Reading books has always been a big part of my life. As a child I would read encyclopaedia (for fun!). I was always curious to learn and wanted to know more, so I would often read more than one book at a time.
I remember few years back, when I was thinking about leaving my corporate job to start my own business, I would carry 2 or 3 books with me and would read different ones on a train, on my break or before going to sleep. Some of my friends suggested audiobooks so I could listen to them on the move but that didn't work for me. I like to hold a book in my hand, look at the words on the paper and take it all in at my own pace. I like to re-read, highlight and take notes of important information.
Recently I came across an article highlighting the return on investment of reading books and it made me wonder if I would be who and where I am today if it wasn't for the books I read. After a long period of reflection I can definitely confirm that the books I read have shaped who I am today - they literally changed my life. Both on an emotional level as well as in business.
I want to share with you my top 5 books that made me who I am today and my reasons why.
How to win friends and influence people: I read it when I was still living in Poland as a teenager. What I was reading felt very withdrawn from the post-communist reality I was growing up in. It taught me that in order to win friends I need to show genuine interest in them, smile and try to always understand the other person’s perspective. It also taught me to listen, ask questions and learn about the other person before judging. It was invaluable in business, as so often in sales conversation we want to talk about ourselves and our product or service. How much more powerful would your sales pitch be if you knew more about the person you’re selling to? Polish people are known to be very stern, critical, and have a tendency to complain about everything and everyone as well as being jealous of other people’s success. It was not easy for me to change, what I believed for so many years, was the norm. I feel however, that I have become a better person, thanks to Dale Carnegie and his book.
- The 10x rule: This book was gifted to me by my business mentor few years back. I was growing my coaching business at the time and struggled to win enough business to call it a success. The principles highlighted in the book are very simple. Whatever you do, do 10 times more, whatever your goal is, make it even bigger. You need to aim very high to stay motivated as you can’t achieve greatness by being mediocre. I applied what I learned from the author, Grant Cardone, to secure interviews for my book with very successful and influential women within the corporate world. I would have never thought that I could get to meet the MD of Citi or UBS etc. I was astounded at the success I was getting. I learnt from his book that fear often stops us from taking action - fear of rejection, fear of failure - but when you increase your level of activity, you are reducing your potential rate of failure or rejection. This book made me braver and opened me up to thinking big, and my life will never be mediocre again.
- Key Person of Influence: This was given to me by a friend a few years back. Daniel Priestley in a very simple way explains the five principles required to be successful in your field. These principles are: pitching, publish, product, profile and partnership. They are all in many ways interdependent of each other but once you achieve all five, your would have achieved a great success in your business. This book made me realise the importance of being able to communicate clearly what I do and why I do it. It also made me realise the importance of becoming a published author which then led me to write my first online product: Book Catalyst. Over the years I have been working on my profile and my ‘why’ and ‘what’ has changed, but I now know that once I achieve all five principles, you will become the key person of influence in my field.
- Lean startup: This is a book I have been reading recently. I found it extremely useful from the perspective of guiding me through the beginnings of launching a product. It made me realise that as founders and creators we are never ready to launch our product as we can always think of more we can do to make it better. This is probably why so many ideas never take off. I took on board what Eric Ries is teaching in his book about pre-launching your product before it is finished so that you get the ball rolling whilst you work out the intricate details. This way you make a commitment to yourself and your customers to deliver, you also learn a lot in the process, get feedback and can create a truly unique product.
- My business partner recommended to me Chase One Rabbit, Strategic Marketing for Business Success by David Parrish. I read it over a weekend and started implementing his ideas and suggestions straight away. He taught me the importance of becoming the big fish in the small pond and opened me up to understand that not all customers are good customers and how to focus my marketing on chasing one rabbit. With his creative ways, I was able to figure out all these things, and create a clear strategy to gain focus in our business. It is the best strategy and marketing book I have read in years - true genius.
There are many more books I could write about. I have read hundreds if not thousands of them during my life but the question I have for you is this: “Would you like to be the author of the next book that will inspire someone in the same way as the above books have inspired me?”
If your answer is YES, let’s get started.