I have just returned from three weeks on the road, including 10 days on a speaking tour across Poland as a guest of the United States Consulate General in Krakow. I had a lot of time on airplanes and read several books but there are two that I would especially like to recommend.
The first is called “BOOKSMART – hundreds of real-world lessons for success and happiness,” by my friend Frank Sonnenberg. This is an absolutely fantastic book of wisdom and sage advice that is presented in a very user-friendly way, with lots of lists of things to think about and apply. The book covers numerous topics around business, family, success, financial health, marriage and other critical issues. The chapters are short but powerful. I have already reread this book twice and have applied several of the ideas to my business and life. This is one of those books I plan to come back to often as a reminder of what I should be focusing on and how to build a happy, joyful and highly successful life. This book would be a wonderful Christmas present for anyone you know that enjoy books on self-improvement or business improvement.
The other book I’d like to recommend to you is called, “The Leaders Mindset – how to win in the age of disruption,” by Terence Mauri. In this book Terence describes three major leadership mindsets:
- Think Big Mindset (Future Shaper)
- Act Bold Mindset (Risk Taker)
- Learn Fast Mindset (Knowledge Seeker)
He then goes on to describe how to integrate all three of these mindsets in order to be an effective and successful leader. I underlined a lot of this book, and I’ve recommended it to several of my clients. It’s a good, solid book that will help you take a new look at how you lead in your organization. One of the reasons I love this book so much, is that it aligned very strongly with what I have been studying for years about great leaders and great organizations. It was reassuring to read such focused and detailed ideas and descriptions that match so closely with my strongly held beliefs about what makes a real leader. If you are interested in a book that will help you examine the way you think about leadership and the actions you take as a leader, you will definitely enjoy this book.
I have just a little bit of downtime around the Christmas holidays, so I will have a few more books to recommend at the start of the new year. If you have recently read a great business or self-help book, please comment on it here so that my followers and I can pick it up and learn from your recommendations.
I hope you find these books of great value – take good care – John
Recently I recommend a great book from Bernie Swain called “What Made Me Who I Am.” I was very impressed with Bernie and his approach to business so I asked him if he would share a guest blog for my readers (that’s you). I really love what he sent, and I think you will too, it is a great testament to how important it is to build honest and real trust with your customers. Here is his article…
When you start your first business, it is hard work. The odds are against you. When you start your first business in an industry you know nothing about (other than what you read in a magazine), it is virtually impossible to succeed. And yet, that is exactly what my wife, my business partner and I did more than 35 years ago, when we hung out our shingle as the Washington Speakers Bureau.
No matter how you start, you will quickly learn some important lessons about finances, products, customer service, marketing, and, if you are like us, the need for a business plan. These are the fundamentals of any business. You also learn about the intangibles necessary to succeed, such as leadership, passion, focus, integrity and trust. You often learn these through trial and error. But I learned one of them, trust, by mistake and it became a defining moment in our company.
In our first year, we represented no one. We made no money. Then after 14 months, we signed our first speaker, Steve Bell, the news anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America. Actually, all we did was shake hands. While the practice in our industry was to sign speakers to one- or two-year written contracts, we were too excited to do any paperwork.
This meant that Steve could walk away from us at any time. Loving that idea, he told some of his friends, a group of Washington journalists, that we didn’t require signed contracts and if they went with us, they, too, could walk away.
This mistake attracted our first stable of speakers, all on a handshake. It did one other thing, totally unanticipated. It established an atmosphere of trust. We knew that we had to work hard to keep our new speakers happy or they would walk. But in turn, our hard work showed our clients how much we cared. Instead of being a mistake, our handshake agreements built a deep intimacy and a bond on which we began to rely on each other. That is the basis of trust, and it was a critical turning point for our company, where we continue to “sign” every speaker with a handshake.
We went on to become the biggest speaking bureau in the business, representing many of the world’s leading figures in government, business, sports and the arts, in addition to the media. In talking to many of our clients about the challenges they faced in their careers, I realized that we were in good company. They, too, had benefited from turning points—some intentional and some by way of happenstance—that made the difference at crucial junctures in their lives.
To be sure, not every business agreement can depend on a handshake—employee contracts and vendor agreements, for example, almost always have to be far more formal.
But every company can find ways to foster trust—by delegating responsibility, say, or establishing a compensation system that gives each employee a stake in the organization’s future. The company benefits, the employees benefit and, most important, the customers benefit.
For us, the trust we have with our speakers has spread to all personal and professional relationships in our company. “Can I trust you?” is not a question we ask, but rather, “Is this the right thing to do?”
Trust builds good organizations, just like it builds good families. By contrast, “distrust is very expensive,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it. It tears everything apart.
Whether you discover this truth by mistake or by design, you’ll find that trust is fundamental to the success of any group of people you bring together or lead.
Let’s shake on that.
** By the way, I also do this with many of my clients. No contract, just show up, try to help them as much as I humanly can, and they send me a check. I really like doing business that way.
In this video I recommend three great business books that cover the topics of branding, creativity and innovation. These are excellent books that will give you superb business ideas and expose you to some of the dramatic disruptive innovations that will impact all of us over the next decade. I hope you find value in these recommendations and share this video with anyone you feel might want to read one of these fantastic books.
The Brand Flip will not be in full release until August, but you can pre-order it here – which I highly suggest!! Just click on any of the books and it will take you to that book on Amazon.
Click below to find out more about the webinar, I promise it will be highly valuable.
If it’s important for you to position yourself as a “Trusted Advisor” to your clients, then you’ll want to take a few minutes and watch this brief video that describes the formula for source credibility from Charles H. Green and his co-authors David H. Maister, Robert M. Galford and Andrea P. Howe. It is an elegant formula that superbly illustrates the four elements needed to truly be a trusted advisor.
For 20 years I have traveled upwards of 200 days a year worldwide to help people and businesses be more successful. In this video I will share with you what I have found that will make you more successful than 90% of the people around you. It is a very simple idea, but one that exceedingly few people do. I hope you find this video of great value. I wish you every possible happiness and success in the new year. Love, John
PS – I have added several links below the video that should be highly helpful in your learning and development goals for 2015 and beyond. Please feel free to share them with anyone you might want to. Good luck!!
Here is a link with more information on the FREE Virtual Sales Kick Off: VSKO2015 (You don’t want to miss this one!)
Here is a link to the top 60 (or so) business books I have ever read: Top Business Books (you have to enter your email to get this list)
Here is a list (with links) to my top learning resources: Top Learning Sites
I’d like to share with you two of my very favorite books that focus on how to be a great leader, a great person and to make a positive impact on the lives of others. It is my strong belief that if you lead a life of honesty, integrity, character and service that you will be a highly successful person, regardless of what your bank account looks like. I have also found that when you live this way, and focus on adding massive value to those around you, your bank account usually looks pretty good. So here are two books to help you focus on what I believe are some of the most important things for building a happy, balanced, joyful and extremely successful business and life.