Stuck in rut? Here are 5 must-reads

A manager of mine once told me, ‘There are two things that can change your life – one is the people you meet, the other is the books you read.’ While I’m not entirely sure if that was his own thinking or how much it really rings true, when it comes to getting some inspiration about how to succeed in finding your true calling or at least a vocation that will inspire (and feed) you, there are definitely some books that you should check out.

Here are my top five ‘must reads’ to get you started:

1. The 4-hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Timothy Ferris)

Find it here 

This book was recommended to me when I started freelance consulting and one, which I in turn cannot recommend enough to others. It has something of a cult following – who doesn’t want to work for just four hours a week? Tim Ferris is an author, entrepreneur, angel investor and public speaker. He published The 4-Hour Workweek in 2007 and it’s been a number one New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. It has also made the Best Seller List for seven consecutive years from 2007 to 2013. Whether your dream is to escape the rat race, travel the world, earn a monthly five-figure income or just live the dream of surfing more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is your blueprint.

2. How To Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)

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This one is an oldie but a goodie - a timeless bestseller and since its release in 1936, How To Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. The book is still relevant today and is referenced a lot – particularly when it comes to topics like building rapport, networking, influencing outcomes and effectively engaging with others whether that means your staff, your managers or just the people you encounter in every day life. One of the core ideas in Carnegie’s books is that it is possible to change other people's behaviour by changing your own behaviour towards them. American business magnate Warren Buffett swears by Carnegie – he completed the How to Win Friends and Influence People course when he was 20 years old and to this day he still displays the diploma in his office.

3. Good to Great (Jim Collins)

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This book has crossed my path on a few different occasions – in both a work context and as part of completing my masters. Jim Collins is THE man when it comes to leadership. He began his research and teaching career at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and has founded a management laboratory in Colorado where he conducts research and engages with CEOs and senior leadership teams. In Good to Great Collins addresses the question, ‘Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?’ The book was founded on a five-year research project comparing teams that made a leap to those that did not and shows that greatness is not just a function of circumstance, but largely a matter of conscious choice coupled with a healthy dose of discipline.

4. Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential (George Lois)

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Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!) is a look into the mind of legendary creative thinker George Lois – also coined ‘America’s Master Communicator’ and the original Mad Man of Madison Avenue. My copy is laced with post-its and notes scrawled throughout. It’s an easy read - 120 tips including ‘Never, ever, work for bad people’, and ‘Never eat shit’, (you’ll have to check out the book to understand that if it’s not already obvious why) - all based on personal experience and campaigns designed and developed by Lois.  Damn Good Advice provides indispensible lessons, practical advice, facts, anecdotes and a whole of lot inspiration - a creative bible of sorts. What I love most about Lois is his passion for using communication and creativity for activism and action – the 1976 Esquire Magazine cover that featured Muhammad Ali depicted as The Passion of Christ and the New York Times advertisement that waged a guerrilla war to free Rubin “Hurricane” Carter – are two great examples of this.  

5. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future (Chris Guillebeau)

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Like Ferris’s The 4-Hour Work Week, The $100 Startup is a book that I tirelessly recommend, particularly to anyone with a slightly entrepreneurial bend. Chris Guillebeau illustrates how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose while still earning a good living. Chris is in his early thirties and boasts that he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular pay cheque. Instead he’s found ways to turn his ideas into income. He uses what he earns to support his life of adventure as well as finding ways to give back. The $100 Startup is an easy-to-use guide, which shares valuable lessons from those, like Chris, who’ve found ways to opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful. Chris suggests that it’s up to us to change our own lives and by doing so, we can help others change theirs. This is a great book to start you on that journey.

Posted by: Jaclyn Knight, on April 1, 2015
Categories: Articles