Image of book pages made into a heart shape2014 brought so many amazing books that have proved to be so beneficial in helping me develop my mindset, helping me to learn new skills, and creating positive change in the way I run my business. I just had to share my favorites with you.

Every day I try to get at least a half hour of reading time in before I start my day. It’s one of the reasons why I get up so early. I love my reading time.

Herewith are the best books I read during 2014 and are certainly my favorites. They all get a 5 Star rating in my estimation. A couple of them have literally been life changing for me.

I purchased all of these books as electronic versions to read on my Kindle and several of them were so good that I also bought the printed paper version, too, knowing I would go back to each as a reference. I much prefer paper versions of books if I’m going to be looking things up again later. It’s just much easier IMHO.

So here’s the books I loved in 2014…. that will still be a good read for you in 2015.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
This is one of the books that had a life-changing impact on me. Jeff teaches that you have time on your side, and anything you want to change, you can do so a little at the time. It is all about the choices we make on a day to day basis, from the tiniest choice to the biggest decisions. As a result of this book I chose to walk every day and to drink 16-oz of water upon rising everyday. (I drink the water while I walk.) Small changes that, over time, will both have a positive impact on my overall life.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown
This, too, was a life-changer for me. I discovered that I am a non-essentialist but I want to be an essentialist. The gist of the book is that you need to spend your time on the things that are essential to you, and little to no time on the things that you deem as non-essential. Like Jeff Olson, Greg encourages you to make small changes in your habits and in your life. From reading this book I totally changed my sleeping patterns and I feel a lot better every day.

Kill the Elevator Speech by Felicia J. Slattery
I loved this book because it confirmed for me what I knew all along and that is regurgitating a memorized “elevator speech” when someone asks you “what do you do?” does nothing to establish a true connection with this human being. Felicia goes about telling you step-by-step what to say instead and gives numerous examples of situations where something other than an elevator speech will work much better. Plus she tells you when, yes, you might want to use an elevator speech and how to make it better when you do.

It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon by Brian Basilico
Year after year I struggle with using social media to effectively market my business. And this book is not a “how to” of social networking but rather a “why-to.” After reading this I have a better understanding of how I want to approach using social media this next year. He shares why you need to use social media to build relationships with people, not how you can use it to sell to the masses through electronic interaction. It’s a fun read, too.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
While this is written about using the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing one’s home, there’s lots to take away as it relates to your business, too. She delivers on the promise that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. I came to this book late in the year, so I’m still going through it, but I’ve already picked up some excellent tips. And it prompted me to clean up my office and clear my desk before the beginning of this new year.

The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment by Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Unlike most time management books and advice usually given, Elizabeth helps you get to the core of the negative mental patterns that sabotage your ability to “manage time” effectively. You don’t even have to read the book from beginning to end. You can jump into the section where you need the most help. But I suggest that even if you do that, you eventually go back and read the whole book.

Smart Calling by Art Sobczak
Hands down the best book to guide you in using the phone to prospect for business. While most of us have gladly given up cold calling, Art actually makes you want to pick up the phone and call people. His chapter alone on what not to say on the phone is worth the entire price of the book.

Pick Up the Damn Phone by Joanne S. Black
As one reviewer said about this book, “it’s the only sales handbook you and your team needs.” I agree. She makes the point that I’ve been making over and over for as long as I’ve been involved with this Internet thing: “People do business with people, not with technology.” Joanne will encourage you to come out from behind the cloak of technology and just be you. “The personal connection seals the deal every time,” she says. I could not agree more!!

Inbound Marketing by Tyler Brodie
This is one of the books that I bought both the Kindle version and then got the paper printed version. It’s a slim book that won’t take long to read, so if you’ve been baffled by the terminology of “inbound” vs “outbound” marketing, Tyler explains all. He provides clarity when it comes to marketing in today’s online minefield and the book is full of tips and tricks to get the most out of inbound marketing for your business.

Marketing: A Love Story by Bernadette Jiwa
I first heard of this book from my friend Barbara Winter. If Barbara recommends it, I usually read it. The premise of the book is all about what love has to do with business and marketing. Another theme close to my heart as a soul proprietor. Bernadette asks, “What if marketing was less about promotion or coercion and more about reaching out to people and helping them to solve problems?” This book shows you how to do just that. She says we have a choice: to either do work we care about or not. I love that I get to do work that I care passionately about.

Rich Habits by Thomas Corley
Subtitled The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, I learned about this book when I heard an interview with the author by SUCCESS magazine publisher, Darren Hardy. You already know that successful people are masters of their thoughts and emotions. In this book, Thomas outlines the 10 Rich Habits Promises. I like the format of this book as it is the telling of a story about several different people, literally at the end of their rope and ready to cash it in, when they start practicing the Rich Habits and the turnarounds they experience. You may do like I did and write out the 10 Habits and post them so you can refer to them daily.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
If you’re in business you’re a writer. So much of what we do every day revolves around writing and sharing what we’ve written, from articles to sales pages, from blog posts to copywriting. She covers writing for virtually every use you can imagine. Blog posts. Emails. Headlines and subject lines. Landing pages. Your website home page. Your about us page. Plus how to write for Facebook, Twitter, LindedIn, and social media in general. A fabulous reference. The Table of Contents (on the Kindle) is so good you can just jump to whatever you need to learn to write about in the moment. 5 Stars!!

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins
Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are already a writer; you just need to write. This is the perfect companion to Everybody Writes. The key, of course, is showing up everyday and writing. I’ve adopted this habit of writing something every single day. I don’t know if the title “Writer” will ever follow my name, but it’s a skill I am working to hone and this book helped give me the confidence to “just write.”

Networking Is Not Working by Derek Coburn
If you hate networking events, then this is the book for you. Derek introduces you to a way of connecting with people that will make networking, in all its many and varied forms, something that you’ll just start doing naturally. It too is all about identifying and developing relationships with other remarkable and relevant people and shows you how to position yourself to give and get more quality introductions to your prospective perfect-fit clients.

All In Startup by Diana Kander (a novel)
I really love business books disguised as novels. At first, I wasn’t sure I would like the book because it’s set in Las Vegas during a poker tournament. Something I know nothing about (but I learned a lot while reading the book). But that’s just the underlying story for the true story which is all about how to launch a new product or a new idea. Stories are powerful teaching mechanisms. I always remember more from what I learn told through a story than I do from regular “how to” business books. This will change your mind about whatever you’ve learned about how to turn an idea into a profitable business.

Well, there you have it. It’s a big list I know. But there is some tremendous value to be found in each of these books. I know there will be some great new titles to capture our attention in 2015 but make room for some of these, too.

And I’d love to know what you think. So if you read any of these books, let me know and if and how it impacted you and your business.

Enjoy!

(A friend who knows me all too well sent me a cartoon with a quotation that suits me to a ‘T’…. “The sight of a bookstore is to me what the sound of a bell was to Pavlov’s dog.” If there’s a bookstore anywhere near, no matter where I am, I’ll find it, and salivate all the way to the door.)