If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll know that many of them are inspired or informed by the books I read.
I’m a book junkie and read a huge amount, primarily non-fiction from the business and personal development world (I wrote about reading here: http://tinyurl.com/38oszzm).
I’ve had several requests for a “reading suggestions” page, so below is the first instalment. Five books that can absolutely impact your working life, along with some reasons why I think they are worth your time:
The SPIN selling field book by Neil Rackham. As a young lawyer in private practice, my business development mentor introduced me to SPIN (an acronym for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need pay-off). Essentially a questioning technique aimed at uncovering needs and helping the reader think of how they can help meet those needs. The technique is based on a huge amount of research and is absolutely proven. Not only did it transform my business development at work, it’s a technique I’ve used successfully in many different aspects of my life with great results. The fieldbook is a good starter, because not only does it give you the theory, it provides a template to learn and practice, and certainly for me, getting used to the technique did need some practice.
Transitions by William Bridges. This is a book that deals with personal change. It’s not the “change is like the process of grieving” analysis which is rolled out at countless corporate change events, it offers a much deeper opportunity for reflection. The first version was written by the author when he was in his forties, and the 25th anniversary edition was then updated by him much later in life, after a period when he sadly lost his wife and really tested the principles he based the book on. The book talks about natural change points in people’s lives and for me has been a great guide in understanding my own reaction to change, and that of others. Some of that change might be in the workplace, some of it at home. Easy to read, but very thought provoking.
How to make an impact by Jon Moon. Lawyers, perhaps more than most professionals, spend a lot of time communicating with document. Too often, all the thought is given to the content, and the format is an after thought, often left in the hands of an assistant. This book looks across a huge range of documents (and is particularly good for Word documents and Excel documents) and gives some great advice on how to make the documents not just look more impressive, but crucially make them easier to read and interpret. As a client of law firms, I certainly appreciated advice that was well presented and easy to read, and the suggestions in this book are simple to implement but have a big impact.
Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter. Porter’s strategy models are taught on most management courses and at business schools around the world. The concepts are easy to grasp and apply, and while they have attracted some criticism, they are generally accepted to have stood the test of time over the last 30 years. However, it’s only when you read the text itself you really begin to understand the concepts in the sort of detail that will really allow you to examine a business model or market position. Another book that is easy to read, but upon reflection reveals a lot of depth, this was one of my favourite MBA reads, and rather than read a broad introduction to strategy that gives a much wider perspective, I think there is a lot to said for reading primary sources like this. Recommended for private practice lawyers thinking about their firm, team or individual practice’s strategy, and for inhouse lawyers that want to understand their organisation better.
Financial Intelligence by Berman and Knight. Many lawyers are not a fan of numbers, and while I’m fortunate enough to be fairly numerate (studying maths and economics at A-level) I am very concious of my limits and perhaps as a result have read more than my fair share of business finance books. To save you that pain, I present this gem. An American book, which if you’re British means some terminology differences, it focuses on the topics that really matter. From why cash is important, through understanding a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement, through to calculating return on investment, the book is light on highly detailed, irrelevant examples and solid on explaining principles in plain English.
I hope that was a useful list – it was hard choosing five (I could have come up with five in each of these categories), but I welcome feedback and of course other suggestions.
Readers of the world, unite!
- SPIN Selling for a Tough Economy: Getting Concrete on Implication & Need-Payoff (leveragepoint.com)