I love reading, and I’m often asked for book recommendations for new entrepreneurs, founders and business owners. So, I put together an essential reading list for founders and business owners on Bookshop (this is an affiliate link, and I may earn a small fee if you purchase). This list covers entrepreneurship, marketing and social justice, and here are a few highlights:
Seth Godin has written many books about marketing and entrepreneurship, but this one is my favorite. We’re all used to being bombarded by marketing and advertising, so much so that most adults now tune out the hundreds or thousands of ads we see in a day. In Permission Marketing, Godin writes about how businesses can reshape their messaging to make customers want to engage with them. It’s the fundamental explanation behind why content marketing and building an organic social media presence help businesses nowadays sell their products.
Entrepreneurs and marketers are not the primary audience for this book, Mike Monteiro wrote it to primarily speak to an audience of UI/UX designers. But, there are design lessons in Ruined by Design that apply to businesses and anyone with decision making power in an organization. Monteiro writes about the defaults that are purposefully designed into many of the products and systems we rely on daily, how they’re broken, and how we can start fixing them. If you’re changing an industry or building a business, this is a must-read.
Few people know this, but those slides that you see presented by famous politicians and speakers? Yeah, someone else wrote and designed them. One of the most famous, yet also under-the-radar, storytellers and presentation builders in the world is Nancy Duarte and her eponymous firm, Duarte. Seriously, they built Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth slides. I had the opportunity to take a Duarte workshop a few years ago, and was blown away at how they broke down storytelling into its key elements and presented a formula for persuasive presentations. Resonate is like a handy how-to guide to building successful and persuasive content.
I was assigned to read Contagious before starting my first startup marketing job, and years later, it still resonates. In it, Jonah Berger dissects why things become popular and provides case studies of how products go viral and why certain marketing campaigns backfire. Berger dissects these case studies in order to provide a formula for entrepreneurs and marketers to build their own contagious messages.
You might be wondering why a book about race and social justice is on this list. It’s because race, social justice and equity are inherently tied to marketing and businesses. In order to be completely aware of the environment your business is operating in, you need to be aware of systemic racism and actively work against it. Part of that education includes understanding the defensive reactions of those who have benefited from white supremacy, so you can recognize it in yourself and your team, and so you can start disarming it. Robin DiAngelo does a great job of breaking down racial discomfort, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
There are about a dozen more books on my Bookshop list, and I encourage you to check all of them out and support independent bookstores.
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