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10 Novels That Will Help You Perform Better In This Business World

10 Novels That Will Help You Perform Better In This Business World

It goes without saying that one of the best ways to forge ahead in life is to be around those who have walked the journey you would like to travel.

Commonly referred to as mentors, these are the people who will guide you. They have learned from their errors and ideally, it is their wisdom that you would like to leverage to avoid common mistakes and get to your own destination quicker. These are the people who will help you

But we know that not all mentors are great. We also know that those who are really awesome have time limitations. They can only be at one place at a time. As a result of their demand, their time is expensive. To get their time and attention, you will need to pay big bucks.

Having said the above, there is one way of getting the best in a cost-effective way. That is through reading novels written by these esteemed men and women. As Lailah Gifty Akita put it: “Great mentorship is priceless.”

Here are 10 books you can read to enable you to forge ahead in life in your leadership, career, and entrepreneurship endeavours.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carneige

People are the most important resource in life. Ideas come from people. People consume your products and services. People produce the products and services you sell. In a world that has advanced in leaps and bounds technologically, we should never forget that people trump technology on any given day.

This book will teach you how to express your ideas, assume leadership, and make people enthusiastic. Equally important, it teaches you how to make people feel valued and appreciated. First published in 1936, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide. Clearly, there’s no going wrong with this book.

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2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

Often called America’s number leadership authority, Maxwell was identified as the most popular leadership expert in the world by Inc. magazine in 2014, and he has been voted the top leadership professional six years in a row on LeadershipGurus.net.

This book focuses on aspects of your life that are irrefutable: constant and timeless. Whether you are in New York or Johannesburg, in the 18th or 21st century, these are laws you can entrench into your life eternally.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Stephen Covey has been instrumental in shifting my paradigms in life.

While it is awesome to read and have knowledge, what really matters is application. Not only application, but consistent and permanent application of knowledge that will change your life. In this book Steve Covey focuses on how to change for good through changed habits, a struggle faced by millions of people who know the right thing but who never really master the willpower to realize that change over a long and sustained period in their life.

4. Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

This book depicts the true personification of selflessness, a quality possessed by one of the greatest leaders of all time.

I honestly don’t know how I would have responded after 27 years of imprisonment under a regime that oppressed every ounce of my humanity. I don’t know how I would have responded to a system that cost me two marriages and segregated me from my family, passion, and life course.

In this book, Mandela teaches us how we can respond to the most trying of circumstances and come out victorious.

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5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

We often get told to “embrace our weaknesses” and turn them into opportunities.

While that is true, it is half the story. The reality is that you become less effective in life if you spend most of your time working against your natural talents and gifts. Yet we are often quick to apply for jobs that have very little to do with our natural abilities. And then we spend most of our lives collecting salaries that bring complete frustration and stagnation to our lives.

This book helps you tap into your strong points. It then encourages you to focus most of your time working on your strengths and enhancing. It comes with a fantastic online assessment tool that has been completed by more than 2 million people.

6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Oftentimes, it seems like the work place is geared at those who are vocal and assertive. “They speak their minds” is one phrase you’ll hear often, coupled with “that’s why they get what they want”.

It seems too easy for the extrovert to get ahead in the workplace. But, in this highly vocal and noisy world, the workplace needs introverts. There is an incredibly important role for those who are ‘quiet’. This book, in an engaging and easy-to-read fashion, explores introversion and its value in modern day society. It also highlights the inter-dependent relation between introverts and extroverts.

7. ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko

Entrepreneurship is about solving problems. All products and services that customers buy are bought on the premise that the product or service will solve a problem. On the back-end of solving a problem is a solution. Some solutions are rocket science while others are very basic.

When you think of Groupon, the magnitude of simplicity cannot be further highlighted. According to a December 2010 report conducted by Groupon’s marketing association and reported in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal, Groupon was “projecting that the company is on pace to make $1 billion in sales faster than any other business, ever.”

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They are the fastest company to make $1 billion in sales from a simple solution — giving discounts. ThinkerToys taps into this ability to develop and improve our creative flair.

8. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Ever been told “you need money to make money”?

I’ve come across entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but crushed spirits because they ‘did not have enough money to start the business’. This book highlights the importance of entrepreneurs finding their passion. Once that’s done, they need to work on that passion in a creative way that has the potential to solve problems in a profitable way.

Passion and problem-solving attract support, including monetary support. In other words, even though money is need to fire up ideas, you don’t need to have the money upfront. In a world where entrepreneurs chase overnight riches, the book highlights the need to start small and grow humble beginnings organically and authentically.

9. “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday

To be a successful entrepreneur, you’ve got to be positive, driven and a visionary. I’m sure you’ve heard that before.

But, that’s the nice and rosy side to entrepreneurship. The flipside of that is that you WILL fail.

Where’s there’s creativity and ideas, there’ll be testing and failing. Where there’s passion, there’ll be plenty of frustration. Where there’s monetary resources required, you’ll have many a door shut in your face. Sadly, most entrepreneurs freak out when they come across obstacles that lead to temporary failure. Yet, failing is all part and parcel of the journey to success. Failing simply means you are coming across obstacles that will inspire you to be creative and a problem-solver.

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As such, failing is NOT failure. This book will teach you how to turn your obstacles into opportunities, thereby turning your failing points into success stories.

10. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

We live in a world of convention. We get told to study hard, get a well-paying job, or start a business that pays us well. Then we’ll enjoy the sweet taste of success, they say. In all this, we seldom get told about the power of time freedom over financial freedom. As a result, many people get to the pinnacle of their success and still feel a void. One that feels like a trap. A trap that often robs you of your time.

In this book, Timothy Ferriss highlights tools you can use as an entrepreneur to create and run automated businesses that give you time freedom.

Conclusion

As an entrepreneur who has worked eight years in the corporate world, I’ve experienced the power of these books manifest in my life.

Mentors are vital. We all need them to get ahead in life and contribute meaningfully on earth. With all the time and monetary limitations that come with accessing the best mentors, it becomes incredibly difficult to access them in person.

With books though, you have the power to tap into the wealth of wisdom that these great individuals have to offer. I hope you’ll find these books incredibly useful as you forge your way to a life of success and fulfilment.

More by this author

Peteni Kuzwayo

Peteni is the founder of Run For Wealth. He shares about entrepreneurship and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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