Craig Durosko: 5 great books to add to your reading list

Here are five more for your summer reading list.

August 24, 2012

In my column last September (http://bit.ly/DuroskoSept), I mentioned if you read 10 pages a night it would equal more than 12 business books a year. Here are six more for your summer reading list: 

“Tribes” by Seth Godin

Seth says fear of change is built into most organisms, because change is the first sign of risk. Today, fear that used to protect us at work is now our enemy. The marketplace is rewarding organizations and individuals who change things and create remarkable products and services.

Tribes are not about stuff; they are about connection.  A crowd is a tribe without a leader or communication. With enough leverage you can change your company, your industry, and the world. 

In unstable times, growth comes from leaders who create change and engage their organizations. The people making a difference still have fear, but it is drowned out by a different story. Laying out a game plan makes the fear obsolete. Do what you believe in, paint a picture of the future, and go there. People will follow.

“Drive” by Daniel Pink

In this book Daniel talks about how we usually only notice operating systems when they are failing, and how our current human operating system has become less compatible with  how we organize what we do, how we think about what we do, and how we do what we do.

For a growing number of people, work is often creative, interesting, and self-directed, so the old carrot and stick motivation does not work anymore.  A lesson for him early on was when his professor told him that economics wasn’t the study of money, it was the study of behavior. 

By neglecting the ingredients of genuine motivation (autonomy, mastery and purpose) you limit what each of us can achieve. Goals help us tune out distractions, get us to try harder, work longer and achieve more.  Intrinsic motivation is when the reward is the activity itself — deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one’s best.

“Great by Choice” by Jim Collins

Jim starts out by saying we cannot predict the future, but we can create it. In this book he compares companies like Southwest Airlines, who outperformed the stock market by 63 times from 1972 to 2002. Yet its competitor, Pacific Southwest Airlines, failed, even with the same business model in the same industry with the same opportunity. 

You should prepare with intensity all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength.  And equally, you prepare so that when conditions turn in your favor, you can strike hard. Develop contingency plans so that the team could go on should something unfortunate happen to them along the way. 

Collins compared 10 companies and found they were NOT:  more creative, visionary, charismatic, ambitious, lucky, risk-seeking, heroic or prone to making big, bold moves. They have core behaviors of Fanatic Discipline, Productive Paranoia and Empirical Creativity.

Many are nonconformists. They started with values, purpose, long-term goals and severe performance standards, and they had the fanatic discipline to adhere to them.They didn’t let external pressures knock them off course.

“Selling The Invisible” by Harry Beckwith

“Selling the Invisible” focuses on how selling services is different than products. Service marketing is not the same as product marketing. Most product failures are obvious and provable. Most products can be warranted; most services cannot be. So you buy a service with no guarantees, and even more uncertainty.

Marketing is not a department. Everyone is responsible for marketing your company. Every act is a marketing act, so make every employee a marketing person. Make technology a key part of every marketing plan. Study every point at which your company makes contact with a prospect and then improve each one significantly.

Beckwith also points out that in service marketing, almost nothing beats a brand.  Store and generic brands make up 7 percent of the market. Brand name sales make up the rest. 

“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh

This was one of my favorite reads lately. The Zappos founder tells his story in a humorous and unfiltered way. It is an amazing story of how he built a company to $1 billion in sales two years before his goal. He talks about his journey after selling his first company and all the successes and failures along the way. He talks about his learned lessons like never outsourcing your core competency.

He refers to “Good to Great.” Great companies have a greater purpose and a bigger vision than just making money. He decided to build the Zappos brand to be about the very best service and customer experience. He created a culture book written by his employees that he shares with new hires. He talks about celebrating WOW experiences and his unique process of offering new hires $2,000 to leave his company after the first week of training. Less than 1 percent take him up. PR

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Craig Durosko is the founder of Sun Design, an award-winning Burke, Va.-based design/build firm. He can be reached at craig@sundesigninc.com.

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