I have recently rediscovered reading. Having taken a brief hiatus from books, in order to concentrate on work, I have realised that, not only do I work better when I have taken a break, but that I work better when I am taking in the ideas, opinions and stories of others.
I strongly believe that you are a reflection of the people you surround yourself with. While I sadly cannot surround myself with the authors in the list below, I feel that reading their work is almost enough.
Blue Ocean Strategy, Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
The main theory in this text is that there are red oceans and blue oceans. Red oceans occur when high numbers of businesses are competing over an ever shrinking profit pool, the red ocean image representing the bloodshed that occurs due to the vicious battle for profit. The authors reference 150 strategic moves by huge companies such as Apple, Amazon and Virgin, to argue that you will only be successful when you move away from competitors in the red ocean, and create blue oceans: new and untapped markets.
While I have read some criticisms of this book, many saying that it’s quite an obvious theory, I found it incredibly motivational. The case studies discussed throughout the book helped me to develop ideas for my own company and the phrase ‘blue ocean’ is regularly bandied around the Influencer office these days.
Losing My Virginity, Richard Branson
Richard Branson is indisputably one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, and it was incredibly inspiring to read his story. Losing My Virginity traces the development of the Virgin empire, which is such a strong example of the aforementioned ‘blue ocean strategy’. They engulf brands, effectively operating as VCs while also adding their brand name to the businesses. One of the best lessons I took from this book is that if you need something for your business, why not provide it yourself? Branson successfully creates or develops companies that complement each other, allowing his huge range of companies to flourish together.
Velocity, Ajaz Ahmed
Velocity is written as a conversation, which is an interesting concept, even before you remember that the conversation is between two of today’s most successful and creative businessmen, Ajaz Ahmed & Stefan Olander, the Chairman and Co-Founder of AKQA and the Vice President, Digital Sport at Nike Inc. Velocity emphasises and explains how companies should embrace digital into every aspect of their company, a concept that rings particularly true for me.
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
While this may seem like a less obvious addition to a list of business books, The Alchemist is a story of striving to achieve your dreams and believing in yourself. The Alchemist is the story is a shepherd boy, who dreams of travelling in search of treasure. His prayers are answered and he is sent on a journey, more rewarding than any he’d previously dreamed of. The main premise of the book is that “when you really want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”, and I feel this is a concept to live by.
The Alchemist teaches the importance of recognising and taking opportunities, learning to read life’s omens and following your head and your heart, and these are certainly lessons I try and take into business and life every day.
Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss
Tools of Titans is a collection of tips and tricks from some of the world’s most successful people, ranging from authors to comedians to investors. I have made it a rule to make time in my day to read at least one section. Each section is between 2 and 10 pages long, making this completely feasible. The harder part is putting these rules into practice, except, it isn’t hard. They are completely accessible. My personal favourite is James Altucher, hedge fund manager, entrepreneur and author’s, belief in exercising your “idea muscles” by writing down 10 – 20 ideas every morning, no matter how good they are.
A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned, Innocent
Not only is this a book about marketing and branding, it is one of the best pieces of marketing and branding I have ever seen. Innocent is a multinational brand, with so many different elements to their company. They have done amazing work for charity, have fantastic events and amazing company values – they are so much more than just their smoothies. And this book was an incredible way for them to share this and promote their company.
The book is also a great read. I would recommend it to anyone who is just starting out in business. And, just like Innocent’s packaging, the book is full of quirky but motivational messages, leaving you with a really good feeling.