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30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

What does it take to succeed online?

  • Create highly useful content?
  • Build authority and Influence people?
  • Be business savvy?
  • Master social media?
  • Engage in promotion and marketing?
  • Have the right mindset?
  • Be productive?

I would say all of it.

And the best way to get up to speed on all of it is to pick up the best books covering these topics. All the ‘experts’ and the ‘gurus’ do it, so why should you lag behind?

There is one problem though, for the uninitiated, the simple task of picking up a so-called business book can be daunting and unnerving. Where to start? Aren’t all business books kind of…dry?

Not the ones on my must-read list.

I suggest you jump in with both feet. All books are followed by a brief book description to help you pick the right one. Good luck!

Books on Productivity and Success

It all starts with the right mindset.

1. Drive

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money–the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake – that the secret to high performance and satisfaction–at work, at school, and at home–is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Daniel Pink examines the three elements of true motivation–autonomy, mastery, and purpose–and offers smart and surprising techniques to transform our lives.

2. The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg talks about all the successful who achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits. Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. Habits aren’t destiny. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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3. Brain Rules

See how the brain works while using it in the process of reading this book! Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know – like that physical activity boosts your brain power.

4. Accidental Creative

It isn’t enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today’s marketplace, all of us, regardless of our role, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand. The Accidental Creative teaches effective practices that support your creative process like how to focus in on your most critical work and reclaim your attention, develop stimulating relationships and leverage your hours wisely and effectively to eliminate creativity drains.

5. The War of Art

The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

6. The Big Moo

Most organizations are stuck in a rut. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they’re petrified that growth means change, and change means risk, and risk means death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so most companies (and individuals) just keep trying to be perfect at the things they’ve always done. Seth Godin challenges people to become remarkable.

7. Getting Things Done

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance. His premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. It transforms the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

8. The 8th Habit

The world has changed dramatically since the classic, internationally bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. In order to thrive, innovate, excel and lead in what Stephen Covey calls the new Knowledge Worker Age, we must build on and move beyond effectiveness…to greatness. Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set — in short, a whole new habit.

9. Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

10. The Dip

The old saying is wrong—winners do quit, and quitters do win. When you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle; maybe you’re in a Dip—a temporary setback. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Books on Content

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    If you are online, you need content. Period.

    11. Content Rules

    Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about on platforms such as Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Find an authentic “voice”, Leverage social media and understand why you are generating content.

    12. Convert

    Solve your traffic troubles and turn browsers into buyers and double the conversion rates by identifying simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. Understand the essentials – your market, your proposition, and your delivery.

    13. Blogging for Business

    The authors talk about why businesses should embrace blogging. The book talks about how to tap into the power of blogs and how they are different from e-zines, Web sites, and message boards.

    14. Content Strategy for the Web

    Better content means better business. Your content is a mess: the website redesigns didn’t help, and the new CMS just made things worse. How can you realize the value of content while planning for its long-term success? Read it to understand content strategy and its business value and make smarter, achievable decisions about what content to create.

    Books on Influence

    Now…it is time to be a thought leader.

    15. Influence: Science and Practice

    This book is an examination of the psychology of compliance (i.e. uncovering which factors cause a person to say “yes” to another’s request). It reminds the reader of the power of persuasion. The compliance techniques are organized into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behavior: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

    16. Platform

    Michael Hyatt shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform.

    17. Fascinate

    Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision-making. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

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    18. Clout

    Results. Everyone wants them, whether to sell more products, spread good ideas, or win more funding. In our busy digital world, the way to results is influencing people on the web. But how? Clout explains the key principles of influence and how to apply them to web content.

    19. Enchantment

    “Want to change the world? Change caterpillars into butterflies? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to convince people to dream the same dream that you do.” Guy Kawasaki argues that it is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.

    Books on Social Media

    Don’t forget to promote your stuff…

    20. Trust Agents

    Two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits. Learn how businesses are using the latest online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can use those networks to positively impact your business.

    21. Likeable Social Media

    The secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing on the social web is easy: BE LIKEABLE. A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, that recommendation can travel farther—and faster—than ever before. This book helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.

    22. No Bulls#!t Social Media

    Stop hiding from social media–or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.  “Conversations” and “communities” are wonderful, but they’re not enough. Get this book and get what you really want from social media: profits.

    23. The New Rules of Marketing & PR

    Business communication has changed over the recent years. Creative ad copy is no longer enough. This book has brought thousands of marketers up to speed on the changing requirements of promoting products or services in the new digital age. This pioneering guide offers a step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the Internet to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

    24. The NOW Revolution

    The social web has changed the way we do business forever. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, The Now Revolution outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you. Read about seven shifts that will help you make your company faster, smarter, and more social.

    Books on Marketing

    And on to marketing…

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    25. Made to Stick

    Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? Brothers Dan and Chip Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier and communicate better. It shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

    26. The Tipping Point

    The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

    27. Permission Marketing

    Book based on the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it, the opposite of Interruption Marketing, which no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity — time — Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily.

    Books on Entrepreneurship

    Reaffirm that you are meant to do this.

    28. Crush It!

    Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

    29. The $100 Startup

    In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living. He presents stories of those who’ve found ways to opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful. You can start small with your venture, committing little time or money, and wait to take the real plunge when you’re sure it’s successful. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

    30. The Everyday Entrepreneur

    A primer for pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions and achieving success, it is filled with strategies and powerful anecdotes about defining and setting goals and pushing for entrepreneurial success. The book reveals how readers can apply the ambitions of a go-getter in their own lives, position themselves ahead of the pack, examine how to calculate risk, and understand the mindset necessary to venture forward on their own.

    So there you have it. What are some of your favourites that should go on this list? Share in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Books by Shutterhacks and inline photo Content Rules Book by Shashi Bellamkonda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

    Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

    You have to work hard to develop the right skills

    If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

    1. Make your presentation short and sweet

    With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

    JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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    2. Open up with a good ice breaker

    At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

    • Joking
    • Tugging on their heart strings
    • Dropping a bombastic statement
    • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
    • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

    You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

    3. Keep things simple and to the point

    Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

    4. Use a healthy dose of humor

    Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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    It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

    5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

    Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

    6. Practice your delivery

    Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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    7. Move around and use your hands

    Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

    8. Engage the audience by making them relate

    Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

    9. Use funny images in your slides

    Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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    10. End on a more serious note

    When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

    As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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