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10 Non-Cliche Books Written By Super-Successful CEO That You Shouldn’t Miss

10 Non-Cliche Books Written By Super-Successful CEO That You Shouldn’t Miss

The business section of any bookshop is rife with clichés about how you can be the best leader you can be. These books tell you that you should take risks and not be afraid to fail. This is all fine. But this kind of advice isn’t worth buying for $19.99. Especially when you can buy a motivational poster that says the same thing.

When you are looking for a book by a successful CEO, you want to look for substance. You want the right content in the right context. Of course, writing a book isn’t easy, even if you are a Fortune 500 CEO. But if you, as a reader, are going to spend not just your money but your time on it, you want to take away more than just a couple of key takeaways.

Here are 10 of the best non-cliché books written by successful CEOS:

The Hard Thing about Hard Things

Ben Horowitz is the co-founder of one of the most sought after venture capital firms in the United States – Andreessen Horowitz. His book offers a humorous and practical insight into dealing with real world problems that business people do not encounter in the classroom.

Horowitz is interested in entrepreneurs who are willing to fight for what they believe in. He believes that struggle is an essential part of entrepreneurship. In his book, he implores his readers to “embrace the struggle.”

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Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

In this book, Howard Schultz unpacks the way that he changed the world through café culture. As the CEO of Starbucks, Schultz has plenty of advice to offer readers from his experience in creating a global phenomenon.

In his book, Schultz offers valuable advice when he tells readers that “mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last.”

Rework

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are the co-founders of Basecamp. Fried serves as the company’s CEO and Hansson serves as the CTO.

In their book, the pair throw away all of the old rules of business. The book is packed with interesting content that is especially geared towards internet businesses. Some of the best advice this give is regarding product development. The pair write that “the easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use.”

Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book

Jack Welch was the chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 until 2001 when he retired. Welch led his company around the globe for decades. He entered multiple markets. He watched as trends came and went. He worked through the dotcom revolution and into the digital age.

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For Welch, the book is all about the real world. His book is aimed at people at every level of organizations from new hires to senior executives. Some of his most applicable advice reminds readers that “reality is as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.”

Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy

This book was written by Bill Gates in 1999. Bill Gates is a man who needs no introduction. As the co-founder of Microsoft, he knows a thing or two about pioneering in technology.

Business @ the Speed of Thought was a revolutionary book about data analysis before data analysis even really mattered. But despite this, he writes that “the most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition … is to do an outstanding job with information.”

#GIRLBOSS

In 2014, Sophia Amoruso took the fashion world and the business world by storm when she published #GIRLBOSS. Amoruso has always been a doer. She is the founder, creative director and CEO of Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer that pulls in more than $100 million a year.

The book offers readers a chance a personal story that reflects both Amoruso’s life and her personality. Rather than deliver the typical motivational quotes, she lets her readers now that they “are not a special snowflake.”

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Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

Deliver Happiness was published by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in 2010.

Hsieh had a conventional career in tech before joining Zappos. In fact, he sold one of his earliest companies to Microsoft for a cool $265 million. When he joined Zappos, he transformed the company into one of the best places to work in America. He did it by focusing on developing a healthy corporate culture.

This corporate philosophy stems from his personal philosophy. In the book, Hsieh says, “I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money.”

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

John Mackey is the cofounder of Whole Foods Market, a grocery chain that saw growth not only in America but overseas as well.

In his book, he writes about how a company’s stakeholders are not just investors. A company is responsible for its customers, employees, society and the world environment. He sums his theories up well when he says that “the longest journey that people must take is the eighteen inches between their heads and their hearts.”

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Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen

As the CEO of Yum! Brands, David Novak had a lot of insight to share about what it means to lead not just a large organization but a great one. Novak skips the business school jargon and instead focuses on teaching readers how to grab the tools they need to succeed whether they work in the restaurant or they run the company.

In the book, Novak says, “Your ability as a leader to attract, develop and retain people is fundamental to your success. When you get your team right, you’re going to get results.”

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

This book was published by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and current owner of Patagonia. A climber, environmentalist and businessman, Chouinard wrote this book to be part manifesto and part memoir. The book offers insight into the principles underlying Patagonia.

Both the manifesto and the memoir are summed up clearly when Chouinard writes that “how you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

These books are not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to read the book that is most suitable for your life. But if you’re looking for a great book that will not just inspire you but mold you into a more successful business person, any of these 10 books will send you down the right path.

Featured photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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