Here at Kaizen Kiwi, we are all about Continuous Improvement as you know, so with Black Friday literally around the corner, we thought now would be a good time to share some of our favourite business-related and thought provoking reads, so that you can stock up in time for your Christmas break (because we REALLY hope you will take one!). Some of these are lighter reads than others, some are funny, almost all of them will have you re-evaluating or at least actively thinking about how you go about your life and do business, and all of them will leave an imprint. At least they have done so for us. Most of these books have been around for a while, but that doesn't make them less important, nor the lessons out of date.
In alphabetical order, because there has to be some sort of order, here are some books that have had an impact on us in one way or another, made us think about life, and business in a different or new way, or simply just been a "good read". We include a small summary of the contents, taken directly from the publisher in most cases, but will not link to any particular places to buy, because everyone has their own preference when it comes to shopping, hard copy and/or audio books.
- Atomic habits : tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones / James Clear
James Clear, an expert on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. He draws on proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.
- Delivering happiness : a path to profits, passion, and purpose / Tony Hsieh
This book recounts how the author, Tony Hsieh, led the online merchant Zappos to extraordinary success by creating a business culture committed to service and improving the lives of its employees, customers, vendors, and backers.
- Factfulness : ten reasons we're wrong about the world - and why things are better than you think / Hans Rosling ; with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund
When asked simple questions about global trends - what percentage of the world's population lives in poverty, why the world's population is increasing, and how many girls finish school - we systematically get the answers wrong.
So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, investment bankers, and Nobel laureates. The late Hans Rosling - together with his two longtime collaborators, Anna and Ola - offers a radical new exploration of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).
- Now, discover your strengths / Marcus Buckingham ; Donald O. Clifton
Based upon a long-term study to identify the most prevalent human attributes leading to career success, this book is designed to help individuals identify their own unique talents and succeed at every level.
- Originals : how non-conformists move the world / Grant Adam
This book examines how people can drive creative, moral, and organisational progress and how leaders can encourage originality in their organisations. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all? Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognise a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can fight groupthink to build cultures that welcome dissent.
Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticise him, and a TV executive who didn't even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.
- Profit first : transform your business from a cash-eating monster to a money-making machine / Mike Michalowicz
The author of cult classics The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur offers a simple, counterintuitive cash management solution that will help small businesses break out of the doom spiral and achieve instant profitability. Michalowicz shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, entrepreneurs will transform their businesses from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows. Using Michalowicz's Profit First system, readers will learn that following 4 simple principles can simplify accounting and make it easier to manage a profitable business by looking at bank account balances. A small, profitable business can be worth much more than a large business surviving on its top line. Businesses that attain early and sustained profitability have a better shot at achieiving long-term growth. With dozens of case studies, practical, step-by-step advice, and his signature sense of humour, Michalowicz has the game-changing roadmap for any entrepreneur to make money they always dreamed of.
- Predictably irrational : the hidden forces that shape our decisions / Dan Ariely
Duke University's behavioral economist Dan Ariely explores the hidden forces that shape our decisions. Bringing a much-needed dose of sophisticated psychological study to the realm of public policy, Ariely offers his own insights into the irrationalities of everyday life, the decisions that led us to the financial meltdown of 2008, and the general ways we get ourselves into trouble. Blending common experiences and clever experiments with groundbreaking analysis, Ariely demonstrates how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. As he explains, our reliance on standard economic theory to design personal, national, and global policies may, in fact, be dangerous. The mistakes that we make as individuals and institutions are not random, and they can aggregate in the market--with devastating results. In light of our current economic crisis, the consequences of these systematic and predictable mistakes have never been clearer. Packed with new studies and thought-provoking responses to readers' questions and comments, this revised and expanded edition of Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world--from the small decisions we make in our own lives to the individual and collective choices that shape our economy.
- Start with why : how great leaders inspire everyone to take action / Simon Sinek
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? It was their natural ability to start with why that enabled them to inspire those around them and to achieve remarkable things. In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way - and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY. Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not money or profit-- those are always results. WHY does your organization exist? WHY does it do the things it does? WHY do customers really buy from one company or another? WHY are people loyal to some leaders, but not others? Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don't do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.
- The code of the extraordinary mind : ten unconventional laws to redefine your life & succeed on your own terms / Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley
This book teaches you to think like some of the greatest non-conformist minds of our era, to question, challenge, hack, and create new rules for your life so you can define success on your own terms. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is a blueprint of laws to break us free from the shackles of an ordinary life. It makes a case that everything we know about the world is shaped by conditioning and habit. And thus, most people live their lives based on limiting rules and outdated beliefs about pretty much everything: work, money, parenting, sex, health, and more, which they inherit and pass on from generation to generation. But what if you could remove these outdated ideas and start anew? What would your life look like if you could forget the rules of the past, and redefine what happiness, purpose, and success mean for you?
- The dip : a little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick) / Seth Godin
According to bestselling author Seth Godin, 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. Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip they get to the moment of truth and then give up, or they never even find the right Dip to conquer. Whether you're a graphic designer, a sales rep, an athlete, or an aspiring CEO, this fun little book will help you figure out if you're in a Dip thats worthy of your time, effort, and talents. If you are, The Dip will inspire you to hang tough. If not, it will help you find the courage to quit so you can be number one at something else. Seth Godin doesn't claim to have all the answers. But he will teach you how to ask the right questions.
- The infinite game / Simon Sinek
In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. He finds that building long-term value and healthy, enduring growth - that playing the infinite game - is the only thing that matters to your business. Simon Sinek is also the author of the widely acclaimed book "Start with WHY". Do read that one as well if you haven't already. See info above.
- The slight edge / Jeff Olson ; with John David Mann
The Slight Edge is a way of thinking, a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire. Learn why some people make dream after dream come true, while others just continue dreaming and spend their lives building dreams for someone else. It's not just another self-help motivation tool of methods you must learn in order to travel the path to success. It shows you how to create powerful results from the simple daily activities of your life, by using tools that are already within you.
- The undoing project : a friendship that changed our minds / Michael Lewis
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioural economics, revolutionised Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis's own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms. The Undoing Project is about a collaboration between two men who became heroes in the university and on the battlefield - both had important careers in the Israeli military - and whose research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. They worked together so closely that they couldn't remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind's view of its own mind.
- Tools of titans : the tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers / Tim Ferriss
Fitness, money, and wisdom--here are the tools. Tim Ferriss has collected the routines and tools of world-class performers around the globe. Now, the distilled notebook of tips and tricks that helped him double his income, flexibility, happiness, and more is available as Tools of Titans. He is also the author of the widely acclaimed book "The 4-hour work week" which is also worth a read.
Lighter Reads & Lifestyle:
- The blue zones of happiness : lessons from the world's happiest people / Dan Buettner
In this inspiring book, Buettner offers game-changing tools for setting up your life to be the happiest it can be. Use the Blue Zones Happiness Test to pinpoint areas in your life where change could bring more happiness - and then find practical steps to make those changes. Learn the Top 10 ways to create happiness, as revealed by a panel of the world's leading experts convened specifically for this project.
- The gifts of imperfection : let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are / Brené Brown
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she's learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, And to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.