Adam Witty is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Charleston, South Carolina, and founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists in working with business professionals to elevate brands and grow businesses through publishing. Adam has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 US states and 13 countries. We asked Adam to share some of his favorite family business titles:
Having my Dad by my side during the growth of my company, sharing his invaluable knowledge borne of building and nurturing his own successful company was not only a personal privilege but also a huge business asset.
I needed advice 24/7. He was there. I needed straight talk. He didn't mince words. I needed to be told when I was headed down the wrong path. He was not shy in sharing his opinions.
I'm not advocating starting a new business with family members. The pros and cons of this are well-documented, from the advantages of shared vision and company loyalty, to the disadvantages of festering familial conflict and lack of work-life balance.
What I do know is that taking the entrepreneurial plunge with a family member can lead to a special kind of success.
Here are five excellent business books co-written by family members who have taken that journey together.
1. Double Your Success: Principles to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Business by Stephen Levi Carter and Dr. Sterling Carter
The Carters, twin entrepreneurs and co-founders of Sterling Staffing Solutions, share their journey from children of sharecroppers to owners of a hugely successful healthcare staffing business. The book is divided into four main sections: planning, implementation, a leader's mindset and potential pitfalls. The twins' humble background along with their military careers taught them about discipline and the need for a robust support system, traits that carry over into their business advice. Helpful tips and mnemonic devices (such as their CARES model: Compassion, Attitude, Respect, Excellence and Servant leadership) make it particularly user-friendly.
2. Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change by Louise Phipps Senft and William Senft
This husband-and-wife team are leaders in the field of mediation and conflict resolution. While it has the feel of self-improvement, the book is effective as a guide to improving business communication. It carries a message about the good that can come when, instead of focusing solely on winning a discussion or negotiation, we take the spotlight off the specific transaction and put it on the relationship, creating a win-win for all parties. Being relational involves focusing on seven attributes during any interaction: Being engaged, centered, grounded, clear, generous, humble and kind. The book contains elements of psychology, philosophy and spirituality, but is written in everyday language with a conversational style.
3. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Brothers Heath have written a number of business books together. This is my favorite for students of marketing. The first step in any outreach, from an ad campaign to a sales presentation, is to create bold ideas that "stick"--ideas that "are understood and remembered and have a lasting impact--ones that change your audience's opinions or behavior." The authors identify the essential elements of a sticky idea: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories. The premise: It's not the best idea that wins; it's the one that's best communicated. The Heaths use plenty of real-world examples of sticky ideas that have worked spectacularly or failed miserably. A little wordy, but that's a minor quibble. Best for anyone who needs to communicate their ideas more effectively and memorably.
4. From Problem Solving To Solution Design: Turning Ideas Into Actions by J. Eduardo Campos and Erica W. Campos
This married couple are the founders of Embedded-Knowledge, Inc., a consulting firm helping business leaders design solutions to complex problems within their companies. They have worked in multicultural environments across four continents, dealing with intricate partnerships involving multinational stakeholders. In other words, they know how to problem-solve. It is this expertise they share here. The book is organized progressively in chapters that take the reader through the practical stages of identifying problems and designing solutions, employing real-life case studies and providing analytical tools that can be applied in virtually any context. Through their "IDEAS (Identify, Design, Engage, Act, Sustain) Framework" they have simplified what could be complicated, giving the reader a recipe for success.
5. Life is Good: The Book by Bert Jacobs and John Jacobs
Life is indeed good for these brothers whose apparel company, Life is Good, is worth more than $100 million. Their book, like their business, is based on an attitude of optimism. Bert and John share the ride from their lower-middle-class upbringing to the runaway success of their business. They illuminate ten key "superpowers" as key to a sunny perspective and a terrific business plan: openness, courage, simplicity, humor, gratitude, fun, compassion, creativity, authenticity and love. Their story, illustrated with the company's iconic artwork, shows how to overcome obstacles, whether it's growing stronger from rejection, letting your imagination loose, or simplifying your life to focus on what matters most. It's a sweet, easy book full of good feelings.