Productivity

My Top 5 Favorite Business Books

 May 11, 2022

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

Do you want to know which books you should read next to grow your business faster and better?

Check out this episode where I share my top 5 favorite business books of all time!

My Top 5 Favorite Business Books:

  • 'Profit First' by Mike Michalowicz
  • 'Building A Storybrand' by Donald Miller
  • 'Virtual Culture' by Bryan Miles
  • 'The Big Leap' by Gay Hendricks
  • 'Radical Candor' by Kim Scott
  • Listen to the episode for my bonus book!

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Focus Club
My Storybrand BrandScript

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Hello, hello! Thanks so much for listening to the podcast. I hope you're having an awesome day.

I wanted to share something kind of interesting with you today: I want to tell you about my top five favorite business books.

I would say that reading has probably been one of the the habits I've developed that has made the most difference in my personal and professional life. And I think every year I read about 20 to 30 business books. Not all business books - I do read some novels and some other interesting books, but I do tend to love the business books, and all of them have some good info, and then some of them end up being more helpful, more useful than others.

And then there's other books that end up being quite the game changer. And there's a few books that I read every single year, probably only two or three. But I wanted to tell you about my top five favorite books and see if you've read any of them. And if not, maybe you'll get some good ideas. So I've got a stack of books next to me here.

I'm just going to start with the first one and go through them. So the first one here is a book you've probably heard about from the author, Mike Michalowicz. It's called Profit First. And the subtitle here is: Transform Your Business from a Cash Eating monster to a Money Making Machine.

And this is a book that I actually do read every single year, even though I fully implemented Profit First. I mean, not 100% to the letter, but probably about 90% 95%.

Every time I read this book, I find some sort of small tweak or just a reminder of the mindset of making sure that my business is profitable, that I'm paying myself, and that I'm making decisions financially that my business can actually afford. I love Profit First so much, but for the one reason that when I sit down with my CPA every year, I never have to worry if I have enough money for my taxes.

And in fact, this year when I sat down with my CPA, I just really wanted to know how much extra money I had saved. And it turned out to be quite a big number, quite a big amount of money that I had saved over and above what I owed on my taxes. Because I've been following the Profit First methodology, which is essentially a cash management strategy that tells you exactly what to do with your money after expenses and payroll are already paid.

So highly, highly recommend that. I pretty much recommend this to all of my coaching clients and anybody who owns a business. I think it's just a great framework to follow and it's really easy once you get over the hurdle of actually implementing the concepts. It's really simple.

So Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. Highly recommend.

The next one is by Donald Miller: Building a Story Brand - using the seven elements of great storytelling to grow your business.

And honestly, everything that Donald Miller comes out with is really good. His business frameworks are always simple, easy to apply, and really, genuinely make a difference.

The other books that stand out to me are the other ones that I read from him: Hero On A Mission is really good, Business Made Simple is also really good.

So he talks about in this book - if you haven't heard of it or read it - he essentially takes the narrative framework of the hero's journey and applies that to business marketing and messaging.

And I can't really consolidate all the ideas into this little short podcast. But he creates what he called the Storybrand framework, which is essentially using your business, creating a story out of your mission and purpose. So it starts with a character who has a problem, who meets a guide, who gives them a plan and calls them to action that helps them avoid failure and ends in a success.

I think if you go to mystorybrand.com or It's brandscript.com - oh, gosh, I can't remember right now; I'll put it in the show notes - there's a really excellent free tool that guides you through this process of actually writing out your messaging as a story where the customer - and for us as therapists, it's the client - is actually the hero of the story. Not you with all of your amazing degrees, your training and education and experience. But no, the actual client is on a journey, and you are the guide to help them get where they want to go.

So Donald Miller, Building a Story Brand. Great book. Highly recommended.

The next one, number three here is called Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn't Work Anymore by Bryan Miles.

And this is a book that you may not have heard of, but I read this one... I read it for the last two or three years in a row because this is written by a guy who started and grew one of the biggest virtual assistant businesses in the United States called Belay Solutions, and they've won a ton of awards. And in this book, he talks about how he really builds and maintains virtual culture with an entirely virtual team.

So this is maybe a little bit more applicable to me and Productive Therapist, but if you were to read this book today, in the world that we live in now, with a lot of therapists working virtually with clients through telehealth and a lot of group practices using sort of a hybrid model, some of them even being only virtual, you would get a lot out of this, I guarantee you.

And even if you apply some of the ideas in here about creating an amazing culture to your in person practice, it's good for that, too. So I like that book a lot.

And I like to read books by people who have accomplished the things that I want to accomplish. And that for some reason it's just extra inspiring because I imagine them doing the things that I want to do. And if I think if I follow some of their guidance and advice and their consolidated wisdom, then I might just get there a little faster.

The next one is a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Subtitle here is: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level.

So this book is not really a business book, it's more of a self-help book. Gay Hendrix is actually a psychologist. I believe this is one that people who read it probably either love it or hate it, very possibly, but it helped me so much to get over some patterns of self-sabotage.

He talks a lot about this upper limit idea that everybody at every level of their life, no matter how successful they get, they have some sort of invisible upper limit that stops them. Where you basically don't believe that you deserve happiness, success, love, whatever that might be. And he goes through and talks about moving from the zone of incompetence to the zone of competence, the zone of excellence, and the zone of genius. Basically more and more where you're focusing on doing the things that you are particularly talented at and are really in your zone. 

So just as an example, zone of incompetence is me delivering pizzas at age 16. I was the worst, such a terrible pizza delivery boy! Moving to the zone of confidence, when I was selling furniture at Macy's; I was pretty good at that. And then becoming a therapist; I feel like I found more of a zone of excellence where that was really part of the calling and something that really use my skills. And then actually beyond that... I feel like maybe I'm not operating in my zone of genius all the time - certainly not - but I feel like being a business owner and an entrepreneur is something that I'm even better at than being a therapist.

So just that idea of progression and continually breaking through those upper limit barriers. Super helpful.

And this last time I actually listened to this book on audio and it was read by the author and I even enjoyed it a little bit more. So that 1 may or may not change your life, but it certainly made a difference for me.

I want to take a short break and tell you about Focus Club.

So Focus Club is an amazing accountability program that I created to help therapists like you achieve your big goals faster. And this month I actually have a special deal. If you sign up for Focus Club in the month of May, I will actually send you a free business book. And this is super appropriate for this podcast as well. All you have to do is sign up for Focus Club and email me - just tell me one or two of your business challenges and I will make a recommendation and send you the book of your choice, either on Kindle or in paperback.

So Focus Club, I want you to check it out. It's really a wonderful program. It comes with a bunch of benefits, including two monthly work sessions where we just focus and get work done, an open office hours call where I share some interesting, helpful tips and then take people's questions and do a little bit of coaching on the spot. You can also get connected with an accountability partner, you can get support from our VA team, and you also get a quarterly call with me.

It's really a cool program, so check it out: ProductiveTherapist.com/focus 

Okay, next book up is number five is a book called Radical Candor, and I actually don't even have this one in front of me, so I don't remember what the subtitle is. And this is probably the single most useful book on management that I've ever read, and it's one that I recommend to all my coaching clients as well.

There are two concepts from the book Radical Candor that have particularly stuck with me. The first is the difference between rockstars and superstars.

And rockstars are those people on your team who are super solid. They're fairly content with what they're doing, and they just do a great job. They do great work.

And then the superstars are the people that you identify that are also doing great work, but they have even more potential, and they want to advance and grow. And if you don't give them the opportunity to do so, then they might go elsewhere.

That was a helpful concept of just kind of looking at who's on my team and who I should tap on the shoulder for more opportunities, whether that's clinical supervisor, executive director, site supervisor, etc. And then mostly the book was helpful to me in figuring out how to have difficult conversations with my employees, specifically around giving them feedback about underperformance or anything that is difficult to say.

And there's a matrix - I don't have it in front of me, but there's a matrix - and they tell you you want to avoid something called ruinous empathy, and you also want to avoid obnoxious aggression.

And ruinous empathy is where you're so nice and so friendly that you never give feedback and you never really help them grow.

Obnoxious aggression is the polar opposite of that, where you give so much direct, pointed feedback that you hurt people's feelings.

And then radical candor is where you actually care deeply, you care personally, and you challenge directly. I think there might be another fourth one in there somewhere, but I can't remember what it is off the top of my head.

So this has helped me tremendously just in coaching my team, in supporting them and mentoring them. It's helped me in the times when I've had to actually fire people which is never easy, probably one of the most difficult things to do and so I can't recommend that book enough. It's really good.

And I have a bonus book for you... so number six on my list is one I just read about two weeks ago. It's called: The EOS Life: How To Live Your Ideal Entrepreneurial Life By Gino Wickman.

He's the author of a book called Traction. This book is really cool and it talks about... basically if you apply... Gino Wickman created this thing called the Entrepreneurial Operating System, and it's a pretty holistic business framework but if you apply that framework to your business, you end up with a very smooth-running business that really benefits your life.

And so he says - turning to the page here - he said basically the Entrepreneurial Operating System Life - that's kind of an awkward title! - is when you are doing what you love with people you love making a huge difference, being compensated appropriately and also having time for your other passions.

He digs into each one of these and gives examples and kind of challenges people to move closer and closer to their ideal life. And I read this book on a flight... I read it from cover to cover on a flight to Georgia, made a ton of notes and highlights.

And I just love that concept. I mean, anybody listening to this podcast, I'm sure you want all five of those things right? You want to do work that you love, with people you enjoy being around, really making a difference in the world, while getting paid well, and also getting to have hobbies and vacations and non-work things in your life.

So I definitely recommend this book - super good.

So I hope you found that helpful and if you are interested in more of the books that I like go ProductiveTherapist.com and if you go to the blog...somewhere on the site, if you search "Reading Lists", you'll see - all the way back to 2018 - every year I post my list of books that I've read and there's a lot of good ones in there.

So thanks so much for listening!

Check out Focus Club: ProductiveTherapist.com/Focus

And hope you have an awesome day!

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Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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