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Books that have shaped me

Culture, Growth

I try to read. Sometimes I fail at it, sometimes I succeed. I had a goal to read a stack of books this year, and I certainly haven’t hit that goal. It was somewhat arbitrary, however I do know the importance of reading and I have seen the direct impact that reading has in my life. I guess that’s why right now I’m reading my third book in three weeks. The desire to read has sparked quite heavily now and I can’t seem to get enough. I’ve been involved in a few John Maxwell mastermind groups with Al Ruttan, which have been great. We did one with our team here at Helium, which was a fantastic experience and I recommend it to every team out there. Unfortunately, I’ve had a pretty crazy work schedule the past month so I missed more Wednesday morning masterminds than I attended. Sorry Al!

Here are a few books that I can’t recommend enough, and I highly encourage you to read them.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins
    In this book Jim goes over the studies and research that he and his team conducted over several years. They studied competing companies where one company plateaued, and the other skyrocketed. They identified a few factors that launched those companies and it’s these concepts that have been huge for me personally, and for our business. The first concept is a leadership principal about the “bus”. The CEO of the company is the bus driver. They have two very important decisions to make. First, who’s allowed on the bus, and where will they sit? The most critical element is who is coming on. Once we let the right person on, we can figure out where they sit. There are others that have written about similar leadership principals such as hire for character, train for skill, which is a cornerstone to how we hire here.One more principal that has really helped transform Helium is Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept. I found the case studies in the book quite interesting. Essentially it’s finding the intersection of what you can be best at, what you’re passionate about, and what you can make money doing. Digging into his research is the best way to create a foundational understanding of this concept and how to apply it in your business. Again, others have developed similar concepts like the whole idea of staying in your lane. If all we do in business is tack on a pile of services and products that start to stray from the core, eventually you may find you’re less profitable than if you stuck to exactly what you know and love.
  2. This is Marketing by Seth Godin
    This is Seth’s newest book and he goes into what marketing should be about; telling honest stories, connecting with your core audience, and selling your brand. If you’re not in marketing you may not care for this book, but I am in marketing and I loved the book. For some digital agencies, some of what he talks about may be somewhat controversial, especially when he speaks about the fact that how we should market is not by grabbing Google Ads for a product search, rather what we should be doing is marketing our brands, and having our customers searching for us by name. Well, this may be an extreme paraphrase, however the sentiment is largely on point.Seth is a man that knows what he’s talking about. He’s got a brilliant mind when it comes to marketing. Some of the in-depth components may not resonate with everyone, however if you run any organization, it’s still a great read that I’d recommend it to help you see some communication challenges from a different perspective.
  3. Everybody Always by Bob Goff
    Read this book. It will challenge you on how you handle all of your relationships. If you’re not a religious person, here’s a heads up that it’s largely rooted in biblical teaching. That said, if you read it cover to cover you will be a better person by the end of it. The stories Bob tells will blow your mind, and how he handles them will blow your mind even further. The goal of this book is to help us have better relationships in all areas of our lives. It’s extremely challenging to read this book, and then to view our interactions with those around us through the lens this book creates. It’s curious to me that immediately after I finished reading this book I was in a situation where I needed to apply what I learned from the book into my life.Bob provides his email address and cell number at the end of the book. He encourages you to contact him. I did. He replied within a couple of hours. He’s an amazing man. You’ll agree too, especially when you learn about Charlie’s story.
  4. Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson
    Sir Richard Branson; he seems unstoppable. I had a hard time deciding between Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Sir Richard for this one. I have read the biographies of both Jobs and Musk, however I feel like both of those two kind of hit home runs immediately. Not that they weren’t without their struggles at some point, and arguably Musk will be in some kind of hot water until the day he dies. Richard however built the Virgin empire brick by brick. I can appreciate his attitude and tenacity to keep pushing forward no matter what.If we look at everything that Virgin is involved with today and understand that this started with two small business failures, followed by a successful magazine in the 60’s, it really makes you think about what could be accomplished if we had the drive and persistence that Sir Richard has. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, Virgin Group controls over 400 companies today.5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
    This book is required reading here at the office for leadership and the accounts team. This book will help transform your interactions with others by arming you with the tools to have better control over the 4 key areas of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. You will become better in every human interaction you have as you strengthen these areas.If you get this book, and I hope you do, don’t buy a used copy. There is a test you can take and each book contains a code to take the test. It’s worth it. Go do it.

There are many more books I could recommend. Basically everything from John Maxwell, Love Does by Bob Goff which I started reading yesterday (I’m writing this on November 20th), The Advertising Solution by Craig Simpson, Influence by Dr Robert Cialdini, and many many more. What are you reading? I’d love to hear about it!