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Choice Reading, Part II

By Chuck Violand

January 1, 2018

Several years ago, I was given a very special Christmas gift by a dear friend of mine—a gift card to Borders Bookstore. While Borders is no longer in business, the gift was one that truly “keeps on giving” as I continue to draw on the wisdom and insights offered in the books I purchased.

Wisdom and insights can also be found in these recommended books.

Bill Prosch is a fan of Start With Why by Simon Sinek, leadership guru and adjunct member of the RAND Corporation who teaches graduate-level strategic communications at Columbia University. Sinek has studied companies that inspire like Harley-Davidson and Southwest Airlines, and he made a great point when stating that it truly takes inspiration to get your customers to tattoo your company logo on their bodies like Harley-Davidson has!

In his book, Sinek says he has found a commonality among leaders of great companies—they inspire rather than manipulate. They inspire by being in touch with “why” they’re in the business they’re in, rather than what they do or how they do it. This could be helpful if you’re struggling with ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. The book will also help the reader better understand the value of a clearly articulated mission statement, and possibly even why they get out of bed each day.

Bill’s recommendation is a great one, and now I’ll take the liberty of offering two more that I think are worth reading. They approach business success from completely different perspectives.

The first is Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy by Joan Magretta, a senior associate at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. Magretta has worked with Michael Porter for almost two decades.

If you’ve ever tried to trudge through anything written by Michael Porter, you’ll understand why this book needed to be written. Magretta does an outstanding job of translating Porter’s deep competitive concepts into something even a layperson can understand and apply. This is important because, although Porter’s work may be geared toward very large, international businesses, it’s just as applicable to small businesses.

My second suggestion is Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, a strategist and author of several books, including The Obstacle Is the Way.

There are a handful of books I think should be required reading for every entrepreneur and Ego is the Enemy is one of them. In it Holiday illustrates different ways in which an inflated ego negatively impacts us, the people in our organizations, and our businesses themselves. And since an inflated ego invariably leads to business decline, there’s not a moment to waste in reading this book!

In addition to the suggested titles made in this series, a recommended reading list can be found on our website, violand.com, and I also have a longer list of current and older titles you might enjoy and find helpful in your business. Drop me a line and I’ll be happy to forward it to you.