How My Favorite Non-Leadership Books Can Help Your Career

In the United States alone, some 1 in 9 workers still earns a living trying to get others to make a purchase. They may have traded sample cases for a smartphones, and are offering experiences instead of encyclopedias, but they still work in traditional sales.

More startling, though, is what’s happened to the other 8 in 9. They’re in sales, too. They’re not stalking customers in a furniture showroom, but they – make that us – are engaged in what I call “non-sales selling”. We’re persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they’ve got for what we’ve got. As you’ll see in the findings of a “first-of-its-kind” analysis of people’s activities at work, we’re devoting upward of 40 percent of our time on the job to moving others. And we consider it critical to our professional success.

What follows are quotes from a few of my favorite non-leadership books. All have relevance, I believe, for leaders and managers. Enjoy!

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others is a recent book by author,

Daniel H. Pink, a keen observer of human nature and the various truths about what motivates us, In this book, Pink breaks down tasks and skills associated with the successful selling, whether ideas or products. A good read for all of us, as his assertion is that we are all selling something. Additionally, for managers and leaders, a primer on how to sell to those you need most to influence.

“Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a perennial favorite among all ages, and reminds us all to keep focused, to keep moving forward and to pick ourselves up when the inevitable bump in the road occurs. Often given as a primer to young adults. Dr. Seuss somehow manages to speak to all of us when we need a reminder on how wonderful our journey.

“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!

There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.

And the magical things you can do with that ball

will make you the winning-est winner of all.

Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,

with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t

Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times

you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win

’cause you’ll play against you.”

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by the author of Blink (another wonderful read) educates and entertains with stories of how a rock rolling downhill does indeed, gathers moss. In case study after case study, we can see and understand the phenomena of small actions having major consequences. A great reminder to any leader or team builder who, like Sisyphus, may still pushing the boulder uphill.

“A critic looking at these tightly focused, targeted interventions might dismiss them as Band-Aid solutions. But that phrase should not be considered a term of disparagement. The Band-Aid is an inexpensive, convenient, and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. In their history, Band-Aids have probably allowed millions of people to keep working or playing tennis or cooking or walking when they would otherwise have had to stop. The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost.”

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War is a compendium of tactical and strategic thinking. Although modern enterprise may not result in actual bloodshed, this instructional manual from centuries past is a compelling reminder to study our own strengths and weaknesses, if we are to be successful in our pursuits. Understanding those we lead, those we wish to influence further and our competitors, Sun Tzu argues, will only bring small victories, unless we also are introspective.

“When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.”

What books have influenced your thinking in a meaningful way?

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