This post serves three purposes. First, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the more than two dozen leadership and marketing experts who appeared in my “Fall Back to Reading Series” from late-September to the end of fall, ending with yesterday’s post. These individuals answered an array of questions regarding the importance of reading and provided their favorite business and fiction books. In one word, they INSPIRED me, and I hope you learned about some experts and books from the series.
If you missed any of the posts, here is a list of the post dates with the featured experts:
- September 23/Introductory post
- September 25/Eric Jacobson
- September 27/Dennis Geelen
- September 29/Mitch Pisik
- October 2/Shep Hyken
- October 6/Joseph Michelli
- October 9/Erika Andersen
- October 13/Susan Friesen
- October 16/Rebecca Herold
- October 20/James Strock
- October 23/Gail Robertson
- October 27/Leanne Dzubinski
- October 30/David Beaumont
- November 3/Katherine Spinney
- November 6/Stacey Danheiser
- November 10/Dr. Natalie Petouhoff
- November 13/Suzanne Huber
- November 17/Deborah Connors
- November 20/Michelle Redfern
- November 24/Gregory Kennedy
- November 27/Michael McKinney
- December 1/Joni M. Fisher
- December 4/Kim Scaravelli
- December 6/Joseph Lalonde
- December 8/Doug Dickerson
- December 11/Lee Goldberg
- December 13/Russel Lolacher
- December 15/Ludmila Praslova
- December 18/Rosye Cloud
- December 20/Kevin Eikenberry
Second, on January 31st, 2024, I will share a highlight post of all the recommended reads from this series. Watch my Twitter/X feed for a heads-up.
And now, the third purpose of today’s post can be found in the title: “Eight Business Books for Your Winter and Early 2024 Reading List.” As winter begins, it’s a good time to share my recommended business books focusing on strategy, corporate culture and teamwork, leadership, management, customer experience marketing, social media, and gender equality – but first, two important quotes about books and reading.
To quote E.B. White on the power of books: “Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are holding a book, you and the author are alone together – just the two of you. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
To quote John Coleman, a writer for the Harvard Business Review and other publications: “Reading has many benefits, but it is underappreciated as an essential component of leadership development. Deep reading can make you a better leader, Here are five tips: join a reading group; vary your reading; apply your reading to your work; encourage others to read; and read for fun – read to relax, escape, and put your mind at ease.”
TURNS: WHERE BUSINESS IS WON AND LOST by Steve McKee
To quote Steve McKee, “Straightaways are easy. It’s why they invented cruise control…But business is a twisting, turning road, and whether you’re plotting the future of your products, your positioning, your profitability, or your people, there is always an element of uncertainty about which direction is best… IBM, Lego, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks, Caterpillar, and Xerox have all made wrong turns – some more than once. It’s the rare business that gets it right the first time; most turn (pivot) when their original business models don’t pan out.”
McKee further explained, “Story arcs are turns that keep the audience engaged. Modern television series ensure that the falling action and resolution of one story arc is intertwined with the rising action of another, creating ‘cliffhangers’ that compel us to keep tuning in from one episode to the next. The narrative arc is the basic format followed by all great storytellers from William Shakespeare to Walt Disney. Without a turn, there is no story.”
SHARE THIS: Unlike clearly marked roadways, most turns in business come with no pre-posted warning signs. ~@SteveMcKee #DebbieLaskeysBlog
BEST TEAM EVER! THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS by David Burkus
According to author David Burkus, “All assert that the culture of a team is more important than who is on it. Team culture – the collective values, beliefs, behaviors, and ways of working a member’s share – has an outsized effect on the results a team achieves. You can’t recruit your way out of a lousy culture. Talent doesn’t make the team. The team makes the talent.”
Burkus elaborated that, “High-performing team cultures share three elements: Common Understanding, Psychological Safety, and Prosocial Purpose.”
SHARE THIS: Talent doesn’t make the team. The team makes the talent. ~@davidburkus #GreatLeadership #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog
REEL LEADERSHIP: DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN LEADERSHIP LESSONS IN MOVIES by Joseph Lalonde
To quote Joseph Lalonde, “I discovered movies and entertainment are a great teaching tool. We can find leadership lessons, we can find moral lessons, we can even find life lessons in movies…I call it the concept of reel leadership, looking at movies while intending to pull out leadership lessons.”
Joe asked, who didn’t cry during Toy Story 3? Who wasn’t pulled into the action in the Indiana Jones movies? And who recalls the advice that Peter Parker received? For clarification, Peter Parker was the alter-ego of Spider-Man, and his Uncle Ben’s timeless advice was, “With great power comes great responsibility.” All good leaders can appreciate these examples of empathy, energy/activity, and responsibility.
Joe recommends that, when watching movies at the theater, your mindset should change from “Let’s have fun” to “Let’s learn something today.” Here’s one example Joe shared in his book: “There’s a terrific scene in Wonder Woman called “No Man’s Land.” In it, Gal Gadot’s Diana (Wonder Woman’s civilian identity) is walking through a war zone with Steve Trevor. Diana hears the call of a woman needing help. She stops to offer what aid she can. Then she continues with Steve to the other soldiers. [While] they’re hesitant to step onto the battlefield, Diana isn’t.” What leadership lessons are present in this scene? Here are just a few: help others, be a role-model, and stand up even if that means others may not join or support you.
SHARE THIS: Movies can touch us, and movies can teach us. ~@JosephLalonde #movies #LeadershipTips #DebbieLaskeysBlog
BRINGING UP THE BOSS: PRACTICAL LESSONS FOR NEW MANAGERS by Rachel Pacheco
One of the nuggets in this book was the importance of feedback. According to Rachel Pacheco, “To be a great manager, not only do you have to be great at giving feedback, but also you have to be great at receiving effective feedback from your team.” Effective feedback results in quality work. It also leads to employees who feel productive, confident, motivated, fulfilled, and valued. These types of employees rise the corporate ladder and remain for the long-term.
Another aspect of leading involves a sense of purpose. Pacheco shared a story of a dog pulling a tire. You’ll have to read the book for the full story, but the dog was much happier when pulling a tire on the beach. Can you say that all your employees have a sense of purpose, and even more importantly, do they understand how their roles impact the entire organization’s mission and brand promise?
Lastly, as Pacheco wrote, “When you become a manager, there is a fundamental shift in how you approach your work, and there is also a fundamental shift in how others think of you.”
SHARE THIS: We have the power to help someone grow, develop, and thrive; we also have the power to overburden, confuse, and wreak havoc. ~@rachelbpacheco #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog
THE FIRST STEP ON THE JOURNEY TO CUSTOMER CENTRICITY: THE CUSTOMER-BASE AUDIT by Peter Fader, Bruce Hardie, and Michael Ross
The authors explained, “We believe that there are fundamental analyses that are foundational for any executive wanting to gain an understanding of the health of their organization’s revenue and profit streams and the feasibility of their growth plans. We call this the customer-base audit. A customer-base audit is a systemic review of the buying behavior of a firm’s customers using data captured by its transaction systems. The objective is to provide an understanding of how customers differ in their buying behavior and how their buying behavior evolves over time.”
They clarified that they were “not interested in the demographic profile of customers and were not interested in their attitudes.” This was NOT knowing the customer through the lens of traditional market research.
Here are some questions to ask when defining a customer for your organization:
(1) Is payment required for someone to be considered a customer?
(2) Does it matter who pays versus who uses? Does it matter who made the decision?
(3) How long after purchase does a customer cease to be a customer (even if they are an owner and user)?
(4) Do we factor in legal obligations? (think: warranties)
(5) Does the presence of a channel intermediary on the purchasing process stop someone from being considered a customer?
SHARE THIS: A customer-base audit provides an understanding of how customers differ in their buying behavior and how their buying behavior evolves over time. ~@faderp #DebbieLaskeysBlog
THE AGE OF INFLUENCE: THE POWER OF INFLUENCERS TO ELEVATE YOUR BRAND by Neal Schaffer
To quote Neal Schaffer, “Being an influencer is not about merely taking selfies, putting them online, and then getting paid thousands of dollars from brands to mention them. Influencer marketing is not about paying someone else to take selfies and put them online. It is about engagement and communication.”
Schaeffer further explained, “Influencer marketing is a shift in communicating and interacting with your customers and audience. It’s also able to deliver results far, far beyond those traditional returns. It’s about user-generated content. It’s about the community. It’s about relationships. It’s about engagement. It is more than just spreading a message. This is the next generation of social media marketing.”
SHARE THIS: Influencer marketing is about engagement and communication, the next generation of social media marketing. ~@NealSchaeffer #DebbieLaskeysBlog
GLASS WALLS – SHATTERING THE SIX GENDER BIAS BARRIERS STILL HOLDING WOMEN BACK AT WORK by Amy Diehl and Dr. Leanne Dzubinski
To quote co-author Amy Diehl from a previous Q&A post here on my blog: “Co-Author Dr. Leanne Dzubinski and I are so excited to bring this book to readers. It will help leaders, allies, and individual women learn how to break down gender bias in two ways. First, we break down gender bias by explaining the six barriers and their subcomponents. These barriers are male privilege, disproportionate constraints, insufficient support, devaluation, and hostility which lead to women’s acquiescence. In the book we tell stories of women who have experienced these barriers. Second, we provide strategies that leaders, allies, and women themselves can use to break down and eliminate each aspect of gender bias.”
Diehl further explained, “While bias and sexism have been embedded into our workplace cultures, we now know how to root them out. Progress is slow with some industries doing better than others, but working together, we can make our organizations inclusive and supportive of all people.”
SHARE THIS: While bias and sexism have been embedded into our workplace cultures, we now know how to root them out. ~@AmyDiehl #GlassWalls #DebbieLaskeysBlog
GOOD GUYS: HOW MEN CAN BE BETTER ALLIES FOR WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE by David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson
As the book explained, "Women are at a disadvantage in the workplace, from unequal pay to sexual harassment to the inability to be promoted in a fair and timely manner. And while organizations are looking to fix the issue, too many gender inclusion initiatives focus exclusively on changing women, leaving men out of the equation. Such efforts reinforce the perception that these are solely 'women’s issues' and that men don’t need to be involved. Research has shown that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of women in those organizations see real progress on gender equality, compared with only 30% of women in organizations without strong male engagement. GOOD GUYS shows how men can partner with women to advance women’s leadership by breaking ingrained gender stereotypes, overcoming unconscious biases, developing and supporting the talented women around them, and creating productive working relationships with women in the post-#MeToo era.”
SHARE THIS: Women are interrupted midsentence twice as often as men are. This has spawned a new word: manterrupting. ~David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson #DebbieLaskeysBlog
What’s on your reading list for early 2024? Chime in and share.
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s library.
If you’d like to read some previous “Fall Back to Reading” posts on my blog featuring business books, check out the following:
Fall Back to Reading with 9 Thought-Provoking Books
September 22, 2022
Fall Back to Reading with 12 Thought-Provoking Business Books
October 11, 2019
Fall Reading: Leadership, Branding, and Voice of the Customer Marketing
October 12, 2018