Reading is a very personal experience, which means that, from an outsider’s point of view, it can seem like no one is doing it! So we’re here to say that at Beyond, we read! After all, how else can we learn from the great thinkers and business leaders of our time?
If you are like us and believe that luck can’t be relied upon for success, then it is necessary to learn from the habits, processes and mantras of the best in the business. Books allow you to step into the minds of successful CEOs, billionaires, founders and entrepreneurs for a few hours and, by just being in their presence in this way, their expertise can rub off on you with powerful results.
That’s why we have picked out four of our favourite business books to get you inspired. But before we reveal what they are, here’s a top tip…
Top tip for busy business people – audiobooks!
Reading does take up time, and that’s one thing we are all already short on. If you can sit down for an hour fully engrossed in a book with nothing else to distract you, that’s fantastic. However, if you know that you’ll never actually get around to reading a book if you’re waiting for that ever-elusive opening of free time to come around, then you need to get into audiobooks.
Services such as Audible from Amazon allow you to download a book and listen to an actor, or sometimes even the author themselves, read the book aloud. This means that you can read in transit, whether you are at the airport, on a train, in a waiting room, and just cooking dinner! You can load up the book onto your mobile and that way it’s always ready to go.
4 business books straight off the Beyond bookshelf
1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
It’s an oldie but goodie, as they say! Malcolm Gladwell is a name you are probably familiar with already. He’s a Canadian journalist and had authored a number of successful books, such as The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000) which was heralded as one of the best books of the decade by Amazon customers and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005). But we’ve gone with Outliers: The Story of Success because it provides some advice we have found to be particularly applicable to our own experience.
“Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
The book delves into how people who perform exceptionally at something reach that point. How did they master it? Whether it is a skill or a job, Gladwell distils the answer down to a workable metric: on average it takes people 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. Practically speaking, 10,000 hours boils down to three hours a day over 10 years. Therefore, it doesn’t happen fast, but it means that you can become a master at whatever you choose, as long as you put the time and effort in. This rings true at Beyond because the company was founded after Rory had 20 years’ experience of being an accountant, a finance controller and a finance director under his belt!
2. Tom Bilyeu’s blog
We are sneaking this one in even though it is not actually a book, but a podcast. On his website, Impact Theory, Bilyeu has a host of great material for you to sink your teeth into. But who is Bilyeu? He is an American entrepreneur who co-founded Quest Nutrition – which grew by 57,000% in its first 3 years. Inc.com ranked it as the second fastest-growing company in North America in 2014. Since then he has set up Impact Theory, a media company with a strong ideological framework for coaching businesses for success.
Bilyeu is very interested in the mastery of skills. He talks continuously about finding your passion and affirms that this can only happen if you try a lot of different things first. After that, much like Gladwell’s findings, he believes the next step is to simply work really hard. In fact, success for Bilyeu comes down to outworking everyone else. If that sounds exhausting, don’t worry, Bilyeu is full of infectious energy. It’s an enjoyable podcast to subscribe to, and best listened to in the morning when you’re looking for that extra energy boost to start your day.
3. Principles, life and work by Ray Dalio
This man is the Steve Jobs of the investor world. A very influential individual, Dalio is a billionaire who founded investment company Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. In his book, Principles, he outlines rules to live by, not only in your personal life but in your working life too. Throughout the book, there are insightful anecdotes and stories about how he has managed to get his team to perform to their maximum potential. A key takeaway we found particularly helpful was that he placed a lot of importance on understanding the individual’s strengths.
Dalio recognises that everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, similar to attributes you would find on baseball cards. He believes that these need to be explicitly known and understood. With this knowledge team leaders can make more informed decisions. Instead of choosing people who are very introverted to do sales calls, you look for people in your organisation who are extroverted or have those kinds of skills or are really interested in sales. This is a very interesting approach as it tries to fit with the individual rather than the other way around, tapping into their natural style and personality so that they enjoy what they do and want to grow in it.
4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Duhigg is an American journalist for the New York Times and a non-fiction writer. In The Power of Habit, he discusses how we develop our habits and draws on the intensive training of American football teams as an example. One of their key tactics involves automating players’ reactions by creating habits so that instead of having to think about how to catch the ball based on where it is coming from, they already have an ingrained habit that will automatically respond. The underpinning concept is that all of our habits are based on triggers. Duhigg proves this through stories and cases, and he concludes that if you can identify the trigger, you can change the stubbornest of habits. Even better, if you can create a reward for yourself, then you can form a new habit.
One of our own accountants, Ellen, decided to test this out herself. Ellen realised years ago that getting up early was always going to be an issue for her and this was frustrating because she would ideally like to use those extra hours more productively. She identified that her love of coffee could be a good reward for getting up earlier. So, Ellen set herself the task of waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning – with her alarm being the trigger – and the first thing she would do is make herself a coffee as a reward. After 30 days of this, the habit has formed, and waking up at 6 o’clock had evolved into an automatic response!
All the books we’ve referred to can be downloaded as audiobooks and Tom Bilyeu’s podcast can be found on his website. We hope these great reads will be as inspiring for you as they have been for us. Don’t hesitate to send us a book recommendation of your own and we’ll include it in our next newsletter! If you don’t already get our monthly newsletter, sign up today!