My Top 5 Reads (Right Now)

November 12, 2009·

It’s no mystery that as a former English teacher I love to read. But honestly, I would prefer to read Dan Brown novels or Laurie Notaro’s hilarious memoirs – mindless reading is relaxing to me. I’m not usually a fan of “educational” books or books that try to “teach me” something. It’s not that I’m shallow or don’t want to read them, they just usually make my brain work too hard and then I get sleepy. My brain works hard all day long and when I want to kick back, relax, and read, I want to get lost in a fun story – not coerce my brain into new ideas.

Regardless, I know that often times these “business,” “thought-provoking,” or “educational” books really are worthwhile. And so I’ll pick one up and I will surprise even myself with how much I like it. So, here are my (right now) TOP 5 “thought-provoking,” “business,” and/or “educational” reads. (Some of these might stay on this TOP 5 list for a long time).

5. Get Clients Now by C.J. Hayden
I had hit a rut in my business and this book was given to me by a one Zach Ward (@zachward). Zach is the owner, director, and executive produce of the DSI Comedy Theater where I perform. He is savvy, an amazing comedian, but more importantly, the smartest business person I know. He said to me, “Read this book. You’ll thank me for it.”

I was hesitant at first. Really? Get Clients now? Seems so trivial, cliche, and like I’m about to buy myself into a ponzi scheme of some sort. I was very wrong.

No matter who you are, what you do, or what your career goals are, this book really teaches you the basics of how to start, enhance, or grow a business. Even if you aren’t a business owner or self-employed, all of us as individuals are a personal brand and personal business that we need to market. Believe it or not, you are marketing yourself every day.

Get Clients Now really helped to focus my efforts in growing my business and my personal brand. I love goal setting and I love organizational vision creation – and this book really breaks it down. It’s a SUPER easy read and it’s a really common-sense approach to a difficult topic for many.

I recommend it to ANYONE who is starting a business, runs a business, or is looking to grow an already established business. It really goes back to basics and reminds us of the small details we can sometimes forget.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: The super-detailed ACTION Worksheet. I love to organize things and write them down in front of me. I’m very visual, so the simple breakdown of ACTIONABLE tasks was really helpful to me.

4. Social Media is a Cocktail Party by Jim Tobin
I was turned on to this book by local social media man, writer/blogger, and comedian, Jeremy Griffin who works for Ignite Social Media. Ignite Social Media is a rockstar marketing agency located RIGHT HERE in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Social Media is a Cocktail Party: Why you already know the rules of social media marketing takes a really relatable and fun approach to social media marketing. We all know and love cocktail parties – and we all know and understand the rules of cocktail parties: don’t show up uninvited, don’t be “that girl/guy,” don’t talk too much and never let anyone get a word in edgewise, dress appropriately, and so on and so forth.

Tobin does a great job of taking these basic cocktail party rules and relating them to the sometimes scary, sometimes unfamiliar, and sometimes crazy realm of social media. Learn the etiquette, how to engage and interact in the social media community, and know how to be the life of the party (not the death of the party).

I highly recommend this book to ANYONE interested in social media, marketing, or general public communication.

Also, the cover of the book has olives on it. I love olives.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: “Participate, don’t try to control,” – “The party goes on with or without you.”

3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Honestly, I don’t remember when I first heard about this book. But it kinda-sorta changed my life. Here’s a quote that will better explain this book than I ever could:

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.

Not to depress you, but I honestly think I cried within the first 20 minutes of reading. It was sad, yes, but I also teared up becauseDr. Pausch was simply so inspiring. As I read his story, listened to the reactions from his family, and went with him through the process of giving his last lecture, I became very reflective and started to think, “What would I say if I were to give a “Last Lecture?“”

The book is incredibly moving, motivating, and wonderful. I recommend it to anyone. Anyone.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” -Randy Pausch

2. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
I just finished this book and it was awesome. I’ve been a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk’s for a long time and when I found out he was writing a book, I was way pumped.

In this book, Gary takes even the simplest of ideas, and shows you how use can use the internet and social media marketing to “cash in” by doing what you LOVE to do. As I read, I got more and more inspired to try different things with business and my clients. I felt like every sentence I had another “A HA!” moment. It really helped to expand my way of thinking when it comes to my passions, my vision, goals, social media, and business development.

I recommend it to ANYONE who simply wants to spend their life doing what they love.

PERSONAL Goal: to meet and interview Gary Vaynerchuk in 2010.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: Chapter seven – keep it real, very real – “authenticity.” I’ve talked about this a lot and I know that my personality is my strength. I refuse to change that for anyone. I love who I am and in the end, you’re going to love me for it.

1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The best book I think I’ve ever read. I read this book when I was in college after attending the LeaderShape Institute in Allerton, Illinois (aka: middle o’ nowhere). It’s a book about change. It’s a book about making a difference. It’s a book about how the smallest things can have the biggest impact. I don’t want to give too much away about it because you need to read it.

It really is about how the smallest idea or inclination can spark a wildfire of change and events. It shifted my thinking on the impact that we all have on this world and the lives of others.

Gladwell himself classifies the book as “an intellectual adventure story.” And that’s exactly what it is.

I recommend this book to ANYONE who wants to make a difference, wants to make an impact, or even more simply loves a great story and the affect it can have on you.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: In Chapter Six, he talks about the “cool” factor of Airwalks. I wore Airwalks. And they were way cool.


There you have it. My TOP 5 READS (right now). You don’t have to completely take my word for it, but I think I have a pretty good taste in reading.

Question? What are YOUR TOP 5 READS (right now)? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.