My coaching clients often ask me for the sort of books that have helped me. I love books that offer inspiration, but also practical guides on how I can apply the information too. Here are a few of my personal favourites.
StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath. A useful guide if you want to know where your unique strengths are. I like this book because it offers access to an online questionnaire, which sends you a report which gives you your top five strengths. The point being, once you know what your strengths are, then you can focus on building your business on who you naturally are, rather than attempting to compensate on areas where you are weak. A much clearer strategy for being a successful and savvy entrepreneur.
Influence, by Robert B Cialdini. A classic read to help you with strategies to become better at influencing others. It’s easy and interesting because it’s packed with great anecdotes from scientific research. I.e there’s a story about people allowing a complete stranger to step to the front of a photocopying queue when they said: “Can I go before you, because I need to make some copies.” The research reveals that by adding the word ‘because’, people will automatically give in. Fab tips for developing skills in both marketing and sales.
The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. I’ve not read this, but it comes highly recommended as a particularly fun read for a business book. It’s written as a novel about plant manager Alex Rogo, who has 90 days to turn around a problematic production environment. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s a fun-to-read novel, this book has become the bible of operations management, and is required reading in most MBA programs. The key takeaway is an understanding of bottlenecks, which matter even more to a blogger than they do on the factory floor.
Getting Things Done, by David Allen. For creative thinkers, this book is highly recommended. I found it a bit wordy and I skimmed through some of the information, but the main principles and techniques are useful because they’re designed to offer instant head space – which is perfect for creativity. The book offers a new approach to time management and some useful systems to deal with the information overload that we all face in our modern world. It teaches you how to group your next actions instead of simply doing a to-do list. The ethos is to systemise all your ‘open loops’ in your life, including in your head. Once you know it’s been organised into a system, then you can relax and focus on one thing at a time.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. This is a classic. It offers a quick and easy overview of how successful people achieve more than most. It offers very simple tools and techniques to help you save time and energy. I always recommended this book to leaders and managers, but it has some excellent tools, such as ‘the circle of influence and concern’, i.e., focusing your time and energy on stuff you can control, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the stuff you can never change.
Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is inspirational and offers surprising research on surveys about Outliers on what it takes to achieve real excellence. It isn’t a “how-to” or even “what-to-do” book than most of the books that I recommend, and more of a “what to think about” addition to the list. I absolutely love Malcolm Gladwell’s books, which include ‘Blink’ and ‘The Tipping Point’, which is also a great read because it focuses on the point that products or services go viral. He has such a unique writing style; it’s punchy and packed with great research, but made accessible with day-to-day examples of people and products we all identify with.
The Four-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss. This is an inspirational read about how to set up a business around the lifestyle your desire. It’s all about how to create money from an online business by setting up automatic systems that will systematically email and liaise with your customers, while you sip a cocktail in a hammock in the Caribbean. Hmm, that’s the kind of business life I like the sound of!
Give Me Time, The Mind Gym
The beauty of Mind Gym books (they have one book relationships and another called ‘wake your mind up’) is that you can dip in and read them in chunks. I tend to have several books on the go, so this is great because you don’t need to read from cover to cover. This book offers good psychology snippets and practical tips to improve your relationship with time. It offers insights into your own personality type and how you can relate to time in a way that gets the best out of you. (I used to work for them too – they’re a great training company!)
http://www.castingcallpro.com/uk/ – Website for actors and performers to promote themselves and find resources
http://www.gbbo.co.uk/ – Free website templates and advice for up and coming british businesses who want to raise their game online.
www://wordpress.org.uk – Excellent resource for starting a website and there are a range of themes to choose from. Great tool for creating an online art gallery/photography gallery. Lots of free plug ins to allow you to have an online shopping carte, videos etc.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture-professionals-network Jobs, networking, listings
http://www.creativeboom.co.uk Great listings guide
Creative and Cultural Skills is the sector skills council for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts.
www.artsprofessional.co.uk Online trade magazine
http://www.skillset.org – Industry body supporting the creative industries in the UK
http://www.ukti.gov.uk/export/howwehelp/passporttoexport.html – UKTI is an excellent resource for developing a business oversees. There is a scheme (above page) that can help with advice in developing a business strategy and contacts abroad.
Tools to help your business survive and grow
For London based Designers – a networking group which includes talks from industry experts: