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7 Good Book Suggestions (Fall 2015 Edition)

Here’s the honest truth…

There are many books to read—especially if you have a wide range of interests (like I do). So sometimes it’s hard to get good book suggestions, because we all have different tastes.

That said, if you like personal development or entrepreneurship, or have interest in running an online business, then I have a few book suggestions for you.

The following are seven books that I’ve read over the summer. Perhaps you should check them out and add them to your fall reading list.

1. The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

(Amazon U.S.)

Actually, I’d already read this book two times, but since Jack Canfield recently released his 10th year anniversary edition, I decided to check it out again to see what the new material is like.

The Success Principles breaks down the different areas of self-improvement into a series of action items. There is a total of six sections, with 67 principles that you could add to your life.

There are two ways to read this book:

  1. Pick and choose the principles that seem valuable, and just work on those.
  2. Read the entire book, then implement the principles in a sequential order.

Truth be told, I have ignored many of the principles because they weren’t relevant to my personal life. However, I’d recommend reading the entire book and then making a decision on what areas you’ll work on first.

What I Like About The Success Principles

After reading the book again, I realized that some of the material doesn’t work well as a daily habit. Specifically, Canfield talks at length about visualization, affirmations and the Law of Attraction. Sure, it’s important to have goals and a positive attitude, but I have found that these activities will never replace the habit of taking consistent action towards a goal.

Having said that…

I still feel there is an amazing level of actionable advice within The Success Principles.

For instance, the first principle has been a guiding rule for my life over the past decade—Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.

You can never predict what will happen in the future, but if you’re willing to accept the consequences (both good and bad) for every outcome, then you’ll have ultimate control over your personal success.

There are 66 more principles contained in this 600-page book, so it takes some time to get through. My advice is to commit to reading the entire thing. Even if you only apply some of the strategies, you will experience a dramatic growth in your personal development.

2. How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise

(Amazon U.S.)

This is a follow-up to the Mini-Habits book, written by my friend Stephen Guise. The premise of his new book is simple—the perfectionism mindset often derails your ability to take action on a goal or even live a meaningful life.

Perfectionism can be limiting in a number of ways: making effective decisions, meeting new people, experiencing low-esteem and failing to start an exciting project.

Stephen recommends a simple strategy—embrace your inner-imperfectionist and take action, even when the end result won’t be your best effort. This isn’t about having low standards. Instead, it’s about understanding the importance of momentum and having a willingness to make improvements along the way.

What I Like About How to Be an Imperfectionist

In a way, I’d consider Stephen’s book to be an excellent companion piece to The 7-Day Startup (which we’ll talk about in a bit) because it reinforces the idea that a project doesn’t need to be 100% perfect before others see it. Often, it’s better to take action, get feedback from others and then focus on making constant improvements.

3. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy

(Amazon U.S.)

This is another book that can improve both your entrepreneurial and personal development success. The premise is simple—the small, everyday actions that you take ultimately determine your success in life. If your day is filled with self-destructive habits, this will have a negative, compounding effect on your life. However, if you commit to doing daily, goal-specific habits, then success isn’t that hard to achieve.

The message of The Compound Effect is similar to other books like Essentialism, The One Thing and The Slight Edge. When you have a “zero excuses allowed” policy for important habits, you accomplish amazing things over the long term.

EXAMPLE:

I have known for many years that writing is an important goal-specific habit. Usually I was able to write consistently during the workweek, but I would often take time off during weekends, vacations and major holidays. Even though I could write thousands of words in a given day, I lacked the regularity that is the habit of most successful authors.

After reading The Compound Effect, I decided to commit to (at least) 30 minutes of writing, every day, no excuses allowed.

This means writing when I’m not motivated. On weekends. During the holidays. And even on vacation.

I’ve been doing this for over 40 days, and so far the results have been phenomenal. I find it’s easier to get started, my thoughts are clearer and my overall writing productivity has improved. All of this success is owed to the mindset that is presented in The Compound Effect.

What I Like About The Compound Effect

I love the simple formula that Darren uses in the book:

Achieving success (with any goal) can be broken down to a handful of steps:

  1. Identify your top goals.
  2. Identify the most important actions (or habits) related to these goals.
  3. Do them—even a little—every single day.
  4. Avoid making excuses about ever missing a day.

Sounds too simple, right?

What’s surprising is that people tend to devalue the importance of daily action. Instead it’s easier to believe the myth of the overnight success.

Or, to quote Bill Gates: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I guarantee that if you implement The Compound Effect with just one habit, you will do amazing things over the course of your life.

4. The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran

(Amazon U.S.)

The 12-Week Year is a great companion piece to The Compound Effect because it shows how to take a larger goal and break it down into a series of consistent actions.

In the book, Moran has a great example of why it’s important to adopt a 12-week year strategy in your life…

Imagine you’re near the end of the year (or you’re about to go on vacation). There is a limited amount of time, so you have a heightened sense of urgency to complete every task.

So what usually happens?

Your productivity dramatically increases.

The point Moran makes in The 12-Week Year is that when you condense a project into short-term, immediate goals, you’ll experience a dramatic growth in productivity. All of this is accomplished by chunking down your goals into 12-week sprints and then creating a series of milestones that push you along the way.

What I Like About The 12-Week Year

According to Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

In other words, if you give yourself a week to complete something, most of the time, it will take the whole week to do it. However, if you only give yourself three days to do the same task, you will “magically” find the time to get it done.

The great thing about the 12-week year strategy is it’s perfect for entrepreneurs with goals that constantly change (like me). Often, what seems important one month will seem not-so-important the next. But when you focus on a 12-week sprint, you will work on projects that truly matter.

Beyond that, Moran provides a series of examples on how to take a goal (or project) and turn it into an actionable, week-by-week plan. Not only does he recommend setting milestones for these objectives, but he also reinforces the idea of going beyond your comfort zone and pushing yourself.

I’ve been following the strategy espoused in this book for a few weeks now. (Actually, my first 12-week year is from August the 31st to November the 22nd.) So far, the results have been great. My focus has improved. I’m only working on higher-level projects. And I have a clearer idea of when I should yes to an idea and when I should say no.

If you’re not happy with your productivity, then I highly recommend checking out The 12-Week Year.

5. The 7-Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris

(Amazon U.S.)

If you’re a fan of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, then you’ll enjoy this short, actionable guide by Dan Norris.

A common myth is that you need an elaborate plan to launch a successful business. The end result of this is that many entrepreneurs will spend months—even years—working on a business idea before they even test it.

What Norris suggests is a waaaaay smarter strategy. Instead of spending months on an idea, launch it quickly and see how people respond. Then—only if you see a positive results—get feedback from customers and improve the core offer.

EXAMPLE:

My friend Bryan Cohen recently launched a service called Best Page Forward. It’s a simple value proposition—he offers to ghostwrite the product descriptions that authors use to sell their books on Amazon. It’s a small market, but he knows it is needed because many authors struggle with this aspect of their self-publishing business.

Bryan didn’t spend weeks crafting a business plan. Instead, he reached out to his network and followers to gauge their interest. Not surprisingly, he quickly discovered that authors really need this service and are willing to pay money for it. And now that Best Page Forward is a proven business model, he’s scaling it up by providing additional services to authors.

In my opinion, this is a perfect example of how to quickly launch and validate a business idea.

What I Like About The 7-Day Startup

There is a big lesson behind this book: You won’t know if have a valid idea until it’s launched. All the market research in the world can’t compare to creating a product, putting it in front of customers and then asking them to buy it.

Sure, you might have a grand plan to create the greatest product ever, but a smarter strategy is to start small and grow from there. The launch doesn’t have to be as short as seven days, but you should focus on creating a minimal viable product and shipping it as fast as possible.

6. The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5 by Taylor Pearson

(Amazon U.S.)

Entrepreneurs will love this book because it reinforces the idea that working at a traditional 9-to-5 job can be a risky long-term strategy.

The one thing that separates The End of Jobs from other “rah-rah, entrepreneurism-is-awesome” books is that Pearson includes extensive examples and case studies that chronicle how the job market has dramatically changed over the last century. We are currently moving away from the era of “credentialism,” where the best way to advance in your career was to get a degree. Now we’re at a point where companies need employees who can work in complex and chaotic systems. In other words, entrepreneurism has become a required skillset for any wage earner.

What I Like About The End of Jobs

This book is a wakeup call for anyone who thinks that a list of credentials is the only thing they will need to get ahead in the world. Companies want employees who can think nimbly and work in an ever-changing environment. Sure, this book is great for entrepreneurs, but I think it’s more helpful for anyone who worries about what the future will be like in their specific job market.

The End of Jobs is perfect for people who are early in their entrepreneurial journey, current students who are unsure about their degrees or 9-to-5 employees who wonder about their “next step.”

7.  Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level by Ryan Levesque

(Amazon U.S.)

This book is required reading for all online entrepreneurs. What Levesque provides is a strategy for talking to your audience, uncovering their challenges and creating products that provide solutions.

Levesque recommends four types of surveys that engage potential customers in a conversation about the market. It all starts with a Deep Dive Survey, which simply asks potential customers about their current #1 challenge. (I use this technique with my habit books and the responses always provide invaluable information.) From there, you put respondents in three to five “buckets” and communicate (and offer products) that are geared towards these specific crowds. Finally, you drill down the conversation to the point where you understand what each audience needs, and provide them with solutions that are specifically designed to help them.

What I Like About Ask

Ask works best in tandem with The 7-Day Startup. If you’re getting started with a market, initiate conversations with potential customers and ask open-ended questions. Look for their major pain points, observe the words they use and take the time to truly understand what they really need. Only then can you create a product that provides genuine value.

The Ask strategy runs counterintuitive to what entrepreneurs normally do in a market. They often make assumptions about what people want and create products based off what they think people need. The danger is that they could create a product that nobody wants. With the Ask strategy, you only launch a product when you know it solves a specific problem that many people experience.

Have Any Good Book Suggestions?

Those are just seven good books that I read over the summer. You might want to check them out as we move into the fall season. That said, I know there are plenty of excellent books that weren’t included in this list.

So let me close with a few questions:

  1. What book are you currently reading?
  2. Would you recommend it to the readers of DGH?
  3. What books have had a significant impact on your life?

Simply respond in the comment box below to share your thoughts.

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