When mediators, coaches, and other ADR professionals ask me to recommend business books, there are a few that are always on my list. They’re books that shaped my thinking and my business for the better. They’re books I still go back and reference or re-read every once in a while. I consider them “quake books” — they rocked my world.
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and John David Mann isn’t about running a business. But it is about running a successful one. It’s a book about the simple daily habits that make the difference between just having dreams and achieving them. I usually shy away from books that make this kind of promise because most of them come up short. But The Slight Edge is the real deal.
I’ve read Good to Great by Jim Collins five times now. Each time I read it, I understand something that helps me bring my ADR business to the next level. After reading it the first time, I spent several months refining my hedgehog concept. That one act changed my business forever (for the better!).
At first glance, Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson appears to be a book about software development. Look past the appearances, though, because it’s really a playbook for anyone who wants to run a great small business or solo practice. I love that Fried and Hansson quickly dispense with all the things small business owners are traditionally told they must do, and demonstrate what’s really worth your effort instead.
It always surprises me how few conflict resolution professionals have read Influence by Robert Cialdini. I’m probably surprised because I think 100% should read it. Not only is it a book with concepts that are foundational to our work, but it’s a book with a whole lot to teach people who want to build a thriving private practice.
To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink is a book about making your peace with selling not by turning yourself into a smarmy somebody you’re not, but by changing the way you think about marketing and sales. And it’s a helluva entertaining read along the way, with lots of tidbits conflict resolution and negotiation professionals will love.
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin has been around for years but its message is as crucial today as it was when the book first hit the shelves: The era of interruption marketing is waning because we’re all sick of it. Adding people to your email distribution list without asking them mostly just irritates us. There’s something powerfully better to do and in his inimitable style, Godin will show you what.
Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss is one of the game-changing books and I wish that every single mediator and coach would read it before they get too committed to trading their time for money. When I read Weiss’ book about a decade ago I completely threw out my old fee-setting model and replaced it with one that both made my clients happier and transformed my revenue (yes, for the better!). You’ll be tempted to fight this book along the way. Don’t get irritated and put it down. See it through and give it the chance to stretch your thinking.