Inspiration and motivation can come from unexpected places. That’s what we found when we asked marketers and other business people to share their go-to book for marketers.
Many people recommended books about content and marketing (read those recommendations here). But others suggested intriguing books that aren’t directly about marketing at all.
These 17 recommendations range from one that’s more than 2,000 years old to a modern story about sushi. Some are focused on building you, while others will inspire your creativity, change the way you think about your content marketing, help you avoid procrastination, and more.
What Amazon says: This beloved classic presents a principle-centered approach for solving both personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and practical anecdotes, Stephen R. Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity—principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
Recommended by Steve Pogson, founder and e-commerce strategy lead, First Pier: “As a marketer and leader, these seven habits guided me. I realized that being a leader isn’t just about achieving success; it’s also about upholding ideals and ethics in order to leave a lasting legacy. This understanding had a significant impact on my decisions as a marketing executive.”
What Amazon says: In many crucial areas of our lives, reason plays a vanishingly small part. Instead, we are driven by unconscious desires, which is why placebos are so powerful. We are drawn to the beautiful, the extravagant, and the absurd – from lavish wedding invitations to tiny bottles of the latest fragrance. So if you want to influence people’s choices, you have to bypass reason. The best ideas don’t make rational sense: they make you feel more than they make you think.
Recommended by Jonathan Tian, co-founder, Mobitrix: “In this book, the writer highlights the complex theory with stories and great humor to both captivate and entertain. It’s a crucial work of evident irrationality.”
What Amazon says: Art of War is almost certainly the most famous study of strategy ever written. This treatise has been credited with influencing some of the most legendary military operations. Beyond the battlefield, people far and wide have long turned to Art of War for advice on how to succeed in various competitive situations, and companies around the world now make this book required reading for their executives.
Recommended by Chris Alexakis, co-founder Cabinet Select: “There are many essential lessons business owners can learn from Sun Tzu’s book about ancient military strategy. However, you have to look at it with different eyes than the average reader because what’s important here is the mentality and philosophical lessons. You don’t need to know how many chariots an army needs to store food.”
What Amazon says: If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Recommended by Ori Benshalom, founder, Self Made: “As a marketer, I was always intrigued by why people do what they do. Atomic Habits breaks down exactly what creates good habits and how you can break bad ones. One of the biggest takeaways for me was that if you want to create a new habit, start small and build it gradually.”
What Amazon says: Gay Hendricks demonstrates how to eliminate the barriers to success by overcoming false fears and beliefs. Fans of Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and The Secret will find useful, effective tips for breaking down the walls to a better life in The Big Leap.
Recommended by Laura Rike, consultant: “It teaches us that when we feel like life is getting in the way, we need to push through to reach our true potential and push past our upper limit.”
What Amazon says: Drawing on more than a decade of new work, Kim and Mauborgne show you how to move beyond competing, inspire your people’s confidence, and seize new growth, guiding you step-by-step through how to take your organization from a red ocean crowded with competition to a blue ocean of uncontested market space. They show why nondisruptive creation is as important as disruption in seizing new growth.
Recommended by Sep Niakan, managing broker, CondoBlackBook: “Suitable for anyone who wishes to make significant improvements in their marketing strategy. It comprises a road map drawn out by the authors, who have a startling 30 years of consulting and research experience and who carve out the way for easier and more successful reinventions.
“This book will help people from reinvention teams by answering questions about how and why each baby step toward reinvention is carried out. It also emphasizes things such as respecting your team’s feelings and delving into the details of everything, leaving little to chance.”
What Amazon says: This passionate expertise manifesto is intended to elevate the impact of advisors who sell insight as entrepreneurs. Three foundational chapters form the basis of the entire book: experts develop insight by isolating patterns in data; they convert those insights to wealth by crafting a unique positioning for which few available substitutes exist. Their confidence grows as the marketplace embraces their application of expertise.
Recommended by Joshua Feinberg, CEO, SP Home Run: “If you sit still too long, even the best content marketers will get commoditized and marginalized. David C. Baker offers a great solution around focus, deep expertise, selecting the right niches, positioning, and demonstrating expertise.”
What Amazon says: Practical, proven self-help steps show how to transform 40 common self-defeating behaviors, including procrastination, envy, obsession, anger, self-pity, compulsion, neediness, guilt, rebellion, inaction, and more.
Recommended by Brenton Thomas, founder and CEO, Twibi: “Working on marketing, we are all susceptible to falling into the impostor syndrome or the procrastination traps. This book has plenty of actionable strategies to snap out of those destructive creativity-killer habits and transform them into deadline-smashers.”
What Amazon says: Somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. Daniel Levitin uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel—and how readers can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.
Recommended by Jason McMahon, digital strategist, Bambrick Media: “We evaluate the data, research, transcripts, slideshows, and reports daily. How are we going to deal with all of this data and convert it into great content for our readers? This is a book about managing the constant flow of information we encounter daily.
“This book helped me observe and comprehend how various people process information. It helps me think about my audience and how they receive and digest information as a marketer. It helps me better understand myself and my organizing patterns as an individual. It’s a really thought-provoking book.”
What Amazon says: This book is the precursor to the modern phenomenon in advertising of Big Data. That is merely the conclusion one reaches after thoroughly understanding this groundbreaking book. It contains many principles that are common in all performance-based marketing today, such as the idea of testing and measuring ad effectiveness, writing to one person, understanding and using psychology, basing advertising on sales, eliminating risk, learning what the thousands want to understand what the millions will buy.
Recommended by Nate Tsang, founder and CEO, WallStreetZen: “I was skeptical when someone recommended this to me, but for a quick, free read, I was hooked. Seeing content marketing abstracted away to its earlier iteration (the 1920s) helped me understand choices our team made in our marketing.
“Some of the advice is timeless essential – the chapter on headlines will change the way you evaluate email marketing. Some of it requires you to think about the way we advertise products and the way we market online. The methods have evolved, but the underlying purpose and psychology are the same.”
What Amazon says: Napoleon Hill presents a “Philosophy of Achievement” in 13 principles drawn from the success stories of such greats as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and other millionaires of his time.
Recommended by Thomas Mirmotahari, founder and CEO, PerkUp: “It’s an all-time classic that is an absolute must-read for content marketers. He is absolutely brilliant and spent time with over 500 self-made millionaires. The aim is to demonstrate that, as entrepreneurs and content marketers, we are earnest about what we’re marketing, selling, and the problems we are solving. We can all learn some of the best traits of the greats to help us on our journey to serve humanity and make a fortune too.”
What Amazon says: In this richly reported story, journalist Trevor Corson shadows several American sushi novices and a master Japanese chef, taking the reader behind the scenes as the students strive to master the elusive art of cooking without cooking. It is a compelling tale of human determination as well as a delectable smorgasbord of surprising food science, intrepid reporting, and provocative cultural history.
Recommended by Myles Carter, director of content marketing, Payment Rails: “After finishing this deep dive into sushi’s history and its culture of dedication and mastery, I was left with a deep feeling of admiration. That, and just a little pang of guilt that comes from knowing we can all be a bit more masterful in our work and our content.”
Add these books, too
A.J. Turner, marketing director, Off Highway Van, says you can learn a lot from reading memoirs, biographies, and similar non-fiction writing. A.J.’s recommendations include:
- Authentic by Paul Van Doren: “A memoir of the man who started Vans shoe company. A great insight into asking “Why not?” and pushing forward creative ideas.”
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight: “A fantastic book about how to push forward and constantly be thinking about what’s next?”
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: “Surprisingly not much about food and a great read for anybody. I appreciate his storytelling ability, and I think it’s a great example for storytellers.”
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey: “Matthew speaks to the importance of journaling, and how to approach life in a way that fleshes out great experiences. It’s a fantastic book for content creators.”
- No Time Like The Future by Michael J. Fox: “Mr. Fox shows us that there’s nothing that replaces optimism and perseverance. As a content creator, it can be hard to constantly keep up and keep coming up with fresh and creative ideas. By remembering to look at the world through different lenses, we can learn to write meaningful things by pushing forward through setbacks and delays or even life-changing situations.”
What non-marketing book do you recommend to motivate, inspire, or help content marketers? Please share in the comments.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
8 Best Tactics to Lead a Team with Zero Experience
‘How to lead a team?’
This is a burning question for team leads, especially first-time managers.
The ultimate purpose of team leads is to encourage and help their team deliver peak performance while nurturing their skills. They need to establish clear expectations and supervise their team to achieve business goals efficiently.
However, developing effective leadership skills requires considerable experience. To lead a team with zero experience can be thus daunting and overwhelming.
If you are a first-time manager, you should embark on your journey by understanding your role and responsibilities. Taking small yet thoughtful steps will help you develop essential leadership skills.
In this post, we will share the eight best tactics that will help you lead a team with zero experience.
Key Tips to Lead a Team with No Experience
Here’s the comprehensive list of best tips and practices to help you lead a team successfully.
#1: Admit Experience Limitations to Your Team
Helen Hayes once quoted –
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”
These words accurately describe the fact that one cannot earn expertise overnight. It takes determination, time, and hard work to sail through the process.
So, if you want your team to thrive, you need to be honest with your team. Don’t conceal the fact that you lack leadership experience. Admitting experience limitations to your team will make them considerate of your situation. This will create a bond of understanding between you and your teammates.
Here are a few tips that’ll help you overcome your experience limitations.
- Stay Focused: Unless you understand the client’s requirements, you won’t be able to guide your team. So, keep a sharp focus on everyday tasks.
- Be Proactive: Participate actively in all the tasks to keep your team engaged and motivated.
- Embrace Humility: Be open to listening to your team’s perspective. Embracing different viewpoints will help you deal with tricky situations with ease.
#2: Have the Confidence to Lead a Team
According to Gallup, managers that lead a team successfully have the following traits.
- Ability to motivate and engage their team
- Assertiveness to drive outcomes
- Confidence to overcome adversity
- Ability to build transparent relationships
Out of these traits, confidence is the most pivotal.
The reason? A leader’s confidence impacts their team’s confidence.
While it’s true that you lack experience, it doesn’t mean you can’t lead a team and make it big.
Don’t let your experience impact your confidence.
Develop a constructive mindset to empower your team. Focus on improving your problem-solving skills and get involved with your team in the projects. Understand your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses to gauge their potential, thereby delegating tasks to the right people.
Show your human side and stay honest about everything to be approachable. If you commit a mistake, accept it openly in front of everyone. This will make your teammates comfortable working with you.
The key is to lead by example. This will help you stay confident and increase your chances of achieving desired business outcomes.
#3: Create Open Door Communication Policy
An open-door policy signifies a set of protocols encouraging employees to discuss their queries, challenges, or suggestions with their senior-level managers.
Since communication is a key to building efficient teams, an open-door policy can be a game-changer for you. It can help create and maintain a transparent and unbiased work environment by improving the communication between you and your team.
No wonder, leading companies like IBM follow an open-door policy to promote effective communication at the workplace.
Here are a few tips to consider.
- Communicate Expectations: Create a brief outline stating the communication rules. Further, educate your team about how it works and its benefits.
- Set Boundaries: Providing a solid communication ground to your team is good, but without boundaries, it can lead to the loss of valuable time.
For instance, you can allow your employees to walk in the cabin at any instant. If this doesn’t seem feasible, you can standardize the process. Ask your team to book an appointment for the discussion.
#4: Reach Out to Experts for Assistance
Dealing with conflicts, doubts, and distractions may seem draining as you progress in your managerial journey.
Take the help of a mentor to cope with tricky situations.
An experienced mentor can help you develop decision-making skills while gaining a new perspective on leading a team. With their guidance, you can move on an upward trajectory and establish yourself as a strong leader.
Here are a few ways to connect to an experienced mentor for guidance.
- Professional Network: Reach out to people in your professional network with expertise, experience, and industry knowledge.
- Social Media: Leverage the power of social media channels like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora. These platforms have a plentitude of subject matter experts and industry leaders.
- Comprehensive Platforms: Count on platforms like GrowthMentor and TheMuse to discover the best leaders from your industry.
Pro Tip: Become a part of the About Leaders community, where industry leaders share valuable advice and tips on positive leadership. Reading researched and well-written blog posts shared by experts on About Leaders will help you develop a leader-like mindset, thereby preparing you for success.
Besides, you can enroll in leadership-building courses by About Leaders, trusted by 30,000 international leaders.
#5: Set Clear and Realistic Expectations
Setting clear and realistic expectations for your team reduces the chances of project failure. It helps the team members understand their responsibilities and create a solid strategy to meet the expectations.
Here are a few tips for setting clear expectations.
- Emphasize Goals: Define actionable objectives for each member. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T).
- Make Employees Accountable: Set milestones according to your team members’ skills and experiences. Set realistic deadlines to ensure successful project completion.
- Track Your Team’s Progress: Keep a tab on your team’s progress by implementing productivity tracking tools like Trello and Toggl. These project management platforms can help you monitor your team’s performance, thereby boosting the chances of your success.
- Share Timely and Honest Feedback: According to ClearCompany, daily feedback improves employees’ engagement by 3x. So, try offering feedback at the end of the day or at least in a week to boost team collaboration.
#6: Provide Resources to Help Your Team
To be a good leader, you should support your team with a well-constructed tech stack. This will not just simplify and streamline their tasks but also increase their trust in you as a leader.
For instance, if you are leading a team of sales reps, implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software can help your team collect customers’ data. This can boost their work efficiency and help them achieve their goals.
The key here is to talk to the team and understand their challenges. Based on pain points, offer resources like task automation tools, communication platforms, and CRMs. This will help your team communicate, collaborate, and stay organized and efficient.
Pro Tip: Create a culture of learning and knowledge-sharing by organizing brainstorming sessions. Allow your team to collaborate once a week and discuss innovative ideas. You can even arrange monthly webinars or seminars by inviting guest speakers. This will foster a happy and productive environment, thereby keeping your team motivated.
#7: Ask For Feedback at the End of the Project
As a first-time manager, you should keep learning and improving your leadership skills.
Your team’s feedback on your leadership can help you lead with high effectiveness.
So, ask your team what went right and wrong during the task.
Here are a few crucial questions to consider:
- In what ways can I improve team communication and time management?
- Did I do justice to my role?
- What skills can help me lead a team efficiently?
- Do you consider me a fair and unbiased leader?
- Do you trust me for our upcoming projects?
Encourage them to offer honest feedback on your role as a leader. This can help you understand your team’s perspective on your leadership style.
#8: Reward Your Team for a Good Job
Acknowledge and reward your team for a job well done.
This will let your team know their contribution and effort are highly valued and appreciated.
What’s more? Appreciation can boost their morale and motivate them to perform even better in the future.
Notice the following screenshot of a survey conducted by O. C. Tanner. As you can see, it reveals that employee recognition is the most vital driver of great work.
Here are a few tips to reward your team.
- Offer Time-Off: Allow your team to take some time off and unwind. This will promote a healthy work culture.
- Share Thoughtful Gifts: Give small gifts such as chair massages, movie tickets, and more.
- Offer Non-Monetary Gifts: Rewards don’t need to be monetary always. You can give them a quick shoutout in an email with kind words. This will make them feel valued.
Team management is a challenging task.
Lack of experience can make it further difficult for first-time team leads to justify their role. They need skills, a learning attitude, and patience to develop a good rapport with their teammates.
The shared tips can boost your confidence and help you establish yourself as a trustworthy leader. So, follow these tactics to find your footing as a manager.
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