Summer Business Books: What to Read Now

I love to read. Books, newspapers, magazine, blogs, comment threads. Put the written word in front of me, whether on a sheet of paper bound into a book or magazine, or as pixels on a glowing screen and I will consume it. But like most small business owners, I have very little time available for reading and what time there is tends to be pretty well consumed by the other parts of my life; you know – family, the couple of friends I still have, household chores and (this week at least) the annual ritual of the (automatic-extension-granted) tax returns.

For those of us who think about business pretty much all day, every day one staple of the reading pile is the business book, and what better time to delve into one or two of these than summer. Ah, those lazy days on the strand; those delicious hours in a cool cafe; quiet Sunday afternoons on the deck. Wait, what? (Queue the metal screeching sound effect). I must have been channeling someone else for a moment there. Someone whose reading time is not limited to 15 minutes on the train or the occasional late-night bedtime reading. For me, I am lucky if I can fit in a book or two during the annual slowdown that we at crowdSPRING know as “August.”

So while I can not write personal reviews for the books on this list, I did take some time to do a bit of research into this year’s batch of business books and have come up with the, consensus winners from a variety of reviewers: the top 5 business books for this season. Here then is the cS Summer Biz Book Reading List – enjoy and please let me know how you like! (editors note: some of these descriptions were cadged in whole or part directly from Amazon and other bookseller sites; links provided)

1. Contagious: Why Things Catch OnJonah Berger describes for us the modern way of influence, and it has little to do with advertising. People no longer listen to advertisers, they listen to people they know – their peers. Berger explains why people talk about certain produces and ideas more than others, why some stories have a greater tendency towards a viral effect and why some rumors are simply more infectious than others. This book can help you better understand the six basic principles that drive things to become contagious.

2. End of The Good Life: How the Financial Crisis Threatens a Lost Generation–and What We Can Do About It. Financial journalist Riva Froymovich tells how the financial crisis of 2008 and the bad decisions and short-sighted policy is having a huge negative impact on entire generations of Americans. Gen Y, the Millenials, and the next couple of generations to come have had the American dream snatched away from them – they are saddled with massive student loan debt, postponed marriages, an inability to buy their own home, and delayed families are a few of the impacts on younger adults and Ms. Froymovich makes it all scary-clear.

3. The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business. By Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. Schmidt is (the influential CEO of Google) and Cohen (the director of Google Ideas and former adviser to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton) describe for the readers the world that is rapidly rising around us; a world of digital connectedness and all of the challenges and benefits that come with it. They explore important questions about citizen’s power vs. the state’s, the relationship between privacy and security, and the arrival of the digital age.

4. Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn from the Business of Rock and Roll. By David Fishof and Michael Levin. It is now 2013 and we can definitively say that Rock and Roll is here to stay. One of the key reasons for this is the innate sense of branding that rock musicians and bands bring to the business of music, both sales of recordings and live performance. Not to mention merch. Oh yea, the merch. Fishof is a long time rock industry promoter and, along with the veteran ghost-writer Levin, he has created a wonderful and timely guide to creating longevity for business, building customer loyalty and leveraging the power of partnerships and bartering to overcome business obstacles. All that plus Ringo Starr anecdotes? Why wouldn’t I take this book to the beach?

5. Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It. Mitch Joel, a leading expert in new media, describe our current moment of “business purgatory.” Joel describes how the changes surrounding us (technology, smartphones, social media, online shopping, and on and on and on) have combined to change the DNA of business and how nothing can or will ever be as it was.  CTRL ALT DELETE is the necessary process to reboot and re-build your business model. Joel warns, that if you don’t hit the reset button your company begin the long backward slide, and you may find yourself unemployable within five years.

Photo: Rebecca Gulotta


Also, I had promised you the answers to last week’s quiz – here ya go and please let me know how you fared!

1. Which of the following customer service channels do 46% of your customers expect you to provide? d) Facebook support
2. What is the best way to improve personal productivity? e) All of the above
3. What is the percentage of small businesses without a website? d) 50%
4. How many hours per day did Gary Vaynerchuk spend on the Internet when working to grow his family’s wine business? a) 12
5. By how much did Gary increase the family revenues that first year? c) $4 million to $50 million
6. How many employees must a small business have before Obamacare requires health plans be provided? d) 50
7. 34 million Americans worked from home last year. What was their chief reason for doing so? e) Improve your job satisfaction
8. According to Wikipedia, if Facebook were an actual country it would be the 3rd largest by population. What assets does the Facebook Nation possess? d) A GNP of $5.1 billion
9. What is the #1 activity on the web today? d) Social Media
10. By 2014, the mobile internet is predicted to overtake desktop internet usage. Which of the following was true of mobile usage in 2012? c) Worldwide mobile payment transactions were over $170 billion