Friday, August 10, 2018

Summer Reading Recap: Business and Fiction

Every summer, we plan extra hours for all sorts of activities. From beach excursions to museum visits to outdoor hikes, the summer is the time to catch up on all the adventures we don't have time for during the rest of the year. In addition to all the fun outdoor adventures, another activity on our summer “to do lists” is reading. Some of us even build a stack of “must-read books” all year-long with the intent to read them during our summer vacations. I highly recommend that you add these five books to your reading list.


Leadership expert and author David Burkus ends this book with the sentence, "Your friend of a friend is your future." Throughout the book, he explained that, "We don't have a network, rather, we're embedded inside a massive network that we must learn to navigate. Doing so requires paying attention to who is in your network and recognizing that how your network works matters for issues much larger than just finding that next client or landing that next job...Navigating your network deliberately - making choices about who your friends are and being aware of who is a friend of a friend - can directly influence the person you become."

Burkus told the story of the Isle of Murano, Italy, which has become known as the Isle of Glass. "And Murano isn't unique. For every example of the damaging and isolating effects of silos, there's an example of how clusters in a social network help unleash creative ideas or make individuals and teams more efficient and productive."

He also shared the story of filmmaker Brian Grazer, who may not have started his film career by being well-connected, but he was definitely curious. No spoiler alert here, read the book to learn how curiosity and hard work led to his long-time partnership with Ron Howard and blockbuster films such as, Apollo 13, Liar Liar, Splash, and many, many more.

Lastly, Burkus' best advice was to create one's own community. Make a list of 10-15 people who work in your profession or do something similar enough to have shared experiences. Commit to regular meetings, at first, once a month. Commit to a set of structure for your conversations. Consider asking these questions to start:
*What are you working on right now? What project is dominating your time now?
*What is holding you back? How can the group help you?
*What do you need prompting on? What can we do to keep you accountable?

To quote leadership expert and author Kevin Eikenberry (and his co-author Wayne Turmel), "Leading a team at a distance is at first and foremost about LEADERSHIP, and the principles of leadership haven’t changed - they are principles. What HAS changed is that people are working in different places and perhaps at different times. Given those changes, how we apply the timeless principles of leadership in this new world matters a great deal - for the team members working at a distance, for you as their leader, and for the organization that you all serve."

There are a number of exceptional tools included the book:
*21 Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership (here are a couple: Building trust at a distance doesn't happen by accident AND think about leadership first and location second.)
*Skills of Management versus Skills of Leadership - they are definitely different!
*Leadership and Management Gear
*Excellent Questions to Ask about Developing Long-Distance Leaders

Do you know the story behind 7-Eleven? In customer service expert Shep Hyken's seventh book, he tells the story of how a store selling ice created a new industry, the convenience store industry by adding bread, milk, and eggs. Other examples ranging from spending $5 for a Coke in a hotel's minibar rather than walking down the hall to a vending machine to Uber's pre-payment system showcase the importance consumers place on convenience. But can all brands implement convenience into their competitive positioning? Not only does Shep say yes, but he poses that if brands don't add convenience as a competitive advantage, they may not survive.

The Six Principles of the Convenience Revolution are:
*Reducing Friction (a hassle in your consumer's world)

Lastly, Shep ended the book by repeating the question he asked at the beginning, "How easy is it to do business with you (your brand)?" He explained, "If you keep returning to that simple question, day after day, week after week, month after month - if you look closely and strategically at the honest answers that come back - then you really can join, and win, the Convenience Revolution."

This inaugural novel by British actress Catherine Steadman captures the reader's attention from the first sentence, "Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?" The story poses a variety of questions to the reader, and before too long, an unexpected twist happens. I guarantee that you will remember this story for a long time after finishing the final page.

As a fan of the legal thriller created by Scott Turow and perfected by John Grisham, I am interested in every legal thriller ever written. This novel by Anthony Franze does not disappoint. Set in the halls of the United States Supreme Court and neighboring areas around Washington, D.C., the story follows a lawyer's investigation into his daughter's unexpected death while he undergoes scrutiny as a potential Supreme Court Justice.

What business book did you read this summer? And what captivating fictional story will you long remember? Chime in and share.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey's library.

Follow these authors on Twitter:
@KevinEikenberry and @leadingremotely

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