Review: The 100: The Shortest Book of Everything You Need to Build a Winning Business

The 100: The Shortest Book of Everything You Need to Build a Winning Business The 100: The Shortest Book of Everything You Need to Build a Winning Business by Tom Salonek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great, informative, and quick read of very useful and practical business tips. Tom includes pointers on everything from hiring to firing, employee engagement and culture, profit, meetings, and much more. Every chapter is on a different topic and every section has a takeaway reiterating the lesson learned, plus he includes tips and quotes from several other great business books.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about running a profitable business the right way.

Review: Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I kept reading great reviews about Angela Duckworth's book so finally decided to pick it up, and although it wasn't a quick read, it was a very worthwhile one.

The entire premise of the book is that it's not talent or luck that brings success; instead, it's a combination of passion and perseverance—which Angela calls grit. And lucky for us, one can further develop one's grit.

All this begins with finding something you're interested in, which is helped by it having deeper meaning and/or helping others. But unless you're interested in the thing, there is much less likelihood you'll persevere through the natural ups and downs and the work required—the disciplined practice required—until you get good enough to succeed.

Angela has many first-hand anecdotes from studies and interviews, plus brings in other related theories such as Dweck's theory on a fixed versus growth mindset. She also ends off the book with how we can inspire our children, students, or employees to build more grit and how we can develop a gritty culture.

I am still thinking through all the practical applications of what Angela shared and highly recommend this to anyone who wants to succeed or help someone else succeed. And isn't that all of us?

Know Your Strengths

I've been a long-time fan of Marcus Buckingham and the Strengths-Based Movement. Reading Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance for my Women's Business and Leadership Book Club just reminded me of the many reasons why.

In a nutshell, we all have inherent talents—a.k.a. strengths—we're born with and to be our happiest and most fulfilled, our jobs need to play to and use them. Skills and knowledge can be taught, but our strengths are part of what make us who we are. Unlike much traditional thinking, the strength-based movement has realized the benefits of continuing to improve our strengths—becoming more of who we naturally are—instead of trying to improve our weaknesses. 

The kicker is that the more time you spend on your weaknesses, the more drained you feel whereas your strengths energize you. So you can see how important it is to be able to identify these strengths.

Marcus, in this book, gives us a handy pneumonic to do so: SIGNS
  • Success: Our strengths are the things we're naturally good at and often get complimented on. Is there something your friends and colleagues are always asking your help with? Chances are that may be your strength.
  • Instinct: Is there something you instinctively want to do, look forward to, and often look for ways to do more of? If there's something you do daily and need to do, chances are, it's a strength of yours.
  • Growth: Is there something you pick up quickly, are really in the flow when doing, and look forward to learning more about? Yup, it's a strength.
  • Needs: Is there something that fulfills an inherent need of yours, allowing you to be authentically yourself and fulfilled? That's a strength.
When your job plays to your strengths, it's a joy and not a chore so identifying your strengths is the first step towards that goal. The rest of the book helps you apply this knowledge at work, even if you're working for others.

So regardless of who you are and at what level of career you're at, being able to recognize your strengths is the key to future success and happiness.

Are you ready to know your strengths?

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

I spent this weekend skimming business books on sales, storytelling, and entrepreneurship. Surprisingly they all had a common theme: the stories we tell ourselves.

Stories are obviously important in communication, but it starts with caring about your topic since that makes you more interesting to your audience. And you of course have to believe in yourself, and have the confidence to get up in front of an audience, which directly correlates to what message—and story—you tell yourself. If you believe you can, you will.

With selling, most need to believe in what they're selling and that it will help their customers. But even then there will be more no's than yes's and how you reframe the challenge and day-to-day struggles is the difference between success and failure.

Entrepreneurs are salespeople too. They have an idea they have to believe in so strongly that it's enough to keep them going through all the tough times. Whether they do it on their own (which I've tried and is very tough and lonely), or get a team and investors behind them, it requires selling that belief and passion. So they need to have a convincing story to keep themselves going and a convincing story to get others on board.

We start our life loving stories told to us and then continue by telling stories to ourselves, our friends...then our spouses, bosses, and children. It is a part of every aspect of our lives, regardless of who we are or what we do. And the most important story in our life is the one we tell ourselves.

There will always be struggle, challenge, and change. Reframing that challenge as an opportunity to grow into our full potential is the story we should be telling ourselves.

So what story will you choose to tell yourself?

Review: How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients

How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients by Jeffrey J. Fox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rainmaker is the thing everyone in business aspires to be, whether your role is sales or not: it's the person who magically can always close a deal and generate more business. As someone who spent most of her career in operations and not in sales, and is now doing biz dev for the second time in her career, it seemed a good book to read.

Although Jeffrey Fox's book was a quick read and had interesting tips, I can't say that it taught me anything new that I hadn't read elsewhere. Nor was it enough, in my opinion, to take someone new to sales and make them a rainmaker, as the title suggests.

So although an interesting and informative read, if you're only going to read one sales book, or are looking for something unique to give you a competitive edge, this isn't that book.