. After the introduction the authors broke the book up into parts concerning each one.
The first then is about directing the Rider, the more of our conscious, self will side. To do this one should find the ‘bright spots’ by seeing how some things succeeded instead of what failed. Next one should script the critical moves by breaking stuff down to specific goals. Finally it’s to point to the destination by giving Riders a clear view of where they’re going.
The second is about motivating the Elephant, more our unconscious and representative of all the inertia we have when wanting to change. Elephants are the more emotional and less logical side so the first step is finding the feeling. Next, one should shrink the change by making it more manageable and increasing the sense of accomplishment. Finally, it’s about growing your people… Change will be easier if you expand the abilities and spirits of your people.
The third is about shaping the Path. Within this it’s about tweaking the environment. Next it is building habits which are behaviors on autopilot and how to encourage habits. Finally one should rally the herd.
Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller
You have a product or service to offer, but you are not sure how to get it into the hands of people who need it. Or, you want to see more people benefit from what you do. If that is the case, I encourage you to get a copy of this book.
Miller coaches you in using a seven-point framework for telling your story, provides five essential steps to take first, and offers a road map to success. You will learn how to make your customer feel like the most important person in the room, not you or your business. Customers don’t really care that much about your business, they care how you can solve their problem. This book will help you craft your language so it’s clear and attracts more customers.
Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
The Slight Edge explains how if you change the way you think and process information, you can change your life, leading you to more effectively achieve your dreams.
The premise is that if you can change your mindset and follow certain daily disciplines, you can radically change your life—which I’ve personally experienced as a result of reading this book. The daily disciplines are simple productivity upgrades, but when you repeat them day after day, the results can be astounding. One of my favorite philosophies is that, “difficult takes a little time, impossible only takes a little longer.”
The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
My Dad gave me this book in my early 20’s and for where I was at that point in my life, it was over my head. I started it multiple times but could never seem to finish. With 2 kids now, and planning for the future, this book finally hit home. The Wealthy Barber is a good read if you’re just trying to figure out how and where to start investing your income (some of the numbers and information presented though is a bit outdated). It’s divided up into “lessons,” where each chapter describes a different step and strategy one could (and should) take to start building their retirement nest egg.
The book is easy to read, and is entertaining. That’s a combination you don’t often find in financial books. Thanks Dad!
Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
A truly insightful look at searching for a purpose in your life. Frankl’s brief description of the life in concentration camps during World War 2 takes you into some of the worst tribulations that humans can experience. In the second half of the book introduces the concept of logotherapy which emphasizes the ability of men to overcome the most difficult situations. He also presents several practical examples of the ways to find meaning in our life. This is a book I will return to and re-read a few times to fully digest.
Viralnomics by Jonathan Goodman
Great book if you are wanting to get a better understanding as to how to effectively and efficiently utilize social media to your advantage. Goodman makes it very clear that marketing in the 21st century is all about the ‘why’. People want to identify with your brand because of how it makes them feel, and simply posting your products on your social feeds isn’t good enough.The book gives a clear picture of why people find some things interesting and yet other things just do not connect at all.
If you are looking to harness social media to get people talking about you, and what you do, then this is well worth reading.
The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
Vanderchuck lays out some fundamentals of what and how you need to conduct yourself and your business within the realm of social media. It covers b2b, b2c but should more be called person 2 person, a concept stressed in the book. This was written in 2010 so some of the info seems to be a bit outdated but overall still presents valuable lessons and strategies.
Essentalism by Greg McKeown
It’s so easy to get bogged down trying to do everything that we feel we need to—especially when everything feels like a top priority. There are times when it seems like we spend more of our time updating the to do list, than actually completing those tasks. This is often magnified at work when people ask you to do “just one more thing.” You don’t want to sound like you’re not a team player, so you add yet another task to your list.
McKeown shows how this is not a sustainable way to go through life. He outlines how you can actually get more done in life by doing less. He stresses the importance of prioritizing your work, and that the word “priority” means focusing on the single most important task in the moment, not trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.
The Way of the Essentialist is about getting only the right things done and not wasting your time on unproductive, unimportant, and often under-appreciated tasks.
Never Lose a Customer Again by Joey Coleman
Coleman explains that every customer experiences eight phases, and they are the same no matter what the customer is buying, how they are buying it, or how long it takes to deliver a result.
Business people will recognize these stages. But so will anyone who has ever bought anything, particularly anyone who has had a bad buying or customer experience.
I think Coleman did an incredible job of showing how to simply and intentionally engineer a customer experience that will generate more sales, but more importantly, generate an army of raving fans that will want to tell everyone about your company.
My favorite part is at the end of each chapter, Coleman includes exercises to help you evaluate and improve what you could be doing to better delight and care for your customers.
Traction by Gino Wickman
The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) that Micheal presents in the book has six key components that go right to the roots of the six most important aspects of the business. The principles are not new. What is new is the integration of these best practices into a complete system for organizing and operating the business. The underlying concept in “Traction” is that every great company needs an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). And every EOS consists of 6 core components;
E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
The book that should be on every Entrepreneurs book shelf. This was my third time reading E-Myth and is essential business knowledge.
This is a great book for the person who wants to understand what it takes to make a business truly succeed. It is written for the entrepreneur (that’s what the E stands for in E-Myth) and it describes the three basic types of people who work in any business; the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician. Gerber spends a lot of time explaining how each of these people brings something unique and irreplaceable to the process of running a business.
The central theme in the book is that true entrepreneurs are rare if they ever exist. What typically happens when a business starts is that a technician has an “entrepreneurial seizure” and starts a business. Then after the new business euphoria wears off the technician takes over again and since the technician is solving technical problems and not management problems the business is managed very poorly if at all. This then leads to failure.
What most people need to learn, according to Gerber, is how to manage. He then uses a good portion of the book talking about how to think about a business from the perspective of a manager and be successful.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
This was another recommendation from several friends. If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be discipline. Collins describes what it takes to make the leap from an average company with average results to an outstanding company with outstanding results – consistently and over very long time frames.
The basis of making the transition to greatness comes down to three key areas:
- Disciplined People
- Disciplined Thought
- Disciplined Action
A great read for anyone who is interested in taking their company (non-profit/for profit) to the next level.
Profit First by Mike
This was my second time reading through Profit First and it’s become more of a manual that I keep handy to keep frequently referring back to.
Sales-Profit = Expenses
Technically these are the same but the reframing has huge psychological benefits. It forces us to think differently about our spending habits.
The PF system does not replace the need for accounting but rather a simple tool to understand cash flow management.
If you’re an entrepreneur that struggles with basic cash flow, accounting and lack of discipline in your spending habits and feel like they are left with nothing at the end of the day (ie. pretty much everyone) I would highly recommend this book for 2019. If you need guidance on implementing the Profit First system in your business check out Dean Carlson www.FitForProfit.com
If you made it this far THANKS for reading!
Did you have any favorite books from 2018? Drop a comment below and let me know.