I’ve written before about the importance of taking periodic “ramp up and renew” retreats to step back from business, take the long view, and re-energize.
When I take one, which I do about quarterly, I like to bring a small pile of books to spark my thinking and challenge my mindsets. Sometimes they’re new books and sometimes they’re old friends I re-read to get insights I wasn’t ready to notice the first time around.
Here are five books (amazon affiliate links) I just read and re-read during my December retreat:
- The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters by Peter Block. I’ve given this book to numerous organizational clients over the years and thought it was time to re-read it. It inspired me all over again. It’s about modern culture’s “how-to” craze and the way the question “how?” distracts us from doing the things that really matter in our professional and personal lives. It’s a book I love for the way it calls me to think about where I put my time and mental energy and decide anew whether it’s the mix I want for my life.
- Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande. At first glance, this is a book about making the American health care and malpractice systems better. But at its heart, it’s about what it takes for any professional to get better at what they do. That’s the spirit in which I read and recommend it.
- Trust-Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships by Charles Green. Charlie sent me a copy about a year ago and I read it quickly on a plane during a business trip. Now I read it with care and ample digestion time and know it’s one for my permanent bookshelf. It parallels the relationship- and dialogue-based approaches I discuss in my own book, but focuses much more on the selling process. If you haven’t read this book yet, do. And read Charlie’s blog, Trust Matters, too.
- Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Trust is in the air, I guess. The social web is suddenly full of self-proclaimed social media gurus and caveat emptor matters all over again. But Chris Brogan is the real deal. I first met him at SOBCon ‘08 and he wowed the room with his honest, funny and humble presentation. Chris and Julien’s book is so relevant and spot-on I’m using it in a marketing course I’m teaching in the spring for master’s students in Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management.
- Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application by Jason Fried. Yes, it’s a book about building web apps. But no, it’s not completely a book about building web apps, it’s a book about trading in bells and whistles and the noise of business for an agile excellence that gives customers everything they want and eliminates what they don’t. Jason, by the way, is the CEO of 37signals, the company that makes two of my absolute favorite tools for running my business, Highrise and Basecamp. You can buy the print or PDF book or you can read it for free via the link I’ve provided.
Happy new year and happy reading,