We’ve built our business around inspiring people to create, transform and grow – and that mission is at the core of our internal culture as well. So when we discover a book that has the potential to help each of us grow personally and professionally, we seize that opportunity.
We’ve found that reading books together helps develop a common language, making it easier to discuss new ideas or think more strategically about our work. Our book club discussions have helped company leadership embrace new ways of supporting our team, while simultaneously reinforcing our company values of having grit, doing the right thing, acting with heart, stepping up and owning it, and teaching and leading.
Below are some of our favorite reads on topics from leadership to personal growth to running a business. Hopefully, these help you on your journey to create, transform, and grow.
1. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
In Great by Choice, Collins and Hansen tackle a difficult question based on nine years of research: why do some companies and brands thrive in uncertainty while others don't? They break down their method for building a successful and repeatable business model called SMaC. SMaC stands for Specific, Methodical, and Consistent. With strong SMaC models, Collins and Hansen argue, businesses can adjust and refine their external and internal communications without abandoning their overall business strategies.
Great by Choice has been a constant reference point for our team in internal meetings, client pitches and ongoing operational dialogues. It has helped inspire conversations about healthy business practices and served as a starting point to talk about our company values – in particular, doing the right thing and having grit as we explore ways to better serve our clients, our employees and our community.
2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
This well-researched book by Dweck, a Stanford professor, delves into the idea that success depends more heavily on learning and resilience than an individual’s fixed or innate abilities.
We chose Mindset after realizing the enormous value and potential of fostering a growth mindset in regard to delivering on our company’s mission. The heart of our business centers on solving problems for companies in various industries all over the world. A lot of companies struggle to move past a mindset of “this is the way we’ve always done it," and they approach us to make growth-oriented changes to their brand, their marketing or their marketplace position.
Our clients depend on us to find new opportunities, have grit, and persevere in the face of a challenge. To best serve our clients, we believe we have to keep learning, working and evolving. This book represents the potential to develop a more open-minded and experimental atmosphere conducive to pioneering exciting new solutions.
3. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
This book is a classic. Originally published in 2000, Don't Make Me Think is now in its third edition. While some of Krug's examples from early editions may be outdated, the principles still apply. Krug breaks down why it's important not to sacrifice usability for design, and vice versa. Both equally depend on each other when it comes to the customer's online experience.
In many cases, Krug points out, websites fail to provide a clear path for users to find the information they need. The bottom line: websites should be aesthetically appealing, but never at the expense of user experience (UX) or accessibility.
The book is expertly organized and can be read in a matter of hours, making it easy for any busy team to digest. It's an invaluable resource for any professional – from a graphic designer to a marketer to a CEO – because it's a reminder to constantly explore ways to better serve clients in an increasingly digital world.
4. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
In When, author Daniel Pink takes a deep dive into the idea that when we do things is often just as (or more) important as how we do them. Using research in psychology, economics, and even biology, Pink suggests better practices to improve society’s use of time.
We held discussions on how to apply Pink’s practices to improve our time management skills and get in better sync as a group. We found new ways to improve our work habits by building patterns into our workdays, scheduling breaks, and marking milestones or new beginnings. Ultimately, these strategies have helped us increase productivity and make our work more meaningful. So if you're looking for ways to help your teamwork a little smarter and live a little better, this book is a great place to start.
5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Clearly, we're big fans of Daniel Pink's work. Drive dives into what motivates people both personally and professionally. By drawing on in-depth studies from MIT and other universities, Pink analyzes how the old methods of "carrot and stick" - or extrinsic motivators - no longer cut it when it comes to motivation. Rather, intrinsic motivation trumps external rewards. So individuals need to build drive-through autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Drive taught our team how to better empathize and communicate with people, not just our coworkers, but our clients, and by extension, our client's customers. There can, at times, be gaps in what science knows and how businesses and leaders function. Reading Drive might be the first step for you (and maybe your organization) to close that gap and create a culture that brings out the best in people, harnessing their desire to learn, create, and better the world.
6. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
Jon Gordon's The Energy Bus reveals 10 rules to fuel your life, work, and team with positive energy. Gordon draws upon his work experience with thousands of leaders, sales professionals, teams, non-profit organizations, schools, and athletes, to build insights on conquering adversity and bringing out the best in yourself and your team. For managers, team leaders or anyone looking to turn negative energy into positive achievement, The Energy Bus provides a powerful roadmap to overcome common life and work obstacles.
When we read The Energy Bus, we were hard at work trying to grow our business and find our rhythm as a team. In the end, The Energy Bus taught us about emotional intelligence and helped us identify steps we could take to create a culture of positivity among our team and with our clients. We're often tasked with exploring ways to reenergize brands. This book helped us identify some of the keys to high-performing organizations that inspire belief in their brands.
A Few Extra Insights
If you read any of these books, let us know. And if you're always looking for more ways to grow like we are, here are a few resources that you might enjoy:
- Learn about the 6 essential skills for a Digital Marketer.
- Find out how to get the most out of LinkedIn to support your personal brand and business.
- Take a dive into the impact of Mindset on our work and culture.