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Jan 16, 2018

Now that we’re through the Q4 crunch, are you getting to know your family and friends again (kidding, not kidding)? A big part of my “off-season” is spent learning and planning and books are key in this process. 

I read (or re-read) books from successful business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs. Reid Rasmussen, the CEO of freshbenies, encourages our entire team to read constantly (check out his 5 tips to maintain the habit). 

Do you struggle to find the next awesome business book? Today, I’m sharing three of my favorites from our team reading, another three I’ve found valuable and a list of favorites from 4 business icons…

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

If you haven’t already read this, then you have some catching up to do! :-) This book provided valuable insight on how to strengthen my relationships, how to handle different personalities, and other important skills in dealing with co-workers and clients. I honestly wish I had read this book when I was in college as these lessons are timeless. And, if you did read it years ago, I challenge you to give it another go. You’re likely doing some of the things really well, and will identify tactics that need a brush-up. Click here to learn more. 

2. The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson

In a time where quick success is valued, I was reminded that my habits (good or bad) compound over time to produce my results. Making better choices, even little choices, each day has a tremendous impact. This book influenced my work and personal life (let’s just say that my usual holiday weight gain did not happen in 2017). Click here to learn more. 

3. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness, by Jeffrey Gitomer 

This is a great reminder to keep sales simple, practical and realistic. The author has a good sense of humor and his practical advice really works! He highlights the importance of building trust, being clear about objectives, showing value, engaging the right decision makers and much more. It’s a quick and easy read, but be sure to take a bit of time to think through it so you don’t miss an opportunity to refine your approach for 2018. Also, I found this book is best in paper form – e-reader and audible just don’t do it justice. Click here to learn more. 

4. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton M. Christensen

Get ready for a thought-provoking read! This book identifies how to pursue innovation and pitfalls to avoid. Christensen provides real-life examples of cutting-edge companies that have succeeded and failed. These cautionary and inspiring tales drive me to challenge the status quo and remain a student of my industry in order to stay a step ahead. For me, this book is worth pulling out and re-reading every couple of years. Click here to learn more.

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5. Data-Driven Marketing: The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know, by Mark Jeffery

I LOVE numbers! What do I love about numbers? They tell me what’s working, what’s not working and where I should go next based on data. In running a business, we use data to track, measure and build analysis around our efforts. This book is instrumental in further understanding how to apply the same to marketing. It gives insight to relevant metrics and how to use them to formalize an effective strategy. Combining two of my loves, data and reading – what more could a girl want? Click here to learn more.

6. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

Nike founder and board chairman, Phil Knight, writes about the early days of his company, his startup days (good and bad), and his passion for the business, brand and culture. It’s an inspiring book about perseverance, tenacity and being a visionary for your industry. I was left with a range of emotions that spanned from being in awe of his vision to confused by some of his choices. My biggest takeaway was how to innovate on behalf of the consumer. Click here to learn more.

7. Reading lists from business icons…

If the above list doesn’t excite you, maybe a few from these industry leaders will….

  • Bill Gates says reading 50 books a year gives him a huge advantage and here are his 5 favorites of 2017
  • Jeff Bezos notes, “Books have nurtured Amazon since its creation and shaped its culture and strategy.” Jeff outlines 12 essential books on his reading list. 
  • Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading. He outlines 18 books that he believes should be on everyone’s reading list. 
  • Elon Musk provides us with his list of 12 books that shaped him into the person he is today. 

In the insightful words of Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” So, reading is pretty important. I encourage you to make a reading list both inside and outside of your industry. You’ll get reminded of important lessons, challenged to think differently and deepen your knowledge on key areas of your business.

What were your favorite 2017 reads? What are your favorite re-read books? What books will you read in your “off season” in 2018? Comment below or email me at



Tonia Degner

Tonia has been a leader in the retail and tech industries for 20+ years with a focus on driving vision and growth strategies in large volume business sectors. Her most recent experience includes Director positions at Amazon where she implemented complex company-wide enhancements, led the launch of innovative products, and created disruptive strategies. She joined freshbenies as Chief Strategy Officer because of her passion to provide practical tools that simplify the American healthcare experience.

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