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3 Great Business Books that You Probably Have Not Read
I didn’t want to write about the “same old business books. Rather, I am highlighting three of my favorite business books that you likely haven’t read. They each look at a different aspect of business; management, marketing and the customer experience and provide valuable insights no matter what your career.
Ben Horowitz is not a household name, but if you are a tech entrepreneur you have likely heard of him. His insightful book “The Hard Things about Hard Things” is not just for techies or entrepreneurs though. While running a company called Loudcloud, Ben had to manage through a wide range of business situations from start-up to near bankruptcy to pivoting the business to an initial public offering and finally to a successful sale.
In “Hard Things”, Ben provides insights into techniques such as; hiring top executives, handling layoffs, learning from failed hires and gleaning information from customers. I could relate his examples to specific situations I have encountered as a turnaround professional. He provides tangible strategies for each situation and creates a roadmap for company leaders.
After starting at Netscape, co-founding and managing Loudcloud, Ben is now one of the co-founders of Andreesen Horowitz, which has become one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world having backed Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Airbnb, Skype and Zynga.
Ever wonder why a horrible song like “Friday” by Rebecca Black can go viral, while another brilliant idea languishes undiscovered? That is the focus of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger. This is not just another book offering the author’s opinions on why things catch on. Rather, Jonah is a professor at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania who has studied the topic extensively and conducted detailed experiments on viral memes.
No matter what you do in life, it likely involves marketing. We are constantly trying to spread ideas in one form or another and you can’t help but benefit from the ideas in the book. Jonah also weaves his insights with very engaging examples that will keep you mesmerized, such as the $100 Cheesesteak, the “Will it Blend” videos and of course Rebecca Black’s famous video. He provides us with the elements needed to create virality in your marketing campaigns. These elements don’t guarantee success but they help to improve your chance of success, and more importantly head off strategies doomed to fail.
I enjoyed this book so much, I have listened to it twice. I found it an incredibly valuable book about marketing in the Internet/Mobile Age.
Building Culture and the Customer Experience
Few companies can achieve fanatical customer loyalty but when they do, the results are usually spectacular; think Apple Computer, Disney, Coca-Cola and Whole Foods. To achieve that kind of loyalty, a company must create a customer experience that is unparalleled by rivals. One such company is Zappos, which was acquired by Amazon in 2009. Before being acquired, Zappos had grown from zero to $1.0 billion in revenue in just 10 years.
How did CEO, Tony Hsieh, achieve such amazing results? He did it with a unique corporate culture that created a stellar customer experience. He outlines the Zappos philosophy in “Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion and Purpose”. Tony’s mission was to create the company culture first and in so doing he felt that a great customer experience would follow hand in hand.
This is a great read both for its insight into corporate culture and also for understanding the customer experience.