Since an early age, I was an avid reader.
Maybe not quite as much as my sister (The Boxcar Children hit her hard), but it was never a struggle for my parents to get me to read.
And while I too often choose Netflix over books now, reading is still one of my favorite ways to work through a personal or business issue.
You know the feeling, those little light bulb moments and surges of “holy shit I can do this” motivation when you come across a line like this that just hits you – right in the face, when you need it most.
When I read that chapter for the first time, I was sitting at work over lunch doing not too much of anything except feeling bad for myself.
Except that it’s hard to feel bad for yourself when someone you’ve never met (and probably never will) is cheering you on, while at the same time grabbing you by the shoulders and shouting, wake the hell up! “You are more than you have become, and you are utterly in control over what you do with that knowledge.”
And I love that feeling I get from taking on someone’s ideas and challenges.
I love seeing into another person’s mind and absorbing (at times, too much) information, theories, motivational speech, and that “look what they accomplished” inspiration.
When I found myself second-guessing and floundering over my next move earlier this year, into the books I went.
So when I learned that the average CEO is reading 4-5 books a month – yes, as in at least one a week! 😱 I knew I was onto something! Even if I don’t always come close to that number.
(ps. the average person reads just 4 books a YEAR.)
To help us all move closer towards that CEO goal, I wanted to share my personal recommendations for the best books for small business owners, what I want to read next, and of course, a few ridiculous fun ones like this.
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Best Books for Small Business Owners
1 | The 12 Week Year
This was the first book I read in 2018 and it lit a fire under me.
While I ended up not sticking with the full time blocking method they recommend, it still shook up a lot of how I was handling my business and made me more focused moving forward.
One of the biggest lessons learned was how to pick a new strategy or growth tactic when you’re distracted with a ton of shiny new ideas or methods.
I wrote a full blog post on it, so I won’t go into much detail here; but if you struggle to make progress on your goals or have plateaued and want to get laser focused with a new productivity strategy, this was a great read.
“Reaching a breakthrough isn’t about being incremental. Breakthroughs require a profound change in the way that you work before it shows up in your results.”
(already breaking my own rules and picking two quotes)
“The second thinking shift is to focus more on the actions than the results. … If you faithfully complete the critical actions on a daily and weekly basis the results will come.”
That was my head after reading this book.
I’ll be going into more detail soon, so be on the look out – but this book kinda cracked me open and made me really see how I deal with expectations in life. The Four Tendencies is about understanding your personality, but only from one aspect – how you deal with expectations, both inner and outer.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, how come I can’t follow through on ‘x’, when I can always do ‘y’?
Or “how come I can’t follow through on anything, even when I really want it?”
Or even, “why do I always feel so burnt out, I’m going after the things I want… aren’t I?”
Then this book might be for you.
I’m kidding – this book is for EVERYONE.
It goes over the four ways people handle expectations and gives clear guidance on how to improve your decision-making and keep those promises to ourselves and others so we can accomplish what we want.
Stop fighting your natural tendency (I’m a “rebel”).
I know – I used a word from the title in my takeaway, not very helpful.
But I used to think there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t hold myself accountable and I couldn’t have others hold me accountable either.
After reading this book, so many moments of my life made sense. Like why I’d actually do the exact opposite of what I was just asked – even when I knew full well that was the right thing to do (and sometimes even wanted to do myself).
AND not a brag – but after this book, I quit Diet Coke after shifting my approach. And it was actually incredibly easy since I was working with my tendency, not against it.
*I’ve been raving so much about this book, my sister stole it, so I’ll fill this in later!
3 | Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss
Okay, yeah, so the full name is a bit of a mouthful and gives it away: Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
What’s so appealing about this book is that he took all the interviews he’s conducted with these individuals over the years and pulled them into easy to digest summaries. He found similarities between people across various industries, and combined those learnings into quick reads and bits of advice.
The entire book is broken down into mini chapters, so it’s the perfect “before bed” book. Just pick it up and take a few minutes to read a short chapter each night.
4 | Body Love
This is the book that finally made me cook. (If you saw those shrimp tacos in my Instagram stories, you know what I’m talking about.)
And bridged the gap between wanting to take better care of myself and taking the right steps to follow through.
No matter how many times we say we’re “too busy” to eat well or cook dinner, I think we can all agree that when you’re already burning the candle at both ends and hustling hard, eating the right food can make a huge difference in your productivity + how you feel about yourself.
As I learn more about myself, I’m a firm believer that sometimes we just need the right message, from the right person, at the right time.
While I did learn A LOT of new information and loved that it was scientifically-based yet easy to read; it’s not like I didn’t know some of this information before.
But it was put together in such a clear, understandable way that I finally felt empowered to make the right decisions for my body.
It’s not about restricting or saying no, it’s about understanding how what you eat will affect your body and then making a better choice (and sometimes that better choice actually means adding the bacon – for real). The recipes are realistic and easy to make and maybe even more importantly for me, easy to shop for. The recipes don’t have 15+ ingredients you’ll only use once.
Although one Amazon review said it was too restrictive, I didn’t get that sense at all. She herself doesn’t prefer diary, so she uses almond milk and sheep or goat’s cheese; but you can always use regular milk and cheese. It’s your bod babe.
It’s funny because although this book is focused on your health, it paralleled much of what I feel in business too.
She’s a big believer in not letting one slip up throw you off course or feel that “now the whole day is ruined”. She acknowledges you won’t always make the best choice for yourself or social events will come up that you want to indulge in.
Her whole message provides nice guardrails for your decision-making; while still letting you make the choice right for you. Having someone acknowledge that you won’t hit perfection is reassuring and has allowed me to be more forgiving and course-correct same day, instead of throwing my hands in the air and suddenly a whole week of poor eating goes by.
Seriously, how many times in business do we “slip up” and instead of quickly moving on, we beat ourselves up about it?
I’ve found as I embrace that attitude of forgive + course-correct in my personal life, it seeps into my business decisions too.
*just be aware every now + then she gets real LA and has a few things in her routine that’d be a little bs for most of us. But the scientific understanding and easy to replicate system is oh-so-worth her suggestion of a weekly sauna or cryotherapy session.
“Action will erase the anxiety and immediately reinforce that you’re in control. It doesn’t have to be something big.
… Sometimes the little picture is the big picture. One decision – your next – is all that matters.”
This book is unbelievably funny and just off-kilter enough to make you laugh out loud, tear up, and cry while laughing. My sister-in-law gave it to me for Christmas and she couldn’t have been more spot on.
It’s dangerous in public because you’re never exactly sure which emotion you’ll have, which makes it one hell of a delightful read.
It’s the perfect balance to the more serious business books, while still shedding light on some of the doubts and insecurities we all face as we try to find our way in business, marriage, motherhood, aging, friendships… …and the list goes on.
We are all awkward AF.
At times unsure of anything in life.
And yet – it’ll all be freaking okay. If she made it out alive with those caterpillar eyebrows, you too can get through anything.
*This post was not well-planned… my sister took this book too 🙂
NEXT ON MY LIST >>>
And I’ll probably go ahead and tag team with her other book, You are a Badass at Making Money, because if I’m gonna start getting “woo woo” it might as well be with my money mindset.
If you haven’t heard of Brené Brown yet, consider this your lucky day. She gave a TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability, and it’s one of the top five most viewed in the world (over 30 million views). I’ve listened to her on several podcasts and she’s at once soothing for where you’re at; yet pushes you to find your courage.
I know. I KNOW! How have I not read this yet?
It’s kind of known as “the book” to read to change your profitability + mindset, so I’m thinking I’ll hop aboard the train this year. I think I’ll like his approach of flipping the traditional profit formula to focus on, well, profit first.
Wondering how to read more?
According to one study, the average book takes 320 minutes to read – aka just 45 minutes a day.
I know I say “just” as if you have so much free time; but my husband and I found setting one night a week as a TV/cell phone free night is really helpful in getting us to prioritize reading or our other interests.
For those of you that live with someone, I think the joint accountability to not go on your phones or limit the distractions of a TV show (even when he watches something bad, I STILL wanna watch it #distracted).
What are some of your favorite business books?
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