In My Own Words: EL Johnson – My 2018 Reading List
2017 has been a year of various challenges both personally and professionally. The last time I created a reading list was in 2016 and I honestly came up very short on that list. This year has put a lot of things in perspective, launching a new venture, finding a mentor who built his career on scaling businesses and exiting successfully, and really figuring out how I would like to see my career progress.
So with 2018 on the horizon, I’m trying to do a better job at setting personal and professional goals and preparing myself to attack the new year with a focused mindset. My schedule is super busy and i’m not a naturally voracious reader, so this year I plan to create some structure and a challenge to myself to read two books per quarter. Some of these books are from my 2016 reading list, and some are books that i’m reading again (due to maturity and a change in perspective).
I also want to mix in inspirational reading with technical reading, so each quarter I have one book to inspire and motivate and one book that focuses on an area of business growth. So without further adieu, here’s my 2018 list.
The 10 X Rule unveils the principle of “Massive Action,” allowing you to blast through business clichŽs and risk-aversion while taking concrete steps to reach your dreams. It also demonstrates why people get stuck in the first three actions and how to move into making the 10X Rule a discipline. Find out exactly where to start, what to do, and how to follow up each action you take with more action to achieve Massive Action results.
It seems hard to believe today, but there was a time when Airbnb was the best-kept secret of travel hackers and couch surfers, Pinterest was a niche web site frequented only by bakers and crafters, LinkedIn was an exclusive network for C-suite executives and top-level recruiters, Facebook was MySpace’s sorry step-brother, and Uber was a scrappy upstart that didn’t stand a chance against the Goliath that was New York City Yellow Cabs.
So how did these companies grow from these humble beginnings into the powerhouses they are today? Contrary to popular belief, they didn’t explode to massive worldwide popularity simply by building a great product then crossing their fingers and hoping it would catch on.
Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.
When managers and marketers outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next sale or campaign that’s going to knock out the competition. Even companies committed to jabbing—patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns—want to land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow. Right hooks convert traffic to sales and easily show results. Except when they don’t.
Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With a $40 budget, Daymond had to strategize out-of-the-box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon. But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke – with nothing but hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.
Smart entrepreneurs know that the key to success isn’t the originality of your offering, the brilliance of your team, or how much money you raise. It’s how consistently you can grow and acquire new customers (or, for a free service, users). That’s called traction, and it makes everything else easier—fund-raising, hiring, press, partnerships, acquisitions. Talk is cheap, but traction is hard evidence that you’re on the right path.
When Fortune 500 companies need to re-energize or reinvent a lagging brand, they call Steve Stoute. In addition to marrying cultural icons with blue-chip marketers, Stoute has helped identify and activate a new generation of consumers. He traces how the “tanning” phenomenon raised a generation of black, Hispanic, white, and Asian consumers who have the same “mental complexion” based on shared experiences and values, rather than the increasingly irrelevant demographic boxes that have been used to a fault by corporate America. Stoute believes there is a language gap that must be bridged in order to engage the most powerful market force in the history of commerce.
Amazon.com’s visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that’s never been cracked. Until now.
That’s my list to tackle this coming year, how many of these have your read? what were your thoughts? what’s on your 2018 reading list? Drop your reading list in the comments.