Six Books that Molded my Millennial Perception of Business (and Two That Will)

August 13, 2011

Starting a business at 24 isn’t something a lot of people do, but I’m a little stubborn and a whole lot on fire. It’s true: I’ve found my passion and can’t imagine life any other way. Of course, I didn’t get to this point alone; nor will I mark any great successes without the generous help of those who’ve been here before me.

I can’t exactly share my direct relationships with you, but I’m happy to share six highly influential publications that have changed my perception on my business, the business world, and life in general.

  1. Profits Aren’t Everything, They Are the Only Thing — George Cloutier
    I found this book at a Barnes & Noble and was drawn in by the title. I’m not an accountant. I sat and read the thing nearly cover-to-cover – and THEN bought it! Now here’s a book written with a no-BS attitude.
    The thing I loved about this book is how Cloutier straight up called out crappy business practices that are (more often than not) generally looked over or excused. The result is lost profits, disadvantaged employees, or – perhaps the worst – bail outs. This is a great book if you’ve ever watched a caustic business thrive (while secretly failing).
  2. Naked Economics Charles Wheelan
    I totally judged this book by its cover – but LOOK at it! An economics book that even LOOKS interesting! Anyway… Wheelan’s an economist who sounds like he’s a friend chatting at a coffee shop.
    His explanations of the financial state of the United States (and rest of the world) are completely fascinating to read. Bottom line: You’ll be inspired to complete college without blowing your future, vote with more consideration, and educate, educate, educate. Preview the book on Google.
  3. Trust Agents — Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
    So far these books have been really business-oriented. This book rocks in terms of changing perception on marketing and customer services; the lines are really blurred, anyway.

    My favorite take away from Brogan and Smith discussed how traditional business values, notably trust, translate into the online realm. It’s easy to forget to be personal online. It was interesting to see relationships broken down and business gone personal. (Well personal again, but I’m a millennial and I certainly didn’t grow up with “personal” business.)
  4. Inc. Magazine
    I’m a subscriber. This magazine has yet to change my life as it, in my opinion, talks too much on franchises. I’m guessing that’s because a significant portion of their advertising income is from franchises, but that’s another story.
    Inc. is great for seeing what other entrepreneurs are up to. Or if I need to be reminded to save for retirement. Either way, it’s a decent way to stay connected to up-to-date in a quick-bite fashion.
  5. The Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu’s Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work — Chin-Ning Chu
    Don’t let the length of that title scare you off. Okay, you might want to. If you don’t appreciate traditional texts such as, say, The Art of War, don’t waste your time. If you do, and you’re a woman, this might help when you run up against some of corporate America’s finer BS.
    The premise of this book made is blisteringly obvious that business is no less political than the presidential primaries. Then explains how women can deal with it in an incredible empowering way.
  6. Four Hour Work Week — Timothy Ferriss
    I’m not completely on-board for the Four Hour Work Week concept, but I admire (and pursue) Tim’s approach to life in general. It’s Tim’s fault I purchased portable wifi. It’s Tim’s fault I’m writing this blog from sunny Florida on a weekday in January. Perhaps if I hadn’t found my passion in digital business, I’d probably be more steadfast on the Ferriss track. In the meantime, I’m independent, portable, and loving it.

The two that will are included below. I’ve included the quick write-ups provided by the marketing mix.

  1. Change — Design Tim Brown
    “Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, shows how the techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of business. Change By Design introduces design thinking — the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people’s needs with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy.”
  2. Crush It! — Gary Vaynerchuk
    “Everything has changed. The social media revolution has irreversibly changed the way we live our lives and conduct our business. There are billions of dollars in advertising moving online, waiting to be claimed by whoever can build the best content and communities. Despite this change, most people keep working at jobs that don’t make them happy and businesses continue to ignore the major marketing and public relations benefits that can be found online.”

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