Summer’s here and the living’s easy. Unless you’re an entrepreneur. While there’s little time to rest when you’re trying to change the world, here are 5 books that really inspired us. They are worth checking out if you find yourself on the beach one day with nothing to do.

Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

By Bill Strickland

“Trust your passion, identify your dreams, and find the courage to share them with others, no matter how many times they call you a fool.”

Bill Strickland has spent the past thirty years transforming the lives of thousands of people through Manchester Bidwell, the jobs training center and community arts program he founded in Pittsburgh.  By adopting the attitudes and beliefs he has lived by every day, he shows how we can reach our fullest potential and achieve the impossible in our lives and careers–and perhaps change the world a little in the process. Through lessons from Strickland’s own life experiences and those of countless others who have overcome challenging circumstances and turned their lives around, he teaches how to build on our passions and strengths, dream bigger and set the bar higher, achieve meaningful success, and inspire the lives of others.

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

By David Bornstein

“Poverty is not only a lack of money, it’s a lack of sense of meaning.”

This was the first book to study social entrepreneurs. These men and women are bringing innovative, and successful, grass-roots approaches to a wide variety of social and economic problems, from rural poverty in India to discrimination against gypsies in Central Europe; from industrial pollution in the United States to child prostitution in Thailand. Like business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are creative, driven, and adventurous. The embrace change, exploit new opportunities, and think big. In How to Change the World, Bornstein provides vivid profiles of many such individuals, looking at the personalities, strategies, and techniques they have in common.

First Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

By Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

“The hardest thing about being a manager is realizing that your people will not do things the way that you would. But get used to it. Because if you try to force them to, then two things happen. They become resentful — they don’t want to do it. And they become dependent — they can’t do it. Neither of these is terribly productive for the long haul.” 

In today’s tight labor markets, companies compete to find and keep the best employees, using pay, benefits, promotions, and training. But these well-intentioned efforts often miss the mark. The front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. Buckingham and Coffman explain how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience; how they set expectations for him or her — they define the right outcomes rather than the right steps; how they motivate people — they build on each person’s unique strengths rather than trying to fix his weaknesses; and, finally, how great managers develop people — they find the right fit for each person, not the next rung on the ladder.

Mastering The Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do To Increase The Value of Your Growing Firm

By Verne Harnish

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

What are the underlying handful of fundamentals that haven’t changed for over a hundred years? From Harnish’s famous “Mastering a One Page Strategic Plan” process that has been a best-selling article on the web to his concise outline of eight practical actions you can take to strengthen your culture, this book is a compilation of best practices adapted from some of the best-run firms on the planet. Included is an instructive chapter co-authored by Rich Russakoff, revealing winning tactics to get banks to finance your business. Lastly, there are case studies demonstrating the validity of Harnish’s practical approaches.

It’s Not About The Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks

By Howard Behar

“Unfortunately, in many cases, the rule book goes way too far – it tries to tell people how to be instead of explaining what we’re trying to do. We need recipes, not rules.” 

Through the pages of It’s Not About the Coffee, Behar illuminates the fact that coffee has had very little to do with the company’s incredible growth and sustained success over the last 22 years. Certainly quality product is essential to success, but premium beans are not what Starbucks attributes to its success. For the executive staff at the most famous coffee chain on the planet, it’s all about the people. Full of great reminders and key insights into the wild success of the company he once championed, Behar uses It’s Not About the Coffee to remind us that success is really attained through the constant balance of two key factors.

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Written by Rik Klingle-Watt

About the author

Rik Klingle-Watt is a soulpepper and writer of the award winning documentary Not Business as Usual, a film about disrupting the business quo.

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