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Forget Business Books: Get Help in the Least Likely Places

Sometimes the best way to get help in your business life is to look at some things that seem far removed from the world of commerce as you know it.

In business, as for any field you're in, learning theory and getting tips from experienced people is great. If you want to learn to build furniture, there are magazine articles and books on creating any sort of woodworking joinery you'd want. You can find libraries of how to use cameras to take better pictures as well as principles of composition that can make those images more memorable. There are encyclopedic collections of cooking techniques that you could apply to any meal.

Stroll through the business section of a bookstore or library, and prepare to be overwhelmed with the collections of advice, anecdotes, and concepts available for the investment of some reading time. You could even learn how to apply humor to your startup. But eventually what you see may start to sound the same. And so you would expect if there is any consistency in the principles of business.

Head off in a new direction

One good way to break what can become a soporific monotony is to realize that there is wisdom in many places. Business experts are a tiny minority of the people who can open your eyes. To get a new take on your business savvy, try going far afield.

Maria Popova has a great piece on her Brain Pickings blog about advice from artists on solving a number of problems, gathered together in a book called Creative Block: Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artists. Some of the advice, like deliberately working within narrow parameters or approaching one subject you know well in 30 different ways over a month, is brilliant.

Although the advice is intended for artists, creativity is not the possession of only those who draw and paint. Whether fine art or applied design, you can find many lessons. The Wall Street Journal has an article on how Est

Last updated: Jun 20, 2014

ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist

Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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