Hands down one of the best marketing lessons I’ve ever learned came from someone who doesn’t work in marketing. In fact, they’re likely someone who if you were able to go back in time and ask them to define marketing they’d give you a blank stare. Let me take you back into time…
I was a student eager to learn all of life’s mysteries. My weekends were spent studying and playing Madden on PlayStation while my weeks were spent selling products online (shout out to eBay) and cramming for exams. I was enrolled in a full course load which had me studying things like Consumer Behaviour, Macro Economics, Human Biology and Philosophy.
Oh the joy of post secondary education…
I know I give Universities a hard time…
But my alma mater did leave me with something that i’ll forever be grateful for. Some life long relationships, confidence that I could compete with almost anyone and this simple idea…
One that I heard in my Philosophy class from the great one himself Socrates:
Employ your time in improving yourself by other people’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for..
And you know something…
The best entrepreneurs, marketers and professionals that I’ve met in my life embrace this exact approach to life and their careers.
Let’s take one of the brightest minds of the last few generations: Warren Buffet.
When Warren was asked what he does with the majority of his time his response might surprise some:“I just sit in my office and read all day.”
Okay… I know most of us don’t have that luxury.
Once you crack $80 Billion in Net Worth you can pretty much do whatever you want with your time and come out on the other side without worry.
Most of us aren’t there…
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to study and learn from those who came before us and had to learn things through trial and error.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve gone from someone who was lukewarm on the idea of reading to someone who always has 4-5 different books on the go at a time.
I’ve been keeping a Google Doc with all my favs. Today, I’m sharing it with you.
Here are a few of the books that had the biggest impact on my thinking over the last decade and a quote / idea or two from each that stood out for me.
If you’re looking for a few new books:
1) How Will You Measure Your Life – Clayton Christensen
> The only way a strategy can get implemented is if we dedicate resources to it. Good intentions are not enough—you’re not implementing the strategy that you intend if you don’t spend time, money, and your talent in a way that is consistent with your intentions.
> How you allocate your resources is where the rubber meets the road. Real strategy—in companies and in our lives—is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about where we spend our resources.
> Getting something wrong doesn’t mean you have failed. Instead, you have just learned what does not work. You now know to try something else.
> Intimate, loving, and enduring relationships with our family and close friends will be among the sources of the deepest joy in our lives. They are worth fighting for.
> Most of us will face a series of small, everyday decisions that rarely seem like they have high stakes attached. But over time, they can play out far more dramatically. It happens exactly the same way in companies. No company deliberately sets out to let itself be overtaken by its competitors. Rather, they are seemingly innocuous decisions that were made years before that led them down that path.
> Great teams are not created with incentives, procedures, and perks. They are created by hiring talented people who are adults and want nothing more than to tackle a challenge, and then communicating to them, clearly and continuously, about what the challenge is.
> Trust is based on honest communication, and I find that employees become cynical when they hear half-truths. Cynicism is a cancer. It creates a metastasizing discontent that feeds on itself, leading to smarminess and fueling backstabbing.
> Retention is not a good measure of team-building success; having a great person in every single position on the team is the best measure.
> Look for people who have lots of great questions. Smart people are the ones who ask the most thoughtful questions, as opposed to thinking they have all the answers. Great questions are a much better indicator of future success than great answers.
> Listening to uninformed people is worse than having no answers at all
> Thoughtful disagreement is not a battle; its goal is not to convince the other party that he or she is wrong and you are right, but to find out what is true and what to do about it.
> Every leader must decide between 1) getting rid of liked but incapable people to achieve their goals and 2) keeping the nice but incapable people and not achieving their goals. Whether or not you can make these hard decisions is the strongest determinant of your own success
> Withdraw from places that are preoccupied with winning and losing. When you are trying to be yourself, competition will inevitably get in the way.
> Relationships in which people restrict each other eventually fall apart.
> You are not controlled by emotion. When you fly into a rage and shout at another person, it is “you as a whole” who is choosing to shout. Emotions don’t somehow exist independently. Anger is a tool that can be taken out as needed. It can be put away the moment the phone rings, and pulled out again after one hangs up. Anger is a means to achieve a goal. Personal anger is nothing but a tool for making others submit to you.
> The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success: Concentration, Discrimination, Organization, Innovation and Communication
> The commodity is the thing your customer actually walks out with in his hand. The product is what your customer feels as he walks out of your business… The truth is, nobody’s interested in the commodity. People buy feelings.
> If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!
> The work we do is a reflection of who we are. If we’re sloppy at it, it’s because we’re sloppy inside. If we’re late at it, it’s because we’re late inside. If we’re bored by it, it’s because we’re bored inside, with ourselves, not with the work. The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist. So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves. How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside.
> The grand illusion of life is that our minds have the capacity to understand reality. But human minds didn’t evolve to understand reality. We didn’t need that capability. A clear view of reality wasn’t necessary for our survival. Evolution cares only that you survive long enough to procreate. And that’s a low bar. The result is that each of us is, in effect, living in our own little movie that our brain has cooked up for us to explain our experiences
> On all the important stuff, we are emotional creatures who make decisions first and rationalize them after the fact.
> If you don’t understand confirmation bias, you might think new information can change people’s opinions. As a trained persuader, I know that isn’t the case, at least when emotions are involved. People don’t change opinions about emotional topics just because some information proved their opinion to be nonsense. Humans aren’t wired that way.
> Trump likes to tell us that many people agree with whatever he’s telling us at the moment. That’s an example of “social proof” persuasion. Humans are wired to assume that if lots of people are saying the same thing, it must be true. In Trump’s case, he probably exaggerates the number of people who are agreeing with him. But the exaggerations don’t hurt him. If you are skeptical of his claim that others agree with him, and you look into it, you’ll certainly find some people who agree with him. And that’s enough to bias your mind in that direction. At the very least, it tells you that other reasonable people see things the way he does.
7) The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
> CEOs should not play the odds. When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it — you just have to find it. It matters not whether your chance is at 9 in 10 or 1 and 1000, your task is the same.
> It’s a good idea to ask, “What am I not doing?
> No matter who you are, you need two kinds of friends in your life. The first kind is one you can call when something good happens, and you need someone who will be excited for you. Not a fake excitement veiling envy, but a real excitement. You need someone who will actually be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horribly wrong—when your life is on the line and you only have one phone call.
> Life is struggle.” I believe that within that quote lies the most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle.
> Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.
8) Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff
> When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame. When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame.
>When pitching: To give a dopamine kick and create desire, offer a reward. To give a norepinephrine kick and create tension, take something away.
> It doesn’t matter how well you argue, the way your points are crafted, or how elegant your flow and logic. If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard. You will not persuade, and you will not easily get a deal done.
> Broadcasting weakness by seeking validation is often a death sentence.
> If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame.
9) Trust Me I’m Lying – Ryan Holiday
> When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information?
> It turns out that the more unbelievable headlines and articles readers are exposed to, the more it warps their compass—making the real seem fake and the fake seem real. The more extreme a headline, the longer participants spend processing it, and the more likely they are to believe it. The more times an unbelievable claim is seen, the more likely they are to believe it
> The Three Levels of the Blogosphere
> They aren’t going to write about you, your clients, or your story unless it can be turned into a headline that will drive traffic
> The news funnel: All that happens -> All that’s known by the media -> all that is newsworthy -> all that is published as news -> all that spreads.
> Things must be negative but not too negative. Hopelessness, despair—these drive us to do nothing. Pity, empathy—those drive us to do something, like get up from our computers to act. But anger, fear, excitement, or laughter—these drive us to spread. They drive us to do something that makes us feel as if we are doing something, when in reality we are only contributing to what is probably a superficial and utterly meaningless conversation
10) Traction – Gabriel Weinberg
> You should know what marketing strategies have worked in your industry, as well as the history of companies in your space. It’s especially important to understand how similar companies acquired customers over time, and how unsuccessful companies wasted their marketing dollars