Last week, we discussed lessons we’d learned during the first quarter of this year and what steps we’re taking to grow as a business. Our CEO Owen Franklin gave his perspective on how to build a great team and stay motivated – but what inspired him along the way?
The answer is simpler than you’d expect: books.
“I read a lot of books,” Owen says of where he gets his ideas, gesturing to the small-but-growing ‘library’ of business books he’s gathered in the Blue Summit Supplies office.
And he’s not exaggerating. We’re all accustomed to seeing the ever-changing stack of books on Owen’s desk; we’re used to hearing him recite (or paraphrase) whole passages from his book du jour, or share little snippets of wisdom from the thought leader who inspired him that week.
Reading so much and so often is one of Owen’s self-proclaimed keys to success. If you’re interested in growing as a business, as a professional, or just as a person, here are his top picks from this quarter.
PRINCIPLES by Ray Dalio
"Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create unique results in both life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals." - Amazon.com
This book is one of Owen’s favorites to quote. To hear him paraphrase its message, it’s about ‘Ray Dalio wishing people like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos would’ve defined their principles, so he [Dalio] gives his principles for others to follow. He talks about running his company into the ground by making bad mistakes, and the pain of laying off his small team of employees. And then, how he resurrected Bridgewater from nothing and accumulated over $20 billion in net worth. Yet he doesn’t really care about the money – all he wanted was good relationships and challenging work. He embraces his mistakes and sees them as opportunities to learn.’
“If you're not failing, you're not pushing your limits, and if you're not pushing your limits, you're not maximizing your potential." - Ray Dalio
YOUR BEST YEAR EVER by Michael Hyatt
"In Your Best Year Ever, New York Times bestselling author, two-time CEO, entrepreneur, and family man Michael Hyatt shares a powerful, proven, research-driven system for setting and achieving your goals." - Amazon.com
You may recognize Michael Hyatt from our time management piece, since he’s the man behind the Full Focus Planner we love and use at Blue Summit Supplies. The planner is a companion to this book, which teaches you how to not only set goals, but how to achieve them. It breaks goals down into categories and helps you take them on, week by week, quarter by quarter, in achievable chunks. Instead of saying ‘I want to grow the business by 100% this year,’ it encourages you to say, ‘I want to grow the business by 25% each quarter, and here’s how I’ll achieve it.’
“By reaching for what appears to be impossible, we often actually do the impossible; and even when we don’t quite make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.” – Michael Hyatt
HOW TO BE GOOD AT PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS by Dick Grote
"In How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals, Dick Grote provides a concise, hands-on guide to succeeding at every step of the performance appraisal process—no matter what performance management system your organization uses. He shows you how to handle every appraisal activity from setting goals and defining job responsibilities to evaluating performance quality and discussing the performance evaluation face-to-face." - Amazon.com
For Owen, this first quarter has seen a big focus on building and maintaining a great team. Grote’s book has been an integral part of this, since Owen’s taken inspiration from it not only to conduct productive, non-scary performance reviews, but also to build a cohesive company culture. Much like Dalio asserts in PRINCIPLES, Grote insists that defining your values and culture and holding colleagues to these standards is a necessary step on the path to success.
“My goal for this book is to give supervisors and managers who aren’t HR experts a solid guide to handling performance appraisal at an Exceeds Expectations level.” – Dick Grote
WORK RULES! by Laszlo Bock
"Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries-including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees." - Amazon.com
This book is Google-centric, detailing how Google builds and maintains its culture of being extremely people-focused, dedicated to positively changing the world, and how they built such an incredibly high-performing company. Owen was most profoundly affected by the passage about Google creating a ‘death benefit’ and an employee anonymously emailing in to thank them for taking away the lingering stress of what might happen to their family if their cancer treatments weren’t enough.
Says Owen: “Reading that gave me goosebumps and really inspired me to work harder and do better because we have to create a company like this. This book shows Google is a model example. Maybe someone people think their companies are only there to make money... but ours is not. Period.”
“All it takes is a belief that people are fundamentally good—and enough courage to treat your people like owners instead of machines. Machines do their jobs; owners do whatever is needed to make their companies and teams successful.” – Laszlo Bock
What books have you read that have helped you grow professionally or personally? Have you read any of our picks? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you have any further questions or comments about office culture, reach out to us on Twitter,Instagram, or Facebook. And as always, for any questions, concerns, or just to say hello, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Larry would love to hear from you!
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