A Monday Series

You need easy, you need breezy. Sure, you want to grow your business this summer but I hear you: “Kelly, please, don’t make me do anything this week!”

I have a heart. I hear you. Click, order, read. Ten books that will make you laugh and think and plan your company’s course, without breaking the bank: most are light enough to pack up and read at the beach instead of those Danielle Steeles your sister-in-law keeps trying to loan you.

If you’re burnt-out, antsy, and need to revitalize your attitude as much as your business, this is the series for you. Experience Design for beach-dreaming business owners comes to your summer Mondays.

Summer Is a Great Time to Read a Book—or 10

The Milkshake Moment: Overcoming Stupid Systems, Pointless Policies and Muddled Management to Realize Real Growth by Steven S. Little

Are you keeping your own company from growing? You wouldn’t do that consciously, but business growth is a tricky balancing act. It’s all about people, starting with those inside your business. This book is an easy read full of tips you can act on to position your firm for growth.

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas

Dana Thomas’ book is light, entertaining, and keenly perceptive. You won’t learn the secrets of the universe but you may key in to why it’s a good time to be Dunkin’ Donuts, IKEA, or Target, and what your strategy should be going forward into uncertain times.

Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea by Bill Schley

If I tell you that this witty, yet informative read can be had right now for less than 6 bucks (currently “bargain priced” at Amazon.com), will you run and get it? Right now. Very, very cool book.

Strategy and the Fat Smoker: Doing What’s Obvious But Not Easy by David H. Maister

You’ve heard me recommend easy changes, you’ve heard me nudge toward tough ones. David Maister is firmly in the latter camp, and he’ll kick your behind or at least make you own up to why you’re resisting doing what you know is good for your business. The hot business read of 2008.

Identity Crisis: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands by Jeff Fisher

This book will set you back a bit more than the others on this list but not too much for this colorful, real-life-example packed classic. After you’ve read the book, applied all the lessons, and become a fan, you’ll want to visit Jeff’s LogoMotives blog, where you can also click through his wonderful portfolio.

Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands by David Vinjamuri

I don’t agree with everything in this book. Or, to put it better, I don’t agree with the happy notion that “accidental” is a good way to “brand.” But I love the stories in this book, stories of owners with passion and drive that we can all get inspired by on a butt-draggingly hot summer day.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie

Winner for greatest title, and a real zinger on the creative process. Fun fact for all you writers out there: the book was originally self-published. Now there’s an inspirational story for your beach bag.

What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business by Harry Beckwith

If a summer read for your business is one that never makes you break a sweat, then this is it. Not one of you was reading blogs back when it was published, but you’ll appreciate his blogger’s style: short, sweet, and to the point. Take a lesson, go apply it, come back for another hundred lessons some other day. His real blog claims to be “coming soon,” but this is like taking a great blog in your pocket. Okay, you might need an oversized pocket. 🙂

Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee by Alex Frankel

If you aren’t one now, chances are you’ve been one: a retail drudge. Whether you want to reminisce, choose your next corporation to work in a low-end job for (hint: Steve Jobs will sign your paychecks), or figure out how your employees may be viewing you and put those ideas to work for you, this sometimes-catty yet insightful book is a must-read.

Funky Business Forever: How to Enjoy Capitalism by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom

This wild book on differentiation and change management is completely updated for 2008, and an even better read than it was before. Like a splash of icy cold water on the day your office air conditioner breaks, these guys will wake you up and getting you thinking in brand-new ways.

What business book have you read this summer that entertained, inspired, and motivated you? Drop a comment with your recommendation below!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson