5 Books That Transformed My Year

Do you desperately want to change your game in 2015 but feeling stuck? I will soon be releasing “The Game-Changers Manifesto” just for you. It will be the stepping stone to a game-changing leadership course coming to you in 2015. Watch this space…

“Leaders are readers,” says John C. Maxwell. This became a more profound truth for me in 2014. Reading to add to my knowledge and for entertainment has been a habit I have developed over time. But this was a year with a difference. I had just quit my day job and was venturing out on my own.

I felt like other people were way ahead of me and I was playing catch-up. At one time, I panicked wondering if I had made the right choice. There were two options I could not avoid at any cost: reading and growing my network of influencers.

I consumed huge amounts of content. It is in two categories. The first was to develop myself as a leader and to grow my skills. The second category was research for content development and writing my second book.

Without a doubt, there are five books that stood out for me. These are great resource I recommend for you in 2015. They will not only inspire and challenge you beyond your comfort zone.

Every pro was once an amateur. Every master was once a beginner. So start now.” ~Robin Sharma.

Here are excerpts from my famous five of 2014:

1. A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive

In today’s business climate, social media represents the asteroid, the change agent. Those who don’t embrace social media – and fail to realize the monumental impact social has on their customers, employees, and collaborative partnerships, as well as their bottom line, are dinosaurs.

Stubbornly, they look up at the sky and say, “That big fiery ball won’t hurt us. We’re safe behind our brick-and-mortar fortresses.”

They are wrong. Dead wrong. And they will learn, perhaps the hard way, that the Industrial Age is behind us already.

As the authors Ted Coine and Mark Babbit say, “More Social, Less Media”. Connecting is all about building meaningful relationships. I will not survive by becoming arrogant, remaining ignorant, or being selfish. I will grow with people.

2. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build A Thriving Organisation

Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright opened my eyes to why and organization I worked for was struggling. Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars being sunk into strategy, team building and expensive consultants, the organization still struggled to grow in the desired way.

As the authors note, the priority should always be company culture. Get it right, most other stuff falls into place. A company’s brand and its culture are just two sides of the same coin. I believe the same applies to personal life too. Without a culture, people pail to build a thriving community.

Tribal Leadership details the five dominant cultures on a scale of 1 to 5. Stage
Stage 5: Innocent Wonderment; “Life is great”
Stage 4: Tribal Pride; “We’re great (and they’re not)”
Stage 3: Lone Warrior; “I’m great (and you’re not)”
Stage 2: Apathetic Victim; “My life sucks”
Stage 1: Despairing Hostility; “Life sucks”

Note: The authors are very clear that Tribal leadership is emphasized by shared core values and interdependent strategies of Stage 4. It is not to be confused with ‘tribalism’ which refers to the violence and despairing hostility of Stage 1.

3. Overcoming Fake Talk: How To Hold Real Conversations That Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results

Real conversation is a more balanced and complete approach to the art of communication; the head, the heart, and the hands are all necessary in order to accomplish what we really want in our conversations with others.

This book will likely be the last conversation-related book you will ever read. Why? Because it offers clear expectations of the theoretical aspects of conversation along with practical application of real skills that will help you to connect in a deep and meaningful way.

John R. Stoker engaged me in a very real and practical way. His book challenged me to re-evaluate the conversations and interactions I have with people I engage with.

4. Launch: Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams

There is no theory in this book. Everything that Jeff Walker teaches is based on real-world results. It is all about launching your business or product. There’s a process… a formula.

Of course, that’s not to say that it’s easy. There’s plenty of hard work involved, just like in any human accomplishment. This is definitely not a get-rich-quick book. What I loved about the book is that it helps the reader focus on the customer or user. It is not just about selling, it is about selling what they want.

5. Finishing Strong: Going The Distance For Your Family

This was a powerful book for my personal life and faith. Steve Farar outlines four types of finishes: cut off early, finished poorly, finished ’so-so’, and, finished well. He writes in flowing prose that is not only engaging, it inspires.

My main take-away is how shipwrecks can ruin our lives. As Steve points out, shipwrecks will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.

“Men, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a great start in the Christian life. It doesn’t matter if you have stumbled time and again – or even fallen flat on your face. What matters most is how you finish.”

It’s always the fear of looking stupid that stops you from being awesome,” said Kiera Cass.

What did you do different in 2014 that ‘moved your needle’? Click here and share how your year was in the comments below.

Leadership Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • John Thurlbeck

    Hi Kimunya

    Loved your book selections and, of the five, my number one would be A World Gone Social! You’ve no doubt seen me tweeting a lot about that one!

    Two other books that had a great impact on me this year were “Why Motivating Doesn’t Work … and What Does!” by Susan Fowler. She really flipped my thinking around when I read this book, as it challenged some long-held beliefs and received wisdom! It is a powerful book, based on lots of research into human psychology and it even challenges Maslow’s theory which was a bit of a showstopper!

    The other book I took a lot from was S Chris Edmonds’ “The Culture Engine”. As we both know it is culture drives organisations and the culture is often determined by the apex leaders in those organisations. Chris delved deep into what he understands by culture and lays out an analysis that shows leaders how to create a high performing, values aligned culture through the creation of an organizational constitution. He firmly believes that all organisations should have a document that codifies those behaviors into a constitution that guides behavior towards an ideal: a safe, inspiring workplace.

    Both are excellent books and I highly recommend them to you and your readers. So seven books as great resources for 2015! And finally, if you wanted to take a look at your own personal branding and run it through an analysis that helps you to decide whether your brand is strong enough, try a short but punchy book called, “Hello, My Name Is Awesome” by Alexandra Watkins! It will make you smile, laugh, puzzle and muse!

    It has been great building on our links again this year Kimunya and I am privileged to have you as my friend! I wish you a very Happy Christmas; a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015 … and great success with the second book!

    Kind regards

    John

    • What a privilege it is to hear from you @johnthurlbeck:disqus. Thanks for all these gems you have sent our way. I will personally check the books you recommend and add them to my 2015 book list.

      It has been an honor to share friendship with you. Have yourself a safe, memorable and awesome Christmas, and let’s rock 2015… together!

  • Tribe Leadership sounds the most interesting to me. Reading books really helped me grow and become a better leader in 2014 and I plan on reading even more books in 2015. Leaders are readers!

    • It is a great read Dan, highly recommend it. I would love to know what
      you are reading in 2015. I am already devouring ‘The Power of Habit’ by
      Charles Duhigg.

      • I’m currently reading Team of Rivals which is an autobiography of Abraham Lincoln, great read so far. Specifically I’ll be focusing on books on the topic of leadership, speaking/communication, my spiritual faith, and family(marriage/raising children).

        • That sounds like an interesting read. Have you read my book? It’s in the family category 🙂 I am also working on a new book that will be part of my leadership coaching course. This is going to be one exciting year!

          • It sure is, great insights. It’s on my reading list.

          • Thanks! Let me know what you think of it 🙂

  • I read a lot in 2014. I think it helped move the needle for me in my life and leadership. Here’s the books that impacted my life.

    I didn’t read any of the books on your list though. There are a couple that are in my library and I look forward to reading them.

    Quick question on Finishing Strong. Does this book talk about making mistakes and how to recover from them?

    • Finishing Strong guides you on how to focus on your legacy, how you take your final bow. Steve highlights that it is not how hard you have fallen or how deep in problems you may be. It is how you get up from all that and make it your life purpose to build your character. “For the man who wants to climb the character ladder more than the corporate one.”

  • Great choices. I have read 4 of the 5 and will make sure to finish them all.

    Thanks for sharing your picks and what you learned from them. Books can transform us.