Passion is Paramount for Entrepreneurs, But You Need to Temper It with Patience

In this edited excerpt from Crushing It!, How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence--And How You Can, Too, a followup to his best-selling Crush It!, serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk takes a fresh look at startup strategies in a rapidly-changing digital world and what you have to do today to build a business and an enduring personal brand.  Crushing It! (Harper Business/HarperCollins Publishers, available on Amazon) also tells the stories of  some of the amazing entrepreneurs such as Alex "Nemo" Hanse, who have taken the Vaynerchuk rules and run with them, adding their own individual twists. 

The Power of Patience

CREDIT: Courtesy HarperCollins Publishers

Passion and patience go hand in hand. To live in line with your passion will probably require that you go slower than you might want to. It will definitely mean that you say no more than you say yes. Bide your time; you cheapen yourself when you make deals while holding your nose. Remember, you're only crushing it if you're living entirely on your own terms.

It's not impossible to make bank when you build a business with the sole goal of getting rich, but very often entrepreneurs who get rich quickly sacrifice their chances for wealth for the long term. When I was just starting to grow my family business, my friends who grad­uated college at the same time that I did also went to work. They started making money and spending it on trips to Vegas and hot girls and nice watches.

Me? I was making money, too. In the first five or six years, I grew that business to $45 million, and not many years later, it was a $60 million wine empire. When a normal twenty­six-year­-old dude builds a $60 million business, he leverages it for twenty­-year­-old dude things. Yet I lived in a one­-bedroom apartment in Springfield, New Jersey. I drove a Jeep Grand  Cherokee. I had no watches, no suits, and no flash. I could have paid myself hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but the most I took was $60K. I kept my head down like an ox with a plow, putting almost every dime I earned back into the business and focusing all my energy on building a personal brand around unparalleled customer service, both in the store and online. When not talking to customers, I was the most boring human being on the planet. Today, I not only have everything I ever wanted, (except the New York Jets) but also I'm having the time of my life.

You have no reason to start acting like something special until you actually have something special to show for it. Even then, don't act special; the moment you do, you'll start moving in the opposite direction. Take my advice: eat shit for as long as you have to. That means be a bigger man or woman than everyone around you. That means the customer is always right. That means you put your em­ ployees ahead of you. That means you don't take many vacations, maybe for years, and your only time off is to mark important holidays and to be there for your family (or your friends who are like family). Be patient. Be methodical. Pay off your debts. Unless your brand is glamorous, live simply, and even then be practical and calculated. Put yourself last. Once you've reached your brand and business goals, then  you can start living it up--without putting yourself into debt, because that's insane.

CASE STUDY: HOW "NEMO" LEARNED TO CRUSH IT.

The day after Alex "Nemo" Hanse turned 30, he was in New Orleans to try to meet a few women.

Not just any women. Specifically, some of the stars listed on his T-shirt, like Taraji P. Henson and Ava DuVernay, who were in town to attend the Essence Festival, a four-day  mega celebration of black culture in general and black women in particular. It's the T-shirt that put his clothing brand, Foolies Limited Clothing Company, on the map.

But what's really interesting about his presence at the gathering is how he got there.

His fans and customers gave him birthday money to pay for it. They literally sent him the money to buy himself a plane ticket so he could attend and connect with people who could help him grow his brand.

That's some pretty spectacular customer love and loyalty.

Alex has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. His mother died when he was in the fifth grade, and since he didn't have a father figure, he was taken in by a family friend  (who had twelve kids of her own). He was grateful to have a roof, but at school he got tired of getting picked on for  his raggedy  clothes  and  shoes, so he'd carry around a big duffel  bag stuffed with chips, candy bars, and Capri  Suns that he could  sell to earn a little money. He also worked after school at a car wash, where he got paid under the table because he was underage. "I was just trying to survive."

In 2005, when he was a student at the University of Florida, Alex was a rapper. "Dropping bars and spitting hot lines of fire...at least, in my mind I was." While Googling "How to create a brand  for a rapper," he found an article that said a rapper needed to create an identity for his fans. So he and his "brother of another color," Billy, a big supporter of his music, worked to come up with some kind of catchphrase. "And we're sitting around  saying, 'Man, this idea sounds so foolish. This is so foolish of us.' We kept repeating it and playing around, and we started  saying,

'Yeah, we're Foolies.' And it was like, 'What's a Foolie?' And I said, 'I guess somebody who's dumb enough to try something and figure it out in the end.'"

After graduating in 2009 with a degree in sports medicine, Alex couldn't find a job in that field, so he kept concentrating on his music while working at an AT&T store. Then he and Billy decided that rappers needed a clothing line. They had no money, so they ironed the word FOOLIES on a dirty white T-shirt.

They did what Alex calls the Daymond John effect: "Put it on one person, take a picture,  you take it off. Put it on another person, take a picture, take it off. Because you don't have money so you can't give shirts to everyone, but if you can post pictures on Facebook and Twitter and make it seem like everyone has a shirt, maybe other people will want it, too. And that's what started happening for us, slowly."

The shirts were created to bring attention to Alex's music, but they soon became his main output.  He came up with clever ways to deliver an extra special experience to his customers. When he had a special sale, he'd send customers who bought a shirt a custom link to a YouTube video of himself singing a song with their name in it, or some other personal message. He shipped the shirts inside miniature paint cans, the idea being that when you opened the can you'd  be  releasing your dreams. And he'd send a handwritten letter to every customer, along with a dream journal, "because that's the biggest thing that people don't do: they don't write their goals down, so they can never manifest and come to life."

As soon as customers received their order, they'd post a picture to social media. Except, interestingly, sometimes they didn't post the shirt--they posted the letter, the can, or the dream journal. They'd thank Alex, saying it had been years since anyone had written them a letter, and some attached the letters to their refrigerators or bathroom walls.

The company eked out an existence, barely, while Alex kept working a day job, tutored, mentored at Boys and Girls Clubs, and couch-surfed. It was hard going, but he kept at it. Reading Crush It! in 2015 "was a confirmation that I wasn't crazy. I'd go to pitch competitions and these fake investors would chew me out: 'How is that scalable? Why are you writing letters to every customer?' I started reading the book and thought, 'Man, somebody finally gets me.' It was like finding a long-lost friend or meeting your twin after being separated and you didn't even know you had one."

He realized his problem was that he wasn't creating enough content. "I went all-out motivational, plastering Facebook with posts."

In September 2015, he watched on television as Viola Davis won her first Emmy.  That same night, Regina King won her first Emmy, too. "I was bawling. My brand has never deliberately focused on black women, but they've always supported me. So I was like, 'Man, we need to make something motivational based off of this dopeness that these black girls are doing.'  That's when we listed all the phrases, like a regular graphic."

The graphic was a list of ways in which people could emulate the black female powerhouses of our era: WRITE LIKE SHONDA. SPEAK LIKE VIOLA. WALK LIKE KERRY [WASHINGTON]. BE FIERCE LIKE TARAJI. BE STRONG LIKE REGINA. LEAD LIKE AVA. "I posted the graphic right before work at about eight thirty in the morning, and around maybe ten fifteen, my phone started buzzing. So I go to my Facebook page and I see forty-plus shares. I had gotten shares before, but this was a weird number, and it kept increasing. What was going on?"

The reason Alex's phone was buzzing incessantly was because best-selling  author,  speaker, and digital  strategist Luvvie Ajayi, aka Awesomely Luvvie, had posted  the graphic  to her page. She messaged him and told him he needed to put those names on a shirt. "She didn't even know I had a T-shirt company.  She just thought I was a random guy, which is crazy how God works and how everything just lines up."

Then Ava DuVernay reposted the graphic on Twitter.

"It started freaking going everywhere." Alex quickly added a few more names to the graphic--LUPITA [NYONG'O], UZO [ADUBA], ANGELA [BASSETT], and QUEEN  [LATIFAH] --and turned it into a T-shirt with the Foolies logo on the back.

That detail, the logo placement, is important to what happened next.

A few months later, on a Wednesday, Alex got an e-mail from Essence asking for shirts for a youth choir to use at an event called Black Women in Hollywood. They needed them by Sunday in time to tape the show later in the week. "It was a Hail Mary mission." It usually  took  weeks to get  T-shirts printed, and on top of that, he had just switched printing companies because the previous one kept blowing him off. The new company managed  to give him a quick  turnaround time, and he shipped the shirts in time for the event.

There was no footage when the event itself happened, but soon afterward he got an Instagram  alert. It was a picture of the girls wearing his T-shirt, and standing there with her arms around them was Oprah Winfrey. He'd had no idea  the  event was sponsored by  the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

He and his COO, Kim, started plastering the shirt everywhere. When the show aired on OWN, the T-shirts looked fantastic, but Alex realized that maybe putting the logo on the back instead of the front hadn't been such a good idea. "We had wanted the shirt to be about the graphic, not about us, and we wanted to make sure that our customers knew that we always had their backs. Real smart, genius."

That night  Shonda Rhimes tweeted out a picture of the shirt, tagged to Foolies, and posted it to Instagram, too. "I've never gotten so many notifications in my life," says Alex. Since then, any money Alex has earned has gone back into the business or into free shirts  for influencers. There are a few new versions of the shirt, listing different actors. He tries to attend as many conferences  as he can where he will meet other influencers, volunteering to work there because he usually can't afford the ticket price. He recently received a comped ticket to the BlogHer conference from someone who heard him speak about Foolies at another event several months earlier and wanted to make sure he could go.

He's committed to motivating people to reach their goals with more than just a T-shirt. "I don't want to just sell you T-shirts. What happens if you don't buy one? Is it now over for you to be motivated? Why not serve just to serve?" To that end, he launched a podcast called Dream Without Limits Radio, where he collects stories of dreamers, game changers, and people living out their purpose.

"I get to bring on people of color and women, who don't get highlighted enough. You'll see all these dope women on there. I love guys, but I know where my market is, and my niche. People tell me, 'Oh, you need to expand  and talk to all these people,' and I'm like, "Gary gets it."

Alex mentored a lot of students at theUniversity of Florida and continues to visit middle and high schools to talk to them about  entrepreneurship and getting out of the 'hood. When his brand started to take off, a number of his former mentees told him that it made perfect sense that this would be his calling. This has always been what you've been doing, they told him.  Now it's just in the form of a clothing company.

Holly Branson, Daughter of Virgin’s Founder, Merges Profit and Purpose in Book ‘WEconomy’

Holly Branson, The daughter of Sir Richard Branson, has written a book called WEconomy to inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Holly Branson works with Virgin Group alongside a team tasked with driving forward the companies' business strategy as a force for good. Holly co-authored WEconomy with Marc and Craig Kielburger, brothers and founders of WE, a global movement that brings people together and gives them tools to change the world.

On a LinkedIn post describing the project, Holly said, "WEconomy is a collection of stories and learning around the importance of embedding purpose at the core of business."

The book will share stories from megastars like Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, and Holly's father, Richard Branson, to show how it's possible to make the world a better place through purposeful - and successful - business strategies. The book's authors also share their personal experiences with purpose-driven business, from both the nonprofit and social entrepreneurship sectors.

To complete the book, Holly relied on some business advice for dear old Dad and integrated the mindset of, "saying yes first and learning how to do it later." Although Holly had never written a book before, WEconomy has already received some stunning recommendations from business leaders such as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and Spanx Founder Sara Blakely.   

With the rise of social entrepreneurship and the growing demand for more meaning in our work lives, WEcononmy is primed to find a base of interested readers.

And with such an intense culture of work in modern society, this book couldn't be coming at a more relevant time. Today, the average person will spend approximately 90,000 hours working during their lifetime. Or, looking at this figure in a different way, you will spend approximately one-third of your life at work.  That's a lot of time.

Although we are still a work-driven society, this generation also realizes that there should be a purpose in work. Employees today want to live and work in alignment with their broader social values. They want to feel that hours spent at work have meaning beyond the weight of a personal paycheck they receive.

In WEconomy, Branson suggests that having a purpose-driven business is "key to increasing productivity and retaining top performers." Findings like these are great news for the business community.

The 21st century has already birthed some of the most innovative examples of social entrepreneurship. However, with each additional business case that points to the practicality of purpose-driven business, this trend will continue to increase.  

13 Books That Inspired Me During My Company’s IPO

I've been known to wax poetic about the importance of prioritizing your hobbies. I'm convinced that focusing on your passions outside of the office will make you more successful in the office. Co-workers and peers are always asking how I do it. The answer is simple: when something's important enough, you make the time.

Last year, my co-founder Todd McKinnon and I took our company public and it wasn't easy to leave the office everyday in time to make it home for dinner with my family. Sometimes, it took more effort than I'd like to admit to get on the ice for a late-night hockey game. But I always made time, just like I made the effort to read.

Of the many good books I read in 2017 (and the one that turned out to be terrible -- sorry John McEnroe), these 13 resonated with me most as we were going through the IPO process. They gave me the opportunity reflect on what it took to reach that milestone, what we should avoid, and what was going in the world outside the walls of our offices.

On innovation, investing and building businesses:

  1. Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (2012): Whether or not you agree with Thiel's politics, if you're interested in building a successful business, you should read his guide to innovation. The skill Thiel notes every leader must master? Learning to think for yourself. And his advice on building a big business resonates with what we've tried to do at Okta: "become a monopolist in a small market with lots of adjacencies." I reference that frequently when helping entrepreneurs think through market strategy.

  2. Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups -- Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000, by Jason Calacanis (2017): Calacanis is another controversial figure, and even though style isn't for everyone, I couldn't agree more with his thesis that investing is all about people, and figuring out what they want and need. The key to success in business is knowing how the people you work with -- investors, partners, customers, coworkers, etc. -- think, and what they care about.

On wealth and greed:

  1. Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, by Sheelah Kolhatkar (2017): Real-life finance dramas have been hitting it big in both cinema and literature over the past few years -- The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short and HBO's Wizard of Lies, to name a few -- and the story of Steve Cohen and SAC Capital's fall from grace is just as entertaining and illuminating. The investigative reporting and level of detail also made this one a page turner.

  2. One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries, by James Ledbetter (2017): Who would have thought gold would be such a divisive subject? In Ledbetter's book, he shares the history of this precious metal and how it's divided America and some of its brightest minds. If nothing else, gave me more ammo to debate my dad's gold buying strategies (but, alas, I still always fall short).

  3. American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, by Nick Bilton (2017): The story of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road, and the team that tracked him reads like fiction with its twist and turns. For anyone who wants to know more about the genesis and downfall of the Dark Web's famous marketplace (and the man behind it), I highly recommend Bilton's book. Plus, it takes place largely in Okta's hometown of San Francisco!

On our planet:

  1. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, by Paul Hawken (2017): This year, I was drawn to books and articles about climate change and potential solutions, and Drawdown was a must-read for those interested in the subject. I devoured this credible and well-researched collection of articles, written by researchers, professionals and scientists with concrete plans for addressing this global dilemma.

  2. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein (2015): Klein takes a different (more extreme) angle on climate change in her book, explaining how global warming challenges us to abandon our "free market" ideology, restructure the global economy and rebuild our political systems.

  3. The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet, by Henry Fountain (2017): Fountain's book is focused on the biggest earthquake in North America's recorded history: a magnitude 9.2 quake that devastated the state of Alaska in 1964. Not only did it leave a mark on the people of Alaska, but on the planet (and the book will probably come a little close to home if you're in the Bay Area and accustomed to feeling quakes every once in a while).

For fun:

  1. Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey, by Sean Avery (2017): Anyone who knows me knows I'm a massive hockey fan, which is why I couldn't wait to dig into Sean Avery's autobiography. It did not disappoint. Avery's book offers a unique, unfiltered look into the NHL today, through the eyes of one of its most controversial players. The first hockey book I ever read that wasn't drier than the Mojave Desert.

  2. Garcia: An American Life, by Blair Jackson (2000): Jackson covered the Grateful Dead for 25 years, and in his biography of the band's front runner and musical genius, he covers it all: from his unmatched talent as a songwriter to his fatal battle with addiction. Jackson is a good writer, and attended something like 300 shows over 30 years -- his first hand knowledge comes through loud and clear.

  3. Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World, by Robert D. Kaplan (2017): For anyone interested in American geography and the history of the United States' westward expansion, Kaplan's book is a must read.

  4. I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad, by Souad Mekhennet (2017): Although I wouldn't necessarily call Mekhennet's memoir "fun," it provided a glimpse into the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS that I never had access to previously.

  5. Paradise Lost, by John Milton: Okay, this one wasn't for fun either. But I did enjoy revisiting Milton's classic. If you have trouble sleeping and prefer natural methods, buy a used copy and put it by your bedside!

As I prepare 2018's book list, what were your favorite books last year? Share your recommendations in the comments.

4 Classic Mistakes New Business Book Authors Make That Can Kill Their Book Sales and Success

Over the course of my career, I've written nine traditionally published business books and helped dozens of clients ghostwrite, publish, and/or promote their business book, non-fiction works.

As part of my series of posts on how entrepreneurs and business people can use books to build a brand, I wanted to step back and share what I've seen are the biggest blunders many businesspeople make when pursuing the path to publishing.  

1. Hiring the wrong team.

The book world is fraught with a plethora of possibilities for how to get a book written, published, and promoted. Everything from one-stop-shopping book farms to high-end ghostwriting services and book PR firms peppers the landscape.

To the novice business book author, this can seem like a minefield of complicated options. Often unsure which path will lead to the best outcome, inexperienced authors often pick the seemingly easiest thing and just go with that.

I get multiple calls weekly from businesspeople who are frustrated at the time and money they have spent using the writer their friend recommended, the aunt they hired to do their website, or the one-person "publishing" company they engaged.

While there are great resources available in all these fields, not taking the time to vet and get to know them more often than not leads to an unhappy outcome.

The solution is to do your research. Depending on the type of book you are writing, your reasons for writing it, and the audience you are speaking to, different help is needed.

Is your book primarily a business book for CEOs? If so, you are better off with a ghostwriter who knows that audience. Is your book about health in the workplace? Look for a publicist who has knowledge of that market.

The bottom line is that a successful publishing outcome begins with the right team in place from the start.

2. Bad writing.

Sounds obvious, doesn't it? A shocking number of self-published (and a few traditionally published) business books shout out "amateur" with their wiring. Just a few of the common mistakes include: bad grammar, poor spelling, incomplete ideas, improper use of English, and confusing organization.

For this reason, it is critical that authors who are not professional writers use one or more of the following types of editors.

Content editors. These are folks who can take your book and do real work on organizing the ideas, flow, and structure. Their job is to make the book more coherent, logical, and readable.

Copy editors. I love these wonderful people because they are all about dotting the i's and crossing the t's. While I'm an excellent content editor, I am never going to win any prizes for spelling and punctuation. Everything I write gets sent to one of these fine folks whose job it is to go through a piece with a fine-tooth comb.

Wordsmiths. If you have all your basic ideas down, in a logical order, but just need some help sprucing up the language, an editor with flair can be your best friend in creating a book that goes from basic to breakthrough.

3. Poor book cover and interior design.

Businesspeople will spend hundreds (if not thousands) of hours writing their book, but then stop short when it comes to having a professional cover and interior design done.

This is a particular problem for self-published books, where hiring a good book designer is a must. If you want your book to be taken seriously, it has to look like a real book -- professional, substantial, and thoughtfully designed.

And by the way, most people do judge a book by its cover. For example, Smashwords founder Mark Coker tells the story of romance writer R.L. Mathewson, who was selling fewer than 200 copies per week of her novel Playing for Keeps. When she updated her cover image, that number jumped to more than 30,000 a month.

4. Neglecting the pre-launch activities.

Most authors put the majority of their time, effort, and resources into writing their books. However, in today's world, the degree to which you plan the launch of your business book is in large part what determines its success. A few factors pre-publication to consider include:

  • Creating a modern, up-to-date website
  • Shoring up and expanding your social media following and presence
  • A pdf one sheet for the book and author
  • A press kit including story ideas and images
  • Building up a mailing list for pre-sales
  • Writing a book marketing plan that includes social media and PR
  • Putting a blog tour in place for the month the book launches

In the end business books are really a lot like babies. The better you love, nurture, and take care of them, the healthier, stronger, and more successful they grow up to be.

Deciding Whether or Not to Write a Book? Tim Ferriss Says You Should Ask Yourself This Simple Question First

Today, it seems like the number of people writing a book or wanting to write a book is higher than ever before. And with publishing being more accessible than ever (with digital publishing, etc.), it's no wonder why this is the case. 

Because of this, if you're an entrepreneur, the temptation for you to write a book is probably at an all-time high. Yet, Tim Ferriss (bestselling author, investor, and Grade A badass), says that before writing a book, you should ask yourself one very important question. According to him, if the answer isn't "yes", you may want to reconsider whether or not you should spend your precious time and energy writing a book.

Tim's Question: Are you truly willing to make the book your number one priority for at least a year?

Here's Tim Ferriss going into greater detail about what he means here:

If you have a business, this means your business is second. If you have a family, this means your family is second...Because, if you put out a mediocre book, or "good-enough" book, it's more of a liability than a help...than no book at all. -- Tim Ferriss

In short, if you're going to write a book, you're going to have to make it your absolute, non-negotiable top priority for a lengthy period.

While this may seem both like simple advice and a bit extreme, let's not forget Ferriss is the author of five New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books. Perhaps the fact so many other authors, in all likelihood, aren't prioritizing their books as high as Ferriss is the reason there are so many shitty books on the market today.

The amount of research, outlining, writing, rewriting and hair pulling that goes into crafting a great book requires more than the "nonchalant attention" you'd devote to a side hustle or passion project.

Five-time bestselling author, Jeff Goins, says "The hardest part about writing a book isn't getting published. It's the actual writing. You have to invest everything you are into creating an important piece of work."

If you're considering whether or not to write a book, be sure you absolutely have to write it. Be sure you absolutely have to share it with the world, to get it out of your system. Because, if you're writing the book solely to create more leads for your business, solely to pacify your ego, chances are you probably won't have the steam, the drive, it takes to finish a quality book.

If your answer is "yes" to Ferriss' question, and you're about to start writing your book, consider the following options when it comes to streamlining the process:

1. Use a service like Upwork or Freelancer to lighten your workload.

Services like Upwork and Freelancer allow you to hire professional freelancers at affordable rates. You're also able to see a freelancer's work history and reviews before you hire them, which makes it less of a stab in the dark than other hiring methods. Consider hiring a ghostwriter, researcher, social media promoter or something else to help take a bit of the work off your shoulders.

2. Set a recurring Google Calendar invite to yourself for writing.

This is the hack I use for writing my column for Inc., LinkedIn updates and other content. 

By setting up a recurring Google Calendar invite to yourself, you'll never have to worry about having to rearrange and coordinate time for writing, day in day out. You could even take it a step further by adding in a location to the invite, such as your local coffee shop.

By limiting the number of decisions you need to make by being proactive when it comes to automation, you'll have one less barrier between you and the chair you need to put your ass into to write.

Remember, there are many alternatives to writing a book.

Just because you don't feel ready to write a book doesn't mean you can't have thousands, even millions of people hearing your ideas. If you aren't ready, take your book idea and publish it on Medium, LinkedIn or on a blog. 

This way, you'll be able to measure which type of content resonates best with your target audience, build your confidence as a writer, and also provide proof for future literary agents or publishers that your writing is getting the traction they're looking for.

Of course, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to deciding whether or not to write a book. But, just be sure you're ready to tackle the task in front of you. Creating a successful book will add value to the lives of the readers and help establish your legacy for years to come. A bad book could have the opposite effect. Be strategic and choose wisely.

10 New Business Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in a Few Months

Star Wharton professor Adam Grant knows something about what it takes to make a book a bestseller. Both his books, Give and Take and Originals, were blockbusters, while Option B, his collaboration with Sheryl Sandberg, kicked off a national conversation on bereavement that's changed policies at some of the country's most respected companies.

So when the star Wharton professor suggests a new book is about to make a splash, you probably should sit up and pay attention. Recently on LinkedIn, Grant sorted through the flood of books coming out in the next few months and selected 25 that he feels are going to stir conversation and make an impact. Check them out to get ahead of the conversation. Here's 10 to get you started.

1. When by Daniel Pink

Released in early January, this one has already been generating fascinating media coverage. "Everything important in life depends on timing, but in a sea of how-to books there's almost nothing on when-to," notes Grant, who calls the latest from the author of Drivean amazingly actionable book that offers wisdom on everything from when to do what sort of work to when to quit your job.

"A vibrant book on how to bring out the best in others--and how they can bring out the best in us. With enticing stories, fresh studies, contagious enthusiasm, and practical tips, this is Shawn at his best," says Grant about the latest from the Harvard happiness researcher. It's out tomorrow.

I'm a huge fan of New York Magazine's Science of Us blog. Now, come mid-February, its editor is out with this "captivating, clever, and comical look at why social discomfort haunts us long beyond our teenage years. This book didn't just help me make sense of my most awkward moments. It freed me from feeling embarrassed by them. Well, most of them," confesses Grant. Sounds like a must-read for everyone who's struggled with awkwardness, in high school and beyond.

Another mid-February release, this one sounds like it couldn't be timelier. "Attention, good guys: if you want to advocate for women but don't want to be villainized, this book is for you," declares Grant. "It's a rare guide on championing gender equality that you'll actually enjoy reading--and it's full of strategies for improving your workplace."

5. Endure by Alex Hutchinson

Here's a message just about all of us could benefit from hearing: you have more grit than you think you do. "Humans have broken the four-minute mile barrier and cracked the 100-mile ultramarathon. But this elite runner turned journalist turned Cambridge physics PhD makes the case that we're actually underestimating our potential, and reveals how we can all surpass our perceived physical limits," explains Grant. Get your copy February 6th.

6. Truth by Hector Macdonald

Another ultra timely new book that's perfect for our fake news era. It's due out March 6th. "In a time when truth is under assault, Hector Macdonald is here to defend it," says Grant. "He offers clear-eyed, compelling guidelines for becoming a more accurate consumer and producer of information."

7. The CEO Next Door by Elena Botelho and Kim Powell

Think you know what makes a great leader? Think again. "This book debunks a host of myths about what it takes to become a CEO--and succeed as one. Based on an impressive database of intensive interviews with executives, it turns out that big failures and small egos are among the building blocks of great leadership," notes Grant of this one, again due out March 6th.

This book, out in late February, offers a spark of optimism to counter all the gloomy headlines. "Cat proves that within America's broken criminal justice system lies the potential for prisoners to become productive entrepreneurs and upstanding citizens," insists Grant.

The title alone is enough to make me want to check this one out.  "A leading expert on making decisions and influencing others presents a career's worth of evidence on why the views you don't want to consider are often the ones you need to hear most," is Grant's quick description of this book, out March 20th.

Grant doesn't hold back in his endorsement of this book: "Don't hate Sally because she's smarter than you. Just revel in the hope that if even a fraction of the population soaks up the wisdom in this book, America will be in a far better place. It's a stunning debut by a truly gifted writer--an eye-opening read for both liberals and conservatives." Unfortunately you'll have to wait until April 10th to get your hands on it.

Have more space on your bookshelves or in your e-reader (of course you do!), then check Grant's complete list for another 10 suggestions. You can also sign up for the book club he runs with fellow superstar authors Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain and Dan Pink.

Bill Gates Just Declared This Optimistic Read His New Favorite Book of All Time

Bill Gates may be known for his extreme focus, but when it comes to books at least, the man's attention spins like a weather vane.

One month he's giving 50 of his friends a new novel adores, the next he's suggesting everyone get out the tissues and check out a heartbreaker of a memoir, then a bit later he's back on his blog enthusing about a deep dive into eviction in America. The man clearly has both eclectic tastes and enthusiasm to spare.

So what's the Microsoft founder's latest book mania? This time he's really outdone himself in his excitement declaring his latest find, his "new favorite book of all time."

The scientific case for radical optimism

The soon-to-be-released title is the latest from renowned Harvard linguist Steven Pinker, and it's not hard to see why the book appeals so much to Gates. Lately, the billionaire-turned-philanthropist has been using his popular blog and even the pages of major magazines to argue for more optimism. The world, he insists, might seem like a total mess sometimes, but we're actually making steady progress making it a better place for all of us.

Pinker's new book, due out the end of February, presents the same idea, only supercharged with data and delivered in the popular writer's easy-to-digest style.

"For years, I've been saying Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best book I'd read in a decade," writes Gates, who is clearly a long-time Pinker fan, but he continues, "his new book, Enlightenment Now, is even better."

"Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety). The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. It's like Better Angels on steroids," Gates explains.

Don't be put off by this description. Just because the book is information packed doesn't mean it's dull or requires a PhD to get through, Gates assures would-be readers that most people "will find it a quick and accessible read. [Pinker] manages to share a ton of information in a way that's compelling, memorable, and easy to digest," he claims. To prove his point Gates lists a whole series of fascinating, optimism-boosting facts you'll learn in the book, including:

  1. You're 37 times less likely to be killed by lightning than you were at the turn of the century

  2. Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014.

Less laundry, more hope

While I for one am absolutely thrilled about a reduction in time spent doing laundry (as it continues to feel like a treadmill of tedium today, I can only imagine the hours our grandparents wasted on the task), you could be excused for asking, who really cares? Sure these are fun factoids, but why do we need a book-length argument for optimism?

Journalist Rebecca Solnit has a great reply to this understandable question. "Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes," she has written.

"Your opponents would love you to believe that it's hopeless, that you have no power, that there's no reason to act, that you can't win. Hope is a gift you don't have to surrender, a power you don't have to throw away."

If you're convinced that you could do with a little more hope and Gates's new favorite book of all time is a good way to get it, you can pre-order a copy here.