The color yellow symbolizes optimism, hope, and creativity.
A winning shade of yellow, aptly named “Illuminating,” was even chosen one of two Colors of the Year in 2021 by Pantone, a company that produces a universal language of color used by graphic designers and others. (The other color chosen was Ultimate Gray.)
Is it any wonder, then, that yellow cover art has popped up more than once in this issue’s book recommendations? After a grueling couple of years, small business owners are more ready than ever to create, to hope, to glow.
In this compilation we shine a light on topics such as maintaining a drama-free workplace, recruiting and retaining talent, and conflict-management skills. We also have smart suggestions that will help you build confidence and capacity. So read on—brighter days are ahead!
Note: if traditional book format doesn’t work for you, check out the audiobook versions of these selections on services like Audible, Google Play, and more.
GRIP: The Art of Working Smart (and Getting to What Matters Most) by Rick Pastoor
So many of us feel like a “hostage to our to-do list,” with seemingly more to accomplish at the end of the day than we were tasked with at the beginning. Particularly for studio owners who have experienced rapid business growth, Pastoor’s lessons will hit home. Radical clarity and prioritization are the keys to wading through your overflowing inbox filled with—let’s face it—everyone else’s concerns instead of yours, and radical simplicity is the way to go when it comes to tools and resources. A simple calendar, one to-do list, email best practices, and Pastoor’s handy cheat sheets are all you need to cut through the noise and get a grip on your workload.
Leading In Tough Times: Overcome Even the Greatest Challenges with Courage and Confidence by John C. Maxwell
“Tough times don’t break good leaders. They make them.” Business coaching titan John C. Maxwell knows a thing or two about leadership, and this brief, unintimidating little handbook is no exception. If the last couple dance seasons have left you feeling ground-down instead of growth-minded, take heart—contrary to counting down the days until easier times come, Maxwell says we actually benefit from embracing difficulties. The trick is in knowing how to turn misadventure into mastery, and making sure you’re always prepared for a dry season so you’re ready when it inevitably comes.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Most readers of INSight™ operate a service-based business rather than product-based, but we’re no exception to the rules shared here as part of a larger strategy: to be in the coveted “first in mind” space when our clients are ready to buy. The same hook model of Trigger/Action/Variable Reward/Investment that big tech companies use to get us—and keep us—using their device, their app, or their streaming service can be applied to your own processes to make your business a habit among your clients. What would life look like if your customers were hooked on your service? What would it mean if patronizing your business was habitual for your clients? Stanford MBA and behavioral engineer Nir Eyal wants to help you find out.
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker
We all know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness—efficiency is getting things done right; effectiveness is getting the right things done. As the so-called “founder of modern management,” Drucker wrote this classic guide (originally published in 1967) for leaders who need to spend their precious work hours getting the right things done, focusing on five key functions: time management, identification of your superpowers as the leader, strategic allocation of resources, productive prioritization, and effective decision-making. Space-age work tools aside, today’s small business owner will find Drucker’s teachings as insightful as they were 50 years ago. Trello is temporary; principles are forever.
Winning the War For Talent: Recruit, Retrain, and Develop the Talent Your Business Needs to Survive and Thrive by Chris Czarnik
The “Great Resignation” that started in 2021, when workers quit their jobs in record numbers (more than 3 million each month according to the Society for Human Resource Management), will go down in textbooks. Long before this moment in history, however, businesses have always sought ways to recruit—and, even harder, retain—great employees, with varying degrees of success. Czarnik shows readers how to adapt hiring practices and operations to attract high-quality talent whether there’s a national crisis or not. Best of all, many of these tactics are ones you’re already using to market your business to prospects, so the investment is minimal. A safe bet in risky times? We’ll take it.
Creating A Drama-Free Workplace: The Insider’s Guide to Managing Conflict, Incivility & Mistrust by Anna Maravelas
Author Anna Maravelas is here to help us discern disagreement vs. drama, separate the people from the problem, and reclaim our money, our time, and our joy. Conflicts at work are unavoidable, but by learning to use the power of alliances, move past old wounds, and defuse tension, small business leaders can maximize productivity and prevent W-O-R-K from being everyone’s least favorite four letter word.