I recently sent a newsletter to the subscribers who had downloaded my free How to Market Yourself Online ebook asking a simple question: “What would you like me to write about for you?”. The answers that came back were many and varied but one I address here.
We’re all hungry for knowledge and sometimes the best way to soak up information is to read a good book. One of my subscribers asked me to list a few books that I’d found helpful in running a graphic design business. Here they are.
Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu
I have read a bit about eastern religions and mysticism. I find that the general tone of many of these books helped me change my outlook on the world. But it is very difficult to pinpoint any one sacred text that’s helped in particular. However, I found many passages in this classic Chinese book written around the 6th century BC by the sage Lao Tzu to be deeply perceptive.
Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
(From J. Legge’s translation)
The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason
This short book dispenses financial advice through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. In each story there is a simple lesson to apply in daily living. For example, save a tenth of what you’ve earned every year.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The title of this book intrigued me as I was interested in the possibility of changing habitual actions. Stephen Covey talks, amongst other things, of the necessity of being proactive – when something bad happens don’t cry over spilt milk, just clear it up, think of how you can stop it spilling again and move on.
The 4-hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
Don’t judge this book by its cover – don’t even judge it by its title. Timothy Ferriss only christened this book so after tests that showed it would sell the most copies so named. And testing is something we should all do more of, says Timothy. He also advocates the elimination of tasks – and even clients – that do not contribute a noticeable benefit and, most interestingly, the automation your business so it can run without you.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don,t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
This book was recommended by Timothy Ferriss above. Michael E- Gerber encourages you to work on your business rather than in your business, concentrating on your business model rather than the technicalities.
How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The granddaddy of all people-skills books. I read this book recently and realized I’d already read a lot of books that had referenced it. It’s fantastic for reminding you of the basics of dealing with people – smile, remember names, become genuinely interested in other people.
Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by 37signals
Moving onto the world of web, 37signals advocate the stripping down of meetings, people and budgets to start work on projects early in order to scale later. This is not a technical book. Anyone working in the internet will find value here.
Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 2nd Edition by Ian Lloyd
Here’s a technical book I found it incredibly useful when starting to build websites. It assumes hardly any previous knowledge of HTML or CSS.
So, quite a mixed bag. But these are the books that have helped and inspired me over the years.
So, what about you? Would anyone like to add to this list?
Mark Narusson says
Interesting collection of books Rob. Not ones that I would have expected. It’s always good to find out what different designers use to build their design and business skills.
Thomas Sinfield says
I found two of those in my personal library, but looks like I have a bit more reading to do! Great list Rob!
Rob Cubbon says
Thanks Mark and Thomas, I also find it interesting to see what other people are reading.
Thanks for the list Rob. I already downloaded your free e-book for starters. Now all I have to do is get the other ones.
Rob Cubbon says
Thanks Gayle, I hope you got something from my e-book and maybe you’ll have a read of one or two of the above as well!
A great list of which I think Stephen Covey is the best.
Rob Cubbon says
Hello Tom, I enjoyed reading the Stephen Covey book and got a lot out of it too!
Good article. I’ll surely spend some time to read some of these books if not all.
Jonathan Kempf says
Some really interesting and unexpected choices in here. Most of which focus on the rhetorical and personality aspects of running a business.
For more focused reading on the subject, may I recommend:
“How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul” by Adrian Shaughnessy
Rob Cubbon says
Hey, Riday, I hope you enjoy some of my recommendations.
Hello, Jonathan, you’re not the first person to recommend that one to me. I will read it now!