2017 it seems was the year of marketing, business and philosophy reading. A big (reading related) revelation of 2017: Used books on Amazon. This has saved me a huge bunch of cash. I read around 75 books this year and tossed aside a whole load more that didn’t captivate me. I also made a complete move (and loving it!) to physical books so that I can better take notes and reference them later. But without further ado, here are a few of the better books that I read this year…
P.S: Click on the bold titles for links to the books themselves.
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – I loved this book. Marketing for me has always appeared as a “suck it and see” type of industry. It felt like marketers tried strategies at random. But there’s two parts to marketing: The creative side and the analytical side. Traction caters to both areas. My favourite part of the book is about setting up and testing marketing strategies. I’ve never known a book so precise about how to find marketing that works and how to exploit it. The entirety of a marketing degree in a few mere pages. This book is to marketing what the lean startup was to operations / product.
Perennial Seller – In Perennial Seller, author Ryan Holiday argues the case for pouring your heart into your work. We’re typically inundated with information on “hacks”, “tricks” and “secrets” for success. Holiday’s argument is not this. He argues for going deep, for sacrificing and creating a work that sells perennially. A work that sells more over time and doesn’t fizzle out and fade away. A lot of the content aims at book writing – if that’s your thing, Perennial Seller is a must read.
Linchpin – Godin’s writing is always punchy and inspirational. Linchpin is definitely one of his better works. Godin argues that in the future we will need more creativity and leadership. We won’t need people who “follow orders” and do what they’re told. “Linchpins” Godin calls them. I wish I read this when I was younger.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Newports thesis in his book: Passion in work comes to those who first get good at something, not the other way around. A very practical and simple read with a strong message. I’ve also seen this topping a lot of other reading lists recently. Newport knocks the idea that being passionate is all that it takes. It’s a message we all need, and one that is conducive to getting your head down and doing (and loving) your work.
ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever – This is a must read for everyone in the workplace. Especially those trying to manage or create culture. Written in short essays this book is easy to dive into.
Become a Key Person of Influence – My most gifted book ever. This is my Back To The Future sports almanac. I can’t overstate how much I love this book. I’ve read it over and over and carry it with me often. The earlier in your life you read this, the better. This book lays out a very simple strategy to organise your professional life.
The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization: Second edition – This book is dense. I even gave up on it about 50 pages in. The topic’s covered are so broad and sweeping, author Senge has a huge task on his hands. I did pick it up again though and I’m so glad I did. This time I examined the contents page and soon started to make sense of this iconic book. If you’re going to tackle it I’d suggest doing some reading around it first. But now it’s one of my all time favourites. A seriously fascinating book about building an adaptive and successful organisation.
Tribes: We need you to lead us – A call to arms for building a message and sharing it with the world. A great read for leaders. Or for those who want to go out and share a message.
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World – A must read if you’re thinking of starting a personal website. Author Michael Hyatt delivers straight-forward advice. A great little companion book. Get a physical copy, write in it and keep it around as a reference.
Expert Secrets: The Underground Playbook to Find Your Message, Build a Tribe, and Change the World – Author Russell Brunson is the go-to man for online marketing. This book was racy and fun and has some great insights. One of them is from Blair Warren: “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”. The more you read this quote the more it reveals.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – I’ve seen Pressfield’s book quoted everywhere. This book doesn’t have much of a flow, it’s more a series of (sometimes very) short essays. The main thesis is about the idea of Resistance, the force that stops us from doing our best work. The force that grabs our hands as we’re about to do something great. Author Pressfield helps us define this form of self-sabotage and helps you find us to remedy it. A must read for anyone who is a creator of any kind.
Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days – A must read for anyone who builds product. Sprint is a very practical book broken into five sections (one for each day of the week). Each day you run certain workshops or methods for creating and testing a product or an idea. If lean startup is the call-to-arms, this is the practical guide to go alongside it.
Meditations – This book out of all the above is likely to change my life the most on the longer timescale. This is (the Stoic) Marcus Aurelius’ personal diary. Letters on loss, adversity and mental resilience and strength. It’s like getting mentorship by one of the greats. I have the small version and it fits in my back pocket. An amazing book. I will be gifting this a lot in years to come.