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I'm a consultant and advisor  for social enterprises - using business to change the world.

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The Top 10 Books of 2017

The Top 10 Books of 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Good books can change your life – they can either hit you like a train, or subtly change your thought processes.
The return on investment is hard to gauge at first, so cheat sheets (like this one) can be really useful.

I’ve read a lot of books this year; some were terrible, most were ok, and a few were phenomenal.
Here are the phenomenal ones; well worth the price and time commitment.

24 assets

10. 24 Assets – Daniel Priestley
What’s the difference between owning a job and owning a business?
Daniel argues that the answer is a business has assets that create value, and these assets are what enable you to sell a business down the track.
Best of all, he gives concise and clear descriptions of each of these 24 assets, and shows you how your business can start building them.
You’ll learn a lot from such a short book – a good “quick win” if you’re looking to regain momentum in your reading


9. Oversubscribed – Daniel Priestley
The premise of the book was captivating – how does a new company attract an initial audience without begging, discounting or stressing?
Daniel puts forward some practical steps for finding your tribe, and creating something that has a waiting list from day zero.
The stories are excellent, and his advice is hard to fault.
If you’re starting a new enterprise, these methodologies will change the way you approach customer acquisition.

Hacking Growth

8. Hacking Growth – Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
This book is great in a different way.
It’s long and it’s detailed, and the advice inside can dramatically improve the way your company grows its audience and revenue.
In a way, this felt like eating a big bowl of vegetables – not much fun but you’ll feel great afterwards.

If you’re new to the field, I’d suggest starting with Ryan Holiday’s book Growth Hacker Marketing, as it is less detailed and covers the mindset of growth hacking.
Ellis and Brown are the real practitioners, so this book is full of case studies, action plans and trap to avoid.

A beautiful constraint

7. A Beautiful Constraint - Mark Barden and Adam Morgan
This wasn’t released in 2017, but since it is uncommon in bookstores I feel it sort of counts as “New”.
This book is full of compelling stories and useful ways of thinking, such as the Can If model.
If you work in social enterprise, startups or development, you’ll get a lot out of it.
It’s a slow burn at first, but there is some absolute gold hidden in each chapter.

Here it is paul roos

6. Here It Is – Paul Roos
You might not have heard of Paul Roos, he’s probably the best AFL coach of the last 15 years.
Paul is renowned for creating strong cultures that serve as a competitive advantage, and this book explains how he does it.
If you’re not an AFL fan, this might not be as much of a page-turner as it was for me, but there’s still so much insight in the first 100 pages.
To see if the book is for you, google his 25 point manifesto he wrote as a player about how people want their coaches to treat them; this document then set the tone for his incredible career.

Tribe of mentors

5. Tribe Of Mentors – Tim Ferriss
The sequel to Tools Of Titans takes a slightly different format; a tonne of hyper-smart, hyper productive people answered the same eleven questions, and the book is their best responses.
Like prospecting, you’ll find some sections to be underwhelming, and others to be so profound that you’ll have to write the quotes down.
The small chapters make for easy reading in small doses, and the huge variety of contributors will expose you to some amazing people you’ve never heard of.

Confessions Of An Advertising Man

4. Confessions Of An Advertising Man – David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is incredible.
On the surface, this is a manual for how to run an advertising agency in the 1960’s.
In reality, it’s a collection of memorable and insightful quotes, both about how humans behave and how a business should run.
A great one to read with a highlighter or sticky notes in your hand.

Branding In Five And A Half Steps

3. Branding (In Five And A Half Steps) – Michael Johnson
This is the best book on branding that I’ve ever encountered.
I’d love to be wrong, because that would mean I get to read something stellar, but for the time being I have Michael’s engaging and elegant dive into the realities of assembling a brand.

There are a lot of books on strategy, and a lot on logo design.
This book covers both, and explains the need for leaders to consider both the philosophical (what is the narrative behind our brand?) and the practical (How should we change our typography?)

More importantly, I had the rare joy of thinking “Oh no, there’s only 100 pages left!”

What I know about running coffee shops

2. What I Know About Running Coffee Shops – Colin Harmon
This book is hard to find and quite expensive.
I went to Happy Valley in Collingwood six times to read bits of it, just to convince myself of its value.
What a payoff!
This book is fantastic – I wish I’d read it five years ago.
Colin runs a series of cafes in Ireland and comes out with a common sense approach to starting and running a business that customers, without burning yourself out.
His writing style is so clean and engaging (I read it with an Irish accent in my head), and his modest approach sits in contrast with just how good of an advisor he is.
Great for those who run a small business, or who love a good cafe.

Tools Of Titans

1. Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss
Tim can be quite polarising – he’s someone who treats life as a series of experiments that can be “Optimised”.
That means he often pushes things too far, which can put readers off.
Having said that, I really like him and his work.

This book is split into three categories: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.
I did not enjoy the Healthy section, but Wealthy and Wise have made this one of the best books I’ve ever read.

The book is essentially highlights from Tim’s podcast – long interviews with some of the world’s smartest people.
A two hour interview gets boiled down to 3-6 pages of wisdom, and that process has led to some incredible quotes and nuggets that will change the way you think about work, life and relationships.
I have already read the whole thing twice. I hope you love it as much as I do.

You can find my favourite books of 2016 here, or have a look at The Book List

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