Book Reviews

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For A New Kind Of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is mostly know for being the founder and former president of CD Baby, an online CD store for independent musicians. He's a super successful dude with a really interesting perspective on entrepreneurship.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Only "hell yeah!" If it ain't a "hell yeah!" it's a "no." Most of our stresses in business (and life for that matter) come from saying "yes" to things that don't excite us. Or people we aren't excited to be around. Start saying "no" to things that don't excite you.
  2. If it's not a hit, switch. Staying the course is always great advice. Don't force it. If people aren't excited about your product or service offering, keep improving and reinventing. Go until you find something your customers are dying to pay you for.
  3. Trust, but verify. Ronald Reagan said this many times throughout his presidency. Delegating is a must for scaling a business, but make sure to build in a system of checks and balances. You should have an eye on everymajor financial move in your business.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here (affiliate link).


Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port (Illustrated Version)

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Create a red velvet rope policy. Who are you unwilling to do business with in any circumstance? 80% of your headaches typically come from a small portion of your customers. Stop doing business with those customers.
  2. Kill the elevator speech. If you don't need to pitch investors on a regular basis, come up with a short 'do what' statement: "I help ___(insert group of people)___ with ___(insert how you help + the benefits)___. This is applicable in sales calls, networking events, and while prospecting. Here's mine as an example: I help small business owners create sustainable revenue growth in their service-based company.
  3. Focus on ROI. People aren’t buying what you do, but instead the results you create and the benefits of those results. Keep this in mind when selling your services. Focus on the results you create for your customers. Sell that.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.


Deep Work by Cal Newport

Cal Newport is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University who studies productivity and habits. He is THE dude when it comes to maximizing your time as an entrepreneur.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Busyness as Proxy for Productivity. "In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner." Don't pride yourself in working long hours, focus instead on completing the highest priority tasks that move your business forward the most.
  2. Embrace boredom. Instead of taking breaks from distraction, take breaks from focus. Schedule several blocks throughout the week of undistracted focus on activities that build your business.
  3. Become hard to reach. Cal refers to this as "draining the shallows." There's a difference between being reachable vs. being responsive. Don't be the person that answers emails as they come in, and picks up the phone every time someone calls.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



From Impossible To Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lempkin

Grab this book if you're interested in growing beyond the word of mouth and referral stage in your business. Aaron Ross pioneered a system called 'Cold Calling 2.0' for Salesforce, which generated $100 million in recurring revenue—from scratch.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Go from "nice to have" to "must have." Could your service offering use some refining? Don't stop until you've hit the perfect blend of nailing your target audience, addressing their pain, AND providing a solution. Most business only nail two out of three.
  2. Cold Calling 2.0 vs. Cold Calling 1.0. The old methods of cold calling / emailing don't work anymore. Picking up the phone and calling any and all businesses is extremely ineffective. Huge spam email blasts are worse. The new method of cold calling is:
    1. A "is there a mutual fit?" approach vs. an "always be closing" approach
    2. Significant upfront research on a prospect (to determine need, and feasibility) BEFORE making a single call or sending an email
    3. Highly personalized outreach vs. stock templates and scripts
  3. Seeds, Nets, and Spears. Most businesses put all of their eggs into one prospecting method—big mistake. Go for a balanced approach of all three:
    1. Seeds - Inbound leads, referrals, word of mouth
    2. Nets - Email marketing or paid advertising
    3. Spears - Targeted outbound efforts through calls and emails

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



The Dip by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the author of 18 best-selling books and is a big-time authority on entrepreneurship and marketing. The Dip is about knowing when to quit a business, product, or service offering.

This image well help with the three takeaways below:

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Know when you're in the dip. The "dip" occurs on your way to mastery. Things are going really well until they aren't. As time progresses, you hit setbacks. You lose a client. Results aren't as easy anymore to get for your customers. These setbacks are "dips."
  2. Know when you're NOT in the dip. If you things aren't getting better over time with more effort (i.e. your industry is changing, your business model is not sustainable, your product is outdated, etc.) you're at a dead end (Seth calls these "Cul-de-Sacs"). These are bad.
  3. Strategic quitting is essential for success. It's really important not to quit in the dip. Quit the tactics, not the long-term strategy. Bu if you find yourself at at a dead end, you have to quit—right now. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before quitting:
    1. Am I panicking?
    2. Is my persistence going to pay off in the long run?
    3. What sore of measurable progress am I making?
    4. If I quit the task, will it help me get through the dip of something else much more important?
    5. Am I avoiding the remarkable as a way of quitting without quitting?

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living by Meik Wiking

The Danish are considered the happiest people on the planet. Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark where he studies happiness for a living. This book has a ton of application in business.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Our social relationships are everything. The #1 indicator of happiness (and longevity) is in the quality of our relationships outside of work. Spend time each week strengthening and building new personal relationships. The quality of your work will increase substantially.
  2. Create a habit of stopping at a pre-determined time each day. I stop working at 5pm every day, with rare exceptions (disclaimer: I start working around 6am). I know this doesn't sound very entrepreneurial, but it does wonders for my productivity. Time constraints force me to work efficiently and delegate more.
  3. "We" over "me." Does your business have a culture of sharing and looking out for each other? Use "we" and "ours" when you talk about your business to your employees and clients. Make everyone feel included in the business.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker's work contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. Managing Oneself will make you think about how you're setting up your business to best utilize your strengths.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. How do you learn? Some of us learn best by talking it out. Some of us like to write things out. I like to read and then apply. I also like to listen and then apply. Experiment with different learning styles to find the one that suits you the best.
  2. Do you work well with people? Or are you a loner? I can work well with people, but my best work is done in isolation. Structure your day to cater to your work style.
  3. Are you a decision maker? Or an advisor? I like making decisions and want to steer the ship. If you're not that person, make sure you have a great business partner who is. If you're better behind the scenes, own it!

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.


The ONE Thing

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Thing big, act small. Setting big goals is great, but make sure to narrow the focus. Find the biggest driver in your business by asking, "What’s the ONE Thing I can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?" Force yourself to prioritize your ONE Thing over everything else in your day.
  2. Don’t get trapped in the “check off” game. Don't mistake being busy for being productive. Say "no" to anything that does not align with your goals. A request of your time must be connected to your ONE Thing in order to accept it.
  3. Block off time for your ONE Thing. Ideally, you'd be spending half of your work day chipping away at your ONE Thing. That isn't feasible for most of us. Get started by blocking off 30 minutes each day of protected time to work on the most important thing in your business. Then move up incrementally as you are able to delegate more.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.


 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. The subtlety of not giving a fuck. "Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different. The point isn't to get away from the shit. The point is to find the shit you enjoy dealing with." Nothing to add anything here.
  2. There's value in suffering. Staying positive is important, but sometimes you just have to admit that something sucks and then work your ass off to change it. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, and not a valid solution to life’s problems.
  3. Failure is the way forward. "Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, it’s the cause of it." We rarely take action because of motivation; we are motivated because we take action. The next time you don't feeling like doing something you know you should be doing, JUST DO IT. The motivation will come afterwards.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.


Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

This is a huge book that's close to 700 pages! You've likely heard of Tim Ferriss from the Four Hour Workweek. Tools of Titans is a summary of the interviews he's done with folks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Maria Popova, Brene Brown, and many others.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Maximize shower time — Peter Diamandis. Ever come up with great ideas in the shower? Peter shares several methods for maximizing "shower time." Here are a few: do it (life) by the book, but be the author; you get what you incentivize; when forced to compromise, ask for more.
  2. The best way to say "no" — Maria Popova. “Often I think the paradox is that accepting the requests you receive is at the expense of the quality of the very work—the reason for those requests in the first place—and that’s what you always have to protect.” Sometimes the best “no” is no response. Why do you have to respond to everything?
  3. How to become world class — Scott Adams. Scott is the creator of Dilbert. He recommends that, instead of trying to be the best at one thing, develop 2-3 skills you can be in the top 25% for (Scott's skills are drawing and comedy). This combination will make you more unique than anyone else in the world

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.


The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

The late Chet Holmes was a sales BAD ASS. He ran 9 divisions in Charlie Munger's ad company, worked with 60 Fortune 500 companies, and developed a unique 12-step system for any business looking to create consistent growth in their revenue.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Utilize education-based marketing. "When you sell, you break rapport, but when you educate, you build it." Build education into your sales process. Start relationships with prospects by sharing something valuable for their business for free. Sell the education and the product/service will sell itself.
  2. Market data trumps product data. Find studies that prove the need for what your company offers. Sell website design services? Find studies that prove customers do online research before hiring a company. Show your prospect real data that proves they can't afford not to invest in their web presence.
  3. Build Your Dream 100. Build a list of the top 100 clients that, if you landed just a few of these, could totally change your business and your life. The 12-step system in the Ultimate Sales Machine can be summed up like this: focus all of your marketing and sales efforts on the relentless pursuit of each client in your Dream 100.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker

Chris Ducker is my go to resource for anything VA related. Virtual Freedom is a great step-by-step guide for building and growing your business using virtual help.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Know what to delegate. Many of us are the superheroes in our businesses and do EVERYTHING. You can't scale a business that way. Delegate these types of tasks:
    1. Tasks you don't like doing (i.e. formatting spreadsheets, invoices, etc...this is a great place to start)
    2. Tasks you don't know how to do (i.e. updating your website, sending out newsletters)
    3. Tasks you feel you shouldn't be doing (busy work associated with selling or fulfilling your service)
  2. There's no such thing as a super VA. Don't expect one virtual assistant to erase all of your problems. Hiring specialized workers is much more realistic and cost-effective than looking for a jack of all trades.
  3. Hire for the role, not the task. Virtual workers are people, not programs. Here's a guide to the different types of VA roles and their rough monthly cost if you choose to hire someone living overseas.
    1. General Virtual Assistant — $500 - $900 / month (this is the type of VA every entrepreneur should have)
    2. Web Developer— $600 - $1,500 / month
    3. Graphic Designer — $600 - $1,500 / month
    4. Internet Marketing — $600 - $1,000 / month
    5. Content Writer — $400 - $700 / month
    6. Video Editor — $800 - $2,000 / month
    7. App Developer — $1,000 - $2,500 / month

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art is for anyone who experiences "the resistance" on a daily basis. "The resistance" is our natural inclination as human beings to favor immediate gratification over long-term growth.

As entrepreneurs, we crave immediate gratification (checking our social profiles, answering emails, etc). But it's the activities that don't generate short-term results that benefit us the most (prospecting hard to fill our sales pipeline 2-3 months out, reading books to build our skillsets, etc).

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. Recognize "the resistance." You're experiencing resistance if you've been procrastinating, having feelings of self-doubt, or find yourself paralyzed by fear. It's important to push towards the things that scare you the most.
  2. Master the how, and let the gods determine the what and the why. You have a right to your labor, not the fruits of your labor. Dedicate every work day to improving your skillsets. Don't take success or failure personally, they're not what defines you. Your actions are what defines you.
  3. Be a professional. Treat yourself like an elite athlete. Commit to showing up every work day no matter what. Remove your feelings from the equation. Commit to the long haul.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.



15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse

"Not another book on time management?!" you say? Don't worry, this book has several great insights. Kevin Kruse is a NYT best-selling author, and the Founder and CEO of LeadX. In this book, Kevin analyzed the productivity habits of 7 billionaires, 13 olympic athletes, 29 straight-A students, and 239 entrepreneurs.

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. 321 email system. Block off three 21-minute chunks each day to reach inbox zero. Be intentional with your time by checking for email, instead of responding to emails as they come in.
  2. Batch your work. Create themes for each day to batch time spent on similar tasks. Use Friday as a buffer day to catch up. Schedule buffer days before and after your vacation.
  3. Touch it once. If something can be completed in less than 5 minutes do it immediately.

You can grab the book on Amazon by clicking here.

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