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28 Tips for Entrepreneurs, Startups & Business Owners from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

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You’ve heard you are what you eat, well we believe that you are what you read. We receive hundreds of books to read to help out entrepreneurs and business owners but more than just offering a chance to hear about a book we believe we want you to walk away with some wisdom just like we did from reading these books.

Teach a CEO presents lessons from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf on how you can improve and grow your business venture. We have taken some nuggets from our library and provide them for entrepreneurs and business owners and to help your ventures.

Business Tips from The Bookshelf

  • Why are employees looking to leave? There are many factors, but ownership of their tasks, processes, jobs, decisions, and results top the list. Ownership is the most powerful motivator in business. I pay much better attention to my own bicycle than to a bicycle I walked by parked at a cafe. Most employees are just walking by at work, because employees don’t own anything there, least of all their lives and their ability to Make Meaning at work. (Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea)
  • Addiction to fast food or the magic pill. This is the characteristic disease of our times. We want it all, and we want it now. The disorder is especially prevalent in the business world. The necessary competencies for today’s managers and executives have grown increasingly subtle, sophisticated, and complex. The process of developing genuinely new management practices requires months and often years of work…. It’s foolish to assume, for instance, that any 2-day corporate retreat can prove sufficient for reshaping practices that have taken decades to establish. (The Power to Transform)
  • Many side-giggers have no plans to leave their full-time jobs; their goal is to continue to build their side-pursuits alongside their careers. (The Economy of You)
  • The key to mitigating disloyalty is reducing customer effort. Companies should focus on making service easier, not more delightful, by reducing the amount of work required by customers to get their issues resolved. This includes avoiding their having to repeat information, having to repeatedly contact the customer, switch channels, being transferred, and being treated in a generic manner. (The Effortless Experience)
  • Big has special problems that it doesn’t share with Small. Whether it is business, government, dinosaurs, hurricanes, or snowstorms, the really big ones have two intrinsic problems that Small doesn’t have: (1) The bigger they are, the more problems their complexity creates, for themselves and the world around them. (2) The bigger they are the greater impact their mistakes and problems have on the world around them (Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea)
  • To run and grow your business, you need to know about all your key metrics. If you want to become a great entrepreneur, executive, or business owner, you need to face the facts. If you don’t face facts, you can’t grow your business. (Reinventing the Entrepreneur)
  • Like great boxers, great storytellers are observant and self-aware. A great storyteller is keenly attuned to his audience; he knows when to slow down for maximum suspense and when to speed up for comic effect…. Online marketing requires the same kind of audience awareness, which we can achieve thanks to the tremendous data mining opportunities at our fingertips. The real-time feedback that social media makes possible allows brands and businesses to test and retest, which scientific precision, what content connects with their audience, and what leave them cold. (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)
  • Most customers are perfectly happy to self-serve. While most service leaders think that customers prefer live service much more than self-service, customers actually prefer to self-serve–a finding that holds across issue types and most customer demographics. (The Effortless Experience)
  • Mastering the art of pitching yourself and your product to potential clients and bloggers is essential to spreading word about your business and landing paying gigs. (The Economy of You)
  • Ajay also told me that living a meaningful life requires the individual to become aware of whom he or she is. This is necessary to fully celebrate the gift of life and exploit our talents and gifts. Without addressing the phases of self-awareness, it is difficult to know who we are and what we are capable of achieving. (10,000 Days)
  • Different platforms allow you to highlight different aspects of your brand identity, and each jab you make can tell a different part of your story…. One of the biggest mistakes big brands make is to insist that their tone remain exactly the same no matter what platform they’re using. In clinging to this outdated mode, they’re missing out on one of the greatest benefits of social media–always having more than one option. (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)
  • Life constantly dishes up opportunities for you to learn. The dilemma is that we don’t see them when they are in front of us. Thus while we clearly choose to learn some things, often we find that the desire to learn arises only out of a breakdown. This happens because as human beings we are resistant to change and don’t know what we don’t know. Authentic learning therefore often begins when we find ourselves being a bull in a china shop, a person who is blind to the realm he is moving in and makes big messes with out even realizing it. (The Power to Transform)
  • Today’s perfect right hooks always include three characteristics: (1) They make the call to action simple and easy to understand. (2) They are perfectly crafted for mobile as well as all digital devices (3) The respect the nuances of the social network for which you are making the content. (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)
  • The best companies live low-effort. Top brands are adopting the principles of a low-effort experience across multiple facets of their business, from product design to the sales experience. These companies ruthlessly question the accepted status quo: Should a customer have to wait in a line to buy something? Should a customer ever have to spend sixty minutes reading a product manual prior to using their new exciting product? These companies would are that that’s simply not acceptable. (The Effortless Experience)
  • The uncertainty of our economy necessitates finding new ways of earning income outside of full-time jobs. (The Economy of You)
  • Second Road was built around the neglected path of conversation. The goal, Golsby-Smith explained, was to equip people to become “designers who are making worlds rather than analyzing them”–“authors” rather than “readers.” Successful corporate strategies, he believed, emerged out of dialogues that engaged not only senior executives but employees throughout the organization and that focused on invention rather than just analysis. (Solving Problems with Design Thinking)
  • Counterintuitively,  the most effective jabs are actually the gentlest. They are thrown with ‘native’ content, which seamlessly blends in with the platforms offerings and tells stories that engage the consumer at an emotional level. From the outside, jabbing with this kind of content won’t look or feel like the setup for that selling right hook, but it is because the long-term financial worth of a person’s smile, giggle, snort, and even her tears is invaluable. (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)
  • If you cannot learn from the past, it is meaningless to replay yesterday’s decisions because you cannot change them. Life is about the present. While we should value the lessons learned from the past and cherish our memories, we cannot remain stuck in the ‘Velvet Rut’–that state of mind where we are too comfortable with the status quo to change our ways. We must push on. And as far as the future is concerned, it has not happened yet. The only place where we can make things happen and have some influence on the outcome of tomorrow’s result is in the Now–at this very moment. Too many people are consumed with the regrets of yesterday or the fear and uncertainty of tomorrow. (10,000 Days)
  • Your panel is what establishes trust among your subscribers. Remember, the panel model consists of multiple content providers, all experts in their particular field, with one primary expert or editor at the top. (Reinventing the Entrepreneur)
  • ‘It’s really hard to take technology and make it meaningful for a lot of different constituents,’ he observed. ‘Design is helping 3M make technology more humanistic. Scientists do it with quantitative tools. Designers do it with qualititative ones, and I think the beauty happens when both come together to meet the needs of the people in the market. (Solving Problems with Design Thinking)
  • Stop thinking about your content as content. Think about it, rather, as micro-content–tiny, unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary, or inspiration that you reimagine ever day, even every hour, as you respond to today’s culture, conversations, and current events in real time in a platform’s native language and format. (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)
  • The idea of diving deep into customers’ perspectives seems obvious to most businesspeople. We often fail, however, to apply ethnographic tools to our internal partners and stakeholders. Their support is essential to the success of our innovation efforts, and understanding their problems and needs can often be as valuable as understanding customers’. (Solving Problems with Design Thinking)
  • In the Participation Age, time is the new money. Companies that figure out how to compensate Stakeholders as much with time as with money will do well going forward. The Industrialists will cling to the status quo, and future books will report last seeing them rearranging the deck chairs around their factories on the way down. (Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea)
  • Successful side-giggers usually spend significant amounts of time honing and testing their ideas. (The Economy of You)
  • While the desire to play it safe has proven a highly effective survival mechanism on a basic level–going back to our days as prey of the saber-toothed tiger, we know instinctively to flee in the face of apparent danger–the problem is, we don’t live a hunting-and-gathering existence any longer. Playing it safe often fails us in a fast-paced world where the only constant is change. In today’s world, our lives are rarely in danger and our livelihoods depend on authentic, lifelong learning, which, a we’ve seen, entails continually pushing beyond our comfort zone. So we need to learn a response other than fight or flight when we face challenges and confront our fears. (The Power to Transform)
  • Remember, your idea should meet these criteria: You must be passionate about the idea, there must already be an existing market for your idea and your idea must be sellable. (Reinventing the Entrepreneur)
  • Productivity is almost an afterthought in a Time-Based company. Everyone is rewarded based more on how long they have hung around than on how much and how well they have produced. (Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea)
  • Get out of your own way. The biggest hurdle people must leap is the space between their ears! (10,000 Days)

The Summary of the Books on the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

Excerpts from Amazon.com

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in A Noisy Social World – New York Times bestselling author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk shares hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition. A mash-up of the best elements of Crush It! and The Thank You Economy with a fresh spin, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really works. When managers and marketers outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next sale or campaign that’s going to knock out the competition. Even companies committed to jabbing—patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns—want to land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow. Right hooks convert traffic to sales and easily show results. Except when they don’t.

The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty – Everyone knows that the best way to create customer loyalty is with service so good, so over the top, that it surprises and delights. But what if everyone is wrong? In their acclaimed bestseller The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and his colleagues at CEB busted many longstanding myths about sales. Now they’ve turned their research and analysis to a new vital business subject—customer loyalty—with a new book that turns the conventional wisdom on its head. The idea that companies must delight customers by exceeding service expectations is so entrenched that managers rarely even question it. They devote untold time, energy, and resources to trying to dazzle people and inspire their undying loyalty. Yet CEB’s careful research over five years and tens of thousands of respondents proves that the “dazzle factor” is wildly overrated—it simply doesn’t predict repeat sales, share of wallet, or positive wordof-mouth. The reality: Loyalty is driven by how well a company delivers on its basic promises and solves day-to-day problems, not on how spectacular its service experience might be. Most customers don’t want to be “wowed”; they want an effortless experienceAnd they are far more likely to punish you for bad service than to reward you for good service.

Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works – Design-oriented firms such as Apple and IDEO have demonstrated how design thinking can affect business results. However, most managers lack a sense of how to use this new approach for issues other than product development and sales growth. Solving Problems with Design Thinking details ten real-world examples of managers who successfully applied design methods at 3M, Toyota, IBM, Intuit, and SAP; entrepreneurial start-ups such as MeYou Health; and government and social sector organizations, including the City of Dublin and Denmark’s The Good Kitchen. Using design skills such as ethnography, visualization, storytelling, and experimentation, these managers produced innovative solutions to such problems as implementing strategy, supporting a sales force, redesigning internal processes, feeding the elderly, and engaging citizens. They elaborate on the challenges they faced and the processes and tools they used, providing a clear path to implementation based on the principles and practices laid out in Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers.

10,000 Days: The Rest of Your Life…the Best of Your Life – Why is it that so many people enter their Legacy Years (over 50) unfulfilled and searching for dreams they abandoned long ago? 10,000 Days: The Rest of Your Life, the Best of Your Life reveals how you can live, love and leave a lasting legacy through The Course of 10,000 Days. This powerful self-help, personal growth book will help you transform your life as you transition from your Fulfillment Years to your Legacy Years. Author Tom Hinton explains that by discovering your higher purpose, you can reconnect with your Inner Spirit and create balance with your Ego and Emotions. Through this process, you will find greater fulfillment and re-ignite your passion for life.

The Power to Transform: Passion, Power, and Purpose in Daily Life – What if you could design your future instead of having it just happen to you? The Power to Transform teaches you the strategies corporate, military, and sports leaders have used to do just that for themselves and their organizations! Yes, you can have the life of your dreams—here’s how. Chris Majer has designed large scale transformational programs for the US Army, and Marine Corps, Amgen, AT&T, Microsoft, Intel, Allianz, and Capital One, and a host of others to revamp the way they do business. Organizations Majer has put through his process have seen measurable and dramatic increases in their performance and profits. In The Power to Transform, Majer tailors his program to you the individual, sharing the methods he has developed over two decades that have made him one of the leading innovators in the field. The book distills complex philosophical and linguistic concepts into easy-to-use practices that produce transformational change. Readers have reached a plateau in their personal or professional lives know that there is something more to life.

The Economy of You: Discover Your Innner Entrepreneur and Recession-Prooof Your Life – The biggest trend in business is the microbusiness! Handcrafted jewelry, artisanal eats, life coaching, app development, you name it – entrepreneurial side ventures are everywhere. Weary of pink-slip anxiety and the endless money squeeze, millions of people are taking the leap. They’re adding to their incomes and creating safety nets in case the ax falls at work. In the process, they’re unlocking their creativity and finding a sense of fulfillment they never dreamed possible. Financial columnist Kimberly Palmer illuminates the everyday faces behind this growing movement, starting with her own journey. Recognizing that journalism offers little job security these days – and with a baby to provide for-she decided to develop a series of financial planners. This supplemental business was soon providing a reliable income stream. The Economy of You recounts story after story of people who – like Kimberly – are liberating themselves from financial strain. A deli employee who makes custom cakes at night. An instrument repairman who sells voice-overs on his website. A videographer who started a profitable publishing house on the side. Interwoven in the profiles are concrete guidelines for readers looking to launch rewarding businesses of their own, including: tips for figuring out the ideal side gig; ideas for keeping start up costs low; advice on juggling a fledgling enterprise and a full-time job; strategies for finding your “tribe” and building a social network; branding and marketing basics that bring results; when and what to offer for free; and much more. Companies guarantee nothing but today’s wages. It’s up to you to build stability by becoming a money-making engine. It’s empowering, gratifying, and easy to do with The Economy of You.

Reinventing the Entrepreneur: Turning Your Dream Business Into A Reality – Introducing a million-dollar business model that you can do from home, on the road, or in your spare time. Mary Ellen Tribby, founder of Working Moms Only, has created and perfected a business model that is 500% more profitable than blogging, that you can do from home, from an office, or from anywhere in the world, that’s easy to learn, and extremely profitable. With it, Mary Ellen has made millions through her various own businesses and her clients, and now you can too. It’s called The Inbox Magazine (The iMag for short) and regardless of the size of your staff—from one to one hundred—or whether you spend ten or forty hours a week working at it, this revolutionary approach to running a business is your ticket to success and financial independence.

Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea – A radical new book about the Participation Age, for everyone who: has a job, owns a company, or manages people. IMAGINE a company of any size: (1) With no titles, no departments, no corporate ladder, no office hours, unlimited vacation time, and profit sharing for everyone. (2) That invites the whole person to work, not just the part tied to the machine. (3) Where leaders hire people they will never have to manage, in fact where there are no employees or managers at all, just Stakeholders. (4) With no written policies or HR department, because rules destroy creativity. (5) Where the driving force is Making Meaning, not just money, and as a result, everyone makes a lot more of both. Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea is about these companies. They exist right now, in every industry, with five Stakeholders to 10,000. And everybody wants to work there.

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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