So usually I recommend my favorite free software packages on Fridays. Today I want to talk about another borderline obsession of mine that makes me all giddy inside when I think about it. Books. I read a LOT. The summer before I went to live in Brazil for two years, I read over 200 books to “tank up” before the long drought. I LOVE books. Dickens and Heinlein and Nietzsche and Shakespeare and Aurelius and Twain and Dumas… Ok, calm down. Anyway, I’ve had a number of conversations lately about books that have been important to me over the course of my career.
I won’t bore you with the dark corners of my literary addiction. Rather I’d like to recommend some titles that I think everyone should read. Whether you’re in IT or sales, whether you work at a big company or you started your own, I think everyone can benefit from these works.
In No Particular Order:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is one of the very first books about "soft skills” that I ever read. This book was written in 1936 and I think has been in print ever since. The language has been updated and some of the sections were removed since I first read it (who needs to know about writing a business letter these days), but it stands as the book that started it all for me. There is a lot of common sense advice that everyone can benefit from.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey – This isn’t one I go back and re-read a whole bunch, but there are some principles that Covey explains in such a way that really resonates with me. I was first exposed to the concept of “Begin with the End in Mind” in this book and I use it daily. In software development, troubleshooting, customer service, and life in general, it is absolutely critical to know where you’re going before you start. The other idea that I took away from this was “Sharpen the Saw”. Continually exposing yourself to new ideas and new ways of doing things will keep you excited and relevant. (I’m talking to you IT folks.)
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber – This one was recommended to me a year or so after I started my first business. I think the lessons that can be taken away from this one are not limited to entrepreneurs though. The idea that good businesses are made up of systems and should have well defined responsibilities is a valuable lens to look at and evaluate any company. One of the questions I ask the most as I consult is “What is your process for handling that?” If I get a well articulated (or heaven forbid a documented) answer to that question, it will speed up the process by an astounding amount.
So that’s my starter list, for those of you who have asked me. Let me know what you think, and I’ll post the next list in a couple of months.
Today is my anniversary and I wanted to take a minute to tell my amazing, smart and beautiful wife how much I love and appreciate her. You have made the last 11 years a non-stop roller coaster of fun, self-discovery and excitement for me. I am very fortunate to have you by my side as we try to figure out this whole “life” thing together.