By Robert Craven, MD of The Directors' Centre

I was recently asked to write about three books that I think are great (“my favourite business books”). Should be a doddle, I thought as I’ve just put the finishing touches to two chapters for a book on Business Gurus (you’ll have to wait to find out who I wrote about).

To spice things up I have decided that maybe a better title than “my favourite business books” would be “the books I lend out the most” because this reflects the interests of my clients and colleagues.

So, my list of the books I lend out the most is as follows:

Seth Godin: Purple Cow

Purple Cow asks the crucial question, “How can you make your business remarkable ie worthy of being talked about?” Godin argues (as I do in Bright Marketing) that the key to success is to find a way to stand out. The book claims that we have now moved into an era where markets are largely satisfied, and that to be noticed a product and its marketing need to be remarkable to be seen at all, let alone to sell. In his language, you need to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome brown cows.

Godin’s blogs and articles always entertain and challenge. For a taster take a look at In Praise of the Purple Cow. He reminds us to keep looking and searching and questioning and to not accept the status quo as being good enough.

Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week is like Gerber’s E-Myth plus Covey’s Seven Habits on steroids — the tagline says it all: “escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”. A challenging read and not everyone’s cup of tea. Ferriss explains how to follow a step-by-step process to get yourself a ‘luxury lifestyle’. He advocates using the available tools (that usually tend to actually complicate things) to become more effective and filling your personal time with the things you really want to have.

Ferriss concedes ‘much of what I recommend will seem impossible and even offensive to basic common sense’. Statements such as “everything popular is wrong… be unreasonable… cultivate selective ignorance, interrupt interruptions, management by absence” give you a feel for his approach. The idea of mini-retirements is promoted as an alternative to the ‘deferred life’ career path where many people work their 9-5 until they get to retirement in their 60’s when they are too old to enjoy what the world has to offer.

Bo Burlingham: Small Giants

Again the tagline says it all: “companies that choose to be great instead of big”. 14 companies that choose not to grow just to sell-up. There is an alternative to the dream of the big exit strategy; you can choose instead to avoid the pursuit of endless growth deciding to focus on more satisfying business goals, being the best at what they do, creating a stimulating place to work, and pursuing perfect customer service.


On reflection, a couple of points:

- It is curious that all the books come from over the Atlantic — can’t the UK compete or is it just that I like their style and their attitude?

- Godin, Ferriss and Burlingham are by no means flawless. Their work is presented as work-in-progress, warts and all. What I love about them is how they get me to think about my businesses and those of my clients. Interestingly enough, while Burlingham is a safer read, it is the companies he describes that are so stimulating.

- All these books kick against the status quo.

- Good books (or at least these books) tell you exactly what they talk about on the cover.

To find out more about how Robert Craven and The Directors’ Centre grow their clients’ sales and profits contact us at www.directorscentre.com 01225 851044.