Book Smart: Recommended reading for businesspeople

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January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16
By Lindsay Baillie

FCNews asks industry members to cite their favorite books about business. Here are their top picks.

Olga Robertson, president, FCA Network
“It’s not really considered a business book, although Peter Drucker is the gold standard for getting things done. His book, ‘Adventures of a Bystander,’ is the best business book I’ve read and every five years or so I pick it up again. It’s a fascinating journey from his early childhood through both World Wars. He was an observer of life and its participants with many life lessons to appreciate and emulate. His management style has been criticized and copied. It’s about getting the right things done and using your time efficiently and effectively. He famously said managers get things done right and leaders get the right things done—that says it all. I’ve recommended this book to anyone who will listen.”

Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA
Three of Humphrey’s favorite leadership books are: the Bible, which he said provides “great relational and leadership advice;” “It’s Your Ship” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, which, according to Humphrey, is an “awesome story of leadership with practical examples;” and “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, which explores how little things make a big difference.

Jon Pierce, general manager, Pierce Flooring & Design
“The message I get out of reading this book (“The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin) is to never stagnate and strive to always be remarkable. Constantly reinvent yourself or you may be left behind. Seth uses Starbucks as one of his examples of the need to keep trying new things to stay ahead of the game. I have, on a few occasions, handed out copies of the book to key people in our industry.”

Scott Roy, president & CEO, Gilford-Johnson Flooring
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins. Roy’s quick takeaways from this book are: “Having the right talent is critical to everything you do; hire for talent, teach them the skills of the job. Make sure employees are on the right seat on the bus; don’t keep people who aren’t doing what they should be doing.”

Another is “The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary,” by Mark Sanborn. A few takeaways from this gem: “Everyone can make a difference, no matter what job you have,” Roy said. “Relationships are critical no matter what industry or business you are in. Create value—go above and beyond what the customer is asking for; take it one step further than the competition. Differentiate yourself every day.”

Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA
Jennings recommends two books. “The first is ‘The One Minute Manager’ by Dr. Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. [Dr. Blanchard’s] books were famous for taking an hour read—about 100 pages and straight to the point. It taught me how to focus on the act, not the actor.”

Another Jennings pick is “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate and Outnegotiate Your Competition,” by Harvey Mackay. “He has developed a checklist of about 50 items designed to help his people learn more about customers. This list can be applied to employees as well. He taught me that you have to learn as much as you can about your employees and customers. We all do business with people we like and with people who are responsive to us.”

Mike Montgomery, operational manager, Montgomery CarpetsPlus Colortile, Venice, Fla.
“This book isn’t so much about business as it is about selling. Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ provides everything about being in retail sales.” A few takeaways: “Be yourself and become friends with your customers; people buy from people they like; don’t just try to get the sale, try to build a relationship; people don’t want to be sold; you want to be a tour guide not a salesperson; get their name and then use it. Carnegie’s book reemphasizes these points.”

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