Over the years I’ve increased my skills continuously through reading and applying the knowledge. I thought it was time I shared the knowledge by sharing the books I recommend.
Why these books?
Simply put, they deliver the highest value. I can honestly say, putting the knowledge from these books into action has created a big impact. Saving countless hours of time and generating, directly and indirectly, £100K’s in value.
If you own a business or hold a leadership role, you’ll find someting of interest in leadership. Whather that’s being a more effective boss, building better teams or just getting what you want from the business.
Those with a marketing focus check the marketing books. These cover timeless principles that get you closer to your customers.
Finally, with more data than ever at our finger tips, skills to convert data into insight are valuable. If you enjoy digging into data these are for you.
Traction by Gino Wickman
Get a Grip on Your Business
I’ve read a great many business books over the years.
Most are inspiring. Many make sharp observations on the causes of company failures. Yet few offer solutions.
Many business texts provide good theory but leave you wondering how to implement in your company. Traction is different.
Traction is simple. Traction is practical. Traction is the manual on how to run a great entrepreneurial business. Driving discipline and accountability.
Discover the EOS model (Entrepreneurial Operating System) and how to be strong in the six key components of your business.
I’ve worked with EOS and businesses for many years and experienced first-hand how EOS creates profitable, frustration-free businesses.
If you’re a business leader, this book is for you. Get a peak, Chapter 1 is available for free download.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
A Leadership Fable
Leadership teams don’t always work like a team. You’ve almost certainly experienced teams that don’t always play well together. Particularly when you’ve a team of strong people.
But it needn’t be that way.
In Lencioni’s easy to read and engaging book he explains a model with five dysfunctions. The model is developed through a business story. Showing the common problems in teams and how to fix them. The good news, teams can be fixed and deliver even better results.
I’ve consistently found addressing the five dysfunctions gets a healthier team. It’s a foundational book for business leaders.
Drive by Daniel H Pink
The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us
This book rang true to every experience I’ve had personally, with my peers and with people I’ve led.
The surprising truth is money is not a motivator. It can be a demotivator. But there is worse, using money in the wrong way to increase productivity can reduce productivity.
Pink explains what truly motivates people, he shows the way to having happier and more motivated staff.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It
Enthralling tales and high drama in FBI hostage negotiation situations, used to illustrate negotiation technique.
Voss roundly debunks ideas like trying to get people to say yes as a negotiation ploy and turns upside down many more common ideas on how to negotiate. Voss’s teachings have worked for me.
With so much of your life dependent on how you negotiate you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Even seasoned negotiators will learn from Voss.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
Lessons from Navy Seal warzone operations applied to business. Warzone stories used to illustrate how to lead, make it a gripping read.
The title refers to that fact the buck stops with you. Period. If something went wrong, it was your fault. What you did as a leader was insufficient to stop the problem happening.
The book draws strong parallels between military operations and business context. Learn how to prevail – even in volatile situations.
A book that is both enjoyable and rich on good advice.
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
A solid analysis of why companies, impacted by new technologies, fail.
History is littered with great companies that lose their greatness because they are unable to cope with disruptive and new technologies. The book details the forces and reasons why this happens. Christensen uses case studies to illustrate.
Great companies can stay great, as Christensen explains, but it does need strong and brave leadership. I suspect that the lessons in the book won’t be learnt by many – more great companies will fall.
If you’ve wondered by seemingly invincible companies lose their way, this book is for you.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean
Most people want to do a great job and impress their boss. That can only happen when the relationship is open and honest. As the boss you need to have radical candor.
The concept of radical candor is good. The book is dense and really needed a better edit.
I can recommend the book, but if you find it hard going and stop after the first two chapters, you’ll have got 90% of the value. It’s worth it just for that.
Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers
Mastering the Elements of Composition and Revision
You’d expect an excellent copy writer to craft an inspiring book – Wilbers doesn’t disappoint. It’s an enjoyable read, rich with examples that illustrate every point.
I found it easy to apply the lessons and create more powerful copy. Not just in marketing materials but all written communication.
Being able to get your message across is a key skill. A book to help both your work and your career.
Making Websites Win by Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson
Apply the Customer-Centric Methodology That Has Doubled the Sales of Many Leading Websites
Want to increase your conversion rate? This book is the ultimate guide.
From their years of helping countless companies increase their conversion rate, Blanks and Jesson reveal all. It’s page after page of solid and practical advice.
Pay attention to section 2. Learning how to diagnose why your website isn’t working. Don’t be templated to skip straight to section 3 which explains common problems and easy solutions.
The biggest lesson in the book; until you’ve diagnosed your issue correctly, you can’t solve it.
Unlike most conversion rate optimization advice, this book explains how to diagnose the root causes of why your visitors don’t convert.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
We’re not the logical decision makers you think we are. Much of what we all do is rather irrational.
Ariely explains the psychology of decision making, drawing on his own life experiences and research experiments of many academics.
Why free and 1 cent are radically different price points, why more choice is not good, how framing alters the decision-making process and much more.
The research experiments are fascinating and the outcomes remarkable.
Whilst you’ll never be able to act rationally, you’ll get a better understand of yourself and everyone else.
Because understanding our customers is fundamental, every minute reading this book is well invested.
Decoded by Phil Barden
The Science Behind Why We Buy
The book is part theory and part practical. It builds on the science of behavioural economics, showing in practical terms how brands have applied science to improve their marketing.
The case studies are illuminating and there are plenty of tips and suggestions for how you can apply the science to your brand.
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
A Friendship That Changed the World
The story of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Gifted psychology professors who came together the 60’s.
Kahneman and Tversky laid the foundations of behavioural economics. The book is a mix of biography and their powerful ideas.
Ideas that are now widely accepted and more people have built on since.
If you just want to know about their works and not their history, then look for a different text.
Business Intelligence and Data Science
Power Pivot and Power BI by Rob Collie and Avichal Singh
The Excel User’s Guide to DAX, Power Query, Power BI & Power Pivot
A fan of Pivot tables? If you can’t live without Pivot tables then you haven’t even started living yet.
Power Pivot is the best kept secret of Excel. I’m at a loss as to why Microsoft don’t shout about these hidden features.
Power Pivot solves many of the frustrations and limitations in Pivot tables. If you’re comfortable with pivots, formulae and data concepts then upgrade yourself to Power Pivot.
Collie and Singh give the smoothest journey into a more powerful way to extract meaning from data.
M Is for (Data) Monkey by Ken Puls and Miguel Escobar
A Guide to the M Language in Excel Power Query
Power Query is another hidden Excel tool that makes taking data from different sources much easier. Especially when updating the same report repeatedly with updated source data.
Many sources of data aren’t well formatted and need a lot of cleaning to make them usable. Most people spend time manually editing data files. This is the task of Power Query.
The Power Query point and click user interface is very usable. If you’ve used that and feel you’re missing out on more, then go deeper and discover the ‘M’ language.
When you get to that point this is the book for you.
Bonus: Elements of AI by The University of Helsinki
This is a bonus book that isn’t even a book!
It’s a free online course, something to get your teeth into right now.
Understand Artificial Intelligence.
It’s written to be suitable for all people and not just tech geeks and science types. If you’ve a more scientific mind it will probably help and appeal to you.
But don’t be put off if science was never your thing. The tutorial works hard to make understanding AI accessible to all. Find out what AI is and what it isn’t.
You’ll be equipped to separate media and vendor hype from AI reality.
Don’t get caught up in AI because it’s fashionable. Rather understand how it can be useful.