Three books to prime your business instincts
May 14, 2012 in Startup
I received a note from Chris K. recently and he asked me for a list of recommended business books. I thought about it for awhile because business books have dozens and dozens of subcategories including finance, self-help, biographies, sales and marketing among others. Here is a list of three of my favourites.
If you only have 45 minutes to spare (and that includes most of us) give Who Moved My Cheese? a try. Spencer Johnson has one very simple but important message: You better embrace change because itâ€™s inevitable. The story features two mice and two little people and they all live in a maze. The main thrust of the message is that when the cheese finally runs out, the proactive seekers of new opportunities will continue to thrive while the unprepared and lethargic will remain cheeseless. The book is an easy read with a compelling message. Most importantly, itâ€™s easy to share with colleagues and primes the pump for organizational change. You wonâ€™t find any innovative frameworks or complex formulas in this text so donâ€™t expect advanced conceptualizations. Itâ€™s a simple message in a simple format. Thatâ€™s it. But it also happens to be the bestselling business book of all time with 20 million copies sold.
One of the most influential books of my management research career is The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. Although the book was written 22 years ago, it still resonates with the complex and fast-paced environment we find ourselves in today. Senge presents five essential disciplines of a learning organization. These organizations are quick to learn and therefore fast to adapt. By improving a firmâ€™s processes and learning faster than the competition, Senge argues that organizations will maintain their competitive edge. The five disciplines he describes in the book are: developing individual focus, using mental models, building a shared vision, communicating as a team and systems thinking, which integrates them all. The field of organizational learning is quite rich and spans several decades. Although the bookâ€™s popularity was at its peak in the early 1990s, it has resurfaced as a useful framework in a world of fast-paced technological obsolescence.
My third recommendation is from an old friend of mine whom I originally met more than 20 years ago when I worked in the banking industry. David Chilton wrote one of Canadaâ€™s most popular books of all time, The Wealthy Barber, back in 1989. The book is about Roy (the barber) who is visited by three people. During the course of their visits, Roy provides financial planning expertise in simple terms. If youâ€™ve never read a financial book in your life, this one is a good place to start. Chilton provides easy to understand commentary on common topics including the 10 per cent solution, wills, life insurance, RSPs, and much more. Fast forward to 2012 and Chilton returns with a so-called wiser update to his bestseller, The Wealthy Barber Returns. The new book is witty and fun. Chilton uses a conversational style to discuss topics such as reverse mortgages, TFSAs and inheritance. The book has a different style from the first one and it is not a sequel, so you can read one or read both.
Another tidbit of related news is that Chilton was recently selected as the newest judge on the CBC show the Dragonâ€™s Den. I look forward to his off-the-cuff commentary. His financial expertise will create another roadblock for any entrepreneurs who hope to hose the Dragons with poorly prepared financials.