As many of us are spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, I believe we have the opportunity to invest in ourselves by reading books that focus on mindfulness, human behavior, and how we can improve the efficiencies and cultures of our practices. I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite books I’ve read in recent years with my book club, which is made up of about 10 MDRT members from the United States and Canada.
1. “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi
This book is filled with wonderful suggestions about increasing engagement with clients, creating new relationships during conferences (it’s not about exhibiting) and finding ways to connect to the networks of other centers of influence. Useful tips include building events centered around the attendance of an “anchor” guest and how to position yourself at conferences to meet pre-identified prospects at industry conferences.
2. “Start Finishing” by Charles Gilkey
This is an engaging and thought-provoking guide to identifying your “best work” in life (not necessarily what you do to earn a living), the people you’ll need to make it happen, the internal/external obstacles in your way, how to break the process into manageable chunks and how to make room for it in your daily life. The book helps the readers identify what is important to them and then provides step-by-step exercises to build a path to their most important work.
3. “Why Are We Yelling?” by Buster Benson
This book helps view arguments and disagreements in a positive light by improving how we can understand the motivations behind people’s decisions, the bias we bring to these conversations and how attempts to “win these arguments” simply plants the seeds for future conflicts. The book provides practical ideas about using these conflicts as “possibilities” to better understand the underpinning of someone’s position and working constructively toward a common understanding and mutual respect. Several ideas from this book have already impacted several chronic arguments I’ve been having in my personal life and gotten to the root of several strong positions taken by one of my team leaders.
4. “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
This is a fascinating exploration of disruption and innovation in specific areas of the human experience. It was inspiring to learn of ongoing efforts to increase access to food, water, energy, technology and health care to people just trying to survive and how this enables us to focus on improving their standard of living through education and employment. While there weren’t any direct business takeaways, it did prompt thoughts about how I might “disrupt” my company to create a bigger impact.
5. “Quiet” by Susan Cain
I have read this book several times, sent copies to friends and peers and brought the book to the attention of our club. It’s a fascinating study of the differences between introverts and extroverts, and how the world is skewed to recognize and encourage extroverted behavior. I think this book has so many ideas that could be applied to how we create learning environments in our organizations, engage with clients and loved ones in social gatherings, construct our offices, and even recognize and reward achievements. It was nice to see that both the introverts and extroverts in our club found this book to be insightful about how it helped us understand how the others recharge and how they are most comfortable engaging with others.
Joining a book club
I’ve learned so much from my book club. While there aren’t any official MDRT book clubs, there are a number of new clubs popping up across North America. Every six to eight weeks, one member from the group selects a book for everyone (up to a dozen) to read. They then meet via Zoom or conference call to talk about how the book’s message is relevant to their personal or professional lives and the actions they will take going forward.
For me, the rewards of my book club are beyond measure. Not only do I get insights about the book by hearing others’ perspectives, but I get to connect with a knowledgeable group of MDRT members from the United States and Canada who I never would have met.
If you’re an MDRT member in the United States and Canada and you’re interested in joining, please let the book club know by filling out this simple form at mdrt.org/bookclub.
For those members who aren’t in the U.S. or Canada, I encourage you to follow this model to create your own book club. It’s a fantastic way to make new MDRT friends and gain valuable business insights. If you’re not yet an MDRT member, a similar format would work with your colleagues and you could encourage each other in these difficult times as well as to reach MDRT-qualification levels in the future.
I encourage everyone to use the quiet time many of us now have to explore books you may have set aside and share them with friends and colleagues.
David Blake, of Harrison, New York, is a Top of the Table qualifier who has been an MDRT member since 1994.
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