Posted on: 4th Nov 2016 by: Andy Hill
As the fallout of the US election dominates TV, radio and social media I thought it was perfect timing to write this post about three personal development books that i've read recently that will change your life for the better. So instead of watching 15 minutes of TV tonight, do yourself a favour and download one of these books and read a chapter, you will thank me later. These are ranked in no particular order
1. Charles Duhigg - The Power Of Habit
I found this book extremely interesting in explaining how habits form and how people can change their habits by very simple mechanisms. The format of the book is fantastic and it is the sort of book you can put down for a couple of days and pick up and still get back into the flow of the book. The main reason for this is the stories and anecdotes Duhigg tells, there are many of these that go hand in hand with his practical advice for forming habits. My favourite bit was the chapter about how Fabreze went from being a product that no one in Proctor and Gamble thought was any good (they almost canned it before launch) to a billion dollar a year product. All because marketers watched videos of how people made their beds. Duhigg also tells a light-hearted story about his own bad habits and how he reprogrammed these habits to lose weight and avoid that 3.30pm daily donut.
Some key takeaways from the book about how to form better habits are;
Write down a plan. As business people we love to-do lists but there are studies that show that writing down our intentions to go for a run/ write that blog post/ ring parents will give us a more likely chance of carrying out the task.
Look for inflection points. Take for example going for a run, if i set myself this task of going for a run before work and I wake up and can't find my trainers & it's raining outside there is a chance I mightn't go on the run. If in my plan I write a line about where i will find my shoes and what will happen if it is raining outside then there will be less ambiguity and a higher chance of me going on the run.
Reward yourself. Rewards are essential for forming good habits. For example, I wrote down my plan which i stuck to and managed to go on my run, even though the weather was bad. If I know that on my way into the office I will treat myself to a coffee from Starbucks then forming the habit of going for a run before work will become a lot easier. Though, going on a run might be a bit pointless if you order the grande latte in the coffee shop :-)
Book link on Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Habit-Why-What-Change/dp/1847946240
2. Joshua Foer - Moonwalking With Einstein
This is one of my favourite books of all time, it is the perfect balance of learning, humour and cutting-edge research. This book tells the story of how Foer (a man who often forgets where he left his car keys) starts a quest to improve his memory after a interviewing a "memory athlete" who tells Foer that anyone can improve their memory. The book follows Foer on his journey to compete in the world memory championships (yes, that is a thing) and documents how he improves his memory with tips and tricks anyone can do. To become a grandmaster of memory you have to be able to do the following things
Memorize the order of 10 decks of cards in 60 minutes.
Memorize 1,000 random digits in 60 minutes.
Memorize the order of one deck of cards in less than two minutes.
Sounds easy right?
An example Joshua tells in the book is the more vivid a memory the better chance you will have of remembering it, for example if you saw your 90 year old grandmother attacking a police officer and being arrested you would probably remember who you were with, where you were walking, what you were wearing and what the weather was like. If someone asked you about your grandmother being arrested ten years later you would still remember all those details. After reading this book I decided to follow Foer's strategy to memorise the order of a randomly shuffled deck of playing cards. After a few hours of learning the system it became apparent that with practice this was a doable thing. I would recommend this book to anyone who says "I have an awful memory" or people who love to challenge themselves as it is a fascinating read. The book also documents Foer's journey in becoming a memory athlete and being the first American to win the world memory championships... you will have to read to see how he does (or just google it)
Book link on Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remembering-Everything-x/dp/0141032138/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478721031&sr=1-1&keywords=moonwalking+with+einstein
3. The Story Teller's Secret - Carmine Gallo
What makes a story resonate with its listeners ? How do certain TED Talks get 20 million YouTube views whereas others barely get 20,000 ? What makes a story so engaging that people have to share it?
These questions and many other are answered in Carmine Gallo's book that was released a few months ago. Our brains are hard-wired to love stories, especially rags to riches stories. By using the same techniques and triggers that Gallo discusses in his book we can all tell better stories that can resonate with our listeners. As someone who does a lot of public speaking and training I found this book a fantastic blueprint in how to craft a story that will leave a lasting impression on an audience. Every element of our lives involve times when we can craft stories that inspire people. I do some work at Ulster University and I tell all the students in my lectures to get a copy of this book as learning the key components of telling a good story are key skills that will serve them well in job interviews and throughout their careers.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed the book was the variety of speakers and stories Gallo includes, from successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Sheryl Sandberg. Acclaimed public speakers such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bryan Stevenson, and Malala Yousafzai; and business leaders behind famous brands such as Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Wynn Resorts, Whole Foods, and Pixar. I guarantee if you read this book you will learn how to communicate more effectively with your teams and your customers.
Book link on Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Storytellers-Secret-speakers-inspirational-performance/dp/1509814752/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478721078&sr=1-1&keywords=storytellers+secret
What are the business / personal development books that you would recommend? I would love to hear some.
I hope you found useful in some way, thanks for reading.
Andy Hill is the MD of Dokoo Digital a social media marketing agency based in Holywood, Northern Ireland. You can find out more at www.dokoo.com.
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