We’ve done a lot of reading this year, and while we’ve gotten something out of everything we’ve read, we have a few favorites we’d especially like to share with you. If you’re interested in seeing our full lists with some additional commentary, check out our reading lists on each of our LinkedIn profiles (Kevin on LinkedIn, Wendy on LinkedIn).

Also there are a few books that we’ve talked about in previous posts (here, here, and here), so we didn’t feel there was a need to include those again.

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

– by Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson

Kevin’s biggest takeaway – (First of all, if you only read one book off of my list, make it this one.) The greatest need of your prospect/client is for you to help them discover what it is that they truly need.

Wendy’s biggest takeaway – As a natural part of the business evolution cycle, consumer needs and wants change over time and so do the ways that people want to buy. In order to remain a relevant business, selling styles must evolve as well.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

– by Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Kevin’s biggest takeaway – Effective communication of ideas is critical. Unfortunately, most of those who are trying to communicate an idea have a “curse of knowledge”. It is the difference between their level of understanding of an issue compared to that of their audience that impedes effective communication. The book offers a great way to assess the likely effectiveness of any message you want to send.

Wendy’s biggest takeaway – Communication is the foundation of all relationships, and the right kind of communication for effectively initiating changes in thinking & behavior is imperative. It can be quite simple if you think about communication like the Heath brothers do – from the perspective of the uninformed recipient trying to digest your information for the first time.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

– by Daniel H. Pink

Kevin’s biggest takeaway – Many current management practices are running contrary to their intended purpose. The more businesses try to externally motivate and push goals upon their staff without tying it to individual needs, the lesser the results. To see the greatest results, we need to, instead, address the main drivers of intrinsic motivation - autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Wendy’s biggest takeaway – Businesses need to catch up with the way people think and evolve their management style from managing people to leading people. Drive power in the business by tapping into the natural abilities and resources of your team rather than pushing them to merely meet the minimum job requirements.

The Other Side of Innovation

– by Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble


Kevin’s biggest takeaway - New ideas are easy to come by, but it’s how you address the challenges, which result from the idea, that determine success. It is the execution that is more difficult and holds the hidden dangers. Because the execution is humdrum, behind the scenes, and involves hard work, it is all too often an afterthought that gets overlooked.

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

– by Michael Watkins


Kevin’s biggest takeaway – 10 Critical Strategies: 1. Promote yourself 2. Accelerate your learning 3. Match strategy to situation 4. Secure early wins 5. Negotiate success 6. Achieve alignment 7. Build your team 8. Create coalitions 9. Keep your balance 10. Expedite everyone

RePositioning: Marketing in an Era of Competition, Change and Crisis

– by Jack Trout, Steve Rivkin

Kevin’s biggest take way – Powerful ideas always clash with someone’s personal agenda. This ensures an early demise for any concept that has to work its way up the organization for final approval. No matter how good they are, ideas will never win on their own merit. If you don’t have the right people in the room, very little change will happen.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

– by Howard Schultz

Wendy’s biggest takeaway – The love that owners have for their businesses and the struggles they face are universal regardless of size or degree of success. Just because you’ve been in business a long time doesn’t mean you should change the passionate outlay you put into the business. Getting comfortable is one of the most dangerous risks a company can face.

Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself

– by William C. Taylor

Wendy’s biggest takeaway – Any business can completely transform itself and WOW its customers. Yes, even mature, commoditized industries can change and offer new ways of doing business. Innovative ideas, a will to succeed, a strong leader leading the vision, and a dedicated group to make it happen can yield incredible results. The many case studies in here are just inspiring!


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