Reading broadens the mind! At Oak Consult we love to devour business and self-development books. We’ve selected some of our favourite reads that we hope will save you time working your way through some of the ‘not-so-good’ ones out there!
To make this growing list a little easier to navigate, we’ve split them up into categories. Simply scroll down to the relevant category on the page.
Hope you enjoy them as much as we have:
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. People often joke about the title of this book – I know I did before I read it, but it’s a pretty good read and still very current despite it being published in 1953.
The Magic of Metaphor by Nick Owen is a collection of ‘fable’ type stories that can be used as they are or adapted for different situations but each and every one of them has a message for most encounters in life.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink gives real insights, based on factual research, dispelling myths surrounding what motivates people.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz is a thought provoking and mind-stretching read. In every chapter of the book, you will find many practical ideas, techniques, and principles that will enable you to harness the power of thinking big and overcoming your self-limiting beliefs.
Sales & Marketing
Anyone who isn’t in sales, who thinks it’s a dark art and wants to know more – Selling the Wheel: Choosing the Best Way to Sell You, Your Company and Your Customers – a great fun read that will give you some great insight into selling.
Never Mind the Sizzle…Where’s the Sausage? by David Taylor is a tongue in cheek story about a Sales person entering the murky world of Marketing and discovering the power of brand, customer and marketing. Really good read, with some great insight!
‘Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs’ – If you’re new to the world of Social Media and online marketing, this is a must-read. Dinosaur marketers be afraid!
Leadership & Management
THE business management and leadership book – Gung Ho! – No more to be said – read it!
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni tells a leadership fable about a corporate executive team, then lays out five very practical “dysfunctions” (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results), along with a questionnaire for readers to use in evaluating their own teams and specifics to help them understand and overcome these common shortcomings. Great for any leader in corporate life!
The Disney Way, Revised Edition: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson explores the business philosophy of Disney, introduce its four key principles (dream, believe, dare, and do) and examine the ten key principles that are at the core of the organization’s strategy which are: provide everyone a chance to dream; stand firm on your beliefs and principles; treat your customers like guests; support, empower and reward your employees; build long-term alliances with suppliers and partners; dare to take calculated risks; intensively train and reinforce culture; align long-term vision with execution; use storyboarding techniques for problem solving and communication; and pay close attention to detail. A great read, especially if you’re a Disney fan!
Another book by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles that I would recommend – Raving Fans!: Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service; Another story-based quick read, with some useful ideas and insight to ponder on.
Branding & Brand Experience
I love Innocent Smoothies – their product, their brand and their ethos – A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned is a great read if you’re interested in business start-ups, brand and brand values.
Don’t Mess With the Logo – One of the simplest, to the point marketing/branding books I’ve ever read. Through the jokes and sarcasm are some basic, solid branding rules.
Full Steam Ahead by Ken Blanchard and Jess Stoner is a great story about creating a vision that helps you and your people to get focused and energised as well as delivering results!
Empowered by Josh Bernhoff and Ted Schadler has some interesting sections in it on the power of Highly Empowered Resourceful Operatives (Heros) and their potential impact in an organisation (positive and negative) as well as some real-life case studies of the power of Social Media.
Switch: How to change things when change is hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This book is quick and easy to read, and very helpful as a way of thinking about possible organizational changes, both for the theory they introduce as well as the examples they present. I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who desires to make a cultural change to their organization (as most of us do, I suspect), as well as to anyone interested in decision-making in general, though the book itself is very applied.
Our Iceberg Is Melting – by John Kotter. This is a great little book. Be warned though, this is not a technical book on change management. It is written as a fable about penguins. This makes it good for getting across the dynamics of change management in a way that is both useful to those who would understand the technical stuff as well as comprehensible to those who wouldn’t. I would say that if you’re a senior manager in a large business, don’t make this the only book on change management you read!
Who Moved My Cheese by Ken Blanchard and Dr Spencer Johnson. Another easily read fable and useful for junior people managers especially. What I liked about the book is that it did not preach—do this or do that! It is a simple story consisting of four little characters-two mice named “Sniff” and “Scurry” and two little people named “Hem” and “Haw.” It does wonders for your thinking process. The most powerful part of the story is that you learn to look around with a newer and positive perspective which in turn helps you run past your fears. In short, running through the maze became less fearful and painful and probably enjoyable.
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson. For anyone that has read Think Oak’s posts on the A to Z of Inspirational People, you’l know I’m a fan of Steve Jobs. At 531 pages it’s quite a big read, but worth it. The book itself paints Steve as having a dichotic personality from brash, rude and arrogant to charismatic, charming and mesmerising, and that’s what makes it so good. There’s nothing left out. After all his shortcomings it’s hard not to see Steve Jobs as a genius. His vision, his passion, his attention to detail, his love of great design will leave a legacy that most people can only dream of.
Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson. This book catalogues a series of truly impressive achievements, but does so in a very down to earth way. At no point do you feel that Branson is exaggerating his input into any of Virgin’s achievements – credit is given where it’s due, and blame accepted where appropriate. Through understanding what has gone on behind the scenes in Branson’s life, it becomes clear that this hasn’t all been an easy ride, nor has anything been handed to this man on a plate. He and his fellow workers have built the Virgin empire through hard work, a lot of forward thinking, learning vital lessons from big mistakes, and by never being afraid that they might have to pick themselves and start over after a big fall.
Favourite Business Authors
The Tipping Point – Aims to answer two questions, “Why is it that some ideas or behaviours or products start epidemics and others don’t? And what can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?” Gladwell has a number of examples of social epidemics – an inexplicable overnight resurgence in popularity of Hush Puppie shoes; a tragic rise in teen suicide in Micronesia; a startling decrease in the New York City crime rate — Gladwell uses all of these to illustrate what he defines as the three principles of social epidemics: the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context. A great read!
Blink – is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant–in the blink of an eye–that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?
Outliers – Gladwell examines the phenomenon of high achievement, fantastic stories of success often attributed to the tenacity, hard work, and innate individual talent. Gladwell doesn’t discount the necessity of innate ability, and he points to hard work as a crucial factor for success in any endeavour, but he finds in these success stories that factors such as timing, circumstance, and cultural heritage play an oft-overlooked yet critical role.
Seth Godin has written fourteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a best-seller He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. I’ve recently read the following, and they’re great reads:
Permission Marketing – this book is quite relevant for any person who uses the internet and also for people who wants to build up a customer base which they can continuously communicate with, this allows marketers to save on costs that is needed every time to interrupt a consumer when you have a new product/service to offer. An important aspect to remember about Permission Marketing is that it should be anticipated, people should look forward to hearing from you. Your messages should be personal and directly related to the individual. Your message should also be relevant; your offering should be something that the prospective consumer is interested in. This book is very insightful and it is easy to understand the concept that Seth is trying to explain in it.
Linchpin – The age of cogs and factories worked for a while, but everything has changed. A new breed of worker and leader are now required. We need linchpins to solve our problems, keep us connected, and inspire us with art. People who are linchpins are creative, good at connecting with others, and able to see solutions like no one else. They truly are indispensable. This piece of work from Seth Godin is a great read, insightful and thought-provoking.
Tribes – In this short book, Seth Godin argues that today everyone has an opportunity to bring together a tribe of like-minded people and do amazing things. Yet, too many people ignore the opportunity to lead because they are “sleepwalking” their way through their lives and work. Tribes is for those who don’t want to be sheep and instead have a desire to do fresh and exciting work. If you have a passion for what you want to do and the drive to make it happen, there is a tribe just waiting for you to connect them with each other and lead them where they want to go.