Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will swear by the same exact tool - the most invaluable of all resources - as timeless and relevant and visionary as you want it to be. No, it’s not social media or a thriving email list or the most popular business course on the market. The most profitable tool you can invest in as an aspiring entrepreneur is your bookshelf. There are a few times in your business when you will find that a book helps you to navigate the unchartered waters of your business better than an afternoon on Pinterest rifling through a million blog posts that all write the same, often vague, advice (I’m writing this as an author of a blog post, so no hate for the business bloggers!)
When an author writes a book, countless hours and resources go into its production. If the author is working with a publisher, she will have reviews and many round of revisions before it goes to print. If the book is self-published, you better believe her best efforts will go into such a risky venture. This is the primary reason why I’ve gone to my library to solve my biggest business dilemmas. On the days that I want to disconnect from my digital distractions, I pick up my latest read, grab a charcoal grey Le Pen and begin to make notes inside the dog-eared pages of my go-to business best sellers. Here are a few to pick up this weekend:
The Books on my Shelf
**Disclaimer: none of these links are affiliate links, merely my own reads and the suggestions of our trusty email list. I will in no way financially benefit by your purchases through any of the below links to Amazon. I just really love Amazon shopping.
From looking at the list below, it’s no surprise that I’ve primarily been interesting in understanding the creative process. In the past three years, I’ve grown as an independent designer and also brought on a creative team. That means that our process has become more important than ever, and understanding the personality of artists is vital as I attempt to lead us all forward. Whether you are just beginning your creative journey, or looking for some balance in your creative career, these books have uplifted, inspired, and challenged me along the way!
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
In this semi-memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert shares her unique perspective around creativity. From a place of deep empathy, Gilbert draws us into the world of inspiration, sparking our curiosity and acknowledging the struggle many of us face when trying to produce work under pressure (or find the motivation to even get started!) This book is like a warm smile and a knowing look - you will feel encouraged, challenged, and inspired to embark on your own artistic journey. I was given this book as a gift from a very dear client and have since gifted it many times over to aspiring entrepreneurs who just need a little push in the direction of imagination and creative commitment. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to pursue their art full-time.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
I admit, I passed over this book many times over the years. I hated the title and couldn’t figure out how it was anything less than purchase bait. The brightly colored graphic of a man lying in a hammock by the beach made me want to throw up with how obviously it marketed itself. I guess it’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I honestly can’t remember when I decided to buy it, but I am so glad that I did! Ferris’ philosophy deconstructs the concept of work and success to identify what he refers to as the “New Rich” - those who make enough money to sustain their ideal lifestyle and enough white space to actually live it. He has some pretty revolutionary ideas around time management as it relates to how we structure our businesses (which *shockingly* doesn’t include 2am email catch up sessions!!) I’ve begun to practice some of his time saving tips in my working life (in small doses) and have had amazing results! I’ve also used a lot of his insights in coaching my branding clients on pricing and revenue goals. In a generation of hustle, it’s great to put things in perspective.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
This is such a creative little book by Seth Godin (and p.s. It’s a great audio book if you find yourself on a road trip!) He talks about what it means to stand out in the market and how businesses have exploded by finding ways to do things differently. If you’re aiming to enter a saturated creative industry (and really, are there any un-saturated creative industries?!) I would suggest reading this book! It is full of great advice and real world examples of stand up - and stand out - brands. It’s also a quick read that’s easy to digest so I would also suggest keeping it in your bag for when you find yourself killing time and want a more productive option than scrolling through social media.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Calling all creatives!! If you’ve ever doubted your worth and your place in this competitive landscape, buy this book. Get it shipped ASAP. You’re going to want to read it as soon as possible. I actually read ⅔ of the book on a Tuesday night in the bath tub with a glass of wine, absorbing every word as if someone had written it directly to me (thanks, Jen!) Keep it in your arsenal, especially during your first few years in business or whenever you need a little Beyonce in your business mindset, or just want to feel comfortable in your own shoes.
How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone
This is a FABULOUS book on branding, and one that can be applied in so many different contexts. If you’ve never gone through a branding process and you think you might in the next year, read it. If you’ve decided to DIY your own branding while you get your feet on the ground, read it. If you’re a young designer who’s interested in freelance brand design, read it. If you want some inspiration from a #girlboss who’s totally killing it, read it! I have it sitting on the coffee table in my studio and only wish I had thought of the idea myself :) And while you're at it, pick up her latest book Brand Brilliance! I can't wait for mine to come in the mail.
Tribes by Seth Godin
Seth strikes again! In this quick read, Godin talks about what it means to assimilate a tribe of followers - where to find them and then what to do with them. As someone who has a perpetual love/hate relationship with marketing and social media, I deeply appreciated his holistic approach to online leadership and how we should think about the role of social media. It’s a great read as you begin to think of your marketing strategy and how your brand message is shared through your online interactions.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Raise your hand if you struggle with perfection and some days want to throw in the towel and quit. If you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, and that “something’s gotta give” -- pick up this book. Pour yourself a cup of tea. Turn everything off and let your friends know that you’re away for the weekend. Sit down and soak up the goodness that is this book. It will leave you in tears and with a bright smile on your face. Life is passing us by, one stressful moment after another. Don’t get caught up in the race for perfection. Choose to be present in your life, among your people, and in your creative work.
Make It Happen by Lara Casey
This book is a compliment to Present Over Perfect and deals with how to overcome fear and take the leap to actually live your life. So many of us think the leap happens when we decide to chase our dreams, but don’t realize that real courage comes from prioritizing the things in life that matter. I would also suggest reading this book alongside Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek. It’s a similar concept, but comes from a softer perspective.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
This is such a charming book about the writing process. Similar to Big Magic, it relates to the entire creative process. Anne is a wildly imaginative storyteller who breaks down the big hurdles in creativity into small and manageable challenges. I definitely recommend this book for light vacation reading - the anecdotes are quick and easy to read and the narrative is entertaining!
Creative Anarchy by Denise Bosler
I LOVE THIS BOOK! For one, it’s a design “textbook” of sorts, so the technical typography-obsessed designer in me loves how they write about the rules of design. But the whole context of the book is that we should learn the rules and then learn how to break them with meaning. The first half of the book outlines all of the fundamental rules of design. Get to the middle, flip the book over, and start reading how to break the rules. While this book primarily appeals to graphic designers, the concepts and ideas behind creative rule-breaking applies to so many disciplines. It’s a bookshelf stable for sure.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading about creativity. I’ve restructured my business quite a few times before landing on its current state (and for the first time ever, I’m happy to live here for awhile.) However, my curiosity cannot be stifled and I see that a new opportunity to learn and grow is on the horizon. I’ve worked tirelessly to create ways to better serve and mentor our branding clients and my design team, and now that I’ve created a little white space thanks to our FABULOUS project manager, I’m able to pour into you - my wonderful online reader :)
Here are some of the books on my list this summer as I dream about the next season in our business and begin to learn and grow in ways that I didn’t previously consider. Many of these books were recommended by our amazing email tribe in last week’s prompt (I get to chat with so many amazing creatives one-on-one every week and it’s seriously my favorite part of the day!) Based on your suggestions, I’m listing below what I’ll be reading next!
So.... who wants to start a book club?
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