Tons of books promise to help you turn your business into the next Facebook and make you a zillionaire who also never misses your kids' soccer games.
I will wager that, right now, there is a pile of books somewhere in your home or office that you sincerely plan to read because they contain knowledge that you need, or think you need, to grow personally and build your business.
Why am I recommending two more?
Because what they contain is so priceless that you should put them right on top of that pile and find time to read them, even if it means skipping something really important like meeting with potential new clients.
Let me explain. You only have two sources of leverage to grow your company:
- Yourself and the mindset you bring to your business. Other things, such as finances, partners and intellectual property, come from that mindset as it plays out in the way you run your business.
- Your employees or team members or the people who work for you and with you. If they could do a wee bit better, your profits would soar.
Each of these books gives you an entirely different perspective and helps you make better use of both these sources of leverage.
1. Leverage yourself: The first book is actually a booklet. It is only 36 pages and some of the pages have only a few lines. But the book is gold.
It is You 2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps, self-published more than 10 years ago by the author, Price Pritchett, an independent consultant.
It is all about how to achieve a quantum jump in your life and your business. We are not talking about growing by 10% or 20%. We are talking about tripling or quadrupling your current level and then doing it again.
You cannot do this by "working harder." In fact, working harder can set you back.
You cannot do this by "working smarter."
You cannot do this by "managing your time better."
You can only do this by thinking differently, radically differently.
An anecdote at the book's beginning illustrates the point beautifully. The author watches a fly trying to escape as it repeatedly crashes into a clear glass wall. It tries hard and harder, but this is a doomed strategy.
A few feet away there is an open door. A slight change in direction and that fly can be away in glorious freedom.
You, too, have breakthrough possibilities. They appear like magic when you drop your conventional ways of thinking and adopt the You 2 mindset.
Now, here's the kicker. The book does not tell you how to think differently in a Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 fashion. That cannot be done.
You will craft your own solution. But the book will lift your vision and make you viscerally aware of the immense possibilities that are available to you and that you have been ignoring.
These three quotes illustrate the big shift in perspective the author proposes:
"Don't get the idea that anything you can think of is possible. It isn't. But in some areas of your life what lies within your reach is enough to stagger the mind. You can double your level of success. Triple it. Far beyond that, you can leverage up your performance to the second or third or fourth power...or beyond.
"True, there are limits, but you don't need to worry about them. Your real limits are far beyond your artificial mental boundaries. The real limits won't box you in, but the false ones you're carrying around in your mind are a self-imposed prison."
"You've got to understand that you can never escape risk. It's not something you can live with or without. Something is always at stake. You can only decide which risks to take."
"Forget the idea that you should be able to see, tangibly and in full view, all the resources necessary to leverage your performance so dramatically.
"In a sense, making the quantum leap is like playing bridge. You don't bid your hand alone...your bidding is also based on the power of your partner's cards. You don't get to really see those cards until it's time to play them, but you trust that they will bring valuable strength to your own hand."
Reading this booklet once is not enough. Read it again and again until Pritchett's viewpoint seeps into your very being. And let the promise manifest.
2. Leverage your team: The second book is by prolific author Bob Nelson, the employee motivation and recognition consultant who wrote 1501 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing Company Inc., 2012).
The book I am recommending is 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees: Help People Do Better What They Do Best (Career Press, 2018).
You can have a great product or service, and it may be unmatched in the value it delivers but, if your frontline team members do not impress--even wow--your customer, you may find yourself out of business very soon.
So, how do you "fix" this problem?
One way, of course, is training. Lots of it, and repeated often and intensively. And this is certainly necessary.
But it is not enough.
The key to getting the best out of the people who work in your organization is to show them that their work is their route to personal fulfillment and happiness.
In fact, don't even think about "getting" the best out of them. Instead, think in terms of "helping" them thrive in many ways both personal and professional.
There are three parts to this approach.
The first is your commitment to the idea that this is the "right" thing to do. Not because it will increase your bottom line, but because it will be good for the individual, their families and the world. The bottom-line results will appear but as a by-product. If you think primarily of them, they will actually disappear as your employees cotton on to it and remain disengaged.
The second part is education. It is best if this is done experientially. Do you get great thank-you letters from customers? Make sure your frontline employees see them, and thank them for the role they played in this. Even better, fly some of those customers in so that they can narrate their experience in person.
The third part is the structures and processes you have in place. Do they encourage your team members to give more of themselves creatively? Do they create a sense of camaraderie and the feeling that "We are all in this together?"
Nelson addresses all three parts well. There are lots of quotes from luminaries--they are scattered throughout in sidebar boxes and are one of the best features of the book--and anecdotes, and these are both motivating and inspiring.
I like the section in chapter 4, called Strategy and Purpose, in which Mark Luciano, CEO of NeuVanta, a company Luciano founded after he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease to help others with similar issues, talks about embedding the philosophy that "We are part of this company to serve a higher cause."
The book is organized in such sections as Recognition, Career Development, Open and Effective Communication and others.
But there is so much overlap in the ideas presented that the organization fails completely.
And OK, some of the suggestions are trite and practically meaningless, such as the example of Cisco GmbH enabling its team members to grow by permitting them access to "education, experience and exposure."
But there are also many examples that are both specific and helpful, such as what Luciano does to implement his vision.
Here is the best way to use this book: Read it through with a highlighter in hand and mark out those ideas that resonate with you and that you think would work in your company. Be open-minded as you do this.
Then share these ideas with key members of your company. Together, select a half-dozen ideas that resonate with all of you. Next, devise a plan to systematically implement these. And watch your company grow both in profitability and as a great place to work.