11 Must-Read Authors For Every Professional

Great authors teach us, motivate us, inspire us, and make us think. For professionals, great authors can change the way we work, help us realize new opportunities, build a business, and lead others.

My recent post, 9 Business Books That Will Change Your Life, led to over 1,200 comments from readers agreeing or disagreeing with the list, and adding their own favorites. So I’ve followed up that post with this list of prolific, impactful authors, each of which has written at least three business books. Below are my 11 must-read authors, along with six more up-and-coming authors worth reading:

1. Seth Godin

Godin is my favorite author and has been an inspiration to me as a writer, marketer, entrepreneur and thinker. Permission Marketing is my favorite Godin book, but I’ve enjoyed so many of them, as Godin always challenges readers to think about things in a new way. Other must-read books of his include Purple Cow, Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke The Box. His latest and boldest, The Icarus Deception, calls on people to look at their work as an artist does.

2. Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni is the owner of a management consulting firm and a prolific author and speaker, having written ten books to date. He writes simple, well-told fables, all with leadership and management lessons to take away. His most famous book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – and that is a great one, as are The Advantage, Death by Meeting, and Getting Naked. But my favorite is The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family, because it addresses not only business, but leading a family, something most important to me.

3. Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is a longtime writer for The New Yorker magazine and the author of four uber-successful, thoughtful books which stimulate not only business professionals, but all of his readers, to think about things in a new way. Named by Time Magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Gladwell’s works include The Tipping Point, Outliers,Blink and What the Dog Saw.

4. Jim Collins

Collins is both a teacher and a student of great companies – having devoted the better part of his life to studying, analyzing and writing about the differences between good companies and great ones – companies that perish and those that endure. His books are all thoroughly researched and his theses are data-driven. Collins’ works include Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall and Great by Choice.

5. Daniel Pink

Pink is truly one of the great business minds of our time. Having now authored four provocative books, Pink was named one of the Top 50 business thinkers of the world byHarvard Business Review in 2011. His most recent book, To Sell is Human, is particularly appropriate for salespeople. But Pink’s previous Drive and A Whole New Mind are classics as well.

6. Tim Ferriss

Ferriss is an incredibly successful author and speaker, despite apparently not working on any one thing more than four hours a week. The ultimate “work smart over work hard” guy, Ferriss’s first book, The Four Hour Workweek, has sold many millions of copies and been translated to 35 languages. The concept for professionals has proved so popular that Ferriss followed up Workweek with The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef.

7. Ken Blanchard

Blanchard is a long-time writer, speaker and consultant and one of the top leadership experts in the world. Like Lencioni, he writes using stories and simple, easy-to-understand language. Three of his many books, the One Minute Manager, Raving Fans, and The One Minute Entrepreneur all deeply influenced the way I’ve run our businesses and helped clients grow their businesses. 

8. Stephen Covey

Covey wrote a plethora of excellent leadership and inspirational books, but the one you’ve likely heard of is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book single-handedly changed the way millions of people live their lives, at work and beyond. The SPEED of Trust and The Leader in Me are two more good ones. Covey’s books are excellent reads if you’re looking for inspiration beyond your job. Sadly, Covey passed away last year.

9. Peter Drucker

Drucker, the 2nd posthumous member of this list, passed away in 2005, but he was considered the management expert of the 20th century, authoring over 25 books. The teacher, reporter, philosopher and consultant was perhaps best known for mentoring longtime General Electric CEO Jack Welch. His books included The Effective Executive, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, and The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.

10. Jeffrey Gitomer

Gitomer may have been a college dropout, but his books have helped many a salesperson make an incredible living. His books are small, easy to read, and packed full of both inspiration and practical advice. My favorite is the Little Red Book Of Sellingbut others includeCustomer Satisfactions Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, and The Sales Bible.

11. John Maxwell

Maxwell is a longtime leadership expert, speaker and coach who has sold a remarkable 19 million books. His books inspire better leadership skills and communication skills. My favorite is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; other noteworthy books include The 5 Levels of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, How Successful People Think, The 360 Degree Leader, and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.

The above 11 are all must-read authors for professionals.
 Their many books have stood the test of time and continue to sell millions of copies. As I looked for great business authors, though, I was devastated by the dearth of women authors – plus I wanted to introduce you to a few great authors you may not have read yet. Here, then, are six more terrific authors worth reading, including three awesome female authors:

1. Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg, the famous and at times controversial Chief Operating Officer of Facebook just launched her first book: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadThe guaranteed bestseller has already created a lot of buzz, and is worth a read, whether you’re a woman or a man.

2. Guy Kawasaki

I am proud to call Kawasaki a mentor, and he easily could have made the list above. His latest work, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is a must-read for all authors and wanna-be authors. Other excellent books include The Art of the Start, Enchantment, Rules for Revolutionaries, and Reality Check.

3. Ekaterina Walter

Walter is a new author and a long time speaker and social strategist for Intel. Her first book,Think Like Zuckinspired me so much I bought copies for my staff at Likeable. I have a strong feeling there’s more to come. 

4. Erik Qualman

You may not have heard of Qualman yet, but you may be amongst the 5 million people who have seen his “Socialnomics” videos on YouTube. Qualman’s first book of the same name,Socialnomicsis an excellent read, as is his newest, Digital Leader.

5. Meg Cadoux Hirshberg

Hirschberg is the wife of Stonyfield CEO Gary Hirshberg, and writes extensively for INC Magazine on entrepreneurship and familyI whole-heartedly recommend her first bookFor Better Or For Worknot only for entrepreneurs but for their spouses and families

6. Michael Maddock

Maddock is an entrepreneur, inventor and innovation expert. My favorite of his three books isFree The Idea Monkey, which is great for both the idea people and the operators who help make those ideas actually happen.

Those are 17 of my favorite authors- although I’ve read dozens more I’ve loved. I’m also an author of course, and I’ve written a couple of books that I hope have inspired people- Likeable Social Media, about the role of social media in today’s society and how organizations can best leverage it, and, recently, Likeable Business, about how to leverage 11 simple principles of customer-centric, staff-centric leadership to succeed in today’s social-business world.

Now, I’d love to know YOUR favorite business authors. Which of these authors have you read? What other authors of business books have changed YOUR lives? What authors belong on this list, who have inspired YOU to become a better business person, leader and human being? Let me know in the comments here – and happy reading!

Credit: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130307183525-15077789-11-must-read-authors-for-every-professional?trk=eml-mktg-condig-0108-p1

Want Productive Employees? Treat Them Like Adults

For more than a decade now, I’ve struggled to define what fuels the most sustainably productive work environment — not just on behalf of the large corporate clients we serve, but also for my own employees at The Energy Project. Perhaps nothing I’ve uncovered is as important as trust.

Much as employers understandably hunger for one-size-fits-all policies and practices, what motivates human beings remains stubbornly complex, opaque, and difficult to unravel. Perhaps that’s why I felt so viscerally the shortsightedness and futility of Marissa Mayer’s decision to order Yahoo employees who had been working from home to move back to the office, and Hubert Joly’s to do the same at Best Buy.

Here’s the problem: Employees who want to game the system are going to do so inside or outside the office. Supervising them more closely is costly, enervating, and it’s ultimately a losing game. As for highly motivated employees who’ve been working from home, all they’re likely to feel about being called back to the office is resentful — and more inclined to look for new jobs.

At its heart, the problem for Mayer and Joly is lack of trust. For whatever reasons, they’ve lost trust that their employees can make responsible adult decisions for themselves about how to best get their work done and add value to the company. Distrust begets distrust in return. It kills motivation rather than sparking it. Treat employees like children and you increase the odds they’ll act like children. You reap what you sow — for better and for worse.

As an employer, I stay focused on one primary question about each employee: What is going to free, fuel, and inspire this person to bring the best of him or herself to work every day, most sustainably? My goal is to meet those needs in the best ways I can, without undue expense to others.

In the end, I’m much less concerned with where people do their work than with the value they’re able create wherever they happen to do it. The value exchange here is autonomy (grounded in trust) for accountability.

As CEO, I myself work from home for an hour or two in the mornings most days because it’s quiet and free of distractions. I find it’s the best way for me to get writing and other high-focus activities accomplished, and I know that’s true for many other business leaders.

One of the senior members of our team is a 35-year-old woman with three children under the age of nine. She lives 90 minutes from work. I’d love to have her at our offices every day, because I enjoy being able to interact with her around issues as they arise. I also just like having her around as a colleague.

But to make that possible she’d have to invest three withering hours commuting each day — a huge cost, not just in time, but also in energy, for work and for her family. Demanding that she make that trip every day would only prompt progressive fatigue, resentment, and impaired performance.

Instead, we settled from the start on having her come to the office two days a week, which is when we schedule our key meetings. Those days also provide time for spontaneous brainstorming of ideas across the team.

Another one of our team members, a woman with two teenage kids, travels frequently in her role. When she gets back from trips, she typically works from home the next day — both to recover, and to have more time for her family.

Two of our other staffers — one male and one female — work mostly at the office out of personal preference, but also have young kids and work from home on some days when their kids are on vacation, or get sick.

Two younger, married team members recently requested permission to move to Amsterdam for eight months — for no other reason than they wanted to experience another culture. For a moment, I bridled. But since technology makes it possible for them to do their jobs from anywhere, we were able to make it happen. They agreed to work during our regular office hours, and to visit our office for a week every two months. So far it seems to be working seamlessly.

Every one of these people is highly productive. I do have moments when I find myself wishing all of our team members were in the office more, and even wondering what they’re doing when I haven’t heard from them.

When those feelings arise, I take a deep breath and remind myself that my colleagues are adults, capable of making their own decisions about how best to get their work done, and that all good relationships involve some compromise.

It gets back to trust. Give it, and you get it back. In over a decade, no employee has ever chosen to leave our company. The better you meet people’s needs, the better they’ll meet yours.

– courtesy: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2013/03/treat-employees-with-trust.html

How to Job Hunt When You’ve Been Away from the Workforce

You’ve probably heard the saying that it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. Well, what if you don’t currently have a job? What if you haven’t had a job for a long period of time?

Don’t despair. It may take some extra effort to land a job after a long period of unemployment, but it is absolutely possible. Here are five Es to guide you:

1. Explanation

First and foremost, it is a mistake to hope that employers won’t notice that you are currently out of work. A gap in your LinkedIn profile or your resume is certain to raise a red flag. You need to address it directly.

Depending on the reason for your time away and your personal comfort level, you can either explain the gap at the beginning of your LinkedIn profile Summary or in your InMail correspondence or cover letters to recruiters when you apply for positions. In whichever place you choose to give your explanation, do it quickly, honestly and positively.

Here’s an example if you stopped working because of a layoff:

I am a creative, client-focused public relations professional with deep experience in the financial services industry. Since ABC Public Relations closed its financial services practice in June 2012, I am currently seeking a new opportunity to join a large agency.

Here’s an example if you stopped working for personal reasons, such as childcare:

I am a corporate generalist attorney with substantial in-house legal experience. For the past three years, I have focused on raising my family and I am now eager to commit my substantial energy to a full-time position as an in-house counsel for a small- to medium-sized company.

2. Experience

Next, describe any professional endeavors you have pursued during your time away. This might include volunteer work, part-time work, freelancing, temping or helping out in a family business. When possible, demonstrate how this work is related to your desired career path.

Here’s an example of what the laid-off PR professional might say:

I am currently providing pro bono communications support to three nonprofits, one of which specializes in financial education. In these roles, I have further sharpened my skills in social media strategy and event promotion.

3. Education

One of the fears an employer might have about a candidate who is not currently working is that his or her skills are outdated. You can counter this fear by showing that you have maintained — or, ideally, increased — your knowledge during your time away.

Be sure to completely fill out the Education, Courses, Skills & Expertise and Certifications sections of your LinkedIn profile. If you are currently enrolled in a class or recently updated a skill or certification, then it’s worth mentioning that directly in your Summary.

For example, in the case of the lawyer returning to work after time off with her family, she might highlight the fact that she recently completed her mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) requirement. The PR executive might include some of his most cutting-edge skills — perhaps some that he developed recently in his volunteer work — in hisSkills & Expertise list and invite his connections to endorse them.

If you know that your skills are rusty or that a mandatory professional certification has expired, don’t wait for a recruiter to notice. Do your best to get up to speed now, and include your current training or skill building in your LinkedIn profile to show that you are being proactive.

4. Endorsement

It is one thing to promote yourself as a safe bet despite your time away; it is another thing for someone else to say it for you. You can use LinkedIn recommendations andendorsements as strategic tools to address any concerns you believe an employer might have about your particular situation.

In the case of the PR executive, he might worry that an employer thinks he was laid off because he failed in his previous job. To counter this impression, he can request a recommendation from a previous boss, client or colleague to praise his successful results or mention that he survived three previous rounds of layoffs during the depths of the recession.

In the case of the attorney, she might fear that recruiters will assume her skills are rusty, so she can list her most cutting-edge skills in her profile’s Skills & Expertise section, which her contacts can then endorse.

5. Engagement

Finally, it is crucial for unemployed job seekers to network extensively. Your best-case scenario occurs when a recruiter or hiring manager meets you or learns about you through a trusted contact before knowing that you have been away from the workforce for an extended period. The more impressed they are by you in real life, the less important the details and length of your unemployment will be.

The new LinkedIn Jobs page will alert you to your LinkedIn connections at companies with current job openings, or you can use Company Pages or Advanced Search to find an “in” with a prospective employer. When you find a friend on the inside, you can ask for their help with a polite and positive message that reads something like this:


I hope you are doing well. As you may know, I was part of the end-of-year layoffs at my previous employer and have been doing freelance PR since then. The freelance work is very interesting and I’ve built some new skills, specifically around social media, but I am eager to return to a fulltime role.

I noticed on LinkedIn that you have a connection at Edelman, whose work I admire greatly. Would you be willing to introduce me to your contact Bob Smith so I might chat with him about potential opportunities at his company? I would be very grateful for your support.

In addition to requesting introductions and referrals on LinkedIn, you’ll also want to ramp up your in-person networking by attending networking events and inviting professional contacts, such as former colleagues or clients, to meet for coffee. Remember, you never know which action might be the one that leads you back into the workforce and onto your next success.

The 5 Secrets To Leading Great Meetings

Meetings get a bad rap, and deservedly so – most meetings are disorganized and distracted. But they can be a critical tool for getting your team on the same page.

Over years of iteration while working at Google, Facebook, and Asana, I’ve found a way of leading meetings that ensures we discuss the most important things, quickly and efficiently, and that things never fall through the cracks.

1. Know when to email vs. when to meet.

Logistics are best handled over a non-immediate communication channel like email or Asana tasks. Detailed status meetings will suck the life out of your day.

But when topics are complex and meaty, don’t create a never-ending email thread. It’s amazing how much time people waste composing and reading carefully-worded essays, when a 5 minute in-person chat would resolve the whole thing.

2. Capture goals ahead of time.

Throughout the week, as you find those meaty topics, don’t keep everything in your head. Remembering is stressful, and you’ll forget important questions. Just add it to the agenda, in a shared Google Doc or an Asana project.

Everyone can do this. By the time the meeting starts, the agenda already includes everyone’s ideas. No more wasting the first 10 minutes figuring out what to talk about.

3. Timebox aggressively.

Establish how long you’re going to spend on each topic, and stick to it. Talking about a topic for 20 minutes will probably lead to a better decision than talking about it for 5. But if the topic only deserved 5 minutes, you’re not gonna have a chance to talk about all the other important items. Or, worse, you’ll spend all day in meetings. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the great.

4. Make each agenda item a race to clarity.

Go through each item: Extract information and perspective from the team, identify next actions, and owners for each action — as quickly as possible. If you’ve extracted all the perspective but it’s not clear what the right decision is, don’t debate or ruminate. Assign someone to think about it and trust them to make the decision — even if it’s not how you would have made it.

5. Guarantee follow through.

By the end, you should have a written list of every new action item. Each should have one owner (not two) and a timeline. Keep that list in the same place you’re keeping the running agenda.

Then, when it’s time for the next meeting, you can immediately see all the items from last week. Hopefully each owner will just nod that they did what they committed to. Now things won’t fall through the cracks, and you won’t spend the first 10 minutes remembering what you decided last time.

The bottom line.

When leaders know how to lead great meetings, there’s less time wasted and less frustration. We have more energy to do the work that matters, realize our full potential, and do great things.

What’s worked for you for having great meetings? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.