Want to Be a Great Leader? Then You Better be a Reader.
Can you read your way to leadership excellence? You can with these titles.
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Adam Witty is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Charleston, South Carolina, and founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists in working with business professionals to elevate brands and grow businesses through publishing. Adam has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 U.S. states and 13 countries. As an author and CEO, we asked Adam what's on his personal reading list this summer. Here's what he shared.
Zig Ziglar said it best: "If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you."
I remember hearing that quote and thinking how apt it was for me as a business owner. The strongest leaders I know learn from the successes and failures of others by maintaining a curiosity to discover new business strategies and ideas through executive education, seminars, entrepreneur podcasts and my personal preference: books. That's why I'm a voracious reader of business books written by successful leaders--to be challenged, to be inspired and to learn.
This summer, whether I'm on a beach or on the sofa, on an airplane or in my office, I'll keep a stack of business books by my side.
Here are the titles that made my summer 2018 stack:
1. Straight Talk for Startups: 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds by Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman
This comprehensive guide to entrepreneurship is co-authored by Komisar, a veteran venture capitalist and entrepreneur, and Reigersman, a CFO with a background in startups and growth companies. They're a dynamic duo with experience in all aspects of building and scaling a business. Any book that claims to share "the tricks of the trade and the wisdom shared by the winners" better do just that. This book does. And it lives up to its title with straight talk, not philosophical concepts. Divided into five parts: Mastering the Fundamentals, Selecting Investors, Fundraising, Managing Boards and Achieving Liquidity, each section has vital, actionable advice for founders. It's the perfect handbook to keep on your bookshelf.
2. Go Slow to Grow Fast by Brent R. Tilson
Apparently, business books can be both fun and valuable. This one is. Tilson's book tells the fictional story of two company leaders facing challenges as their business grows. Tilson created this fable based on his extensive experience working with entrepreneurs through the financial and operational growth stages of their businesses. His title motto pinpoints his advice to business leaders--step back from your day-to-day work, take a breath, and look at the big picture. The practical tools, methodologies and advice here are thought-provoking, yet simple. The author's innovative use of a business's "lifeline" helps leaders gain an understanding of how their company is performing today and creates a roadmap for the future.
3. Marketing in the #FakeNews Era: New Rules for a New Reality of Tribalism, Activism, and Loss of Trust by Peter Horst
Horst, founder of CMO Inc. and a global marketing leader, addresses the challenges facing brand leaders today--should they weigh in on political and social issues or stay on the sidelines? What are the risks and benefits of taking a stand versus keeping quiet? Not handling these issues appropriately can lead to some grim consequences--from job loss to market share loss to total company failure. Horst provides his tactical and strategic guidance on how a company and its leader must use the utmost care to successfully navigate the churning waters in our Fake News era, where consumer outrage and moral scrutiny abound. It could be the most important book a leader reads in preparing for what may lie ahead in this unpredictable time.
4. High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil
This title isn't out quite yet, but I'm excited to read it. Gil held prominent positions at Google and Twitter and was an early investor and advisor in private companies such as Airbnb, Pinterest, Coinbase and other successful ventures. In his book, Gil highlights the common patterns he noticed in small companies that grew into monster global brands. He covers key topics including the role of the CEO, managing a board, recruiting and managing an executive team, M&As, IPOs and late-stage funding rounds. Over his impressive career, Gil has learned a few things. We'd all be smart to listen to the advice he's offering. It is scheduled for release on July 17.
5. The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib
Recently out in paperback, it's a must-have. As one reviewer said, "Do not let the low cost of this book fool you into taking it lightly." Dib's book packs a punch. It's the easiest way for a small business owner to go from knowing nothing about marketing to conceiving, designing and implementing a sophisticated marketing plan for the business--all reduced to a single-page worksheet that serves as a guide. This is another book that's not about conceptual theories but instead focuses on concise, practical actions. If you don't already own it, get it.
6. Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
This award-winning title was written by Harnish, the founder of EO. It came out in 2014, but it's one of those books that I go back to regularly. With each step of my company's growth, I'm confronted with new, unexpected challenges. This book has helped me recognize and overcome those barriers. It focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get right: people, strategy, execution and cash. It includes a series of new tools including the One-Page Strategic Plan and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist, which firms around the globe have used to scale their companies successfully. The subtitle of the book is How a Few Companies Make It ... and Why the Rest Don't. This book will help you land on the right side of that equation.