Growing your business. Developing as a leader. Honing your public speaking skills. Managing your team more efficiently. Bettering yourself and your business.
As a business leader or entrepreneur, there’s always room for improvement. And, in the burgeoning commercial and self-help genres, there are thousands of books on the market to support your personal development and help you grow your business.
From old school classics like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, to Clayton Christensen’s timeless Innovator’s Dilemma, to successful, 21st century ‘mind management manuals’ like Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox, our panel of Danbro directors have pulled together a dozen of their favourite books - written by a collection of brilliant people - to help inspire you and your business. Enjoy.
How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) - Dale Carnegie
85 years on from its original publication, How to Win Friends and Influence People has now sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest-selling books of all time.
Recognised as the seminal work of the self-help genre, Dale Carnegie’s pre-war ‘classic’ stands the test of time and remains as relevant as ever for those looking to improve their fortunes from both a business and personal perspective. Packed full of ideas, principles, advice, and common sense that transcends the era in which it was written, this book will help you clarify your purpose and maximise your potential.
Born into poverty in 1880s Missouri, Carnegie became a writer and lecturer in the fields of communication, salesmanship, self-improvement, and public speaking. Widely considered as the father of the self-help genre, one of the fundamental elements of Carnegie’s philosophy is that the behaviour of others can be influenced by your reactions to them.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) - Stephen R. Covey
Selling more than 25 million copies since its release in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is less a self-help book, more a business plan for your personal life. Not least with the parallels the author draws between a mission statement and a self-written eulogy…
The ‘seven habits’ range from developing a proactive mindset, to celebrating others' success. Covey believes that cooperation trumps competition. One key theme throughout his work is that effective people have defined principles, values, and visions for the future.
Hailing from Salt Lake City, Stephen Covey graduated Harvard Business School with an MBA before gaining a Doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he became a Professor of Organisational Behaviour & Business Management. He was also the co-founder of leadership development firm, Franklin Covey, which trains over three-quarters of a million people each year.
The ONE Thing (2012) - Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan
Moving onto something a little more recent, or ‘one thing’ more recent to be precise. Drawing parallels between personal development and the changes you need to make to grow a business, The ONE Thing teaches us that the completion of small, simple actions and tasks can make future challenges less daunting, or even less necessary. Keller and Papasan use the analogy of one small domino having the capability to topple another domino 50% greater in size. The intended meaning is that, eventually, you may eliminate bigger issues further down the track.
This is a book about reassessing your perspective and your strategy to avoid burnout. It's about developing ‘laser-like’ concentration and training yourself to focus on ‘one thing’ at a time.
Gary Keller is a Texan entrepreneur, philanthropist and business coach who founded Keller Williams Realty, the world’s largest real estate franchise. Keller is also an international bestselling author, with several titles produced alongside writing partners Dave Jenks and, for The ONE Thing, Jay Papasan.
(THIS) Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (2014) - Greg McKeown
A New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, (THIS) Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is a book that challenges the core assumptions of achievement to uncover what it is that drives success - and successful people.
A personal favourite of the Danbro Group’s Managing Director - Helen Broughton MBE DL - Helen said the book “helped me define my role - to cast vision and remove barriers - at a time when I felt somewhat overwhelmed with all that was coming at me”. A sentiment we all recognise.
Author, Greg McKeown, has dedicated his career to studying how and why some people are able to reach the ‘next level’ and achieve success, while others do not. An accomplished writer and public speaker, McKeown is amongst the Harvard Business Review’s most popular bloggers. He also serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum. Born in London, McKeown has an MBA from Stanford Business School and is also a Bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Discover Your True North (2007) - Bill George
A book that could help you grow your business, as well as develop as an individual, Discover Your True North comprises useful examples and exercises to help you become the leader you want to be - whatever field you’re in. Combining first-person accounts from hundreds of respected business leaders, including the author himself, Discover Your True North is something of a handbook for authenticity in leadership.
As well as valuable stories and analogies that could help you in your business pursuits, George’s acclaimed work also asks questions of its reader’s character and self-awareness and provides advice for overcoming adversity.
William ‘Bill’ George is an American academic and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School. A renowned teacher of leadership skills, George is the former Chairman and CEO of medical device firm, Medtronic. He was also previously on the boards of Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil; was a trustee of the Mayo Clinic; and served in the US Defence Dept. George is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and was amongst the ‘Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years’ (PBS).
The Chimp Paradox (2012) - Steve Peters
The Chimp Paradox is a ‘mind management model’ that aims to help you become happier, healthier, more confident, and more successful. The book depicts the irrational, emotional areas of the brain as a chimp and the logical areas as a human.
Selling over a million copies, The Chimp Paradox simplifies scientific facts and principles into a ‘workable’ model for easy, everyday use and implementation. Peters’ aim is to help you ‘recognise how your mind is working’, ‘understand and manage your emotions and thoughts’, and ‘manage yourself to become the person you’d like to be’. These skills are transferable into business management, helping you grow your business.
Professor Steve Peters is a Consultant Psychiatrist, specialising in the functioning of the human mind. He’s has a 20-year association with the NHS and holds qualifications in medicine, mathematics, education, sports medicine, and psychiatry. Peters is most revered for his work in elite sport, notably with British Cycling. He worked with the organisation from 2005 to 2014 - covering two hugely successful Olympic Games - with former Performance Director, Sir Dave Brailsford, hailing him as ‘the best appointment’ he’d ever made. Peters has also held posts with UK Athletics, the England men’s football team, Liverpool FC, and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Growing Your Business
Six Thinking Hats (1985) - Edward de Bono
With its principles adopted by high-performing, global corporations such as Boeing and IBM, Six Thinking Hats offers an effective, practical thinking process to assist with focus, productivity, and business growth. The book acts as a comprehensive, yet digestible, business leadership manual. It contains evidence-based ideas that you can apply to your business. It encourages you to separate your thinking into six clear functions - each represented by coloured hats.
Another of our Managing Director’s favourites, Helen says the ideas in de Bono’s book still pertain nearly four decades on. “It provides simple, straightforward techniques for working through problems and making strategic decisions,” she said. “Six Thinking Hats works really well in encouraging everyone to think intentionally about the different perspectives needed to solve issues or create opportunities. This is something we’re particularly passionate about for our family here at Danbro”.
Edward de Bono was a Maltese physician, psychologist, inventor and philosopher. Author of several important works and founder of businesses and institutions around the world, de Bono was something of a maverick with some of his ideas, particularly on the subject of education. He achieved a Doctorate and a Master’s degree from Oxford University and is also attributed with coining the phrase ‘lateral thinking’; the concept of problem-solving by employing unorthodox means. Dr. de Bono passed away in the summer of 2021.
Blue Ocean Strategy (2004) - Renée Mauborgne & W. Chan Kim
Co-authored by Professors Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, Blue Ocean Strategy is an international bestseller and one of the genre-defining books of this century.
Using the analogy of ‘swimming in the red ocean of (/with your) competition’, Blue Ocean Strategy uses a combination of considered theory and genuine examples to encourage you to identify opportunities and ‘create uncontested market space’. Defined by its creators as “the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space”, the book is about ‘creating and capturing new demand, as opposed to exploiting existing demand’. The book’s ideas centre on a theoretical ‘family of concepts’. Principally that market boundaries are ‘not a given’ and are ripe for reconstruction.
Renée Mauborgne is an American economist and the Professor of strategy at the prestigious French business school, INSEAD (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires). She is also a fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of President Obama’s Board of Advisors on ‘Historically Black Colleges and Universities’. W. Chan Kim, meanwhile, is a South Korean business theorist and, also, a Fellow of the W.E.F. Mr. Kim is an advisory member for the European Union and is the Country Advisor to Malaysia. He’s also previously been an official advisor to multinationals in Europe, Asia, and the US.
Shoe Dog (2016) - Phil Knight
It would have been remiss of us not to include a memoir of some sort. Especially as most of our features employ biographical elements to explain and exemplify their concepts and philosophies. And, if you’re going to try and gain insight from the life story of a business leader, why not make it the boss of one of the most successful corporations the world has ever seen?
Whether it’s (Wal-Mart) Sam Walton’s Made In America, (McDonald’s) Ray Kroc’s Grinding It Out, (Patagonia) Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing, or (PepsiCo) Indra Nooyi’s My Life in Full, there are plenty of decent role models to choose from. But, for our list, we’ve selected Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog; the story of the man behind Nike.
Despite his company’s global footprint (no pun intended), the somewhat media-shy billionaire behind the ‘swoosh’ remains a relatively unfamiliar figure to the billions of people who don his sportswear. Shoe Dog chronicles Knight’s (and Nike’s) story, from a start-up business grossing $8K and dealing out of the boot of Knight’s car, to a game-changing, international mega-brand with revenues close to $40bn and offices and stores around the world. There are lessons you can learn from Knight’s story, whatever your status in business.
The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) - Clayton Christensen
Almost a quarter-of-a-century since its original release, the principles outlined in The Innovator’s Dilemma still hold sway today. A book as much about growing your business as sustaining it, its subtitle, When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail - and the concept of Christensen’s ‘disruptive technologies’ - has, if anything, only increased in relevance in the intervening years.
A must-read for managers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs, and as recommended by Danbro’s IT & Marketing Director, David Booth, The Innovator’s Dilemma analyses why industry leaders - even (/especially) the ones that do ‘everything’ right - so often tend to oversee the latest wave of innovation to the detriment of their business and their status as market leaders.
Clayton Christensen was a global expert on business growth and innovation. A former White House Fellow and Harvard Business School Professor, Christensen is the best-selling author of nine books, with The Innovator’s Dilemma representing his seminal work. Winner of countless awards, including the Global Business Book Award, in 2011 The Economist named it amongst their six most important books ever written about business.
Selling To Serve (2016) - James Ashford
Billed as ‘the breakthrough sales system for cloud accountants’, you could be forgiven for thinking that Selling To Serve is one for us numbers guys. After all, it sort of is.
That said though, the principles declared in this book are applicable to any service-based business. If that describes your enterprise, Selling To Serve could give you the confidence you need to realise the true value of your business. ‘To price more profitably, to sell more confidently, and to give even more value to your clients’. It’s why Danbro Business’s Managing Director, Neil Ormesher, refers to it as “an inspirational book that would apply to any service-based business”.
Author, James Ashford, is a keynote speaker, director of MAP, and the founder of GoProposal. GoProposal's a unique software solution that helps thousands of accountants with their pricing, valuations and sales strategy. GoProposal’s on-boarding and repricing system provides a ‘consistent and profitable pricing methodology’, which empowers clients to minimise risk and sell with confidence.
The Advantage (2012) - Patrick Lencioni
The Advantage considers why ‘organisational health trumps everything else in business’. Lencioni observes that organisational health surpasses all other disciplines in business. He argues that it represents ‘the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage’.
With four actionable steps, the book provides readers with an approachable model for achieving ‘organisational health’. It’s a concept Lencioni defines as ‘making a company function effectively by building a cohesive leadership team; establishing clarity among those leaders; communicating that clarity to the business as a whole; and putting in place enough structure to reinforce that clarity moving forward’.
Patrick Lencioni is a prolific writer and public speaker, focusing on leadership, teamwork, and corporate management to help businesses grow. Founder and President of The Table Group - dedicated to improving the organisational health of businesses around the world - many of TTG’s philosophies have been documented in Lencioni’s dozen-or-so books. Amongst the most notable titles includes The Ideal Team Player, The Five Temptations of a CEO, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse (2019) - Charlie Mackesy
‘What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?’ asked the boy. ‘Help,’ said the horse.
A celebration of kindness, courage, compassion and understanding, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse sold millions of copies in its first year of publication alone, becoming something of an overnight sensation. And, with its release more or less coinciding with the emergence of the pandemic, it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Author and illustrator, Charlie Mackesy, is a former Oxford University Press illustrator and cartoonist for The Spectator. This book has definitely changed his life, but it’s undoubtedly had a positive impact on millions of others too.
It might not contain complex psychological studies or sophisticated analysis on the latest market trends, but of all the books included on this list, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse might well be most valuable for you. If not, we guarantee it will at least make you smile. And, what’s more, you can read it all in your lunch break!
Sam Wright is Danbro’s Marketing Manager. He produces regular content and feature articles on our digital and non-digital channels – and social platforms – for the Danbro Group and its subsidiaries, as well as having responsibility for the Company’s internal and external communications.
His background is in Journalism and Creative Writing, having previously contributed to publications such as The Daily Post, The Lancashire Evening Post, and The Blackpool Gazette.
He is a keen swimmer and avid Manchester United fan (but don’t hold that against him), and he lives in Lancashire with his wife, Sarah.