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6 Biz Books That Will Sharpen Your Focus And Help You Succeed In 2019 … And Beyond!

Sir Richard Steele, a 17th-century Irish author, playwright and politician, once said, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”. And since those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and exercise more are but a distant memory, I’m tossing you a “do over” and suggesting six books that will deliver a great workout for your business brain.

The Culture Code
(Daniel Coyle)?

A fascinating “deep dive” that answers the questions: Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing?

Coyle shares the secrets of highly successful groups — including Pixar, the San Antonio Spurs, U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six, Zappos, comedy troupe Citizens Brigade and jewelry thieves — and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies culture-building by identifying three key skills that foster cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to operate with a single-minded focus.

You’ll learn what inspires learning, sparks collaboration, builds trust, and drives positive, meaningful change. Supported by extensive research, The Culture Code  is a “step-by-stepper” for you to create a work environment in which innovation flourishes, solutions abound, and expectations are regularly exceeded.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future
(Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)

This book is a follow-up to the very successful The Second Machine Age by a pair of MIT professors. After predicting some of the long-range effects of the rapidly evolving digital era in our personal and work lives, the authors now focus on the various opportunities and challenges that come with some of the “Gee-whiz, wowza!” tech innovations and trends that have emerged in recent years — things like 3D printers, self-driving cars, crowd-sourced medical research, even online platforms for renting clothing ensembles.

From Bad to Worse to Best in Class: A Refugee’s Success Story
Hao Lam

As a kid in Saigon, the author didn’t exactly rack up a list of wise and responsible decisions. Young Hao had a reputation as a trouble-maker and it eventually caught up to him. When the war ended, everything changed in Vietnam and Hao realized he had worked himself into such a corner that his very life and existence were at stake.

Virtually overnight, he vowed to become a more responsible young man; eventually making his way to America and, through hard work and perseverance, went from a broke, penniless refugee to a very successful businessman. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial itch, this book will help you scratch it!

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
(John Doerr)

A very to-the-point, logical and straight-forward biz book that promotes an OKR and AMB (Objectives + Key Results, As Measured By … ) approach to business; a different twist on the banal term “goal-setting” and measurement. Some key learnings (in logical progression) include:

  • Talk it up! There is no progress without conversation – lots of conversation!
  • There is no progress without data – lots and lots and lots of data.
  • There is no progress without… progress. In other words, doing “it” like you did yesterday is so, well, yesterday. Be open to change and evolve!
  • There is no progress without communication – constant, ongoing and reiterative communication. Communicate with clarity and succinctness.
  • There is no progress without clarity and “buy-in” to Objectives (i.e., “This is what we, and I, are going to do and accomplish …”). Key Results are the meaningful milestones reached on the road to meeting the stated Objective(s).

Measure What Matters is an insightful read and may just inspire you to designate an OKR + AMB “shepherd” (you, perhaps ..?) in your organization.

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future
(Jonah Sachs)?

This is a great “how to” book when it comes to cutting through the clutter and finding an engaging, alluring way to rise above today’s relentless noise and distraction and differentiate yourself. Yesterday’s messaging and approach to getting your “story” out doesn’t work today. Savvy marketers are being rewarded for spinning appealing myths and tales that create a more meaningful connection between brand and audience. But there’s this, too: You can’t find great success by merely telling a good story, you have to find ways to live that good story.

Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins
(Mark Schaefer)

A book that pairs well with Jonah Sach’s Winning the Story Wars, Marketing Rebellion is a useful, logical tome on staying ahead of the curve in the hyper-paced, cluttered messaging environment known as … today. Schaefer provides an achievable and realistic strategy and framework for settling on a marketing approach that drives business results. He delves into the need for humanizing your marketing and increasing the likelihood of brand loyalty; something that has toppled once-mighty titans in recent years. Remember Sears, Kodak, Blockbuster and Toys R Us …? There are some great case studies provided to help illustrate the lessons in this book.


Exercise your business mind as you do your body and you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make! Here are six books for you to consider.

Cheers … and happy reading, all!