The Christmas/New Year break is a great chance to relax with a good book. If you are looking for a non-fiction book that is powerful, insightful and meaningful,
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Successful Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
This is the first of two books I am recommending by Mike Michalowicz this year and is my number one book that I read this year.
The Pumpkin Plan is one of those books that you read and promptly recommend to your friends, simply so you can spend a few hours debating and exploring what you have read and what it means (thanks Phippsy for reading and getting as excited as I was about the book.)
This book looks at how giant pumpkins are grown, and how the lessons from growing pumpkins can be applied to business. It sounds simplistic, and yet it is one of the most profound books on entrepreneurialism, finding your niche and building your business that you can find on the market.
The Pumpkin Plan covers huge swathes of territory, from helping you recapture the dreams of why you started your business, through to identifying your sweet spot for your business, customer identification and service, business growth and decision making.
It is very easy reading, not academic or dry, but written in an engaging and humorous way.
While it was written in 2012, the concepts are fresh, applicable and fully formed. There is no hard upsell or promotion of magic bean coaching programs to find the answers. Everything is in the book.
If you feel you are a bit off track with your business or need a bit of practical advice in moving forward, this is the book to add to your Christmas reading pile.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
Unless you have lived a very secluded life, 2016 was the year of pulling out undies from your drawers and asking “Does this spark joy?” (and trying hard not to sound creepy while you are doing it).
There’s something soothing about sorting and clutter clearing when everything around you is out of control. I suspect that’s why this clutter clearing book took off this year.
While the concept can be boiled down to one sentence, reading the book seems to quietly work its way through your brain until you can’t help but tackle the piles of clutter in your home.
Its adherents have become almost cult-like in their zeal to merrily toss, throw and otherwise discard everything that is not nailed down in their homes … and then start to eye off their friend’s homes.
Does the book work? I am known as keeping a neat home, yet I still had 3 full car loads to take to the dump and charities. Other colleagues who were challenged by clutter found that after reading the book, they could actually park their car in their garage again (after 15 years of the car languishing in the driveway).
It you feel like you could do with a little bit of taking back control, then this is the book for you to read these holidays.
Small Data – The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom
Martin Lindstrom is one of my favourite futurists. These are the unique people that can spot emerging trends and advise businesses on when to pivot and when to run like hell.
He does this not by analysing reams and reams of data, but by noticing the tiny minutiae that make up people’s lives.
One of my favourite stories of his relates to noticing fridge magnets in Siberia and how that linked to the creation of a powerful online community and e-commerce site for Russian mums.
This book takes you through his thinking process and opens your eyes to details we simply take for granted in our lives and the lives of our clients.
If you want to become better at spotting trends before they wipe out your business, then add this book to your reading pile.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Biographies can be some of the most interesting books to read, especially when they are written about transformational business leaders.
We all know about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as visionaries, but the person who is transforming society more significantly than any CEO of the last decade is Elon Musk.
While he cut his teeth on a little start-up called PayPal, Elon’s later work is transforming electricity production and storage, the motor vehicle industry and space travel … all while embracing clean tech and renewable energy.
This book is a warts and all view of someone who sits on the Asperger’s scale and has the social challenges that come with it. However, Elon Musk is also one of the most intriguing people on the planet, with a bigger vision of what is possible than most people.
As a biography, it is well-written and races along at a cracking pace. It gives you an excellent insight into Elon’s drive and thinking.
If you want to walk in the shoes of a true visionary, then add this biography to your reading pile this year.
Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry’s Big Kahuna by Mike Michalowicz
This is the second of the books I recommend that you read by Mike Michalowicz. It again takes a simple concept of catching a wave, riding it in and knowing when to jump off, to explore business trends and market positioning.
The book helps you find your wave, identify your target market and match your skills to their needs, create your “rally cry” and then stay at the front of the wave.
In exploring the concepts, you take a detour through the world of UGG boots and Cronuts as well as many other fascinating companies. Each point is clearly illustrated, and you leave with tangible ideas to help you to look at your business with fresh eyes.
If you are looking for inspiration or clarity for your business, high practical steps to follow written in a light-hearted way, then this is the book for your Christmas list.