Do your eyes glaze over and your brain turn into mush when you walk into a bookshop or browse Amazon looking for great business books to read? Me too!
I read a non-fiction book pretty much every week, and I struggle at times finding books that are not like junk food: a quick hit of motivation followed by a massive crash when you can’t do anything with the information.
Most of my reading now comes from recommendations from friends, colleagues and business leaders I value, to help me cut through the over-hyped launches and breathless PR.
Every year I put together a list of my top business books of the year. These are the ones that made the largest impact to me personally throughout 2015.
If you are looking for a great business book to trigger ideas, clarify your direction or simply help you see the world with new eyes, then enjoy some of these from my reading pile this year.
My Top Business Books of 2015
1) The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins @JeffGoins (Book of the Year).
5 Second Summary: This book is designed to help you discover your life’s work, and the interaction of your calling with your job. If you feel even slightly off path, this is the book to help you work through the confusion.
Once every few years, I read a book that is so profound that as soon as I finish reading it I close the book and start immediately reading it again from page one. I have lost track of how many times I have read and reread this book this year – returning over and over to my favourite quotes and passages. If I had this book in paper version rather than on my Kindle, the pages would be deeply creased and the spine broken from too much use. It is one of those books that seep into your soul.
2) The Niching Nest by Tad Hargrave @TadHargrave
5 Second Summary: The Niching Nest helps you to assess what is your true business niche. It provides multiple perspectives and approaches to illuminate possibilities and areas of potential. If you are stuck on “What is my niche,” then this is a great place to start.
I have followed Tad’s work for nearly a decade, and been fortunate enough to be part of some coaching programs he has ran. His Niching Spiral ebook is like holding a fabulously warm mug of hot cocoa in the depths of winter. You can feel the warmth and gentle support seep through every cell of your being.
3) How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson @stevenbjohnson
5 Second Summary: How We Got to Now is a fun, light, romp through the ages that makes you appreciate how many little tiny inventions go together to create our modern life.
I love a great story – and brilliantly quirky stories that draw links between apparently random facts are some of my favourite stories to read. In this book, you will learn how Gutenberg’s printing press ultimately led to the discovery that the body is made up of cells … along with many other gems. This book is easy to read and is a brilliant book for anyone with a scientific interest.
4) Content Machine: Use Content Marketing to Build a 7-figure Business With Zero Advertising by Dan Norris @thedannorris
5 Second Summary: This book helps clarify what content marketing is and isn’t, and provides highly actionable tips on where to focus your content marketing efforts for best results.
Dan is one of Australia’s internet success stories. He went from a failing web design business to one of our leading entrepreneurs. He credits much of his success to strategic content marketing that supports a clever and strategic business model. His book is an easy, engaging read and has solid strategies that most small businesses can implement to get the most out of their content marketing.
5) Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible by Daniel Burrus @DanielBurrus
5 Second Summary: This classic business book by Daniel Burrus helps you with seven ways to spot and take advantage of swelling trends before you get swamped by it.
Spotting and surfing trends is one of my passions. It is the book that you wished that the taxi industry had read before Uber hit them right where it hurt. If you have ever wondered how to see the future without a crystal ball, then this is a book worth reading.
6) Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill @FunnyBizzSF
5 Second Summary: The structure and the delivery of your content is what makes people engage or hit the snooze button. This book shares lessons from stand-up comedy about how to appropriately add humour to your presentations (especially if you are not naturally funny).
If ever you have had to give a speech, you have probably faced the experience of speaking to a room where eyes have glazed over and people are surreptitiously checking their phones. This book is the antidote.
7) How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead @SallyHogshead
5 Second Summary: This book (which includes a free online test), helps you identify and gives you language around what you bring to the table that no one else can. It shows you how the world sees you (when you are at your best and worst). By knowing what makes you valuable, you can weave it into your marketing and self-branding.
Sally Hogshead has been taking the old personality profiling tools and turning them on their head. In her most recent work, she has been exploring how your personal strengths and differences apply as a key marketing differential. If ever you are stuck describing why people should hire you, this is a great place to start.
8) The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour by Adam Ferrier @adamferrier & Jennifer Fleming @thejenfleming
5 Second Summary: This is a fascinating book based on the premise that all advertising is designed to change behaviour. The more the behaviour is changed, the more effective the advertising is. It goes on to explore how advertising can be a force for good rather than mindless consumption.
I loved this book, not only for its exposition of why things work the way they do, but also to look at ways you can create positive change and make a difference – even if you are advertising so called boring products and services. It places ethical marketing front and centre.
9) The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators by Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan
5 Second Summary: If you have ever felt that you don’t fit in (without a lot of personal compromising) then this book is for you. This book helps you to fly your freak flag high, by being your unique self and not trying to fit in to something that you are not.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. There’s the long days, general confusion and muddling through. There’s the fear that you if you are fully yourself, that your clients will leave in droves. This book helps you celebrate your freakiness and to build your business on what makes you unique.
10) Rising Strong by Brené Brown @BreneBrown
5 Second Summary: This book expands on Brené‘s work on vulnerability and explores what happens when you fall – how do you pick yourself up and rise strong?
Brené Brown’s groundbreaking work on vulnerability was my first introduction to her as a writer and thinker. This is not a light-hearted stroll but a book that takes thought and reflection. As she has altered her writing style to be less academic in focus and more of her personal reflection, her work has counter-intuitively become deeper and takes more attention to unpack. It is not a quick read, and you won’t leave it with seven easy steps to bounce back. This book is the start of a conversation and not the end. If you are a coach or therapist, then this book will resonate for you.