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Every summer my wife creates a reading list. She’s ambitious; she typically tries to read a book a week. My goal is much more subdued; I try to read a book a month. Perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between.
Whatever your reading pace might be, I’ve solicited suggestions from respected leaders in our community. What are they reading? What are they finding most helpful about it? Why?
Cindy Sheltmire, who has been a longtime (and highly successful) real estate agent in Columbia, was quick to recommend the classics. Sometimes people are looking for the next big thing or the newest/latest thought on sales and marketing. But Sheltmire emphasized the idea that the classics remind us of what establishes a strong and credible foundation. “I still refer back to books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey because the basics are the things we typically overlook or underestimate,” Sheltmire says. “These books reinforce their importance in my mind.”
Greg Steinhoff CEO of Veteran’s United shared a couple books that have been instrumental in shaping his thinking, including The E Myth by Michael Gerber. “This book helped me understand the difference between working in a business and running a business,” Steinhoff says. The other is Speed of Trust by Stephen R Covey. “This book looks at trust as the foundation of leadership, and although this may sound simplistic, we have discovered that without trust teamwork is unsustainable, but with it teams invariably exceed expectations.”
Andrew Last Name, the newly appointed executive director for Heart of Missouri United Way, shared two of his favorite leadership selections: The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. He finds them both helpful on a personal and professional level. Specifically, The Leadership Challenge provides a practical, research-based framework for personal and professional discovery that helps everyone learn how to courageously lead themselves and their organizations toward success. Never Eat Alone outlines the power of relationships based on generosity, authenticity, never keeping score and always seeking to help others in reaching their goals. This type of relationship-building is beyond networking and seeks to build real value in every connection.
My daughter Mallory Van Waarde, who recently started her own Internet company, Magnifyre, reads anything and everything that Malcolm Gladwell writes. She’s also heard him speak and finds him deeply inspirational. “I love that Gladwell digs deep into various subjects — psychology, crime, sports, art, politics, religion — and uncovers truths in ways most of us don’t think of,” she says. “His books have challenged me to re-examine my worldviews, live outside of the norm and embrace intellectual curiosity.”
The three books I’ve found most helpful lately are:
So wake up 20 minutes earlier, grab your cup of coffee, pick up one of the aforementioned books, find your favorite chair and go back to school. Your brain will thank you.