5 Books to Improve Your Professional Skills

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We’ve almost completed yet another year. Good job everyone for keeping up and doing great. Tension is going down and for most of us the calmer time of the year is about to start or has already started.

That is a good time to read one or two books in order to learn something more to better face the challenges of a new year. That’s why I put down my five book recommendations for you now to check out. I hope that you will find them useful for your private and / or professional life.

Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer / Seller Relationship (2008)

Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play Transforming the Buyer Seller Relationshipby Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig

This book introduces the reader to the Franklin Covey Sales Performance Group Methodology that focuses on “new” ways of selling leveraging a high degree of transparency in both directions, critically reviewing the situation and options and “closing the deal by opening minds”.

A good buyer / seller relationship enables a long term success for both parties. The whole methodology is best suited for selling high value services even though there might be also good value for other fields of salesmanship.

Let’s stop beating around the bush: someone needs to buy at fair conditions and someone else wants to sell at fair conditions. This gives some good pointers on how to do this.

Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play on Amazon.com


The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done (2008)

The Myth of Multitasking How Doing It All Gets Nothing Doneby Dave Crenshaw

After knowing the work of Dave Crenshaw I no longer consider multitasking as a positive trait but as a negative one that either falls down to switch-tasking or background-tasking and always ending up with a mediocre outcome or taking more time than focused work would have required.

Dave also describes how multitasking can negatively impact your relationships at work and at home. This is something I never considered before but of course your peers will be affected by your multitasking. Whether it’s your spouse, your children, co-workers or boss – nobody will be happy to have a conversation with you while you are actually doing something else, just to give one example.

If you believe you will not be able to apply this in your everyday due to “the nature of your business” I yet think you will be able to find some good advice in this book. And to everybody who has no time to improve their time management, think about this:

Christopher Isak: What do you tell someone who claims “I didn’t have time to read the book about time management.”?

Dave Crenshaw: Ask if they’re too dehydrated to drink a glass of water.

(Source: Twitter)

The Myth of Multitasking on Amazon.com


Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want (2014)

Value Proposition Design How to Create Products and Services Customers Wantby Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith

Following up on the success of “Business Model Generation” and “Business Model You” the same group of authors has released their new book about Value Proposition Design this year.

Dry topic and boring read? No way – Trish Papadakos did a great job at the design and making this little gem a really nice read. It’s a good mix of visual freshness and valuable content. This book is good example on how to transport information nowadays in a way that is neither stale nor boring.

Value Proposition Design on Amazon.com


Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want (2014)

Lean B2B Build Products Businesses Wantby Étienne Garbugli

If you are a provider to businesses and organisations like myself, you know that there is a difference between servicing consumers and servicing enterprises.

A consumer can make a buying decision for a product or service relatively simple. He or she sees something and if the marketing is successful it will directly be bought. In worst case they are to discuss that with their spouse if a larger amount of money is involved in the purchase. Enterprises are somewhat more complex to pitch to, especially if you don’t know how these organisations are processing an offering.

This book has some great pointers around how to design products that businesses want and how to sell them with exactly that as focus and nothing else. This is a must-read for every entrepreneur who is to enter the B2B market (seniors as well might find a good hint here and there though).

Lean B2B on Amazon.com


The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking (1987)

The Pyramid Principle Logic in Writing and Thinkingby Barbara Minto

With this book the former McKinsey employee Barbara Minto defines her Pyramid Principle for professional business related writing.

In her own words: The Minto Pyramid Principle refers to a process for organizing your thinking so that it jumps easily off the page to lodge in a reader’s mind. It notes that people ideally work out their thinking by creating pyramids of ideas:

  • Grouping together low-level facts they see as similar
  • Drawing an insight from having seen the similarity
  • Forming a new grouping of related insights, etc.

If you are sometimes required to prepare documents at work then this is the thing you need when someone tells you “to make it minto”. There might be value in reading this as well for bloggers and story-tellers but I could not definitely say that their field is in scope as well.

The Pyramid Principle on Amazon.com


Authors

Audio Books

Most books nowadays are also available as audio book. If you are not a book worm but still love to learn new things then audio only versions might be a great alternative. You can listen to them on you commute or perhaps even dedicated spare time. If you are an auditory learner who could always learn well by listening then this is definitely worth a try if you are not familiar with it.

eBooks

eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle are having an edge in several situations beyond the question if you want to read from paper or from a screen that simulates paper. If you have a collection of eBooks, you have your information archived in a way that allows for electronic search saving you from the troubles of analogue indexing work.

Platforms like Amazon also let you use Kindle applications for your computer, tablet or smartphones therefore making every book in your collection available on demand in the cloud – no need to carry them all with you all the time. That might be a particularly nice feature for students and people who run out of physical space for books.

Closing Remarks

All that being said I hope you like my picks for you this year and I wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year. If anybody has comments, feedback or other good books to share, just use the comments sections below. I am looking forward to be hearing from you!

Photo credit: Jens Schott Knudsen

Christopher Isak

Christopher Isak

Managing Editor at TechAcute
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. I love readers who leave a comment. 😉
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Christopher Isak
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Christopher Isak

Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I’m Chris. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. I love readers who leave a comment. ;)

5 thoughts on “5 Books to Improve Your Professional Skills

  • December 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    Excellent! 🙂

    Reply
    • December 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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      Thank you very much for checking it out, Diana. Do you have an recommendation to drop as well perhaps?

      Reply
    • December 29, 2014 at 12:11 am
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      Thank you very much for checking it out, Diana. Do you have an recommendation to drop as well perhaps?

      Reply
      • December 29, 2014 at 11:07 am
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        Well, for me, since I’m an entrepreneur, sales are critical. My paycheck is in direct correlation to my ability to sell myself and my service.

        So, each morning I like to quickly read a few pages of anything that will get me pumped up and ready to meet my daily goals and make a positive difference in the world.

        With that considered, I recommend reading any leadership/sales book by Tony Robbins or Brian Tracy.

        Those are my favs because they remind me that anything is possible if we can let go of fear (fear of sales, fear of success, fear of meeting and talking to new people, etc). 🙂

        Reply

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