George Orwell once wrote that a great book becomes "part of the furniture of one's mind." If that's true, these books are the furniture of our internal home-offices.
I asked everyone at VIEO to tell me about books that inspire them, help them be more effective at their jobs, or just make them feel better after a long, long day. Their answers ranged far and wide, and included more than one obvious joke (Fifty Shades of Grey? Really, people?), but I think the resulting list has some gems.
I hope you enjoy it, and find at least one that inspires you as well!
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
I loved this book because Simon ties leadership rules to live by back to the basic instincts and motivations we have as humans. He describes many of the leadership rules I was intuitively trying to live by, though before reading this book I couldn't properly put into words why I felt passionately that they were critical to our success. I didn’t have a great way to explain the "why” to my fellow owners or peers, but now I refer them to Simon Sinek.
Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
Crush It! is about about how you don’t have to separate the things you love from the thing that you do. He shows you that can use social media and specific marketing tools to achieve your dreams by doing something you truly love as opposed to something that only pays the bills.
Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson
While primarily known for his science fiction novels and for popularizing the cyberpunk sub-genre, William Gibson was also an accomplished journalist and essayist whose work appeared in a variety of publications. This book is a collection of some of those pieces, with themes that encompass art, technology, the ties between geography and memory, communication, literature, and fashion. Gibson isn’t one of my favorite authors. I wouldn’t even say that he’s one I’m particularly familiar with, since I’ve only ever read two of his other books and don’t read sci-fi much in general. I enjoy this Distrust that Particular Flavor, however, because it’s an excellent example of an author who excels in a particular type of writing—one populated by techy loners in a dystopian future universe—finding interest and fascinating touch-points for topics outside of what would be considered his wheelhouse. He makes these subjects engaging, informative, relatable, and thought-provoking. As a writing tool, its usefulness isn’t immediately obvious, but it’s a good example to go by when writing about a topic that is unfamiliar or especially unexciting to me.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Funny and inspiring, Amy Poehler's Yes Please helps me do my job by keeping me laughing! Throughout her memoir, Poehler offers advice that's applicable even in the inbound marketing world—most of which involves handling new situations with a good sense of humor.
Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini
What is a book? Is it that paper thing? (Kidding). Because most of my job involves working with so many different people with many different personalities, I have been concentrating the bulk of my book learnin' lately on communication. Influence has helped me get my point across more quickly and clearly so I get better answers.
Don't Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug
This book is a great resource on web usability. It's one of those books that "does what it says on the tin": it's a common-sense approach to web usability. It's also a great read and really well thought out.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
I really like that this book breaks things down into manageable pieces, so I can always go back and re-read a chapter that seems appropriate based on what's going on in my life. Many of the principles are applicable to work as well, like organization, letting go of things, and focusing on the things that make you happy. It helps create a good work/life balance.
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Start With Why is easily at the top of my must-read list for any marketer or business development individual. The idea that why we do things is much more important than what we offer changed the way I look at developing solutions for our clients' businesses and even how I communicate with our team. Simon's methodology inspired me to define my "why": helping others through insights and education, particularly analysis and data storytelling, so they experience positive growth. This book showed me that my purpose, cause, and beliefs are indeed aligned with what I do for a living. In fact, it was Holly’s passion for VIEO's "why" and our mutual love of this book that let me know that VIEO Design was home. It didn’t hurt that Holly attached a picture of herself and Simon Sinek from INBOUND14 to my offer letter.
Color: Messages & Meanings by Leatrice Eiseman
Not only is this a great reference book and a source of inspiration for me as a designer, it’s full of pretty pictures!
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
This is the best book about writing that I've ever come across. It 100% applies to prose and nonfiction; it's really about understanding how language works and how to manipulate it.
So, what do you think? There are a few new items on my reading list, and I think it might be time to revisit Mary Oliver...