Written By Jason Behn
Reading books has been transformative for both my business and personal life. In a professional context, books have become a source of invaluable insights and guidance. They’ve offered fresh perspectives on leadership, management, innovation, and entrepreneurial resilience, shaping my understanding and approach toward my work. They have helped me tackle challenges, foster creativity, and drive growth within my business.
On a personal level, books have broadened my horizons and enriched my worldview. They’ve taught me empathy, resilience, and the power of a positive mindset. Through various genres, I’ve traveled to different places, experienced diverse cultures, and gained profound insights about human nature. The wisdom gleaned from these pages has helped me nurture my relationships and develop a well-rounded, balanced approach to life.
In essence, books have significantly contributed to my personal growth and professional success. Below are 5 of the most impactful books that I have read in the last year or so. Enjoy!
“Little Black Stretchy Pants” by Chip Wilson
This is an autobiography by Chip Wilson, the visionary founder of Lululemon Athletica. This isn’t just a book about how Wilson created a super successful brand, but also a captivating story of perseverance, innovation, and community-building.
In the book, Wilson shares his journey from conceptualizing the idea of comfortable and stylish yoga pants to becoming a game-changer in the activewear industry. He faced many challenges along the way, but he never backed down. He bravely confronted these obstacles, turned them into opportunities, and emerged stronger each time. His never-give-up attitude was truly inspiring to me.
What sets this story apart, and something I really admire, is how Wilson didn’t just aim to sell clothes; he wanted to build a community centered on fitness and wellness. Lululemon wasn’t just a store for him; it was a place where people could connect, share their passion for health, and support each other. This unique approach to business made me appreciate the brand even more.
Throughout the book, Wilson offers many valuable life lessons. He talks about leadership, taking risks, learning from mistakes, and the importance of staying true to your vision. He reminds us that the road to success isn’t always smooth, and it’s okay to stumble and fall as long as we get back up and keep going. His story is a powerful testament to the fact that hard work, resilience, and passion can indeed pay off in big ways.
In summary, “Little Black Stretchy Pants” is more than just a business book. It’s a compelling story about turning dreams into reality, even when the odds are stacked against you. Wilson’s tale is one of inspiration and wisdom, making this book a read I thoroughly enjoyed and deeply appreciated.
You can find the book here.
“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is an enthralling memoir by Phil Knight, the visionary co-founder of Nike. It’s more than just a story about building a business; it’s a tale of turning a simple idea for better running shoes into an iconic global brand that transformed the sports industry. The road to success wasn’t easy, fraught with financial difficulties, production hurdles, and intense competition. However, Knight’s unyielding determination, resilience, and refusal to give up were deeply inspiring.
Knight didn’t merely create a shoe company; he crafted a brand that motivates athletes to surpass their limits. His keen understanding of his customers’ needs and his ability to tune into the pulse of the sports industry were pivotal in the phenomenal success of Nike.
The book offers valuable insights about perseverance, the power of belief in one’s ideas, and the significance of a strong, dedicated team. Knight underscores the importance of fostering healthy relationships with all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, and customers. He portrays the interconnectedness of business and relationships, demonstrating how one can positively impact the other.
You can find the book here.
“Give and Take” by Adam Grant
Give and Take by organizational psychologist Adam Grant is a riveting examination of the crucial role our interactions play in both our professional achievements and personal happiness. The author brilliantly categorizes individuals into three groups: givers, takers, and matchers, and asserts that our distinctive styles in handling relationships in personal life and business have significant implications for our life trajectories.
One aspect of the book that truly resonated with me was its fresh take on conventional definitions of success. Grant substantiates, through an impressive body of research, that embodying the spirit of a ‘giver’—a person who selflessly assists others without any anticipation of reciprocation—can yield unexpected rewards and lead to exceptional success. This revolutionary idea is made accessible through a myriad of compelling real-life examples and empirical studies, allowing readers to easily comprehend and apply it to their own circumstances.
Moreover, “Give and Take” delivers pragmatic guidance on how to deftly navigate the complex world of social relationships in both our personal and professional realms. It uncovers invaluable insights into cultivating beneficial relationships, fostering a positive organizational culture, and developing effective leadership qualities. The book’s focus on the transformative power of empathy and kindness in realizing individual and collective objectives is a compelling narrative that I found deeply meaningful.
To sum it up, “Give and Take” offers a unique lens to view success, asserting that generosity and kindness are potent catalysts in shaping our personal and professional journeys. This insightful viewpoint, fused with Grant’s captivating storytelling, renders the book not only enjoyable but also an illuminating read for those seeking to thrive in both business and personal arenas.
You can find the book here.
“Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins
“Can’t Hurt Me” is a powerful autobiography by David Goggins, an ultra-endurance athlete, and former Navy SEAL often referred to as the ‘toughest man alive.’ The book paints a vivid picture of Goggins’ journey from a life fraught with adversity to becoming a symbol of grit, perseverance, and sheer determination.
The book is more than just a recounting of Goggins’ life experiences. It’s also a manual for overcoming perceived limitations. Goggins introduces ideas like the ‘Accountability Mirror’ and the ‘40% Rule,’ asserting that most of us only utilize about 40% of our potential, and it’s up to us to push the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of.
What struck a chord with me is Goggins’ sheer resilience and unwavering mental fortitude. His life’s narrative brims with lessons on perseverance, tenacity, and the power of self-discipline. Despite dealing with a traumatic childhood, racial discrimination, and health setbacks, Goggins emerged as a testament to the power of the human spirit.
The principles put forth in the book have a strong application in the world of business. The unwavering resilience demonstrated by Goggins parallels the grit required to navigate the turbulent waters of entrepreneurship. His philosophy of viewing challenges as stepping stones rather than hurdles is a perspective shift that can be pivotal in professional success. The ‘Accountability Mirror’ concept urges us to take responsibility for our actions, a crucial aspect in business management, and the ‘40% Rule’ serves as a reminder that when the going gets tough in our professional endeavors, we usually have a lot more to give than we think.
In conclusion, “Can’t Hurt Me” captivated me not just as a recounting of Goggins’ extraordinary journey, but also as a powerful testament to human resilience and potential. It serves as an invaluable reminder that irrespective of the hurdles in our path, with the right mindset and relentless work ethic, we can accomplish our personal, professional, and physical objectives.
You can find the book here.
“The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday
“The Obstacle Is the Way” is an insightful book by Ryan Holiday that introduces a refreshing perspective on dealing with challenges. Drawing inspiration from Stoicism, an ancient philosophy, Holiday posits that our biggest obstacles can often become our greatest opportunities if approached correctly.
Holiday breaks down the concept into three core components: Perception, Action, and Will. Perception is about viewing our obstacles objectively and finding hidden opportunities. Action is about addressing these obstacles directly and learning from them. Will is about having the inner strength to endure and thrive despite the circumstances.
What I personally admired about this book is its potent blend of historical anecdotes, philosophical wisdom, and pragmatic advice. It encourages a perspective shift, teaching us to transform our setbacks into setups for success. Instead of seeing difficulties as roadblocks, Holiday encourages us to view them as stepping stones.
The principles of the book are highly applicable to the business world. Any business venture is bound to encounter hurdles. But by applying Holiday’s Stoic philosophy, business leaders and entrepreneurs can turn these challenges into learning experiences and growth opportunities. By altering our perception of the obstacles, taking decisive action, and demonstrating unwavering will, we can navigate our way to success.
In short, “The Obstacle Is the Way” is a motivating and insightful read. I thoroughly enjoyed it for its practical wisdom and its profound potential to change our approach toward life and business challenges. It’s a reminder that often, the path to success is not around the obstacle, but straight through it.
You can find the book here.
In conclusion, my year of reading these powerful books was a deeply enriching journey. Each of these authors, in their unique ways, has provided invaluable lessons that have shaped my perspective on leadership, resilience, entrepreneurship, and the power of the human spirit. “Little Black Stretchy Pants,” “Shoe Dog,” “Give and Take,” “Can’t Hurt Me,” and “The Obstacle Is the Way” aren’t just books; they’re mentors that guide, inspire, and challenge us to grow in both personal and professional arenas.
Their tales of perseverance, grit, creativity, generosity, and the profound ability to turn obstacles into opportunities have left an indelible mark on my worldview. It’s a testament to the transformative power of books, and how their wisdom can permeate every facet of our lives, making us more empathetic leaders, innovative thinkers, and resilient individuals.
In sharing my experience, I hope to inspire you to embark on your own reading journey. The wisdom gleaned from the pages of a good book is often the catalyst for growth and change. Remember, every book opens a new world of possibilities and insights that can catalyze your personal development and professional success. So, let’s keep turning the pages, nurturing our minds, and empowering our spirits. Happy reading!
Jason Behn – President – NAE Cleaning Solutions