Not that I’ve ever watched an entire episode of Oprah, but I’ve heard that she has a feature of her show called ‘Favorite Things.’ This little golden endorsement to books, foods or services can completely change the trajectory of companies as her fans follow suit. Websites crash from traffic and market share doubles if she so much sneezes at a brand.
Well I’m not Oprah, but I have a few personal favorites. When I launched this blog I said that my goal was to educate and entertain. I also stated how I believe we each claim our own success – much of which is determined by the people we spend the most time with and the books we read. I hope my content is educational but also approachable. I’m not Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg; and as much as my mother thinks I’m awesome, in many ways I’m a normal guy pursuing the American Dream.
As I post these lessons on business and life, I’d like to share some of the people or places I’ve tapped into:
Personal Finance – Mint.com, Dave, Ramit
- Mint.com – If you’re trying to live on a budget or accurately track your spending, this is a must. It’s a free website that links all your accounts, tracks and categorizes spending, and is very easy to use. It will help you see trends, offer recommendations, help you set budgets. There’s even a free phone app. Only thing it won’t do is let you hide the facts.
- Dave Ramsey – Trying to get your finances in order? Or get out of debt? Or build wealth? Or have a relationship where finances don’t make you another divorce statistic? Buy his book, listen to his radio show, or download his free daily podcast. So many lessons about life, work, relationships and money flow through his content. I’ve been out of debt for some time and still listen daily for entertainment and new lessons. And my last post bordered on a love letter to Dave.
- Ramit Sethi – For young professionals trying to start their own thing, follow a passion, change jobs or lead a richer life – this guy is it. He’s funny, insanely smart, and he will call you out. And he eats haters for breakfast. Nom. Nom.
Sales – SWC, Rory, Dustin Hillis
- Southwestern Consulting – Southwestern Advantage is the best sales training program in the country. Some of the best to ever come out of the summer program founded their own sales consulting company putting on seminars, offering keynote speaches and doing personal coaching. Their free monthly conference call is golden and I invest in their one on one coaching program. And the founders’ blogs are full of great content, here are Rory and Dustin’s.
Career and Business – Quitter, Michael Hyatt, Onward, Never Eat Alone
- Jon Acuff‘s book Quitter– If you’re a young professional and ever thought, ‘I just want to do something I’m passionate about’ or ‘I am leaving corporate and I’m just gonna go work at Lulu Lemon’ or ‘I just want to go backpack Europe again.’ We’ve all been there. Stop whatever you’re doing and read his book this week so you can turn your day job into your dream job. Acuff is amazing at helping identify your passion, get more enjoyment out of a 9-5, or transition into your own venture. If nothing else, follow him on Facebook. He’s hysterical.
- Michael Hyatt – His books are on my reading list, but his podcast is to podcasts as the Garden State soundtrack is to movie soundtracks….the best. Hyatt used to be the CEO of a large publishing company and is now a NY Times best-selling author. He covers everthing from leadership to writing to negogiating to taking strategic naps.
- Onward – You know how Good to Great is THE business book of the past 20 years? And anyone who’s anyone can quote it or refers to it or keeps it in their office. It oozes more applicable business lessons than half your undergrad classes. Well, I’m here to tell you that Howard Schultz’s book, Onward, about his return to CEO of Starbucks and their subesequent turnaround is the best business book I’ve read in the past five years. It deserves the same Good to Great readership. If you don’t buy it, at least watch this clip from 7:11-14:58.
- Never Eat Alone – If your job or success involves humans, this one is a must read. Keith Ferrazzi explains how he went from working class kid to Ivy League to youngest ever partner at Deloitte. And it wasn’t at the expense of others or himself. Success comes by helping others and having richer relationships. Ferrazzi lays out a plan and also debunks the ‘work life balance’ myth.
Leadership and Inspiration – Maxwell, Take the Stairs
- 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – Duh. This book is a classic. I finally read it this year and it forced me to take a really hard look at my leadership. Plus it gives a road map for improvement.
- Take The Stairs – Rory Vaden is a freak. I’ve known the author for years and he’s always struck me as one of those people that aren’t human. He’s like the living version of the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World – he’s made mistakes or had flaws, only to give the rest of us hope. In all seriousness, his level of work ethic, discipline and acheivement always seemed so unapproachable to me. But reading his book gave me a whole new perspective. Discipline and sacrifice don’t have to be never-ending, self inflicted punishment. With perspective and small steps, it can be freeing. And over time, your brain and habits will move towards the hard right over the easy wrong.
Brain Food – EntreLeadership, Ted Talks
- EntreLeadership Podcast – Every one gets better than the last. This is the business and leadership side of Dave Ramsey’s team. Each update has a lesson such as goal setting, recognition or their no gossip policy. It’s then paired with world class interviews with folks like the CEO of Zappos or coach Tony Dungy or my personal favorite Simon Sinek.
- TED Talks – If I was an intellectual hipster, I would act like I discovered them first or keep them a best-kept secret. But I’m not. These videos are open speeches or addresses from leaders in technology, education and design. They will challenge your assumptions and leave you inspired. A couple of my favorites are here and here.
Brain Junk Food – Aziz, Kevin Hart
- Aziz Ansari and Kevin Hart – Sometimes you just need a break or a good laugh. And some guys just need more one liners or quotes their girl friends will never understand. “Say it wit yo chest!”
(some of my bookshelf and one of my roommates)
Turn off the negative nighttime news and tune in to some goodness! Your mental well-being requires nourishment just like your body does. Was there someone or something I missed? Are there any authors, books, geniuses out there that you follow? I’d love to hear who you’ve learned from or if you like any of the folks I mentioned above. Comment below!