I don’t read many business books, but this year I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how my businesses are working out. I’ve been running Orange Blossom Media for about nine years now, and FixUpFox has been my main focus for the past two years. I’m working on updates to both, as well as a new project to join them, and I’ve been looking for ways to improve my workflows.
4/5 – Start With These Books
These are the books that I'd recommend first of the business books that I've read this year. They don't always follow the same lists that others make. Many of my 3/5 books are written up as basically life-altering, while I can only say that they have some lessons to share mixed in.
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage
Ryan Holiday started with books on marketing and has moved into Stoic philosophy. This book comes before his later Ego is the Enemy, which is one that I read snippets from time to time.
The introduction to Stoic philosophy in this book is as it is currently being used by high performers who preach practicing a form of disconnect from anything that is out of their control. It's not a bad idea, and Holiday presents it in a practical way with anecdotes both of himself and of other famous high performers.
If you want to better control your emotions when it comes to making business decisions, this type of book may be for you.
I wish I could say that I learned more from this book. Not that it is a bad book, but because I still haven't fully taken the lesson within and incorporated it into my life.
I read this book as part of the Florida Blog Con book club, and participated in some short discussions with founder Bess Auer and some others who were reading along.
Most of us were in a similar place, where we had too many projects going at once to make any one of them stick out. I'm still at that place, but I've been working on consolidating projects to focus on serving my clients as best I can.
Take a cue from this book: find the One Thing that can help make the other things that you want happen, and put as much of your energy into that thing in lieu of other distractions as possible. I'll let you know how well I've done on this next year, when I've got a whole new set of lessons to review.
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
If I can recommend just one book from this particular list, this would be it. I've followed Tim Ferriss since his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, which gave me ideas on how remote businesses could be run and more liberal methods of delegation that can avoid micromanaging. While a bit bombastic early on, Ferriss has grown wiser and more measured through the aforementioned Stoicism that he shares with Holiday.
Tools of Titans is Tim's output after condensing the first 200 or so episodes of his highly successful podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. He interviews high performers in a variety of fields, not just technology or finance. It is through his masterful interviewing skills that we learn the mindsets that a large subset of lucky and talented individuals take to their work and lives.
Styled more as a reference guide than a book to read straight through, this will be familiar and welcome to anyone who listens to his show regularly, and a distillation of wisdom from a collective of some of the best mentors you could have.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (audiobook)
I listened to this short book early in the year because clutter is something that I think about a lot. I'd heard of the KonMari method, and while I knew that I was not likely to go through with the process myself, I liked hearing about how Kondo went from having a childhood of organizational methods and tools like I had to one of radical simplicity.
I try to keep myself from getting too many single purpose items or things that I don't have a set purpose for, but I am still doing a good job as a consumer, buying unnecessary things. The release of tension that I feel when properly cleaning and organizing tells me that I should probably improve in this area. I use living with others as an excuse, but I don't know quite how simple I could or would go if I lived alone.