In 2021 I have made a concerted effort to read more – I had so many books on my list but I felt like I was never going to get through them all, so I set aside time every morning to read for as long as I felt like. Some days it was only 20 minutes, others I read for 2 hours.
Here are some of my recent favourites and long-standing reads that I come back to time and time again.
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Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter – Liz Wiseman
Multipliers has been my favourite read of 2021 so far!
My key takeaways
Our leadership majorly impacts the results we get from our people. Just implementing strategies alone is not enough – a whole mindset shift towards a different kind of leadership needs to happen. There are specific ways in which you can bring the best out of people and if you do that you can make your team 10x more productive without any additional resources – and weed out those people that bring the productivity down.
A thought-provoking, accessible, and essential exploration of why some leaders (“Diminishers”) drain capability and intelligence from their teams, while others (“Multipliers”) amplify it to produce better results. Including a foreword by Stephen R. Covey, as well the five key disciplines that turn smart leaders into genius makers, Multipliers is a must-read for everyone from first-time managers to world leaders.
Non-Violent Communication – Marshall B Rosenberg
My key takeaway
Communication is super important when you’re dealing with people for 90% of your day – and I’d argue it’s even more important if you work with your partner. My top takeaway was that underneath any form of emotionally charged communication is an unmet need. So the key is to find YOUR unmet need before you go to communicate about a situation and to listen for someone else’s unmet need when they are communicating with you.
• Consciousness: a set of principles that support living a life of compassion, collaboration, courage, and authenticity
• Language: understanding how words contribute to connection or distance
• Communication: knowing how to ask for what we want, how to hear others even in disagreement, and how to move toward solutions that work for all
• Means of influence: sharing “power with others” rather than using “power over others”
• Increase our ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection
• Connect empathically with self and others to have more satisfying relationships
• Sharing of resources so everyone is able to benefit
The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
My Key Takeaway
We have had the most success whenever we’ve kept the business at the forefront of our minds, and this book highlighted to me just HOW important it. is to constantly make micro adjustments and how one wrong decision at a crucial time can lead to a downward slope. Understanding the stages of a business helped us to understand where we are headed and what the business needs to look like when we get there.
An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.
Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.
The Unfair Advantage – Hasan Kubba, Ash Ali
My Key Takeaway
I’ve not had the best couple of years and I was starting to feel very resentful towards some of the things that occured and it took me a lot to see that some of these things may even be advantages without me even realising that they are. They are hidden lessons in everything, and sometimes they give us some additional strength or additional skills and when applied to work, they can give us a competitive advantage if we recognise them.
What is the difference between a startup that makes it, and one that crashes and burns? Behind every story of success is an unfair advantage.
But an Unfair Advantage is not just about your parents’ wealth or who you know: anyone can have one. An Unfair Advantage is the element that gives you an edge over your competition.
This ground-breaking book shows how to identify your own Unfair Advantages and apply them to any project. Drawing on over two decades of hands-on experience, including as the first Marketing Director of Just Eat (a startup now worth over £4 billion), the authors offer a unique framework for assessing your external circumstances in addition to your internal strengths. Hard work and grit aren’t enough, so they explore the importance of money, intelligence, location, education, expertise, status and luck in the journey to success. From starting your company, to gaining traction, raising funds and growth hacking, The Unfair Advantage helps you look at yourself and find the ingredients you didn’t realise you already had, to succeed in the cut-throat world of business.
Principles – Ray Dalio
My Key Takeaway
I sometimes struggle with decision-making and this book helped me tonnes to know what it takes to make decisions better and faster and more consistently – and on top of that I got 100 different ideas for our business just through the examples and stories shared.
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past 40 years to create unique results in both life and business – and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.
In 1975, Ray Dalio founded an investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Forty years later, Bridgewater has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history and has grown into the fifth most important private company in the United States, according to Fortune magazine. Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Along the way, Dalio discovered a set of unique principles that have led to Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture, which he describes as “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency”. It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio – who grew up an ordinary kid in a middle-class Long Island neighborhood – that he believes are the reason behind his success.
In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency”, include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. He also describes the innovative tools the firm uses to bring an idea meritocracy to life, such as creating “baseball cards” for all employees that distill their strengths and weaknesses and employing computerized decision-making systems to make believability-weighted decisions. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.
Here, from a man who has been called both “the Steve Jobs of investing” and “the philosopher king of the financial universe” (CIO magazine), is a rare opportunity to gain proven advice unlike anything you’ll find in the conventional business press.
FLOW – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I missed getting into the famous “flow” state because some of my work requires me to be on call for issues, meaning that at times my day is controlled by other people. I made a lot of changes to my schedule after reading this and eliminated a large amount of distractions from my life to allow me to get into flow more often.
Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi (“the leading researcher into ‘flow states’” —Newsweek) demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness, unlock our potential, and greatly improve the quality of our lives.
Breaking the habit of being yourself – Dr Joe Dispenza
This one is simple. Your brained is NOT fixed, it’s capable of forming new pathways and it’s capable of learning new things at any point, so if you want to change who you are go ahead.
You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose. In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, renowned author, speaker, researcher, and chiropractor Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible.
Not only will you be given the necessary knowledge to change any aspect of yourself, but you will be taught the step-by-step tools to apply what you learn in order to make measurable changes in any area of your life. Dr. Joe demystifies ancient understandings and bridges the gap between science and spirituality. Through his powerful workshops and lectures, thousands of people in 24 different countries have used these principles to change from the inside out. Once you break the habit of being yourself and truly change your mind, your life will never be the same!
Grit – Angela Duckworth
I was close to giving up more than once in the last 6 years, no matter what I did it just didn’t work out or something else came along to just rip everything apart that I’ve built. The thing that this book taught me is that this happens to EVERYONE but the people who make it are the ones who don’t lose passion for something and persevere even when nothing seems to be going right.
In this instant New York Times bestseller, Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” “Inspiration for non-geniuses everywhere” (People).
The daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Angela Duckworth is now a celebrated researcher and professor. It was her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience that led to her hypothesis about what really drives success: not genius, but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.
In Grit, she takes us into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.
ALCHEMY – Rory Sutherland
Brand is important. It’s why people buy – just read this one it’s brilliant!
Why is Red Bull so popular, though everyone—everyone!—hates the taste? Humans are, in a word, irrational, basing decisions as much on subtle external signals (that little blue can) as on objective qualities (flavor, price, quality). The surrounding world, meanwhile, is irreducibly complex and random. This means future success can’t be projected on any accounting spreadsheet. To strike gold, you must master the dark art and curious science of conjuring irresistible ideas: alchemy.
Based on thirty years of field work inside the largest experiment in human behavior ever conceived—the forever-unfolding pageant of consumer capitalism—Alchemy, the revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland, whose TED talks have been viewed nearly seven million times, decodes human behavior, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from his storied career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others.
Heralded as “one of the leading minds in the world of branding” by NPR, Sutherland is a unique thought leader, as comfortable exchanging ideas with Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler (both interviewed in this audio) as he is crafting the next product launch. His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in surprising places:
What can honey bees teach us about creating a sustainable business?
How could budget airlines show us how to market a healthcare system?
Why is it better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong?
What might soccer penalty kicks teach us about the dangers of risk-aversion?
Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech.
Equally startling and profound, Sutherland’s journey through the strange world of decision making is filled with astonishing lessons for all aspects of life and business.
THE PRACTICE – SETH GODIN
I love every single one of Seth Godin’s books and I love listening to him speak – he just makes me feel calm and like ‘I can do this’. Recently my work has involved a lot of writing and content creation and I’ve struggle to keep to deadlines because sometimes I don’t “feel like” I can write that day – and this book has encouraged me to write anyways. Every person that writes has ‘bad writing’ at some point or another and that’s ok, it’s the practice that makes us get better.
From the bestselling author of Linchpin, Tribes, and The Dip comes an elegant little book that will inspire artists, writers, and entrepreneurs to stretch and commit to putting their best work out into the world.
Creative work doesn’t come with a guarantee. But there is a pattern to who succeeds and who doesn’t. And engaging in the consistent practice of its pursuit is the best way forward.
Based on the breakthrough Akimbo workshop pioneered by legendary author Seth Godin, The Practice will help you get unstuck and find the courage to make and share creative work. Godin insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human. Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along.
With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to dance with your fear. To take the risks worth taking. And to embrace the empathy required to make work that contributes with authenticity and joy.