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10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too

10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too

Reading is essential for knowledge and continued learning outside of a formal education. A person that reads once a day about his profession will become an expert in their field 5 times faster than someone who doesn’t. In no time at all (or half a decade) you can become far more knowledgeable and thus more able to perform your duties than a person who has not been reading.

1. Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged will be on almost every list of this type. It’s iconic, in depth, and the defining masterpiece that Ayn Rand built. As an individualist Rand displays the prowess of a leading women in literature of the time. Some people say that as a writer you have to be an expert on everything you write about. Ayn Rand did the research with every novel she wrote and this book is no exception. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says that this is his favorite book, and the library of Congress named it the most influential book in America after, you guess it, the Bible. Rand is able to capture the spirit of America in such an important period in our history that many Americans regard it as the best secular book out there.

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2. The Great Gatsby

Thematically directly in contrast to the previous title, this one has been immortalized by a recent film, staring Leonardo DiCaprio, that closely follows the plot of this book. Your sixth grade English class probably also required that you read this. After showing up on so many lists as being influential you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t do that book report on it.

3. The Aeneid by Virgil

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that this was one of his favorite books, and if you know the story you might deduce why. The book is the story of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who travels to Italy after the Trojan war and becomes the ruler of area after defeating the Italians. This effectively makes him the ancestor of the current Roman empire, which was in full swing by the time this book was written around 20 B.C. The lesson that it teaches is one of revenge, but a righteous one.

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4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This is a book written by the pupil of Shunryū Suzuki that details speeches that he made in the Untied Stated in the 70s. Shunryū was a Buddhist monk and brought the teachings of Zen to America. Of the books on this list this is the only religious one.

5. The Honourable Schoolboy

Former mayor of New York, Micheal Bloomberg, notes this book about a British spy in Hong Kong as his favorite novel. The book is about a spy that sets out to save the service that the government plans to eliminate. Sounds very bureaucratic and dry just as you would expect as being the favorite book of a politician.

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6. The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

This one makes really makes you think. With a small investment you could start a company that earns millions of dollars. The book looks at several examples of these types of successes, including some of the author’s. Chris Guillebeau is a young entrepreneur that travels the world and has come up with some great ideas for companies that have earned him more than enough money, one idea being to write this book.

7. Outliers: The Story of Success

This novel by Malcolm Gladwell is about the success of some notable characters. It’s non-fiction and takes a look at why people become more successful than others and enjoy a sort of super success.

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8. Catcher in The Rye

J.D. Salinger wrote this coming of age story at a time when the country was recovering from the great depression. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield runs away to find a New York City that isn’t very inviting to a teenage boy. Holden must navigate the urban jungle and find his way in a scary world. Bill Gates, being a boy wonder himself, notes this as one of his favorite books.

9. The Brothers Karamazov

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s favorite book is the last novel written by famed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky’s books are best read in his native language of Russian, but you can find English translations.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird

O Network creator Oprah Winfrey has said that To Kill a Mockingbird is her favorite influential novel. The novel deals with the racial injustice of a time when it was widespread and institutional. Written in 1960 this novel immediately won a Pulitzer prize after it’s debut.

Which Books have You read on the List?

I’ve personally read 5 out of 10 on this list. This doesn’t mean I will become super successful like an outlier, but maybe I should read that one as well. Many of the books that will help you with your profession are indeed non-fiction.

Featured photo credit: Sam Greenhalgh via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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