Wednesday January 1, 2014 0 comments
By Ariana Friedlander
The New Year provides a fantastic opportunity for both reflection and forward thinking. In fact, January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings. Janus has two faces: One which looks to the past and the other looking to the future.
Whether you're an avid setter of New Year's resolutions or not, such transitions beg of us to reflect, reset and rejuvenate one's efforts. Reading is a great way for learning, expanding and improving in order to start 2014 out with Your Best Self Yet.
Here are five books I recommend for the innovative, entrepreneurial-minded professional to check out in the New Year:
- Bend Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu. This memoir about Ping Fu's life starts in China's Cultural Revolution as she's separated from her parents and forced to grow up in deplorable conditions. After Mao's death, Ping was able to realize her dream of going to college only to be banished from China for writing a research paper exposing the country-wide practice of infanticide of girls. Penniless and alone in the U.S., Ping embarks on a new journey, first studying computer science and then contributing to groundbreaking technological advancements. After years of working in research positions, Ping suddenly has the urge to start her own company. The experience requires her to draw on lessons learned in her childhood as she tackles countless new challenges as an entrepreneur (in a male-dominated field). Ping's memoir is sure to make you laugh, move you to tears and remind you of the key ingredients for any entrepreneurial endeavor to succeed: resilience, determination and creativity.
- The Startup Owners Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. The proverbial bible for startups in the 21st century, Blank and Dorf's manual outlines how startups are different from existing companies. They provide a step-by-step overview of the lean startup methodology from developing your hypothesis to the customer discovery process and all areas in between. Utilizing the business model canvas, this book helps entrepreneurs quickly determine where and how to pivot in order to develop a scalable business that has product/market fit. The lean startup approach makes the difference between success and bankruptcy because, as Steve Blank says, "No business plan survives first contact with customers."
- Be the Best at What Matters Most: The Only Strategy You Will Ever Need by Joe Calloway. In this quick and entertaining book, Calloway argues that the secret to business success is consistency and quality. What I like most about this book is that Calloway continually drives home the point that business is a very personal endeavor and there are no clear right-or-wrong ways (besides the obvious legal boundaries) to run a business. If you're yearning for focus and exceptional performance in your business endeavor, this engaging book is sure to inspire.
- Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith Glasser. This a must-read for any leader or team manager who wants to foster innovation and creativity in the workplace. Glasser skillfully knits together the confluence of brain chemistry, relationships and communication in her latest book. Drawing on over 30 years of cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research, Glasser shows how conversations with high levels of trust actually heighten brain function. Meanwhile, she points out how the predominant cultural paradigms for communication in business today actually hinder our ability to engage in innovative and transformational conversations. Fear not, she also provides some very practical how-to advice, including some take-home exercises for the driven leader to practice with their team.
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. There's nothing like a book about marketing that's actually remarkable. Berger's book is not only a witty and enjoyable read, it is also chock full of valuable insights about what makes ideas spread (many of which are counter-intuitive). Based on years of research, Berger synthesizes his findings into a simple formula any layman can apply and exemplifies them with his own writing. If you want to get a handle on how to engage and mobilize evangelists for your business, you'll want to add this book to the top of your "To Read" list for 2014.