The Eight Influential Books (For Consultants) I’ve Read This Year

Like you, I read. A lot.

If I’m being 100% candid, a goodly share of my reads are thrillers—think John Sandford (Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers), Lee Childs (Jack Reacher) and Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch). The more (smart) action the better—please tell me I’m not the only woman you know with a serious thriller addiction.

The rest of my reading is an eclectic lot. But I thought you might enjoy this admittedly unconventional series of books with a lesson or two (or ten) for consultants. If you haven’t already indulged, maybe it’s time to put a couple on your holiday wish list?

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert) I’d have bought this book just for the story of the novel Liz Gilbert didn’t write, that turned into a best-seller by Ann Patchett. I won’t spoil it for you—read the book! Gilbert tackles creativity and neatly dismisses the notion that one must be tortured to be an artist. My take: running your business is every bit an art form and you need not fall prey to excuses that pull you from your best work.

2. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World (Adam Grant) He had me at hello. The title says everything about what makes a great consultant: the courage to be an original non-conformist and move the world toward your vision. Explore the dangers of grouptink and immerse yourself in Chapter Three. It’s a mini masterclass in being heard and getting your best ideas out into the world.

3. The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo) I’ve written before about the KonMari method, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating. If it doesn’t spark joy, it doesn’t belong in your life OR your business. This book (purchased only AFTER an attack of moths ransacked my closet) can also serve as perfect metaphor for your consulting. Do you really want to spend your precious time building a business that doesn’t make you happy? I didn’t think so.

4. The Rothschilds (Virginia Cowles) The story of this family whose name is synonymous with money and power starts in a Frankfurt ghetto and shadows key European political, military and cultural changes from the late 1700’s through 1973. What made this fascinating to me is their genesis as advisors—they were often brilliant strategists and keen executers. When’s the last time you read about a dynasty of consultants?

5. Grit: The Power Of Passion And Perseverance (Angela Duckworth) I love how Duckworth—a former consultant—weaves her own story so well into her research. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always believed that grit is often the deciding factor in success—so I gobbled up her stories and research that passion and perseverance matter. Calculate your  “Grit Score” to see how gritty you are right now.

6. Codes of Love: How To Rethink Your Family And Remake Your Life (Mark Bryan) Mark Bryan was one of the original members of Oprah’s “Live Your Best Life” team and I can see why. The gem? That everyone shows love in their own unique way and our challenge is to decode the message. I read this book while still grieving the loss of my dad and Mark gave me a huge aha: that my dad’s “Are your doors locked?” mantra was just one of the many ways my not-always-expressive dad shared his love. Ditto for clients and work families—reframing what you’re hearing might just surprise you.

7. Eleanor Of Aquitaine: A Life (Alison Weir) I’ll start with this: gobble up any biography by Alison Weir. She is just that reliable, both in the quality of her storytelling and the depth of her research. Queen Eleanor was not only the wife of two competing kings (France and England), but the mother of three sons who would each become king. She ruled by influence, not by power, which is also the consultant’s province.

8. Talking To Crazy: How To Deal With The Irrational People In Your Life (Mark Goulston) What nobody tells you when you sign up to be a consultant or run a business is you need to deal with irrational more often than you think (hopefully the truly crazy steer you a wide berth). How to deal with Goulston’s third and fourth definitions of irrational: “They make decisions and take actions that aren’t in their best interests” and “They become downright impossible when you try to guide them back to the side of reason” should be in every consultant’s repertoire.

What books made you wiser this year? Please share—I need some suggestions to kick off 2017 🙂

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