5 Books that will Re-Wire Your Thinking

By November 12, 2011Blog
I’m frequently asked what books I read – and what books I would recommend others read.  There are plenty of very helpful books on how to do something.  And plenty of books that will make you think.  But what if you wanted to fundamentally change your thinking? To re-wire your brain so that your thinking (and behavior) become a competitive advantage?
Here are my Top 5 for doing just that (in no particular order) …

Core concept:  “This fun little book will help you figure out if you’re in a Dip that’s worthy of your time, effort, and talents. If you are, The Dip will inspire you to hang tough. If not, it will help you find the courage to quit-so you can be number one at something else.”

Godin will always make you think – probably more than any modern business author.  His books always inspire “I’ve never thought about that before”.  However, a lot Godin’s stuff is not all that actionable – more theory and concepts than changing behavior.  The exception is “The Dip”.  My good friend and relevance filter Tac Anderson gave me a copy several years ago when I was in a transitionary phase in my career as a consultant.  Like many of the books on this list, it was a quick read.  However, it fundamentally changed my thinking on excellence and career fulfillment.  I use the principles in the book as part of any strategy-related discussion for my clients as well as my brand.


Core concept:  “Why do some ideas thrive while others die?  The brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”

This is the best business book I’ve ever read.  I actually listened to it first – then bought the actual book.  It’s the only business book I’ve read more than twice.  This book caused me to shift my entire consulting methodology away from promoting products for my clients to promoting (and discovering) ideas.  This is because great brands are ultimately ideas.  As such, I use (with proper credit) their 7 elements of an idea in my consulting sessions.  A brilliant, yet simple read.


Core Concept:  In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way — and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. And it all starts with “why.”  

As friends and clients can attest to, this book is probably the one I quote the most.  Simon’s book is a profound blend of inspiration, communication, and behavior – all critical elements of effective branding.  Simon’s “Why?” principle gets at the heart of what creates a great brand.  Like bacon goes with eggs, it blends perfectly with “Made to Stick” – providing a robust set of concepts for discovering and promoting ideas.  


Core Concept:   The Go Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success.  Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving—putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives—ultimately leads to unexpected returns.

Told in story format, “The Go Giver” risks being mis-positioned as being trite or cheesy because of it’s title.  It is most certainly neither.  Instead, “The Go Giver” uses a simple narrative to uncover what it truly takes to be successful.  Because of it’s story format, I enjoyed the audio version more than reading the book.  Joe’s story is similar to a situation we’ve all been in – the pressure to increase sales RIGHT NOW.  Through the narrative, the authors reveal 5 critical elements that Joe was missing in his search for success.  I use the concepts in this book every day.


Core Concept:   Bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.

Although obviously written as a relationship/marriage book, this is also a business book.  More specifically, it is a book on how to create an internal culture that becomes a differentiator for your brand.  I’m sure that Dr Chapman didn’t write it with this intent, but the principles apply to branding, culture, customer experience, employee recruiting, etc.  Why?  Because all of these areas involve people – and how they relate to each other.  Each of the “Love Languages” are manifested in business settings as well – and when you understand this, it will fundamentally change how you interact with your employees, customers, and influencers.


I will also use this post to shamelessly and gladly promote two new books from two of my favorite people:
Corey Smith’s book “Do it Right: A CEO’s Guide to Web Strategy”.   This is the book that every CEO, small business owner, and lead executive must read.  Using humor, story-telling and practical advice, Corey has produced the first web book written specifically to help a CEO.
Ron Price’s book “Treasure Inside:  23 Unexpected Principles that Activate Greatness”.  Simply put, Ron has unlocked the secret to human potential.  This book is so profound that it needs to be absorbed a bit at a time.  It will help you understand your own “awesomeness” – and make you go digging through your own heart and mind to find these hidden treasures.

Of course, after you’ve read all of these books, don’t forget to read “Oatmeal v Bacon”.

Leave a Reply