Summer is coming. You really need a mental-health break, but you also really need to keep learning and thinking fresh thoughts about your small business. Pack these books in your beach bag and achieve all of the above.
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons: A former Newsweek journalist and author of the popular Fake Steve Jobs blog, Dan Lyons accepts a job with Boston-based startup HubSpot, and the misadventure begins. At 52, he’s twice the age of the typical employee, and nobody lets him forget it. Moreover, he rapidly becomes turned off by a culture of “forced fun,” an exceptional lack of fealty by management toward a team from which management expects TOTAL loyalty, and ultimately the disparity between the company’s mission of inbound marketing and its reality of its aggressive telemarketing. Not to mention the fact that HubSpot is at that time bleeding money. And yet Lyons stays, hoping to cash out nicely when the planned initial public offering (IPO) happens. The result is a hilarious, snarky and ultimately disturbing read that will have you questioning fast-growth startups, IPOs and the better-than-everybody-else we-change-the-world attitude of companies that aren’t and don’t.
No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits by Dan Kennedy: If the word “ruthless” doesn’t give it away, Dan Kennedy is nobody’s Mr. Nice Guy. If he can manage his company from a back room with one employee and a security camera monitoring that employee’s every move, and make more money by doing so, he will. He scoffs at the feel-good management guidance promulgated by HR managers who don’t have to manage the bottom line, instructs readers not to over-hire to impress anybody with the number of employees the company has, and advises that employees are loyal only as long as you feed them. He provides painfully familiar examples throughout the book. Kennedy coaches business owners on specific tactics to take control, set and enforce standards and maximize profits. Whether you agree or disagree with his approach, Kennedy’s “no B.S.” theory is worth a read. By the way, this is one of a series of “No B.S.” books by Kennedy.
The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth by James Altucher: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” warned Yeats in his epic poem “The Second Coming.” That was a hundred years ago. Today, Altucher, no less compellingly, argues that everything is changing, that the bottom falls out of the economy every few years, that the traditional “safe route” of long-term, secure employment and owning a home is disintegrating – and that the best, albeit winding, path to whatever you call success is to “choose yourself.” Altucher is as eccentric as he is brilliant. Some will dismiss this book, which encompasses both theory and excruciatingly personal details of Altucher’s insecurities and failures, as the stream-of-consciousness ravings of a man who, despite his financial and business success, is a little unhinged. Others, including me, will find inspiration in a number of his ideas and earned wisdom. I highlighted about a quarter of the text. In either case, reading Altucher is like playing a wild game of ping-pong with the world’s most unpredictable opponent.
Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. vSA has thrived for over three decades, and continuous reading and inspiration has helped all along the way.