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“Leaders are readers,” says John C. Maxwell. This became a more profound truth for me in 2014. Reading to add to my knowledge and for entertainment has been a habit I have developed over time. But this was a year with a difference. I had just quit my day job and was venturing out on my own.

I felt like other people were way ahead of me and I was playing catch-up. At one time, I panicked wondering if I had made the right choice. There were two options I could not avoid at any cost: reading and growing my network of influencers.

I consumed huge amounts of content. It is in two categories. The first was to develop myself as a leader and to grow my skills. The second category was research for content development and writing my second book.

Without a doubt, there are five books that stood out for me. These are great resource I recommend for you in 2015. They will not only inspire and challenge you beyond your comfort zone.

Every pro was once an amateur. Every master was once a beginner. So start now.” ~Robin Sharma.

Here are excerpts from my famous five of 2014:

1. A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive

In today’s business climate, social media represents the asteroid, the change agent. Those who don’t embrace social media – and fail to realize the monumental impact social has on their customers, employees, and collaborative partnerships, as well as their bottom line, are dinosaurs.

Stubbornly, they look up at the sky and say, “That big fiery ball won’t hurt us. We’re safe behind our brick-and-mortar fortresses.”

They are wrong. Dead wrong. And they will learn, perhaps the hard way, that the Industrial Age is behind us already.

As the authors Ted Coine and Mark Babbit say, “More Social, Less Media”. Connecting is all about building meaningful relationships. I will not survive by becoming arrogant, remaining ignorant, or being selfish. I will grow with people.

2. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build A Thriving Organisation

Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright opened my eyes to why and organization I worked for was struggling. Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars being sunk into strategy, team building and expensive consultants, the organization still struggled to grow in the desired way.

As the authors note, the priority should always be company culture. Get it right, most other stuff falls into place. A company’s brand and its culture are just two sides of the same coin. I believe the same applies to personal life too. Without a culture, people pail to build a thriving community.

Tribal Leadership details the five dominant cultures on a scale of 1 to 5.

  • Stage 5: Innocent Wonderment; “Life is great”
  • Stage 4: Tribal Pride; “We’re great (and they’re not)”
  • Stage 3: Lone Warrior; “I’m great (and you’re not)”
  • Stage 2: Apathetic Victim; “My life sucks”
  • Stage 1: Despairing Hostility; “Life sucks”

Note: The authors are very clear that Tribal leadership is emphasized by shared core values and interdependent strategies of Stage 4. It is not to be confused with ‘tribalism’ which refers to the violence and despairing hostility of Stage 1.

3. Overcoming Fake Talk: How To Hold Real Conversations That Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results

Real conversation is a more balanced and complete approach to the art of communication; the head, the heart, and the hands are all necessary in order to accomplish what we really want in our conversations with others.

This book will likely be the last conversation-related book you will ever read. Why? Because it offers clear expectations of the theoretical aspects of conversation along with practical application of real skills that will help you to connect in a deep and meaningful way.

John R. Stoker engaged me in a very real and practical way. His book challenged me to re-evaluate the conversations and interactions I have with people I engage with.

4. Launch: Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams

There is no theory in this book. Everything that Jeff Walker teaches is based on real-world results. It is all about launching your business or product. There’s a process… a formula.

Of course, that’s not to say that it’s easy. There’s plenty of hard work involved, just like in any human accomplishment. This is definitely not a get-rich-quick book. What I loved about the book is that it helps the reader focus on the customer or user. It is not just about selling, it is about selling what they want.

5. Finishing Strong: Going The Distance For Your Family

This was a powerful book for my personal life and faith. Steve Farar outlines four types of finishes: cut off early, finished poorly, finished ’so-so’, and, finished well. He writes in flowing prose that is not only engaging, it inspires.

My main take-away is how shipwrecks can ruin our lives. As Steve points out, shipwrecks will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.

“Men, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a great start in the Christian life. It doesn’t matter if you have stumbled time and again – or even fallen flat on your face. What matters most is how you finish.”

It’s always the fear of looking stupid that stops you from being awesome,” said Kiera Cass.

What did you do different in 2014 that ‘moved your needle’? Click here and share how your year was in the comments below.

Source: 5 Books That Transformed My Year

About Kimunya Mugo

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 15 years. Trained as a scientist (horticulture), I have always loved leadership and communication. However, it was not a direct transition. I was kind of ‘pushed’ into it when my first boss put me in charge of developing my first website back in 1999 (by the way, I had no clue how to do it!). In a month, it was up and running.

My last day job was as Regional Director for Communication & Branding of WWF in eastern and southern Africa. This was by far the toughest position I had ever held. But through it, I learned the most valuable lessons in leadership, working with teams spread over six countries. Before that, I worked in a variety of roles for three other organizations (see full profile).

I have also been a coach of some very critical leaders in society, parents! Since 2007, my wife and I have coached hundreds to become better leaders at home.

I am married to my best friend Harriette since 2004. We have three children and make our home in Nairobi, Kenya.

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