I know – as blog titles go I could have chosen a better one but somehow ‘My Top Five Desert Island Books for Business People’ sounded a bit too stuffy and ‘Times Literary Supplement’ to try and sneak past you. After all, when we take a book on holiday we want to keep it light (obviously I’m talking about the content of the book, not how much it will weigh in the suitcase) because, let’s face it, a holiday is all about relaxing, recharging our batteries and coming back to the office feeling re-energised and ready to take on the world. And who wants to read a business book when they’re on holiday?
Actually, that would be me… and I’m hoping it will be you too, once you’ve read this list of terrific business books that I believe will go perfectly with a long cool drink and plenty of glorious sunshine. In fact, considering the fantastic record-breaking weather the UK is currently enjoying, you don’t even have to wait to go on holiday – start one of these books today and, assuming you follow its advice, I think you’ll quickly begin to experience some significant positive changes in your life.
So let’s start with the book that’s probably had the biggest impact on me over the last few months:
The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life – Jeff Olson
The Slight Edge is all about making the small incremental daily changes, putting in the work and developing all the good habits, that will help you achieve success in life. But, as the author says, “Success is a process, not a destination”. If you read a chapter a day, start your Slight Edge action plan while you’re on holiday and then make sure you continue your good daily habits when you get home, you’ll be laying strong foundations for your future… both business and personal. Nothing Olson recommends is difficult but (quoting the author again) “every action that is easy to do is also not easy to do [which is why] the masses who don’t take the easy action are unhappy, unhealthy and financially bound.” The Slight Edge is essentially a handbook to stop you from getting trapped among the masses. In life and in success, everything affects everything. That’s why The Slight Edge should be essential reading for everybody.
The E-Myth – Michael E. Gerber
Michael E. Gerber has been called ‘the World’s No.1 Small Business Guru’ and his E-Myth series of books (and there are a lot of them!) are, quite rightly, a business publishing phenomenon. It’s not hard to see why.
This is the perfect book for you if you’re enjoying your holiday so much you decide it’s time to ‘stop working for the man’ and start your own company instead. But if you’re going to do that, make sure you follow Gerber’s approach and consider everything very carefully before you take the leap. In his books, Gerber often talks about avoiding the “entrepreneurial seizure” that comes from making a knee-jerk decision about becoming your own boss. As he once said in an interview, “most small businesses are started by technicians rather than by true entrepreneurs (and) instead of freeing themselves from the boss they have become their own boss, and they’re now – with absolutely no understanding about how it happened – working for a lunatic and doing what they know how to do but in greater volume than before.” (https://tim.blog/2008/02/27/escaping-the-entrepreneurial-seizure-interview-with-michael-gerber-plus-tim-speaking/).
Used properly, The E-Myth will stop you from making that painful mistake and help you start your business journey for all the right reasons.
The One Minute Manager meets The Monkey – Kenneth H. Blanchard
Apart from possessing the best title of any of the other books on this list (although some of you may disagree when you find out which book comes next) The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey is also a terrific asset for managers who are loaded down from carrying their employee’s monkeys on their back. Here’s how the publisher’s blurb describes it:
‘When a person goes to the boss with a problem and the boss agrees to do something about it, the monkey is off his back and onto the bosses. How can managers avoid these leaping monkeys? Here is priceless advice from three famous experts: how managers can meet their own priorities, give back other people’s monkeys, and let them solve their own problems.’
Let’s be honest, it’s all too easy to let other people’s simians take up residence on your spinal column and this book will show you how to stop that happening. Just as importantly, it also shows you how to empower the monkey’s real owner to sort out their issues for themselves. A short but fascinating read.
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s famous bestseller has apparently sold more than 15 million copies since it was first published in 1936, and although it’s more than eighty years old most of the advice within those pages is still rock-solid – if you follow even half of the thirty principles he outlines in the book you’ll be far better off than you were before you started. So why is it almost at the bottom of my list? Well, mainly because Carnegie’s writing hasn’t aged well and (obviously because of the time it was written – although that’s hardly an excuse) it’s also quite sexist. Still, all the business tenets Carnegie describes are well worth introducing yourself to if you haven’t come across his work before. It’s just, as holiday reading, it’s probably the most difficult book of the bunch.
However, ‘difficult’ is not a word that could be used to describe…
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles
…which is a treat from start to finish. In my opinion, Ikigai is almost a Slight Edge 2.0 because its ultimate aim is to show you how to adopt a more positive mindset and live a fitter, healthier, happier life. From a personal improvement point-of-view Ikigai (a Japanese word that roughly means a joyful sense of purpose and feeling of well-being) is gold-dust because – as one reviewer described it – it is a “treasure trove of life’s secrets” encompassing everything from diet to exercise to adopting good habits to maintaining resilience and calm in a hectic world. The DJ Chris Evans said he’s been “spellbound” since he read it and, if that’s not recommendation enough (!), my wife loved it too. If you’re looking for a reason to jump out of bed in the morning – which is especially tough on the first day back from your holiday – I’d recommend Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life without any reservations!
Whether you’re going away on holiday or not, I hope this short list of books that have inspired me might inspire you too and if you’ve got any favourite business books you’d like to recommend I’d love to hear about them. Also, don’t forget that if you’d like to know how to make your workplace a happier and more productive environment (no holiday reading required!) I’m always here to help – get in touch on 01603 567794 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy reading and don’t forget to put on the sunscreen!