With a glut of new business books launching on a weekly basis, it can be challenging to figure out which are worth the time investment. And by “worth,” I mean books that deliver actual field-tested strategies that can easily be implemented in your day to day business... no theoretical BS.
I’m an avid reader, particularly on topics that relate to business growth, so allow me to cut through the clutter for you. Following are my top picks for your summer reading list. Coincidentally, I’ve either shared a stage or a meal with all three authors. I’ve also read these books cover to cover (more than once) and they’ve either reaffirmed growth strategies I already have in play or left me sleepless with new ideas.
Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less
Author: Cameron Herold
If you’re a growth junkie, you’ve likely heard of Cameron Herold— the legendary COO of 1-800-Got-Junk during its meteoric rise from $2M to $106M in revenue and 3,100 employees. He’s a master operator and understands, inherently, all of the key components that go into scaling for growth.
Double Double is truly a step-by-step guide to managing the roller coaster of building a business through a growth-focused approach. The book is divided into three sections, which cover planning, building, and leading a company to fast growth. From strategic planning to office design to sales and marketing to hiring, Herold covers a wide range of topics. Each one is squarely focused on the end goal— doubling the size of your company in three years or less, while achieving every entrepreneur’s holy grail... the ever elusive work/life balance
Bonus: there’s a great resource section in the back of the book which contains, among many things, a fantastic library of interviewing questions for just about any position. Short on time? Herold also includes a summary at the beginning of the book outlining which chapters are most important for time crunched CEO’s or COO’s.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Author: Jonah Berger
Jonah Berger is a Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an intrepreneur, a data wonk or a marketer, understanding what drives people to buy is invaluable to business growth.
Contagious explains the psychology behind why certain products and ideas become popular (and it’s not advertising). People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some products and services more “infectious”? And what makes them go viral? Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. In Contagious, he unveils the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission, revealing how six basic principles drive all sorts of things (from consumer products to YouTube videos) to become contagious.
What I love about this book is that, like Double Double, it provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share— which is critical to understanding how to make your product or idea catch on.
Sell with a Story
Author: Paul Smith
Too often, sales folks take a “wham bam” approach to selling... digging into a functional sales pitch before truly connecting with their prospective buyer. We’re essentially raised on stories from birth. Whether it’s a movie trailer, a TV commercial, or a digital advertisement, it’s tough to debate that stories both captivate us and inspire us to buy. Yet, so often sales conversations don’t lead with a story.
Despite all the online prospecting tools available to salespeople, the most personal methods of connecting with potential buyers still work best. Truly good storytelling packs an emotional punch that transforms routine sales presentations and ensures they evolve into meaningful (and lucrative!) client relationships. Playing off of Jonah Berger’s theories in Contagious for designing messaging that resonates, stories speak to the part of the brain where decisions are made.
In Sell With a Story, Smith does a great job of shifting the formula from his previous best-selling book, Lead with a Story, to the sales arena. In Sell with a Story, he identifies the ingredients of the most effective sales stories and reveals how to:
- Select the RIGHT story
- Craft a compelling and memorable narrative,
- Incorporate challenge, conflict, and resolution
- Use stories to introduce yourself, build rapport, address objections, add value, bring data to life, and create a sense of urgency
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