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20 Powerful Books to Win You Friends and Influence More People

20 Powerful Books to Win You Friends and Influence More People

Everyone knows communication is key, but every so often, we fail to communicate well on a daily basis. It could be catastrophic if we can’t communicate with others. So how can you and I improve our communication skills to have a significant leg up in all aspects of our lives?

Here is a list of 20 books to turn you into an expert in communication, with books ranging from best-sellers to less popular, hidden gems.

1. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane

    People typically believe charisma is a trait you are born with. However, it is a skill you can learn. Cabane provides fantastic examples and practical advice anyone can use.

    Who should read this book?

    • Readers looking to improve their charisma.

    What will you learn?

    • The main components of charisma and techniques to improve them.

    “Whenever we use our brain, we fire certain neuronal connections, and the more these connections get used, the stronger they become.” – Olivia Fox Cabane

    2. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

      In this powerful book, Simon Sinek helps readers identify an individual or organizations purpose… there Why.

      Who should read this book?

      • Readers seeking advice on how to become a great leader.

      What will you learn?

      • How to clearly identify the purpose of your organization.

      “Organizations know what they do, how they do it, but very few know why they do what they do.” – Simon Sinek

      3. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo

        Gallo uncovered 9 common elements to all TED talks and provides readers advice on how to adopt them. This book provides practical tips to improve your public-speaking skills.

        Who should read this book?

        • Readers who want to become a better public speaker.

        What will you learn?

        • How to improve the format of your speech or presentation, while telling a story that reaches the hearts and minds of your audience.

        “The first step to inspire others is to make sure you’re inspired yourself.” – Carmine Gallo

        4. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

          An amazing, yet short book. The story revolves around four characters: two mice and two little people living in a maze seeking the one thing that makes them happy… cheese! This book is a metaphor for the things we want most in life and the need for change.

          Who should read this book?

          • Readers seeking knowledge on how to deal with change in life or work.

          What will you learn?

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          • That change is the only thing which is constant and why we should look to the future instead of the past.

          “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Spencer Johnson

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

            Let’s start our list of well-known books with one of the all-time greats – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book is one of the most powerful books you can find in attempting to improve your communication skills. Warren Buffett discovered this book as a child and applied the techniques found in this book throughout his life.

            Who should read this book?

            • Readers interested in finding positive ways to influence other people.

            What will you learn?

            • Ways to win people to your mode of thinking.

            “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” – Dale Carnegie

            6. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

              The message in this book extends beyond business. Lencioni outlines the root causes (and of course dysfunction) of a team. He provides readers tips on how to effectively identify and beat dysfunction.

              Who should read this book?

              • Leaders seeking ways to identify and manage dysfunction in an organization.

              What will you learn?

              • How to mold a functional team.

              “Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team.” – Patrick Lencioni

              7. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

                Getting to Yes is a powerful book on improving your negotiation skills. Ury advocates that we negotiate our entire life and we must learn to embrace and improve this skill. This book will show you how.

                Who should read this book?

                • Readers seeking ways to improve their negotiation skills.

                What will you learn?

                • Tips and techniques to become a highly effective negotiator.

                “Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.” – Roger Fisher

                8. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen

                  Productivity expert David Allen is best known for his book Getting Things Done, yet it is Ready for Anything that takes his advice on productivity to the next level. Learn how to make things happen and improve your life with less effort, less stress, and with more energy!

                  Who should read this book?

                  • Readers seeking tips on productivity.

                  What will you learn?

                  • How to reach new levels of productivity with practical tips and techniques.

                  “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” – David Allen

                  9. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

                    In this guide to success and salesmanship, Mandino tells a story of a poor camel boy who comes across ancient scrolls. Each scroll provides the reader a message. Actor Matthew McConaughey remarked that this book changed his life.

                    Who should read this book?

                    • Readers seeking breakthrough ways for success in their lives.

                    What will you learn?

                    • How to form good habits and take action in your life.

                    “Never feel shame for trying and failing for he who has never failed is he who has never tried.” – Og Mandino

                    10. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes

                      Leil Lowndes provides an incredibly practical book on how to communicate, improve posture, and become a winner… the book even provides advice on how to make someone fall in love with you!

                      Who should read this book?

                      • Readers seeking practical tips on how to improve in their day to day interactions with other people.

                      What will you learn?

                      • 92 tricks to improve your communication skills!

                      There are two kinds of people in this life: Those who walk into a room and say, “Well, here I am!” And those who walk in and say, “Ahh, there you are.” – Leil Lowndes

                      11. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

                        Let’s start of the list of well-known, yet different books that will improve your communication skills. Labeled by Bertrand Russell as the handbook for gangsters, The Prince focuses on effectiveness, not morality. Some key takeaways from this book are: 1) Pay close attention to the qualities of those who work for you; 2) Your appearance matters; 3) Keep your enemies close; 4) Avoid people who flatter you; and 5) Prepare for bad things to happen.

                        Who should read this book?

                        • Readers looking for ways to influence other people.

                        What will you learn?

                        • Historical lessons and tips for influencing people, regardless of morality.

                        “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

                        12. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

                          If you are a fan of the movie Office Space and are looking for a book to spark the “I just don’t give a f*ck” moment… look no further! Manson reminds us that we have a limited number of f*cks to give and we can’t go around giving them away to people that don’t matter.

                          Who should read this book?

                          • Readers seeking ways to stop caring so much what other people think of them.

                          What will you learn?

                          • That there are only a small group of people that truly deserve your time and effort.

                          “Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.” – Mark Manson

                          13. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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                            Confidence and composure are two extremely important skills in effective communication. Taleb provides readers a guide on how to become antifragile. This book will help readers find out where they are most exposed and identify where we can lose the most.

                            Who should read this book?

                            • Readers seeking knowledge on how to grow from disorder.

                            What will you learn?

                            • How we thrive from shock, volatility, and uncertainty.

                            “Trial and error is freedom.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

                            14. Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

                              When it comes to winning in college basketball, there was no one better than legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. At UCLA, his teams won 10 national titles in 12 years! To be an effective communicator for an organization, you must also be an effective leader. Coach Wooden shows us how.

                              Who should read this book?

                              • Readers interested in developing a strong leadership philosophy.

                              What will you learn?

                              • How to lead and develop young men.

                              “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” – Coach John Wooden

                              15. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

                                Inspired by The Prince, Robert Greene provides leaders historical lessons and practical ways to improve their communication skills through controlling anger and improving patience. His most important lesson is mastering your emotions.

                                Who should read this book?

                                • Readers seeking ways to influence other people, similar to The Prince.

                                What will you learn?

                                • 48 Laws to increase your power and influence over others.

                                “But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief. Power cannot accrue to those who squander their treasure of words.” – Robert Greene

                                16. Wink and Grow Rich by Roger Hamilton

                                  Finally, let’s take a look at those books you might not be familiar with. These are hidden gems. Wink and Grow Rich is one of my favorite books. It is a book with a hidden lesson behind the lesson! This is one of those books you will want to read over and over again. Each time you read, you will uncover something new.

                                  Who should read this book?

                                  • Readers seeking books with hidden meanings.

                                  What will you learn?

                                  • A true outside-the-box read on how to gain wealth and riches in multiple areas of your life.

                                  “To know and not to do is not yet to know.” – Roger Hamilton

                                  17. Quantum Memory Power: Learn to Improve Your Memory with the World Memory Champion by Dominic O’Brien

                                    Effective communicators must be good at remembering names and faces. The most effective way to improve your memory is to use techniques discussed in this book. Learn how to build memory palaces and improve your memory.

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                                    Who should read this book?

                                    • Readers seeking ways to improve their memory.

                                    What will you learn?

                                    • Shortcuts and techniques to improve your memory.

                                    “This is a great tool for students as the book gets right to the heart of learning how to learn and engaging your whole brain.” – Dominic O’Brien

                                    18. Go for No! Yes Is the Destination, No Is How You Get There by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz

                                      Using fiction to impart knowledge upon their readers, Fenton and Waltz provide powerful lessons for readers by simply hearing the word No!

                                      Who should read this book?

                                      • People seeking a short inspirational read on how to realize your potential.

                                      What will you learn?

                                      • Why hearing no is a good thing!

                                      “Learning to hear no over and over again and to never quit… now that builds character and self-esteem. That’s empowering!” – Richard Fenton

                                      19. I Am John Galt: Today’s Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It by Donald Luskin and Andrew Greta

                                        This book was inspired by two of my favorite novels: Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. John Galt is the fictional character from Atlas Shrugged and embodies the characteristics some of our top CEOs and leaders strive to attain. This book compares the character’s (and characteristics) from Rand’s books with real people.

                                        Who should read this book?

                                        • Readers seeking a non-fiction comparison of Ayn Rand’s novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and the real world.

                                        What will you learn?

                                        • Who is the real world version of John Galt.

                                        “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

                                        20. Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done by Mark Janssen

                                          The final book I will discuss is the first book I ever read to my beautiful daughter. In fact, I read (and finished) this book to her while holding her in the hospital the day of her birth.

                                          Legendary Kansas State University Wildcat coach Bill Snyder is a phenomenal leader and coach. In the spirit of John Wooden, Bill Snyder continues to coach and is the oldest active college football coach. This book chronicles his first stint in coaching (he actually retired once, then came back from retirement to coach the same team!). To be able to come back from retirement and coach young college kids at his age takes phenomenal leadership skills and even better communication skills. Take heed of Coach Snyder’s advice and learn how to be a lifelong communicator. I encourage you to take a look at Coach Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success. [1]

                                          Who should read this book?

                                          • Readers seeking the story of the greatest coach in college football!

                                          What will you learn?

                                          • The leadership philosophy from one of the all-time great coaches.

                                          “If you do pay attention to detail and the little things are important to you, you make them important to people.” – Coach Bill Snyder

                                          Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

                                          Reference

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                                          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                                          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                                          Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                          3. Create a System

                                          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                          5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                          7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                          9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                          10. Monitor Time Management

                                          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                            14. Use an External Evaluator

                                            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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