Kathryn McMann

The Alternative Business Book List

International Book Day is a time to celebrate the joy of books, the books you choose- the knowledge, the inspiration and with that the growth they bring. Are you a devourer of books or do you see them as a necessary need of transferring information? It has been said most business books are largely a regurgitation of the same information and material. But from my 20 years’ experience working with start-ups to corporate companies, no business is the same or needs the same advice at the same time. There are always different variable, whether it’s the product or service, the industry, the business stage, or the people behind the brand.

We are always seeking ways to improves our skills and knowledge in a constantly evolving economic climate but the information needs to match where we are at the time of our business journey. With that in mind, I’ve complied a list of 6 books that inspire me and bring their unique stance  on communication and perception, covering a range of topics from psychology and design to PR and branding.

1. “Thinking Fast and slow” by Danial Kahneman

In "Thinking, Fast and Slow," Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explores two systems of thinking that influence our behaviour and complex decision-making. He states that the human brain operates on two levels: one that is fast, intuitive, and emotional, and another that is slow, deliberate, and logical. Understanding these two modes of thinking helps us make better decisions, avoid common biases that affect our everyday, and improve our overall decision-making abilities. It's a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, decision-making, or personal growth.

2. "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman

Cognitive scientist Don Norman explores how good design impacts our daily lives, from buying coffee to choosing a toothpaste, and these affect our buying choices. His point is that design is not just about aesthetics, but also about functionality, usability and the definition we as users put on these brands. By understanding the psychology behind how people interact with products and services of brands, designers can create more effective and efficient solutions that improve our lives and in turn the bottom line. This book is ideal for anyone interested in design, UX (user experience) CX (customer-experience), and strategy.

3. "Sex" by Madonna

Madonna's "Sex" book is a controversial masterpiece of art and PR. Originally published in 1992, this provocative book features explicit and intimate photos of Madonna and Vanilla Ice (90's rapper) explores themes of sex and power. Vanilla Ice was also unaware that the shoot was for a book, which added another level of shock. The book was also larger than A3 and designed for 'coffee table' reading. While it was met with criticism and outrage at the time, "Sex" is now seen as an iconic part of Madonna's legacy and a powerful example of how a public figure can use PR and controversy to rebrand and change the public perception. 

4. "Lean Start-Up Machine" by Eric Ries

Entrepreneur Eric Ries first introduced the concept of the lean start-up methodology, which prioritizes rapid experimentation, iterative development, and customer feedback over traditional business planning. This approach allows start-ups to test their ideas and adapt quickly to changing markets and react to customer needs. This book is a great resource for entrepreneurs and anyone interested in taking an idea to market fast. It focuses on innovation, product development, and lean business strategies.

5. "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

In "The Power of Habit," investigative journalist Charles Duhigg explores the science of habit formation and how we can use this knowledge to change behaviour and daily actions. He says that habits are the key to success in business, personal growth, and overall contentedness, and provides practical tips and tools for developing positive habits and breaking bad ones. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in personal development, behaviour change, or the psychology of success.

6. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini

This book explores the six key principles of persuasion and how they can be used to influence people's behaviour and decision-making. These principles include reciprocity, authority, scarcity, liking, consistency, and consensus. These 6 areas are often applied to business-from sales and marketing (social media and community management) to leadership and negotiation. It's a great resource to have a better handle on leadership skills, the psychology of an audience and community, and prominent communication skills. 

I hope you have enjoyed our alternative selection of books and what they mean to me. 

What books would you include in your list? Email me or let me know in one of our Facebook or LinkedIn pages or group

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