With the official start to summer just around the corner, it’s time to fill up the summer reading list for those long summer days and summer vacations. I read a lot of non fiction. A mix of history, business and science. For the growth oriented marketers in the crowd, here’s my recommendations for the best summer business books for 2017, some new, some old, enjoy!
Just out this spring and written by the king of growth hacking, Sean Ellis, hacking growth is literally a playbook on how to approach systematically achieving scale. This combined with the Lean Startup below should be standard reading for any modern business or marketing curriculum. Ellis and his co-author Morgan Brown provide context to what’s quickly become a buzzword, providing a methodology. Whether you love the term or hate it, Ellis and Morgan provide a roadmap to navigating the elegant, complex world of hacking growth while also arguing why business is in such desperate need of rethinking the way it approaches teams, data and growth in general.
Key takeaway: break down silos between teams, build cross functional teams to iterate and test ideas to find traction and growth “pockets” to take advantage of.
The lean startup provides a framework for testing ideas and iterating through product development. The magic comes when you take ideas from Hacking Growth, Traction and the Lean Startup together and iterate throughout product development and marketing for rapid progress. The learn startup focuses on a few key ideas. First, validated learning. The premise here is to not just focus on building things, but what do we learn in the process. We learn by testing everything. Second, the model, or process of operating as a lean startup: build-measure-learn. It’s a simple loop for iterating through cycles that provide feedback and drive perpetual learning.
Key takeaway: startups and entrepreneurs are everywhere, even in existing businesses. Always focus on learning and driving those insights into the business to constantly improve product.
American Icon details how Alan Mulally led the turnaround of Ford Motor co. during the great recession, when other American car manufacturers were taking bailouts. I devoured the book. It’s a look inside the boardroom of an iconic American company, a look we so rarely get. Why it’s classified as a growth book is the detail in which it documents the way Mulally transformed process at Ford. From engineering to marketing to management. Mulally, an engineer by trade, led the company to take an approach that is essentially what is recommended in other books like the Lean Startup and Hacking Growth, leaning on feedback from across functions and customers, iterating and making quick decisions to save a company, millions of jobs and countless other companies that relied on Ford further downstream in the supply chain.
Key takeaway: just because something’s been done that way, doesn’t make it right. Even big companies can benefit from principles like rapid iteration and feedback.
There are a couple books called traction. The one I’m referencing here it How any startup can achieve explosive customer growth. There’s two big benefits from this book. 1.) the method outlined by the authors for how to test for traction. At Lake One, we’re always pushing for traction methods, what channels drive our client goals and optimizing those channels before we go hog wild on a bunch of other tactics that dilute our efforts. Especially in startups, resources are limited. Traction talks through a process for finding traction called Bullseye. Without giving away the guts of the book, it basically helps you brainstorm and pick a few traction channels to test, find what works then focus on optimizing the traction channel before going through the process again and layering in another channel. 2.) defining traction channels. For startups that aren’t marketers, the book spends a big chunks of time reviewing and outline common tractions channels, 19 in fact. The book provide definitions and examples of how the tractions channels work. For a startup, this is very helpful. If you’re a marketer, you can skim through this to the channels you may be unfamiliar with.
Key takeaway: when you’re just getting started, and especially when budget is thin, don’t try to do it all, pick what you think is the best chance of success, try it, if it works master it until you are ready to move on to the next tactic to test.
BONUS: Check out my reading recommendations and those from dozens of other entrepreneurs and marketers like Beth Beulow, Matthew Barby, Gini Dietrich and more.
What are you reading this summer? I’m always open for a good recommendation. Leave a comment with your recommendations, business book or otherwise.