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This Week: Top 10 Books to Drive Your Professional Success
Reaching your professional goals isn't easy – and if it is, you may have your sights set a little too low.
That being said, you can make it easier by leaning on the insights of experts. There's a wealth of knowledge out there. You don't have to reinvent the proverbial wheel every time you're trying to negotiate a higher salary or convince your supervisor that you're the right person for the promotion.
Today's installment of Top 10 is dedicated to 10 books that contain some of the most valuable professional knowledge out there. If you want to take your career to the next level ASAP, it's time to pick up and read.
1. Breaking the Rules and Getting the Job
by Angela Copeland
If you frequent this website, you may already be familiar with Angela Copeland, whose columns we publish on a weekly basis. If so, you know that Copeland favors a simple, direct style of career wisdom. While some professional gurus cloak their advice in thick layers of jargon and needless complexity, Copeland tells you up front what you need to know to get ahead.
Breaking the Rules is particularly useful for those who want to improve the outcomes of their job searches. It focuses on practical steps you can take to catch the eyes of interviewers and really wow potential employers. If you're tired of being at the mercy of job boards and unresponsive hiring managers, start here.
2. What You Aren't Seeing: The Inspiring Story of Herb Greenberg
by Patrick Sweeney
Herb Greenberg is the CEO and founder of talent management consulting firm Caliper. He lost his eyesight at the age of ten, and in What You Aren't Seeing, readers learn how Greenberg turned this life-changing event into a chance to uncover his full potential.
The book traces Greenberg's life from his early days in Brooklyn to the founding of Caliper, but it's more than just a great biography – which it truly is. Each chapter culminates in a psychological insight drawn from Greenberg's experience. Taken as a whole, these insights present readers with robust guidelines for living like a leader.
As far as mentors go, few are as experienced and accomplished as Greenberg. While you may not be able to convince him to meet up over coffee once a week, What You Aren't Seeing is the next best thing.
3. 7L: The Seven Levels of Communication: Go From Relationships to Referrals
by Michael J. Maher
The case for why you should read 7L is pretty much right there in the title: Some of the most powerful aids you can have on your professional journey are sterling referrals from trustworthy sources. If you want to get those referrals, you have to know how to nurture strong relationships with others. Those relationships require communication, and 7L is all about communication.
"The book helps you learn how to transition from the old style of selling (find a list, make a phone call, hope you get someone, then hope to set up an appointment) to working with others to help them build their businesses. In return, they help you build yours," says Steve Turner of Solomon Turner PR. "Since I have been following these strategies in the past six months, I have given out dozens of referrals. Our firm's sales have also doubled."
As an added bonus, 7L is written as a story, following a down-on-his-luck professional named Rick Masters as he gets back on his feet with the help of some valuable advice. That makes it a heck of a lot more interesting than your average career-oriented book.
No matter what line of work you're in, you need to know how to negotiate. Whether you want to make a sale, get a raise, or just convince a colleague to help you out with something, negotiation skills are going to come in handy at some point. Getting to Yes is the ultimate negotiation text, offering a step-by-step strategy that you can employ in virtually any conflict.
"Everyone in the corporate world, from the CEO to the security guard out front, wants to change something about their company," says the summary of The Courage Solution. But rather than waiting around for that change to happen, the book argues, you have to own that change and make it happen yourself.
That may sound like it's easier said than done, but The Courage Solution will show you just how to enact the very changes you want to see in your organization (or in your professional life more generally). Through taking ownership of your career, transforming your relationship with your boss, cultivating positive relationships with peers, and building more effective teams, you can alter your company – and your life – for the better. In The Courage Solution, Mackenzie teaches you how to do all this and more.
6. Sales Management. Simplified.
by Mike Weinberg
Don't let that title full you – even if you're not in sales management, there's a lot you can learn from this book.
Don't believe me? Taylor Dumouchel of Peak Sales Recruiting says that Sales Management. Simplified. has helped everyone in her office.
"Although this book may seem specific to one industry, it can provide insights across all industries," Dumouchel told us. "This book tops my list because it encourages leaders to take full responsibility for the performance of their teams, gives no-nonsense tips for world-class sales management, and roots it all in real life-stories."
If you want to someday become a leader, you need to start acting like one now. Let Weinberg help you with that.
7. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
But wait – isn't career success about "having it all"? Why pursue less?
Because it's better to be great at doing a few things than it is to be alright at doing a lot of things.
McKeown's book is all about "The Way of the Essentialist," which replaces the "I have to do everything" mentality with the pursuit of "the right thing, in the right way, at the right time."
"The premise of the book is that the path to attaining success and maintaining your sanity is to focus on the essential and ruthlessly eliminate the rest," says avid fan Marissa Russell, a career coach who runs The High Achieving Woman. "As a solopreneur, it is so important for me to focus on what matters most instead of taking on more than I can handle. This book has been invaluable in helping me to accomplish the highest-impact tasks I have while simultaneously being able to maintain peace of mind."
8. Love Is the Killer App
by Tim Sanders
According to Love Is the Killer App, the secret to success is becoming a "lovecat" – a kind, intelligent person who shares their knowledge, network, and compassion with others. Perhaps that sounds a little pie-in-the-sky for you, but fear not: Sanders's bestseller isn't some New Age nonsense. At its core, it's a book about how to be a better networker. The advice you receive from this book might be unconventional, but you'll definitely walk away with a better handle on how to network than you ever had before.
"I recommend this book because it's a quick read, but also because it teaches people how to network in a way that doesn't feel icky," says Sharon DeLay, owner of BoldlyGO Career and HR Management. "It gives very helpful information about how to approach people, what to say, and what not to say. It also makes the point that networking is less about asking people for something and more about building enduring, helpful relationships."
9. The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness
by David J. Rendall
Everyone tells you that if you want to succeed in business, you have to overcome (or at least compensate for) your weaknesses.
Except David J. Rendall. If you ask him, he'll tell you that you should amplify those weaknesses. According to his philosophy, what makes us weak is what makes us strong, and what makes us strange is what makes us exceptional.
"Dave believes that we should take inventory of our natural stronger traits (sometimes considered to be weaknesses) and harness those for a more satisfying existence," says Tricia Lucas, cofounder of Lucas Select, Inc. "Focus on what is naturally good about yourself instead of focusing on efforts to become mediocre at something someone else is telling you to be better at. We are taught from an early age to work on areas of weakness in order to conform to normality. Dave tells us to break that mold and embrace the freak within."
Though it seems counterintuitive, it makes a lot of sense when you really think about it. There are probably a million people out there who share your "strengths." But your quirks and eccentricities? Those are what make you unique. If you know how to leverage those, you can become truly irreplaceable.
10. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
by General Stanley McChrystal
In our hyperconnected, highly globalized world, the agility of small groups matters more than ever. At the same time, large organizations have reach and resources that are also necessary for success in the contemporary business climate.
In Team of Teams, General Stanley McChrystal draws on his experience leading the Joint Special Operations Task Force against Al Qaeda to propose a strategic business framework that combines the best of both worlds: the power of large companies and the speed of small startups.
But even if you're not running a startup or sitting in the C-suite at a multinational corporation, Team of Teams will be a powerful read for you. Its exploration of transparent communication and decentralized authority will teach you a lot about how to take charge of your career while still fitting into your employer's bigger vision.
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