Raise your hand if you have less time to read now than you did a year ago. Yep. Me too. I miss my books — the cottony feel of the uncoated pages and the way their razor crisp corners form a perfect point. I love the clean edges that frame the words and how the not-quite-white paper pushes the black letters toward my eyes until I fall asleep. Falling asleep while reading is what finally pushed me past my love of the physical book into the world of audio books. And while I haven’t been able to step off the audio ledge when it comes to fiction, I do find that they’re perfect when I’m reading to learn.
It’s like Drivers Education, only without the browbeating instructor with his foot on the pedal. These days, If I’m driving, I’m reading. But the car isn’t the only place I listen. I listen at my desk, in the kitchen, on my bike. Like green eggs and ham, I can listen to books most anywhere!
My audio vehicle of preference is Amazon’s Audible and Bluetooth and I typically choose non-fiction books that will teach me something — about business, the world, or just about myself. Most books are between 6 and 12 hours, so depending on your commute, you can usually finish a book a week just on the drive to and from work. I love the efficiency of that!
If you’re new to Driver’s Ed, buckle your seat belt and try some of these:
Getting Naked – By Patrick Lencioni (Start by getting your mind out of the gutter). This book was my first audiobook and remains my favorite of Lencioni’s “business fables”. It’s smart, funny, and has fantastic narration. It takes us through the painful and enlightening merger of two management consultant firms with drastically different client service approaches and teaches us how to navigate the three fears that sabotage client loyalty: 1) fear of losing the business, 2) fear of embarrassment, 3) fear of feeling inferior to your clients. It’s top of my list.
The New Rules of Sales & Service By David Meerman Scott
If you’re in Business Development or Marketing (more closely tied today than ever) I recommend you give this a spin. Narrated by the occasionally less than humble author, it’s a real world look at today’s buying cycle and the switch to real-time, agile sales. The companies he features have some ideas worth emulating. Scott also shares the one quality you should be looking for in a seller today (hint – it’s not what it used to be.)
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World By General Stanley McChrystal – What can the War in Iraq and the structure of terrorist networks teach us about today’s business environment? Turns out – quite a lot. General McChrystal and his co-authors use the backdrop of the war on terror to demonstrate the way our networked world has changed and to teach us about the effective use of small, agile teams. I’m nearly halfway through this one, and as someone who is a strong believer in adaptability as a personal strategy, I’m learning how critical it is for organizations as well. To survive in a business environment of real-time, disruptive engagement and rapid technological change, we have to be able to change our focus from hierarchal planned efficiency to agile, collaborative teams, connected in their adaptability. The behind the scenes stories are compelling and the narration is as smooth as the nightly news.
Triggers By Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. This one’s up next in my queue. They say this book is the secret sauce to changing your own behavior and becoming the person you really want to be. “They” would be some of the worlds most powerful and successful CEOs. The Triggers the authors are referring to are those in our environment (like say, something as simple as being cut off in traffic) that make us “behave against our interest”. Seems like the perfect GPS for some serious soul searching.
The Great Courses – This was a bonus find for me — a great go-to for the lifetime learner. College level lectures on subjects like The Economics of Uncertainty and The Art of Critical Decision Making. If you like Ted Talks, but yearn to know more, this is for you. For $15 bucks you can grab a seat in the lecture halls of renowned college professors, and never have to do a bit of homework. One of my favorites – How We Learn, with Professor Monisha Pasupathi, helped me to better understand different learning styles and explore topics like the myth of IQ and academic achievement, and why, as we age, it’s easier for our bodies to learn new things than our minds.
If I can leave you with one last tip for your next road trip, it would be this — Take a test drive before you click buy. The only thing worse than a back seat driver is a lousy narrator. Narration is a performance. Bad narration can give you road rage. Always listen to the audio sample before you buy. (and don’t forget to signal before turning)