So, the season to be jolly is with us again (let’s face it, nothing says Christmas quite like a General Election) and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have left it as late as possible to think about your Christmas shopping.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d tell you about some of the books I’ve read this year that have struck a chord with me and – I think – would make excellent Secret Santa gifts or Christmas Day stocking fillers.
I mean, giving your favourite friend, colleague or relative a set of beard Christmas baubles or a personalised coffee mug that says ‘I survived another meeting that should have been an email’ might raise a smile for a couple of nano-seconds but, as Garrison Keillor once said, “A book is a gift you can open again and again.”
In the case of the five books I’m about to mention, they won’t only open it again and again, they’ll learn something valuable and be entertained while they’re doing it.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of quotes, let’s not forget this one from Groucho Marx: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
So, in no particular order:
By Charles Duhigg
If you’ve ever wondered why you’re locked into certain negative habits and want to know how you can transform those habits to achieve success, Duhigg’s book is a must-read. It covers everything from the neuroscience of habit formation and how discovering the correct habits were crucial to the achievements of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr., to how implementing ‘keystone habits’ can earn businesses billions and mean the difference between success and failure, life and death.
If that all sounds a bit highfalutin or OTT, it really isn’t. True, many books of this nature (including some of the books on this list) can be accused of over-egging the Christmas pudding sometimes, but Duhigg’s book contains plenty to think about when it comes to the ingrained hard-coded habits that drive us, and how to replace destructive habits with constructive ones. Duhigg also shows how good and bad habits aren’t just restricted to individuals, they affect business and wider society too. It’s a really interesting deep dive into how habits happen and it will open your eyes to a subject you might not have explored before. It’s a very cool read.
By Warren Berger
We should never underestimate the power of a good question. In fact, questioning – when it’s innovative, creative and ‘beautiful’ – can identify problems, produce game-changing solutions, and prepare the way for fresh opportunities. As a coach, strategic questioning is one of the most valuable tools I use to help my clients get to the heart of their wants and needs and achieve their goals, but it’s a tool that most people have overlooked for far too long.
Berger’s book does what it says on the tin. It’s about how to ask better questions so you can connect and communicate more deeply and productively. It’s also a book that anyone can benefit from – whether you’re a business owner or manager, a team leader or entrepreneur, a teacher or a parent. If you’ve ever needed to get information out of someone (and, let’s face it, most of us are trying to do that every single day) A More Beautiful Question will show you how to ask the right questions to make it happen, and maybe even rethink and reinvent your own life along the way. It’s inspirational, it’s engaging, and it’s loaded with great stories and practical advice. I love this one and I think you might too.
By Michael Neill
I’ve mentioned this book in previous posts and, although I’ve seen and read a lot of Michael Neill’s other work, The Inside-Out Revolution remains the book I’m especially keen on. It’s an approach that’s based around the three simple principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought which lie behind every experience we’ve ever had (or will have) in life, and how understanding those principles will enable us to tap into our deeper intelligence and access our limitless, creative power.
Yes, I know that probably sounds like the premise of a bad sci-fi movie but don’t be put off by the description. All Michael Neill’s really showing us is how to access what’s already inside us to enjoy a more productive, fulfilling and happier existence. It’s thought-provoking, insightful, and a really good way to start people down the road of personal development and/or coaching.
They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer
By Marcus Sheridan
This book impacted me hugely earlier this year so be prepared for it to have a similar effect on you.
Basically, They Ask You Answer is a marketing strategy that shows you how to create quality content to increase sales and accelerate growth. It’s jam-packed with tactics for boosting your company’s presence, attracting customers, and answering the questions that will generate more business… whatever business or industry you’re in. However, what makes it most compelling is that author Marcus Sheridan has lived what he’s writing about. After the U.S. housing collapse, his pool company was pretty much obliterated. Now they’re one of the largest pool companies in the U.S. turning over millions of dollars every year. How did he accomplish that? By dropping the marketing-speak and harnessing his in-house resources to generate effective educational content, build trust and drive sales. It’s a simple read that not only explains the need for a well-thought-out content marketing strategy, but it also shows you how to develop one for your own business. It’s also full of insightful case studies and practical advice. Do yourself a favour and read it.
By Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms
I’ve got a confession to make. I’m reading this book at the moment and I haven’t finished it yet, so recommending it may seem a tad presumptuous. In my defence though, I’m already hooked enough to recommend it as one of 2019’s very best books. It’s all about ‘old power’ versus ‘new power’ in terms of social media and influence, and how ‘new power’ is quickly rising to become the dominant force because – unlike the jealously guarded ‘closed shop’ of ‘old power’ – it’s participatory, peer-driven, and made by the many. Mega-platforms like Facebook and Uber and movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are demonstrating the strength and importance of this cultural and societal change, and New Power discusses ways of harnessing this zeitgeist and channelling it successfully. It also explores what happens when new power goes to the dark side.
So far, it’s been a real page-turner. I’d be interested to know what you think about it.
And there it is, my top five book recommendations for 2019. Just in case the lucky recipient is allergic to real books or gets a pair of AirPods for Christmas and wants to listen to something stimulating while they work off the turkey on a Boxing Day run, most (if not all) of them are available on Audible too. Me? I’ve already got a few new books lined up for 2020. Maybe I’ll tell you about them next year.