At Cobloom, one of our key values is to always be learning, and a big part of that is what we read. We have an ever-growing library (OK, some shelves) of books that we can pick and choose from as we please, and we try to make reading for work a part of our ongoing personal development. With that in mind, I wanted to share the books that have had the biggest impact on the Cobloom team, either in terms of what we do in our day-to-day work, or how we do it.
This book had a huge impact on my confidence and how I viewed myself as a member of the Cobloom team. When I joined, I was very daunted by the skills and experience of the rest of the team, and felt like I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to work at Cobloom.
Reading ‘Lean In’ helped me realise that wasn’t true (although I’m still working on managing my ‘imposter syndrome’ feelings), but more importantly it made me realise that those feelings were holding me back.
I was missing out on valuable learning opportunities, because I was hesitant to try new things or share my ideas, for fear of being ‘wrong’ or not doing things ‘as well’ as my colleagues. I was ‘leaning out’, but I didn’t realise it. By making me aware of those behaviours I’m now able to work on changing them, and try more things. For example, I’m Cobloom’s (self-titled) Culture Queen, tasked with making us mindful of the company culture we’re developing here.
Bonus book: I’m currently reading Work Rules by Lazlo Bock, about how Google developed their enviable work culture. This is giving me a ton of ideas and best practices to follow as we grow - everything from hiring processes to team communication.
Sounds boring, right? And yet somehow, this simple little book has imparted more focus, drive and productivity than anything else I've ever read.
Its basic premise is simple. Throughout nature, science and business, a simple rule is in operation: the majority of an activity's output comes from a minority of its inputs. Whether it's 80% of a harvest's peas coming from just 20% of the pea plants, or 80% of your lead generation coming from just 20% of your blog content, this principle is in evidence everywhere around us.
Though the Pareto principle is a well-understood concept, The 80/20 Manager does an incredible job at leveraging its power in everyday situations. From organising your morning's work, to redefining how your business operates, it's packed full of actionable advice for less busywork, and more success.
And my biggest takeaway? Look for the small activities that generate big results, and don't worry about the rest.
You shouldn't start a business with the sole purpose of selling it, right? I agree, however it's important to build a business that could be sold, and one day run without you: otherwise, all you've achieved is the creation of a very stressful job for yourself.
The book provides actionable advice, to help you avoid two major mistakes entrepreneurs make:
- Not being focused enough: they try to cater for everyone, which prevents them from building systems/processes, and adequately differentiating the business/product/services from competitors.
- Being too involved in the day-to-day running of the business: the business is dependent on them to get anything done, which limits growth.
I've been guilty of both of these mistakes, at various points in my career. Having read the book twice now, it serves as a valuable tool to help me focus on the things that really matter. It's the one book I can't stop going back to.
I read this book because I believed that it would help me with selling. What I learned from reading the book is that the best way to empathise with other people is by listening and understanding.
The book takes you even deeper into this by helping you to see the value of finding out about what interests a person before you meet up or make that first call. This allows you to join them in their view of the world when you meet up. As the book says using this approach in business and your personal life helps you "Win Friends and Influence People".
This is very much the approach that we take to business at Cobloom with all the work we do for ourselves and our clients. Take time to understand the needs of your target customer so that you can provide them with help to solve their specific problems that they will likely have in their world. Doing this builds trust so that when the time is right for them, they are delighted to have a conversation with you.