Six Books That Made an Impact on Me in 2017

This was a year of great accomplishments accompanied by learning through the habit of daily reading. I have to confess, I often add many books to my reading list. They get shipped to my home office and they seem to enter a queue or waiting pattern until finally, I get to them. Yes, the queue gets visited often, and I get the chance to savor each of the books until they are all read. I consider each of them treasures, a kind of personal gift to me from the author. There is no doubt in my mind that the author has put their best thoughts, knowledge, and experience into the pages of each of these books.

Virtually all the books I read become reference guides to me—they get bookmarked, highlighted, annotated and quoted. Although some books come in soft copy via my Amazon Kindle, they all go through the same process. However, hard copy books have a special meaning, a connection and touch, look and feel that make them real. Here is a short list of books that made an impact on me in 2017.

Fanatical Prospecting, by Jeb Blount (Wiley Publishers)

A great reference guide for anyone in sales. Simply put, if you want to be successful in sales, you need to prospect. Jeb writes, “The more I prospect, the luckier I get.” This book will guide the committed seller through practical, actionable steps to build their funnel; from mindset to the skills of the phone, email, social selling, in-person and even texting techniques. I have so many pages with tabs and highlights on them for easy access. This book has become a resource guide for sales leaders.

Unleash Your Crazy Sexy Brain, by Umar Hameed

Shortly after I launched NextStage, LLC, I met with Gerhard Gschwandtner. He introduced me to Umar. After an email exchange, we met for lunch in Bethesda, MD and Umar brought this book. I thought the title was kind of funny, Unleash Your Crazy Sexy Brain? But it got my attention. The book is more like a reference guide to turn your beliefs into specific behaviors that lead to results. The book also digs deep into your belief system, and identifies things that might have been deeply rooted in your childhood that may be preventing you from accomplishing certain things. It does this by identifying negative emotions, anchoring positive emotions, rewiring your brain by tapping into the latest advances in neuroscience, and gives the reader a toolkit to break through self-imposed barriers.

The Leadership Connection, by Erik Therwanger (Prior Lake Publishers)

I had the opportunity to share the stage with Erik during a conference. I was fortunate to be standing next to a great speaker, leader and former Marine. Erik draws from his experiences and translates them into leadership lessons, which he calls the “Elite Purposes of a Leader”. The goals of the lessons are to:

o   Enhance Perception

o   Elevate Priorities

o   Empower People

o   Exceed Possibilities

Chapter and after chapter, Erik gives actionable and relevant lessons that a reader can apply immediately—from raising expectations to empowerment, to developing your team and future leaders. This book is definitely one I learned many lessons from this year.

The Power of Having Fun, by Dave Crenshaw (BK Publishers)

I don’t recall how I got connected with Dave via LinkedIn, all that matters is that he has made an impact with his content, his time management, productivity and leadership courses on LinkedIn learning. I got this book from Amazon and immediately started to read it—highlighting, bookmarking favorite segments and going through the exercises. This book was a reminder for me that it is important to take meaningful, scheduled breaks, to have balance in three areas of my life—personal, work and family—and to plan breaks or “oases” in all those areas without feeling guilty. Dave provides actionable tips for the C-Level executive, the manager, and the employee to discover a way they can be more productive by following a set pattern to have fun. This book was enjoyable to read, I did the exercises, scheduled many Oases in all three areas, and had fun in the process. Hey, I even tweeted about it. Great book!

The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Anthony Iannarino (Penguin Random House, LLC)

We connected with Anthony via LinkedIn in April of 2012. Ever since, I have been glued to his amazing content, including his Sunday letter. He doesn’t know it, but I read them to my two teenage sons. I’m a faithful reader of The Sales Blog, and now his book has made an impact on me, too. What I love about this book is the foundational framework he sets for successful sales. Each chapter has a segment entitled, “First Move – Do This Now!” Using this exclamatory phrase, he implies importance and invites the reader to take action. Chapter after chapter as I journey from mindset to positive behaviors to attitude, Anthony shifts the mind of the reader to take action, focusing on your customer and how to develop a strong desire to help others. The first portion is all related to mindset, the second part to specific skills or abilities that help one to succeed in sales (things like obtaining incremental commitments throughout the process, adding value each step of the way until you develop a competitive advantage, etc.). He helps one to see that the competitive advantage is YOU, it is ME, it is the way we continue to learn, to add value, to be different. In the words of Anthony, “It is 100 percent your responsibility to grow, to develop yourself both personally and professionally.” I certainly have learned a great deal from this book.

The Sensational Salesman, by Duane Cummings (Balboa Press)

I met Duane during the AA-ISP Leadership Conference in Chicago last year. I bought his book and asked him to autograph my copy. While browsing my library, I discovered that I had not yet read the book. Then once I opened it, I could not put it down. I read it within a week. This book tells a modern-day business parable. It’s the story of Thomas, an individual that drove his sales career to the ground. Then, with the help of a mentor, Thomas picked himself back up. In each chapter, his mentor, Brad, teaches Thomas new fundamentals through the help of a different instructor. Many of these instructors had also gone through hard times, and with a little luck, the help of someone, and hard work, they were able to make great things happen. Chapter after chapter, Thomas is taught new principles that range from lessons on relationships, listening, not judging others, attitude, goals setting and branding. The book is a second-chance story that provides a path to improve relationships, career, and life. The big lessons for me? Everyone deserves a second chance, everyone needs a mentor, and we can all help mentor others.

I always get a lot of value from the books I read. They become teachers and mentors, reference guides and inspiration that motivates me to continue to be better, to advance myself, to reach new heights and to learn something new. I can definitely say that at the end of this year, I am a better person as a result of reading these books. As you can see, the list is short and very eclectic in nature, and each book is different—from leadership to sales, to improvement—but they are all rich in content and come from great authors and leaders. I want to express my appreciation to each of these authors for permeating their experiences, knowledge, and stories into the pages of each of these books.

Ivan Gomez is the President of NextStage, LLC, a consulting company specializing in all aspects of sales development and Inside Sales implementation and optimization. Now an entrepreneur, he advises companies on best go-to-market strategies, leveraging the power of Inside Sales. You can find Ivan, via LinkedIn, and on Twitter @1Ivango1 .