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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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