For a special summer treat as many head off to the beach, lake, or (in the case of our friend Jim Keenan — a ski trip!) we have asked a few of our favorite experts/thoughtleaders/influencers to give us a glimpse at their favorite books for summer reading. It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix of suggestions — with our own list of Staff Picks at the end. Enjoy the dog days with these fine suggestions.
Miles Austin, blogger at Fill the Funnel and leading authority on Web tools for sales (@milesaustin):
I recommend Feed the Startup Beast: A 7-Step Guide to Big, Hairy, Outrageous Sales Growth by Drew Williams and Jonathan Verney. Whether you are starting your own company or looking for answers to why your business has stalled, this book provided a proven 7-step marketing and sales system for fast and furious business growth. Author Williams is sharing what he has learned through his many startup ventures and brings current, real-world experience and reality to the pages of the book.The 7 steps are:
- Ask – if you ask the right question, your customers will provide powerful answers
- Listen – intently to conversations inside and outside your team
- Focus – “Getting ready is the secret to success.” – Henry Ford
- Attract – You need to be “found” by prospects online. Do it successfully and you win. Fail at this and you are gone – quickly.
- Pursue – getting Found is great, but it is not enough. Learn how to pro-actively find your best prospects.
- Nurture – Here is where Attraction and Pursuit pays off. How to “feed” your prospects to keep them interested and coming back for more.
- Grow – if you do everything above correctly, this is when the payoff begins.
Brent Leary, CRM Renaissance Man, speaker, author (@BrentLeary):
Here’s my (ambitious!) list of books I want to read now, or that I am anticipating eagerly upon release:
Jim Keenan, The Sales Guy (@keenan):
I’m reading Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charen. It’s about the one thing almost everyone struggles with — and that’s actually getting things done! Since I’m taking a skiing holiday this summer, I’ll have it with me for apres-ski unwinding.
Ann Hawkins, Founder of The Inspired Group (@AnnHawkins):
I’m delighted to recommend Grace and Mary by Melvyn Bragg for a short break from business reading.
Imagine being a bright, beautiful young woman in a small northern English town in 1917 – three years into the First World War. Imagine giving birth to an illegitimate child — a bastard — and how that stigma of immorality means that you are seen as an unfit mother and your child is rejected by your family and placed with a foster family — affecting both of you for the rest of your lives. This is the story of Melvyn Bragg’s mother and grandmother told in his strongly autobiographical novel.
I was attracted to it because it is set in my part of the world and Melvyn Bragg was my local poster boy as I was growing up — the Carlisle Grammar School lad who started in local TV before making the big time in London with The South Bank Show.
I want to read the story again because it is rich in intelligent, compassionate people. The people doing as much as they can not to condemn the mother and child while sticking to the conventions of the time when illegitimacy was regarded as close to a crime are the quiet heroes of the tale.
Bragg unearthed some of the details of the story as he tried to help his mother cope with dementia by recalling details of her past but much is conjecture because his mother left so many questions unanswered. He has a wonderfully lyrical way of writing and a deep, unsentimental understanding of social mores and the human condition but above all it is rooted in a community I associate with my own past.
This is a simply beautiful love story of a mother for her child told by a man who, in the telling, shows his own deep love for his mother.
I think Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal should be on anyone’s summer reading list. Who’d have thunk that reading anecdotes about the human digestive system would be anything but gross much less captivating. Roach combines riveting writing about medical oddities, scientific research about what really makes people tick, and humorous self-deprecation to make a great read.
Gulp if you want, but you’d miss one of the best non-fiction books of the summer.
(Greg writes a great blog, Information Maven.)
Jill Konrath –B2B Sales Expert (@JillKonrath):
I am a fan of Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock.
Based on recent brain research, this excellent book shows how to simplify decision making, get more done and achieve better results. It inspired lots of simple but highly effective changes in my life.
Editor’s Note: For intriguing brain workouts, you might give Lumosity a try. Brain training games to help with speed, flexibility, problem-solving, memory, and more.
Hiten Shah, CEO, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics (@hnshah):
The War of Art is a book that helps you understand what’s really blocking your creativity. It’s a fast read that’s worth coming back to from
time to time. It helps us understand the thoughts that go through our heads — including the blockers to creativity and even the reasons why deep down we are prone to criticize others.
Neal Schaffer, Trilingual Social Media Guru and founder and editor-in-chief of Maximize Social Business (@NealSchaffer):
I’d like to recommend Youtility by marketing consultant Jay Baer. For those who know Jay, he is someone who has been involved in online marketing and social media for almost two decades. This is his first book in quite some time, and in it he combines a lot of the concepts that a lot of us hear about – such as inbound marketing, content marketing, and mobile marketing – and compiles a framework, complete with case studies and step-by-step instructions – to allow us to truly become a “Youtility” to our customers. It is an easy, informative, and entertaining read intertwined with a lot of Jay’s professional and personal experiences. Sometimes you want to read a business book over the summer, and if you are in marketing, this is the one you should read!
(Neal is the author of the book, Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, among others.)
Nimble Staff Picks:
Joseph Kelly, Customer Advocate:
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony Hsieh
- Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, Greg Grandin
- Odd Man Out: A Year On The Mound With a Minor League Misfit, Matt McCarthy
Eric Quanstrom, VP of Marketing and Sales:
- To Sell is Human, Dan Pink
- Your Network is Your Net Worth, Porter Gale
- The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
Alyson Stone, Director of Content Strategy:
- I’ll Take It by Paul Rudnick – A man and his crazy aunts take a shoplifting road trip through the Northeast. I’ve given this to all my friends as they anticipate labor and delivery — every single time it worked for helping them laugh through childbirth!
- Anything by Patrick McManus – My favorite story is called The Modified Stationary Panic, which is in the book A Fine and Pleasant Misery. Really, anything he writes is great for people who love the outdoors (or, like me, live vicariously as others write about it!) McManus is one of those authors who appeals to all ages, men and women, and is particularly great for young “reluctant readers” for summer reading. Honestly, we read his books and stories aloud, and laugh ’til we cry.
- Anything at all by Jean Shepherd (author of the book that led to the movie A Christmas Story… that one with the leg lamp and the bbgun that will “shoot your eye out.” Jean Shepherd was a genius on radio and in print. I miss him to this day. My personal favorite is In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Another read-aloud choice in The Stone Family!
Jon Ferrara, CEO:
I often come back to Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems by National Geographic. It helps me keep the world’s beautiful diversity top of mind!
Rachel Miller, Community Manager:
This summer, fresh vegetables are on my mind. Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian is in my beach tote (and soon the results will be on my table)!
Alyson Stone is Director of Content Strategy at Nimble. She writes frequently on the Nimble blog.