This year I stopped making a list of people's business book recommendations and started actually reading them. Blogs can be great but I wanted something meatier. As a service provider, you are your own best asset so I wanted books that would give me some concrete steps to take to make my life happier, healthier and more productive.
And here, in order from awesomest to worst, are my thoughts:
If you're a service provider, don't read anything else until you've got this one under your belt. Just read this one. Buy the paperback, run the 28-day program, and rejoice. The fantastic Alaia Williams
told me about this book, I bought it the next day, and my life changed. I'd been freelancing full-time for 2.5 years and I just kept wishing I could send it back to myself in a time machine. So many confusing issues became clear, and more importantly: I had a plan for marketing that didn't make me want to crawl into a hole.
Now I understand the way a project moves from a glimmer in the eye to a signed contract. I now understand how you move from knowing a lot of people (I've got that down) to actually getting business. This book has replaced Mike Monteiro's Design is a Job
at number 1 on my list. Sorry, Mike. I still love your book.
Bonus: this book made me a better friend.
I listened to the audiobook while walking around my neighborhood in the morning. Every day I came back pumped about getting my shit done, playing bigger and making an impact. I wrote about it here
, in a bold but stalled out experiment at following her advice.
I THOUGHT I was playing big, doing daring things, but here she comes, to gently and lovingly point out the ways I'm hiding myself. The book opened my eyes to the fact that I need to practice visibility--both the actions (tweeting, publishing, etc) AND the emotional vulnerability behind it.
The audiobook is read by Tara herself, who manages to be personable, soothing and incendiary.
I read a really great excerpt
from this book about not eating a cookie at 3 pm anymore, and also Target marketing to pregnant women. That article helped me make massive habit changes after our move to LA. When I listened to the audiobook, I turned into that person who is always telling you stories from that book they are reading. Did you know that Febreze almost failed? Did you know that memories are different from habits? Did you know toothpaste doesn't have to tingle? Did you know foaming soaps are subconsciously rewarding?
And so on.
If you want to make your life a little easier and you aren't that great at habit setting, this book breaks habits down into their component parts and gives tons of examples on how to apply this information. If you thought that article was just the best, read this book. If that article scratched your itch, don't read the book--it's a lot more of the same. It gets a little off in the weeds--sometimes I lose the thread of how the topic is related to habits, but you know, they're good stories.
It's a compact, useful set of exercises for branding your small business. Will it solve the hardest questions for you? No. Distilling the real essence of your business is something that will take creativity, imagination and a bit of sweat. (You can tell because I haven't finished rebranding my business.) It asks great questions though, and it moves briskly. Highly recommended for any organization or business that is considering a rebrand. Even if you end up hiring someone, you'll have a better sense of how this stuff works.
Other books I read that I liked, but did not rock my world:
I started to review these individually, but every review came down to this: "Other people said this would change my world, and it didn't." By and large they're all interesting and worthwhile, but they didn't knock me down like the books above did. Your mileage my vary.
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a portion of sales if you choose to purchase after clicking them. No pressure from me. I'm recommending these books because they are awesome, not to make money. Any small kickback I get is just helping this blog continue/helping me buy a new lipstick. So! Do what you want.