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15 Valuable Business Books That Can Bolster Your Skill Set

15 Valuable Business Books That Can Bolster Your Skill Set

According to many studies, the value of an MBA is declining. As more and more people pursue business degrees, and as colleges make those degrees more convenient, the value of the knowledge associated with an MBA is becoming less and less powerful. However, for those seeking to gain business knowledge, there are many cheap and affordable alternatives to an MBA. For that reason, we have compiled a list of 15 short business books that are a valuable alternative to costly educational programs.

1. How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

How To Lie With Statistics is a valuable alternative to any business statistics class. While not necessarily based heavily in math, this book does give the reader a thorough knowledge of how people use numbers to manipulate facts, to create hypotheses, and, most importantly, how to obscure the truth. Grab this one and learn how you’re being lied to on a daily basis.

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    2. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

    Who Moved My Cheese is an important work detailing valuable business lessons through the parable of two mice caught in a maze. Each day they realize the cheese is not in the same place it was yesterday; this imitates how the goals of a business change and change often, and how the best businesses are able to readily adapt to those changes.

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      3. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

      In addition to being prime water-cooler conversation fodder, The Tipping Point makes clear how an idea, business or otherwise, turns from an idea into a trend into a social epidemic. Using examples such as the popularity of Hush Puppy shoes in the ’90’s, The Tipping Point identifies three types of people that contribute to social epidemics and lays out how these types of people can be used to create epidemics. It is a business book that is valuable for marketers and others concerned with how trends form.

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        4. Rich Habits by Thomas Corley

        In Rich Habits, Thomas Corley lays out the results of his five-year study in which he observed the daily habits of both rich and poor people. Rich people were more likely to engage in regular routines such as brushing their teeth or calling friends on their birthdays. This work is special because Corley takes some simple data and makes it into a highly readable, pocket-sized work.

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          5. Good to Great by Jim Collins

          This intricately data-driven study by University of Colorado professor Jim Collins makes his case for why many businesses fail, and what drives those that succeed. Good to Great uses many visual metaphors to make clear how certain companies moved from average to amazing, while others struggle. Collins’ terms “The Hedgehog Concept” and “The Flywheel and the Doom Loop” are vital to the vocabulary of any successful business person.

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            6. Turn the Ship Around! By L. David Marquet

            Marquet, a retired Navy submarine captain, lays out brilliant leadership methods that he developed during his tenure as a leader of men in trying circumstances. In the take-orders culture of the military, Marquet become wary of giving commands that could not be followed, so he turned each of his individual sailors into leaders instead of followers. Turn the Ship Around is an important study of how to empower those in your command to use their minds.

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              7. Thinking Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

              In Thinking Fast, and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman spends his efforts deconstructing the reasons why people are often misinformed at the first glance, and how leaders can control their thinking to make sure they are not hoodwinked by logical fallacies or by their own emotions. This work is a brilliant piece of writing that delves deep into how our brains don’t necessarily operate efficiently in the short-term, and gives insights about how we can train ourselves to think more coherently long-term.

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                8. The Black Swan by Nassim NicholasTassib

                In The Black Swan, many misconceptions about the impact of the highly improbable are diagnosed and dissected. Many business leaders read this book to understand how wrong they are often are, and the impact of their wrong-headedness on others. This is a brilliant read.

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                  9. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

                  Alinsky’s book is a manifesto on how to create grassroots support of any idea, no matter how ridiculous or ‘radical.’ Alinsky’s work is often thought of as more of a handbook on how to organize political, but this is the book that created the idea of personalizing trivial issues, and holds many positive thoughts on how to galvanize people.

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                    10. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

                    In the early part of the 20th Century, How To Win Friends and Influence People more or less started the self-help movement. This book is a powerful tool on how to negotiate with others, how to influence conversations, and how to look good while doing both. No business leader should go without it.

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                      11. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                      This work is by an Icelandic psychologist and goes thoroughly in-depth on how creative and scientific types dial into their trade and really begin to experience oneness with their work. A brilliant study on how to tap into your potential, Flow is not to be left off this list.

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                        12. The Balanced Scorecard by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton

                        The Balanced Scorecard is all about creating an optimal strategy and implementing it through accurate performance measures that naturally drive goals to completion. These book has a three-pronged approach to justifying strategy, creating measures that will drive the company forward, and optimizing those measures.

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                          13. Sam Walton: Made In America: by Sam Walton

                          What better way to find out about effectiveness in business than by reading the words and perspective of one of the most successful CEO’s in history. Sam Walton’s story is equal part effective narration of his mindset and shrewd business advice.

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                            14. The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki

                            Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start 2.0  is a diagram of entrepreneurship and how to build something from the ground up. Kawasaki is thought of as a visionary on many subjects; I, myself, was once in a webinar in which he taught social media skills to many, free of charge. If anyone can do it yourself, it’s you, and if anyone can show you how to do it yourself, it’s Kawasaki.

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                              15. The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman

                              Friedman has several works that could make this list– most notably The World Is Flat– but The Lexus and the Olive Tree gains the last entry because they truly make the reader delve into and even embrace globalization and the shrinking and complicating of business process as they occur. Read about how geographical and geopolitical boundaries are necessary to be maintained even as business circumvents them all.

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                                Featured photo credit: 42-15181265/Rhodri Utility Warehouse Distributor via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on March 23, 2021

                                Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                                Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

                                One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

                                The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

                                You need more than time management. You need energy management

                                1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

                                How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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                                I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

                                I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

                                2. Determine your “peak hours”

                                Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

                                Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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                                My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

                                In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

                                Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

                                3. Block those high-energy hours

                                Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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                                Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

                                If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

                                That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

                                There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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                                Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

                                Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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