Top Business Books to Read in 2018

By MBO Partners | December 5, 2017

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As an independent, professional development is a key part of keeping your skills and knowledge current, standing out from your competition, and growing your business. While it’s easy to turn to the internet for a quick question or in-depth research, books are a valuable way to learn from top leaders, broaden your perspective, and gain industry insight.

Whether you’re looking to build your collection, learn something new for your business, or find the perfect gift for a fellow independent, diving into a new business book is a great way to start off the new year. We’ve asked the MBO team about their favorite books to compile 10 books you can put on your 2018 reading list.

1. “Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One

By: Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake, a former corporate coach at Google, has developed a great framework to help people achieve professional growth and success. In a non-linear career world, “Pivot” picks up where “Who Moved My Cheese” leaves off by providing an actionable framework to help you think through how to intentionally craft your career evolution. Blake encourages you to look at what you already bring to the table and think about how you can apply those skills to new opportunities. My favorite concept in the book is the idea that you can develop a few different potential trajectories based on your innate strengths and interests.

For those who are contemplating becoming independent, this book can provide a powerful roadmap to enable you to scenario build and test out some ideas for your business prior to fully committing to the next step. For those who are already independent professionals, Pivot can serve as a template for contemplating broadening your practice.

—Kris Stevens, former Vice President, Marketing

2. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By: Angela Duckworth

“Grit” explains how perseverance and passion can help you outlast and beat your competition—even if they are more talented. Angela Duckworth shares numerous examples of how building skills and having the determination to not give up can lead to success and satisfaction.

Robyn Kimble, Digital Marketing Manager

3. “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

By: Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq in 2004, takes the challenges he faced as a military leader and shows how they are relevant to civilian organizations. “Team of Teams” translates war stories into organizational management techniques, touching on the importance of developing trust, collaboration, and a shared sense of purpose.

John Dahlberg, VP, Solutions Design

4. “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter

By: Michael D. Watkins

“The First 90 Days” focuses on how to successfully start a new job. There’s a lot to do and learn when transitioning to a new role and initial actions can have a big impact on success or failure. The three things that resonated the most with me are:

  • Don’t rely on what has made you successful in the past
  • Be honest about where you typically have a blind spot or are not strong, and make a concerted effort to focus on those areas
  • Take time to learn, but realize that you need to start making an impact in the first 90 days—this time is critical to setting the tone for your future in this new role

Linda Mann, SVP, Direct and Connect Business Units

5. “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

By: Tom and David Kelley

In “Creative Confidence,” IDEO founder and Stanford creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and bestselling author, prove that you don’t have to be a “creative type” to develop innovative approaches to solving problems. Through inspiring narratives, real-life examples, and straightforward advice, this book will inspire you to tap into your own creative potential and bring innovation to both your work and everyday life.

Rian Ervin, Content Marketing Specialist

6. “The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust

By: Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe

Whether you’re a consultant, small business owner, or entrepreneur, it’s important to be seen as a leader in your industry. “The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook” provides answers to all your questions about trust and leadership. You’ll find useful guidance, tools, and action plans to cultivate relationships based on trust, improve sales results, and develop leadership skills.

Sara Conde, Director, Consultant Services

7. “Difference: The One-Page Method for Reimagining Your Business and Reinventing Your Marketing

By: Bernadette Jiwa

The greatest companies in the world weren’t built by masterminds—they were built by people who merely took the time to watch the way people interact with their world and the aspirations they have. These companies didn’t invent new things, they invented new experiences around things that already exist. “Difference” provides a framework that anyone can use to connect the dots and find opportunities to create value in the world.

For me, “Difference” was more than a business book—it is inspirational. Similar to a pyramid framework, you need to first empathize with the world in which you exist before you can truly make a difference in business.

Stefanie Mueller, former Senior Marketing Manager

8. “The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

By: Dan Olsen

“The Lean Product Playbook” gives actionable advice on how to build products that customers will love. If you’re new to Lean thinking, this book provides useful step-by-step guidance including how to define your target customer, create a successful product strategy, and iterate to ensure your product fits the market.

—Tyler Berg, former Product Manager

9. “Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms

By: David S. Evans

“Matchmakers” explains the common challenges in building a successful multisided business and provides an overview of what multisided platforms are and why you should care about them. Author David S. Evans shares helpful case studies of other companies and where they have failed and succeeded.

For example, Alibaba recognized a need in China for better communication between small businesses. Before Alibaba, businesses would only work with other companies in their immediate area—it was easier to meet, discuss terms of the deal, resolve issues, etc. Alibaba created a way for businesses to do deals with other businesses outside of their local community.

Cyndi Hogan, Director, Digital Marketing & Customer Experience

10. “The Million Dollar, One Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want.

By: Elaine Pofeldt

Nationally recognized writer and editor Elaine Pofeldt authors her first book, a look into how a wide range of people earn seven figures doing what they love. This inspiring book is a must-read for anyone looking to expand or grow their business in 2018. We were lucky enough to get an advance copy and found it both inspirational and practical.

McLean Robbins, Senior Director, Marketing

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