Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller Non-Fiction
I love Donald Miller’s insights. I listen to the StoryBrand podcast regularly. Miller is an expert storyteller and has brought those skills to marketing communications. His mantra, “if you confuse, you lose,” is his basis for simplifying and focusing company’s websites and marketing literature. I was looking forward to this book and bought it the day it came out. I was not disappointed. Miller describes the seven universal elements of powerful stories and shows readers how to use them to better connect with customers. If you are a marketing professional or a business owner, this is a “must read” book.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg Non-Fiction.
Why do we do what we do? How do we change what we do? The answer is found in habits. And the answers are found in this book. Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us into nearly every study ever made on habits and their power on us. From how habits affect to addictions, to personal growth, and even how marketers use habits to sell products. This an amazing, well-researched book that will open your mind to the power of habits.
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (New Edition) by Jock Willink and Leif Babin Non-Fiction
What can Navy Seals teach us about leadership? A lot. This book is filled with tough-learned wisdom gained in the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Jock Willink and Leif Babin intertwine stories from their days in Iraq with how these lessons apply to company leadership situations.
Extreme Leadership is a powerful, no-nonsense look at what it takes to be a great leader.
Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet by Jesse Itzler Non-Fiction
This will make you both laugh out loud and think about your life in a new way. When Jesse Itzler, a successful entrepreneur living in NYC, hires an elite Navy Seal to live with him and train him for 31 days, his life turns upside down. From day 1, there is a clash of cultures where Itzler leaves his comfortable world to train in the most uncomfortable ways. Throughout the process, Itzler learns he is capable of doing much more than he ever imagined. This book led me to write the article, Looking to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone? Hire a Navy Seal. I highly recommend listening this this book on Audible because it is read by the author and you get Itzler’s true reaction to all the crazy things the Seal gets him to do.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth Non-Fiction
This is what everyone is talking about, Angela Duckworth’s well researched book on what makes some people successful where others give up. She reveals that grit, which is the “passion and perseverance for long-term goals,” is the secret to long term success. Grit is the one determining factor as to why some cadets make it through Beast Barracks at West Point and other drop out. I had written this article, The One Trait Your CEO Wants You to Have, before I read Duckworth’s book. In my experience, the best trait for business leaders is persistence. I’ve observed that persistent people exhibit the fierce resolve to get things despite the challenges. It turns out, I had reached the same conclusions as Duckworth. Grit is a well researched, great read which I recommend to all leaders.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight Non-Fiction
This is the story of the overnight success of Nike that took 18+ years. This is the best book I have ever read about what it is really like starting your own company. This is the book to read if you think entrepreneurship is easy. In great detail, Phil Knight describes the struggle of what it took to launch Blue Ribbon Sports (Nike’s predecessor). It took decades of hard work and incredible luck to go from a crazy idea and a trip around the world to the world’s most successful sports brand. There are stories of financial troubles, lawsuits, international trade failures, government intervention, media scrutiny, betrayal, and struggles. But in the end, passion, desire, hard work, family, and lifelong friendships allow Phil and his band of misfits to overcome all odds. This is an incredible, well-written story that should be mandatory reading for all entrepreneurs.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller Non-Fiction
Follow Miller as he learns to live a better story. He chooses to leave his quiet, comfortable, unchallenging life for a life of challenge and struggle. Miller expertly describes his transition as he searches for his father, hikes the Inca trail, and bikes across the country.
Reading his story inspired me to write 3 Reasons Why the Struggle is More Important than the Goal.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek Non-Fiction
Sinek’s TED talk, “Start with Why” has more than 28 million views because the message is so eye-opening. Sinek tell us how great leaders and organizations get us onboard by effectively communicating the reasons behind their movements. Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all motivated people by starting with why. Reading this book inspired me to rewrite the About Us page on the my company’s website.
SLIM by William Wister Haines Fiction
Slim was originally written in 1934 by William Wister Haines and had it’s last printing in 1951. But, due to it’s popularity with electrical linemen in the U.S., it was brought back to the market by Haines’ son, William Wister Haines Jr., in three limited edition printing in 2009, 2010, and 2013. Slim tells the story of a young man who comes of age working as an electrical lineman building transmission and railway lines in the early 1900’s. As the CEO of Peak Demand Inc., I have spent my civilian career making products for the electrical industry. I’m also the son of high voltage electrician. I have tremendous respect for linemen. Electrical linemen are some the toughest, hard-working people in the country. Haines’ book faithfully shows what life was like working in this tough industry in the early 1900’s. I love this book and I highly recommend it for anyone in the electrical utility industry.
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven
The video of Navy Seal Admiral McRaven’s 1994 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin went viral, receiving more than 10 million views and it’s not surprising. This little book, based on that speech, features 10 important lessons McRaven learned in his long service as a Navy Seal. There are great take-aways from this book like “get over being a sugar cookie” and “don’t be afraid of the circus.” As a former Naval Officer, I really related to the lessons in this book. Coincidentally, I wrote similar article, 10 Leadership Lessons I Learned Living on a Nuclear Submarine, before I read McRaven’s story. My article was read more than 140,000 times on LinkedIn.