Out of the many emails I get from blog readers each week there’s a couple of common issues that keep coming up:
1. You have no guide or mentor to show you step-by-step and support you
2. You have no idea if you can personally even do this whole “build a business” thing
The other complaint I hear a lot is that
nobody around you understands what you are trying to do.
All of this is SUPER frustrating.
I remember taking a car trip with my father many years ago now before my online businesses really started to take off.
I felt great that I was starting down the path of creating my own future rather than relying on a job or a boss to provide my lifestyle…
And him turning and saying, rather aggressively “if this doesn’t work over the next couple of weeks – then you’re to go and get a job!”.
Little experiences like that can absolutely crush you before you ever get traction towards a great little freedom business that sends you the income you need to do the things you want.
They can also be used as excuses to quit.
I mean, imagine if you made the decision to quit and you were JUST AROUND THE CORNER from big success?
“Maybe they are right. Maybe I should just stop this silly idea of building a business and go get a job like the rest of them.”
One of the notable, common traits I see in all entrepreneurs who started from nothing yet built great empires or even nice little freedom businesses is that they all had to contend with an enormous fear of failure combined with lack of support from those close to them.
In other words: “If it is to be, it’s up to me!”
To silence the fear of failure, I always turned to something reliable to strengthen my resolve and to guide me when nobody around seemed to understand.
That reliable, glorious, 24/7 mentorship was found in GREAT BOOKS.
But not just ANY old books.
Books that helped shape the minds of successful entrepreneurs. Books that have been mentioned from people who have done what I want to do.
You see, books allow you to download the mindsets, experiences and cheat sheets from the smartest and most successful people in the world.
It’s the closest thing we have to being Neo in the movie “The Matrix” where he downloads skills directly into his brain in a matter of seconds.
Here I’m going to share my 7 favourites, that have helped to shape past and present millionaires and successful startup entrepreneurs.
1. “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand
Mark Cuban – Entrepreneur
Steve Jobs – CEO Apple
Alan Greenspan – Private Advisor
Brad Pitt – Actor
I read this book super fast (couldn’t put it down) and resonated heavily with it around 7 or 8 years ago.
Unlike the other books on this list it’s fiction designed to deliver an understanding in Rand’s popular philosophy: Objectivism.
It’s about the main character, Howard Roark’s entrepreneurial vision clashing with the mediocre society and people around him who try to pull him down.
Mark Cuban says in an interview on C-SPAN in 2006 that he learned from it that “It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks —it’s how you see yourself and what your own dreams are”.
He also said that the book was “Incredibly motivating to me. It encouraged me to think as an individual, take risks to reach my goals, and responsibilities for my successes and failures.”.
After you have finished the book, check out the 1949 movie staring Gary Cooper. I stumbled upon this last year.
It’s brilliant and does a good job of bringing the book to life. Probably the best book to movie adaptation i’ve seen and will keep you aligned and motivated with the themes.
I like it because it gives you a deeper understanding of the values of an entrepreneur through a brilliant and entertaining story rather than just listing facts and statistics like most non fiction books.
This book is for you if:
– You need a core philosophical mindset shift
– Need some strength to deal with minimal support for your entrepreneurial lifestyle
“Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. man had no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons,and to make weapons – a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and we have comes from a single attribute of man -the function of his reasoning mind.”
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
2. “Winning Through Intimidation” by Robert Ringer
Dr. Jerry Buss – Owner, Los Angeles Lakers
Mark Ford – Editor, The Palm Beach Letter
Harvey Mackay – Author
Although heavily focused on real estate and with a title that inspires a very narrow-minded/aggressive view on business.
I fell in love with this book because of it’s opening paragraph:
“The overriding message in many motivation and personal-development books is that if a person just maintains a positive mental attitude and works long, hard hours, he will ultimately succeed. A nice thought, to be sure, but one that borders more on mysticism than reality.“
I’ve been through so many motivation/self help systems to try and be positive and in “a peak state” all the time, with the idea that being positive will bring me the success that I wanted.
In the end I just got more frustrated with myself if I wasn’t feeling so great. Which led to more unnecessary negativity.
The Shocking Truth: You’re human.
You don’t need to feel in a “peak state” all the time to be successful.
Successful people in business or any other fields feel the same wide range of emotions that you do.
Sometimes they are happy, motivated and productive… other times they are unwell, depressed and lazy.
A junior football coach used to tell us before we ran on to the field:
“We’re all made out of the same stuff. So there’s no reason you can’t go out there and beat these guys. They are just as scared as you are.”
There’s plenty of rich, successful people out there who are also lazy, annoying slobs.
The secret they don’t want you to know is that they simply HAD THE RIGHT PLAN.
They had the right method and blueprint to ensure that they were successful. This is NOT the blueprint taught in school.
It doesn’t matter what religious beliefs you have, what background you came from or any other moral code you ascribe to.
If you have the right plan and EXECUTE on that plan – then you’ll have the same success as others get.
This book is for you if:
– You need a dose of realistic perspective on business
– You need to zoom out and start viewing this whole business thing as a game
– Want a bit of a kick in the ass
“Every person has the inherent right to “self-proclaim”–to announce, at any time he chooses, that he is on any level he chooses to be on.”
― Robert Ringer, Winning through Intimidation: How to Be the Victor, Not the Victim, in Business and in Life
3. “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss
Ramit Sethi – Entrepreneur
Phil Town – #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rule #1
Blake Ross – Co-founder of Firefox
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Actor
It’s coming up to ten years since this book was released and I remember a close friend giving me a copy when we were little 20 somethings dreaming of taking on the world of entrepreneurship.
It’s been an absolute game changer in our industry and although the content is a little dated in terms of what works in “Freedom Business” these days, the core philosophy is as solid and as motivating as ever.
Tim is a polarising character. Some love him. Some hate him.
I have nothing but respect for him and his body of work – plus his ability to live life on his own terms.
The other thing I really love about Tim is his ability to build an amazing tribe.
I’ve certainly taken a lot of lessons from seeing his blog and follower base grow.
We have built a solid number of email subscribers, followers and community members here at Freedom Studios… and a lot of that inspiration came from a little post recommended called “1000 True Fans” by Kevin Kelly.
This post talks about how if you have 1000 true fans (something definitely achievable for most people with the internet and a bit of industrial spirit), then you can make a great living.
Anyway the one big takeaway from The Four Hour Work Week was his technique of “Dreamlining” and asking important questions such as
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”.
Dreamlining is where you map out the specific goals you want in the areas of BE, DO and HAVE.
BE: Things that you want to be
Examples: Be great at cooking, great at french, great fun at parties, etc
DO: Things you want to do
Examples: Go live in Thailand for a year, Race a Ferrari around Monaco, Date multiple people at the same time
HAVE: Things you want to have
Examples: A whole new wardrobe, own a nice big beautiful home, an amazing office
This book is for you if:
– You’re just starting out building a business
– You need some inspiration on what the freedom lifestyle is like
– You want to feel like this is something you can actually achieve
“It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.”
– Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week
4. “The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing” by Al Ries & Jack Trout
Dharmesh Shah – CTO of Hubspot and founder of OnStartups
Tim Ferriss – Entrepreneur
Whenever we launch a new product or business here internally at Freedom Studios, we run it through a series of “success checklists”.
One of these checklists is the 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing.
When deciding on a particular branding or marketing strategy for a new product, we first make decisions filtered through these 22 laws.
This is an image of one of our secret new ventures coming out of Freedom Studios.
A physical product called “Presence Stone”. I can’t talk much about it yet, but when we were designing this product we looked at Law 1: The Law Of Leadership.
This law states that “it’s better to be first in the market than it is to be better”.In other words if you can’t be the market leader in a category, then you invent a new category and be first in it!
This book is for you if:
– You have your business idea and are about to start building
– You are about to launch a marketing campaign
– You need some fundamentals in sales
“Many other computer companies (and their entrepreneurial owners) became rich and famous by following a simple principle: If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.”
5. “Influence” by Robert Cialdini
Peep Laja – Conversion Consultant
Eben Pagan – Entrepreneur
Jeff Walker – Online Entrepreneur
Another “success checklist” that we use to write persuasive sales copy for businesses launched at Freedom Studios is from my old pal Robert Cialdini.
If we are to take the principle of “dealing with reality as it is” from Robert Ringer above, then this book is the application of that reality in every day persuasion (for example getting someone to buy your stuff).
Persuasion can be seen as a negative thing.
But it’s actually neither positive or negative.
It is what it is: a tool that is used by others to influence you, or you to influence others.
Persuasion happens to you every single day. It happens between you and your boss or you and your customers. You and your kids.
It’s a natural, normal part of life.
So it makes sense to be aware when persuasion techniques are being used on you and how you can defend yourself, or use them yourself to get what you need.
This book is for you if:
– You are interested in persuasion and psychology
– You want to know the science behind why people make purchases
– You wish to write better sales copy
“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”
― Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
6. “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff
Rodney Mason – Advertising Age, CMO, Moosylvania
Andrew Warner – Founder, Mixergy
Josh Whitford – Founder, Echelon Media
Louie Ucciferri – President, Regent Capital Group
Amongst our community, this is by far one of the most popular books going around and offsets Robert Cialdini’s book very nicely.
Because wether you consciously know it or not:
like persuasion, you’re ALWAYS pitching (or being pitched to).
The book is called Pitch Anything, but it could be titled “Persuade Anyone” because that’s what it’s all about:
how to present an idea so that the other person gets intrigued and ultimately buys into whatever it is you are selling or doing.
I really appreciate how Oren talks about “Setting the frame” and uses story telling as a pitching tool.
As humans, we connect and share emotion through story.
So it makes sense to base your pitching around stories.
He uses really clear examples and stories himself, along with solid actionable takeaways. It’s a good reference book and easy to read in a few days.
This book is for you if:
– You’re new to selling anything
– You have high stakes meetings where you wish to gain something
– You are starting to position yourself as a leader or business person
“Pitching is one of those business skills that depends heavily on the method you use and not how hard you try.”
7. “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
Drew Houston – CEO and Founder of Dropbox
Tim Brown – CEO of IDEO
Mitchell Kapor – Founder, Lotus Development Corp.
Tim O’Reilly – CEO O’Reilly Media
I enjoy books that are easy to read, understand and implement.
The faster I can take a book and implement it into the real world for me, the better.
So where most business books are very simplistic in their writing – Eric Ries in “The Lean Startup” is actually quite opposite in that he gets very technical.
This is with good reason though. He is all about the technical step-by-step of launching a new product successfully.
This means building, measuring and testing. Quite technical things in themselves.
He defines a start-up as a “human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty” and that’s exactly what you are dealing with wether you are starting a new business or trying to grow your existing:
Eric states that entrepreneurs should create a “minimal viable product” as soon as they can, as cheaply as they can and start testing it with real people/potential customers.
He talks a lot about “split testing” which is a tool taken from old school direct advertising, where you test slightly different versions of the same product with different groups of customers to see which works best.
As online freedom business entrepreneurs, we do this stuff with landing pages, headlines and ads all the time.
This book is for you if:
– You like a more technical “engineering type” approach
– You’re interested in minimising the risk when launching your business
– You want a step by step map overview of creating a business that works
“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”
― Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
I’ll continue to refer to these books for many more years to come.
And all of these books have influenced extremely successful people to achieve exactly what it is they want in life and in business.
Which ones do you like?
Which ones should also be included?
Leave me a comment below!