Curious minds lead to creativity and innovation. Both are the hallmarks of great leadership and entrepreneurs. The guests of our award-winnning interview series Velocitize Talks routinely share their recommendations for books and podcasts, from business classics to creative fiction. Below you will find what industry leaders are reading and some of their favorites. The breadth and depth of these selected publications showcase the best in curious minds.
Check out the first installment of this series here.
1. Start with Why
Julio Taylor, CEO, Hallam: “It is a really powerful journey into psychology and the scientific thinking behind why brands matter, why brands grow, and why brands affect users at a deeply subconscious level rather than simply a logical processed sort of space.”
“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek serves as the basis for one of the most popular TED Talks of all time with more than 56 million views and counting. Sinek uses the term Golden Circle which “provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired.”
2. Ninja Innovation
Mike Vasavada, Founder & Director, Mobiddiction: “Status quo is for the normal and status quo is not going to be here forever, so how do you actually combat these using ninja strategies?”
Vasavada recommends reading “Ninja Innovation” by Gary Shapiro. “It talks about a lot of concepts of how you actually innovate and how to be like a ninja warrior,” says Vasavada. The author observed the world’s most innovative businesses for 30 years as leader of the Consumer Electronics Association. In “Ninja Innovation,” he shares 10 killer strategies of ninja innovators such as Apple, Amazon and Google.
3. Danaher Diaries
Jon Hollenberg, Owner & Web Design Expert, Five by Five: “It’s critical that we continue to challenge ourselves and take up new hobbies or pursuits. It forces you to be a beginner and it twists your mind but it’s very exciting and super fulfilling.”
Hollenberg enjoys reading John Danaher, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu master and coach who dispenses not just fighting advice but also life philosophy. According to Hollenberg, Danaher has “a tremendous knack of weaving together general philosophy and martial arts.” An example he shares is learning how to lean into discomfort by consistently putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Danaher explores these philosophies in two different books as well as on his popular Instagram account.
4. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
David Wiltshire, Founder & CEO, Patchworks: “I found that this book changed my view on how I operate and, as a visionary business owner, it gave me an understanding of my position in the company.”
The book “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman lays out a framework on how to run your business with more focus and growth. The framework is called EOS, or Entrepreneurs Operating System, further defined as a people operating system. As Wiltshire notes, “If you’re a creative or you’re an innovator, surrounded by integrators or technical people that do the practical implementation of the work, sometimes you forget your worth in the company.”
5. The Business of Aspiration
Steven Garcia, Director of Cultural Anthropology, Team One: “What’s really great about this book is that it describes the modern aspiration economy.”
“The Business of Aspiration: How Social, Cultural, and Environmental Capital Changes Brands” by Anna Andjelic is a “must-read primer for marketers, brand owners, entrepreneurs and everyone else interested in business transformation.” It examines how consumer attitudes and shifting status symbols can impact brand strategy and the modern aspirational economy overall. “It’s about an aspiration that is no longer anchored in accumulation or the display of possessions or experiences, but rather in things like social capital, what you’ve experienced and your savviness about things,” says Garcia.
6. The Infinite Game
Dick Wechsler, CEO, Lockard & Wechsler Direct: “Business is not finite, business is infinite. You can’t think in time frames. If you do that, you’re really going to limit your success. Open your mind up. Leave your preconceptions at the door. Be self-aware and think differently.”
Wechsler credits Simon Sinek’s “The Infinite Game” for opening him up to a lot of ideas he hadn’t considered before. He found it to be an easy read and had his executive team read it before they created their yearly plans. “In the end, we all decided we’re not going to do a one-year plan, we’re going to do a three- to five-year plan because we didn’t want to limit our thinking in that way,” says Wechsler.
7. Tested Advertising Methods
Dick Wechsler: “John Caples was David Oakley’s mentor and he was one of the great direct marketing copywriters.”
“Tested Advertising Methods” provides timeless advice on advertising that is valuable for copywriters and anybody trying to move product. Caples illustrates 31 ways to write headlines, three classes of successful headlines, 17 ways to test ads and more. Wechsler gives the book high praise: “It is a really old book and I’m in business because of it.”
8. The Why are You Here Cafe
Alexander Frison, CEO, Inpsyde: “My wife gave it to me for Christmas and it was very inspiring. It’s [about] finding a new way of meaning in life and work.”
“The Why Are You Here Cafe” by John P. Strelecky is a thought provoking book when you’re at that point in your life where you want to calibrate what you really want. Strelecky tackles questions like, “Why are you here? Do you fear death? Are you fulfilled?” in a humorous tone to find meaning in life and work.
9. The Art of Happiness
Mez Homayunfard, Co-Founder & Head of Partnerships, Online Marketing Gurus: “I got so much out of it and I know it’s one of those books I want to pick up and read over and over again because I just feel like you get more out of it every time you read it.”
This bestselling guide to happiness from His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the best books Homayunfard has read. Based on an interview the Dalai Lama had with a psychologist, it offers up easily consumable life lessons on happiness. It explores relationships, loss and the pursuit of wealth in order to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.
10. The Leaky Funnel
Andrew Haussegger, Co-Founder & CEO, Green Hat: “Hugh Macfarlane, a great visionary in the world of B2B marketing, talked all about what really happens in the funnel. What he was talking about way back in the last decade is still very true today.”
Based on Hugh Macfarlane’s 20 years in the marketing industry, “The Leaky Funnel” is a B2B marketing strategy book. It explores how marketing and sales teams can work together to combine resources and accelerate efforts to capture more customers. As the founder of align.me, Macfarlane coined the term ‘buyer’s journey’ to describe how to align the buying and selling processes. He advocates making the buyer the center of a company’s strategy and tactics.
What are the books you are reading? Want to add something to this list? Comment below.
Photo by Shiromani Kant