We’re continuing the top five book series where we basically look at five books that are trending on Amazon in a certain category and thinking might be of interest and value to you guys, entrepreneurs, trying to build your business. And so today we’re looking at the top five books for small business owners.
Top 5 Books for SMALL BUSINESS Owners
#5: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
Coming in at number five is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
Interviewer: Ben Horowitz, you were recently referred to as the CEO Whisperer. Is your new book The Hard Thing About Hard Things a way to stop whispering and get the word out more widely?
Yeah, I’m going to step my game up to the CEO Shouter. But actually, the reason I wrote the book was when I was CEO, I would have these times where I’d be up at two o’clock in the morning in a cold sweat and trying to figure out why none of the management books that I read were helping me.
You know, I was just stuck, and what I came to realize was most of the books that I had read were about here are all the things that you do to not screw up your company. But once your company is screwed up, you’re on your own.
And it turns out that the really hard part about running a company is when things go wrong, or when you get in a very emotionally difficult situation. And there wasn’t anything for that, so that’s kind of what prompted me to write the book.
#4: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
Coming in at number four is #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.
Interviewer: Did you ever think that it would be such a phenomenon?
No, I mean, I think everybody wants their book to be a bestseller and so it wasn’t something that we, you know, that we didn’t talk about, but, you know, I’d never written a book before, I didn’t know how that whole world works.
It was very new to me, and yeah, it was just kind of like, it’s an easy book to read on a Sunday, it’s not super heavy, but it’s entertaining. It’s not like if you do these five things, this will happen to you, a lot of storytelling and anecdotes and fun quotes.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite story in here, what’s your go-to?
Oh, God. I mean, I think, you know, a lot of people ask, “When was the moment that was like a turning point for you?” And for me, it was a really crazy time.
I was on eBay, and went into a thrift store, was just looking around and found a Chanel jacket for eight dollars and you know, had no idea how much it was worth, but I was like, “Wow, Chanel eight dollars. “Cool, I’m going to buy it.” Put it on eBay for $9.99.
It could’ve sold for $9.99, but of course, people bid on it, it’s an auction, and after a week, it went for, like, over $1,000, and that was just, like, yeah, just such a cool vote of confidence that something was working.
#3: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Coming it an number three is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.
Interviewer: Other people have written books about Nike. This is your first time. Take us back. You’re out of school, your dad said, “You’ve got this crazy idea,” that’s what you kept saying. “This crazy idea.” How did that happen?
Well, basically, it was generated from two places. Basically, the running track at Oregon where Bowerman was always fiddling with shoes.
And then, at Stanford Business School, I took an entrepreneurship class where I wrote about, you know, the track shoe industry and how to break into it. So the two ideas kept growing, and then finally I went to my father and said, “I need to pursue this a bit.”
Interviewer: Was there ever a time that you thought, “This isn’t. ” I mean, when you read the book, I mean, even though I know the outcome, there are times I’m reading it and saying, “He’s not going to make it!” “He’s not going to make it.”
Oh, absolutely, we were right on the edge a couple times that I know I say, “Was there ever a time?” Yeah, there were some times. The most scary was when we got kicked out of the bank for the second time and they told me that they turned me in to the FBI, and I thought, “Well, these are a little tough times.”
That they can’t take the house, but I did say if we failed, I was going to try it again ’cause I was enjoying it so much. And what do you say to, ’cause we’ve had a lot of young people that are starting their businesses and there are a lot of people who watch, and they have a passion, they want to have fun.
Interviewer: What do you say to a young entrepreneur, or any entrepreneur?
Well, I think there’s a couple things, that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’d better be prepared for long hours and a lot of dark moments. And I guess that’s one thing that’s shown in the book.
And I think, so you really have to have a passion about it and you have to have a reason to succeed. It isn’t to be just something that you want to be, that you have to have a niche and a passion. You need those two things.
#2: Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
Coming in at number two is Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.
So, in 2012, I did a Business Week cover story on Elon, and you know, we got along pretty well. I got to spend a bunch of time with him, going through the SpaceX factory, going to movie premieres and all this stuff.
And, you know, the companies were very interesting and Elon was much more interesting than I’d given him credit for before the story. He, you know, I’d sort of pegged him as just, like, a one-note techno utopian kind of guy, and you know, he turned out to be this great interview.
He didn’t have PR handlers around him, so you had access to him and he would answer just about anything you asked him.
And so I decided then, “This is a guy I really want to write about,” and I’d been looking for a book to do, and so after I did the story, a couple months went by and then I’d started to feel Elon out about doing a book.
And I think I either sent him an email or called him on the phone, and I said, “This is what I want to do.” And he said, “Look, a bunch of people have asked me “in the past and I’m not going to do it. “I’m not going to help you do the book.” And then, I went to New York and I sold the book anyway.
I thought I would sort of force his hand a little bit, and then I arranged another meeting with him, and I’ll never forget, it was on a Saturday at Tesla. And I came in and I was like, “Look, I’ve sold the book,” and he said, “I’m still not going to cooperate with you.” And so I spent, like, 18 months interviewing hundreds of people.
I found, like, all these SpaceX and Tesla employees, most of whom had left, all his Zip2, PayPal people that he’d worked with, his ex girlfriends, his, like, childhood friends and all that stuff.
And then, you know, a lot of those people would, they would call back to Elon and say, “Should I speak to him or not?” and he was a pretty good sport about it.
There’s nobody that he told not to, and so I think that happened enough times that after about 18 months of doing it, I was at home, it was, like, 6:30 at night on a weekday and up on my caller ID, it was just, “Elon Musk.” And I picked up the phone and he said, “Look, I can basically, this is going to go one of two ways.
“I can shut down all these people that call me “and ask whether, you know, I should let them talk to you, “or I could cooperate with the book.” I was like, “Obviously, you should choose option number B.” Or option B, and then we set up a meeting to talk about it.
He wanted to be able to, he wanted to have some control over it, initially.
He wanted to be able to read the book before it came out, and then he wanted to put footnotes in the book, and if you know anything about Elon, that would mean the footnotes would be longer than the book and that the book would probably never be published.
And so I kind of pushed back on him on that.
I had this huge speech prepared and I got, like, five minute into it and he just said, “Okay,” and yeah.
To his credit, after that, he gave me access to everybody I wanted and then he agreed to have a meeting with me once a month, he said for as long as it took.
It ended up being about eight months and we would have, like, three, four, five hour dinners.
Interviewer: What is it like to spend a few hours a month interviewing Elon Musk?
It was really fun. At the beginning, it was nerveracking ’cause I never knew how many of these interviews I would actually get even though he had agreed to it.
I always figured, sort of, that he might do one and then he’d be like, “Okay, that’s enough.” And then I thought he might get sick of it after awhile and just cut me off.
So each one sort of felt like an accomplishment, but then it was frustrating because the first four, I really didn’t, I was getting lots of useful stuff, but nothing that was, I could tell he was still holding back a bit and he was repeating a lot of stories that, if you watch Elon’s speeches and other talks, that you would’ve heard before.
And so that was frustrating. And then, I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but around the fourth meeting, you know, we used to always do the same thing.
We would get there, he eats really late, so it would be, like, 8:30, nine o’clock at night, and we would go, a few times, ’til just everybody had left.
And it was kind of one of those things, there was, like, hardly anybody there, and he just, there was like a flip.
A switch kind of flipped. He, I think he sort of really committed to doing it, and he became much more relaxed and easygoing.
#1: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
And the number one book for small business owners is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Host: Stephen Covey is here. He is one of the big bestsellers and one of the gurus in the world of personal leadership, taking control of your life. He has spoke with President Clinton. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a big bestseller and has been on the bestseller list for a very long time. Where did this book come from, I mean, what makes the element of this book?
Well, essentially, about 20 years of just working with organizations and with people and trying to find what are the common denominators that represent true success.
Not just monetary success, but a balanced, long-term as well as short-term success, and that literature review study, going back to 1776, was very significant because I just learned that the popular culture must focus upon principles that do not change.
Otherwise, the popular culture is all based on a flawed foundation, and for the first 150 years while we were on the farm, essentially, it did. It focused upon fundamental principles like diligence, industry, integrity, honesty, openness, service, growth.
But then, when we moved from the farm into the industrial age, it became more abstracted from reality, then we move into the information age, even more abstracted. ‘Til today, we’re in heavy into techniques, and technologies, and image building, and have pulled away to a great extent, in my judgment, from our character roots.
Host: So your call to your audience is to come back to basic values? Right.
Come back, restore the character ethic in our culture, and then we can restore trust inside our institutions.
Otherwise, we’re always, in a sense, playing on the surface and living for appearances, but in the long run, particularly in today’s global economy, you can’t compete unless you have high trust cultures to produce the kind of quality that can compete.
Host: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Beginning with number one, to be proactive.
Yeah, be proactive basically means take responsibility, take initiative. You are not an animal.
Host: Don’t wait for it to happen to you, seize the moment.
Seize the moment, don’t be a victim.
Don’t get your mind into the weaknesses of other people, like your spouse or your boss or some institution, accept the fact that you have the power to choose your response in any given set of circumstances.
Second, begin with the end in mind. Get a clear sense of what your life is about. What your values are, and what you’re going to live by, and what your sense of mission is.
Host: So if you’re going to play in the Super Bowl, then the Cowboys better have a mission, and they better know what they expect at the end of two halves.
Right, and also, they may have a lot of short-term goals that would lead toward that mission, so that would be beginning with the end in mind. It’s the intellectual creation.
Where habit three, putting first things first, is the physical creation. In other words, you do it. Habit two says, “This is the blueprint for my house,” habit three says, “Now construct it.” Four, think win-win. Mutual benefit. See, not win-lose. Not lose-win, don’t be a martyr. Right, in all situations. Even if I have to advocate what is the win for you.
Host: Because if you don’t win, I don’t win.
Number five is seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Host: Right, this is one you don’t always get right, isn’t it?
This is the basis of all professionalism, really.
To always understand before you judge.
That’s the one most people blow, that’s the one I blow the most.
Host: Understand before you
Before you judge, before you act, before you seek to be understood.
Host: Understand before you’re understood, even.
Diagnose someone’s eyes before you prescribe glasses.
Listen to your child and the problem, and be sure you understand before you rush in with your quick solutions, see.
Host: Part of that, also, is before you even think about a reply, just think about understanding.
You listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.
You can see why that necessitates internal security that comes from the first three habits because otherwise, you’re at risk, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
You have to be very genuinely open to listen within their frame of reference, rather than to kind of politely listen and then prepare your own response.
Number six, synergize, which basically means create together something that is better than what I brought to the table or what you brought to the table.
Host: Number seven.
Sharpen the saw is the renewal habit of, you know, physically exercising, mentally sharpening the saw.
Continue your education spiritually, recommit yourself to your ultimate value system, and to live by your conscience, see, that’s sharpening the saw.
So thank you guys! I’d love to know, have you read these books, any of them?
Have they had an impact on your business somehow?
Are you planning on reading some of them after reading this artilce? Which ones and why?
Leave your thoughts down in the comments below. I’m really curious to hear from you, and maybe this series will also continue. I believe in you.
I hope you continue to believe in yourself! And whatever your one word is. Much love. I’ll see you soon.