The First Annual “What Books Do You Have On Your Bookshelf?” Competition

You can learn a lot about a person from what’s on their bookshelf.bookshelf, books, business books

The books a person is reading — or has read recently — can say a lot about their interests, concerns and/or fears.

A lot of people say books don’t matter anymore, or that the age of the printed book is coming to an end.

I disagree. Sure, more people are consuming books using Kindle, nook, iPad and other e-readers. But the idea of a long-format collection of thoughts and words going the way of the dodo is just not true.

Not all ideas can be sufficiently expressed in short bursts. Not all concepts worth sharing are better expressed in multi-media than they are in words on a printed page.

Some stories require thousands of words or hundreds of pages to unfold.

I think it’s important to let authors and deep thinkers espouse their theories in the longer format of a book, where they have room to let their ideas unfold gradually at their own pace.

In an era where so much content is incredibly short (think 140-character tweets or 30 second YouTube videos), it says a great deal about a person when they prioritize their time by sitting down with a book for a few hours or a few days. It speaks volumes about the importance that person places on the material or subject matter.

That’s why I often ask people what they are reading. It’s like peeking into their brain and seeing what they are thinking about right now.

It’s also why I like looking at what books people have on their bookshelves when I visit other people’s homes.

(Of course I get their permission first – I’m not slipping silently into people’s bedrooms or anything. What am I, an animal?)

I was looking at my bookshelf recently and I realized it would be revealing to talk about what books I am reading.

And I thought it would be even more interesting to find out what you are reading.

Thus was born… the first annual “What Books Do You Have on Your Bookshelf” Competition.

Before you get too excited, there will be no all-expense paid trips to Hawaii for the winner.  However, I do want to make this interesting, so for whoever comes up with the most interesting and creative submission in the next 7 days, I will give complimentary access to Business Profit Academy, my eight-week video training program for entrepreneurs and business owners.

OK, I’ll go first.

Here are some of the highlights of the recent books I’ve been reading (and a few long-time favorites) on my bookshelf, and an explanation why I am reading or have recently read these books.

When you get to the bottom, please share what books you are currently reading, or have read recently, in the comments.

(Note: some of the links to Amazon are affiliate links.)

Books I am Reading Now

Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

Why I am Reading It: Book Yourself Solid covers Michael Port’s system for attracting more clients. It’s a system he has taught to his clients as a business coach over the years.

I discovered Michael Port’s website a few months ago, and I signed up for his email list. I have also participated in some of his conference calls.

One thing I was really impressed with was Michael’s theory of marketing and selling in the book — he believes you should give and give and give right from the outset, and then give a little more. It’s one of the reasons he is so widely trusted.

It’s a model I am seeking to follow with Smart Business Revolution – to give away my most valuable content, ideas, and training.

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Why I am Reading It: My partner in Business Profit Academy, Kevin Waldron, spoke very highly of The E-Myth Revisited – so much so, that he sent me a copy. He relied heavily on the teachings in the original book when he was growing his disaster restoration business.

Gerber talks extensively about the importance of systems in any business. Throughout the book, he uses McDonald’s restaurant as a model of success.  (Of course, he wrote the book long before McDonald’s starting taking criticism for Hot Coffee or its effects on the obesity epidemic.)

The short explanation as to why McDonald’s should serve as a model for all other businesses is that Ray Kroc turned a small hamburger restaurant into one of the world’s largest restaurant chains and most well known brands by systematizing the process of selling burgers and fries.

Gerber makes a persuasive argument that any business owner should use Kroc’s methods to grow their own business.  As they say, you can’t argue with success.

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

Why I am Reading It: For those who haven’t heard of this book, you’re probably thinking the title makes this sound like high-fluff, “get rich quick” kind of book. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m going to butcher the entire message of the book, but basically the “Tim Ferriss philosophy” promotes setting up profitable businesses based on systems and outsourcing. He makes a persuasive argument that a truly systems-based and outsourced business will allow its owner(s) to back themselves out and work on other projects.

In a nutshell: working longer doesn’t mean you’re working harder. It’s better to work smarter and in short bursts so you can enjoy life.

After graduating from Princeton, Ferriss found he absolutely hated working in jobs which had hours and hours of busy work with little productive work. He turned his job upside down, managing to get a week’s worth of job duties done in a few hours so that he could travel and dabble in other hobbies and lifestyle experimentation (such as cage fighting or becoming a world class salsa dancer).

Later he built a vitamin supplement business which he very intentionally designed to run with as little ongoing supervision from him as possible.

This book has had a big impact on my life, as it has for many others. I highly recommend it for any entrepreneur or business owner who finds themselves constantly going around and around on the hamster wheel and struggling to get off.

By the way, Ferriss includes a great story in the book about how the book got its title. I’ll give you a hint – it involves using Google to test market the book’s sales, well ahead of its release.  He’s one smart cookie.

Mastery at Work by Nicole Grace

Why I am Reading It:  Both a Buddhist Monk and blackbelt in Karate, Nicole Grace uses teachings from Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies as context for achieving greater success and fulfillment in the modern American workplace.

Mastery at Work provides practical techniques which any worker (not just an entrepreneur or a business owner) can use to work more productively and create more happiness.  The result is an enlightening and informative book that will shift how you think about life and work.

And I’m not just saying that because Nicole Grace has been a client of mine, although it has certainly been a pleasure being around her. As you might expect from a Buddhist monk, she truly exudes balance, wisdom and peace.

Although I picked up her book because she was a client and I wanted to learn more about her, the numerous positive testimonials on Amazon demonstrate that anyone can benefit from this book.

Investing in Real Estate by Gary W. Alred

Why I am Reading It: I have had this book for over 10 years now, and I always turn back to it when I have questions about real estate.

I originally picked up Investing in Real Estate when I was about to rent out my first property, and it was filled with practical advice such as how to limit the time-consuming tasks related to advertising a property for rent.  Alred wisely suggests putting as much information as possible into your rental ads and fliers (so you don’t have to field phone calls or emails with follow up questions).

How I Turned $1,000 into Three Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time
by William Nickerson

Why I am Reading It: This book is a bit of a cult classic. Although it was originally published in 1969 (under the title “How I Turned $1,000 into One Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time” — the title kept increasing in subsequent editions), the principles are still applicable today.

Interestingly, there are parallels between this book and the Tim Ferriss book, published more than 30 years later. Both Nickerson and Ferriss (like Michael Gerber as well) were big advocates of putting in effort at the outset, setting up a system, then profiting from that system long-term without needing continual effort on your part.


The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

Why I am Reading It:  The only reason I forgot to include this book when I first wrote this post was because my copy of the book was on my bedside table, not on my bookshelf.  I got my copy at Chris’s book signing at Booksmith in the Haight in San Francisco last month.

The funny thing was when I showed up for the book signing, there were about four people in the audience with lots of empty chairs gathered in a semicircle at the back of the store.  I felt bad that Chris had come such a long way for such a small turnout.  Then the book store announced they had published conflicting start times, and the actual start time would be in 30 minutes.  I went for a walk and when I showed up 25 minutes later, it was standing room only straight through to the front of the store.  The man knows how to mobilize a crowd.

I’m really grateful to Adam Baker of who told me about the book signing, because seeing the soft-spoken Chris Guillebeau in person is really inspiring. If you haven’t heard of Chris Guillebeau yet, don’t worry, you will. One part world traveler, one part writer, one part community organizer/change agent, Chris has rocketed his way to success over the past few years.

The book documents dozens of small business owners who have started businesses on a shoestring. Guillebeau is most drawn to those business owners who have rejected an uncertain economy by opting out of traditional employment and used innovative ideas to forge successful businesses that generate enough free time and income to allow them to pursue what they find moving, rewarding and meaningful.

Chris just got done wrapping up his annual World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.  In its second year, the World Domination Summit has quickly become an annual rite of passage for the very types of business owners Guillebeau documents in the $100 Startup.

I was already beating myself up for not going this year, and the reviews that came in during and after the Summit were like kicking a man while he’s down.  To a person, each review recounted how moving, inspiring and life-changing the Summit was.



So those are my books… what books are you reading or have you read lately? Please share some of your most favorite books or recent reads in the comments below!  And tell a friend… “I just entered the “What Books Do You Have on Your Bookshelf?” Competition.  >>Click here to tweet this.