Will It Fly?

Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn

Stop rushing into businesses born from half-baked ideas, misguided theories, and other forms of self-delusion. A lack of proper validation kills more businesses than anything else. As Joel Barker says, “Speed is only useful if you’re running in the right direction.” Will It Fly? will help you make sure you are clear for takeoff. It answers questions like: 

– Does your business idea have merit?
– Will it succeed in the market you’re trying to serve, or will it just be a waste of time and resources?
– Is it a good idea for you? 

In other words, will it fly?

Chock-full of practical suggestions you can apply to your business idea today, Will It Fly? combines action-based exercises and real-world case studies with anecdotes from the author’s personal experience of making money online, hosting successful podcasts, testing niche sites, and launching several online businesses.

Will It Fly? will challenge you to think critically, act deliberately, and dare greatly. You can think of the book as your business flight manual, something you can refer to for honest and straight-forward advice as you begin to test your idea and build a business that takes off and soars.

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I was initially hesitant to post a review of this book for fear it would make be seem like an obsessed fangirl. I’ve actually met the author before and I started going to his monthly entrepreneur meet-up in Downtown San Diego. BUT. This book is really good. Really good. And I figured you, the readers of my blog, should know about it!

After all, that’s why I started this blog right? To give reviews of books I’d read and liked to people in need of recommendations? So here you go!

This book is very practical and interactive. It walks you through the framework and encourages you to actually take time to do it as you move through the book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Shannon there’s a million books like that on the market, why should I get this one?”

You should get it because I, who have spent a good chunk of the last couple years consuming podcasts and books about self-development, entrepreneurship, business, and marketing, still got something new out of this book. Something about the way Pat Flynn describes the Five Years exercise really made me think about my business in a different way and deepened my focus and commitment to what I really want and don’t want out of life.

But more than that, as I said, this book is highly actionable. Meaning if you put in the work, you will get something out of it. In fact I’ve had this book on my desk for two months since I finished it (yeah, I’m just now writing the review, leave me alone) and I keep thinking I need to go back and do the exercises from Part 3 because I didn’t have time when I was reading it to do the exercises. Though I’m know they’re really good and worth doing because I heard a scaled down version of it at a talk Pat gave that I attended.

Also if you enjoy his podcast, you will not be disappointed in the book because it sounds exactly like him. You can practically hear him reading it aloud in your mind. So that’s nice!

Leapfrog

Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño

Think the most critical factor for becoming a great entrepreneur is grit, risk-taking, or technical skills? Think again. Despite what every other business book might say, historical data show the real secret ingredients to getting ahead in business are being rich, white, and male.

Until now. Leapfrog is the decades-overdue startup bible for the rest of us. It’s filled with uncompromising guidance for winning at business, your way. Leapfrog is for entrepreneurs of all stripes who are fed up with status quo advice–the kind that assumes you have rich friends and family and a public relations team.

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Let me start by saying this is a good read for any female in business, not just entrepreneurs. And though this book does talk to and assume its audience is female minorities, there’s still good stuff to be gained if you’re a woman that’s not a minority. Basically, the only people I don’t recommend this to are the old money white males Niño names on the back cover blurb.

I heard about this book from an interview with the author on Sunny Lenarduzzi’s podcast. It was a really good episode, you can listen to it here. And as has happened to me so many times this past year, after the podcast was done I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of the book. I’m always looking for new books to fill up my Miracle Morning book pipeline since that’s the only thing I seem to be reading these days!

Leapfrog has a very loose structure: the fifty hacks in the book are divided by the themes of Ready-Set-Go-Fund-Grow. But what’s great about this book is that, similar to Tribe of Mentors, you don’t really need to read it in order or even read the whole thing in a timely fashion. You can pick it up and just read a hack here and there. Each of the hacks are only a couple pages long so the content is pretty digestible. But they’re also highly actionable!

When I’m reading fiction, I usually judge how well I’m enjoying a book by how often I get the craving to just pick it up and read a few more pages or another chapter. With non-fiction, I still use that same metric, but I also add in how passages I marked or how many pages I dog-earred (I know, I know). Leapfrog hit the mark on all three points.

I’ve already recommended this book to some female entrepreneur friends in my life so today, I’m recommending it to you too if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated or feeling alone as you build your business or career! This is a book I’m sure you’ll return to often.

Building a StoryBrand

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.

Okay, so this book may seem like it’s kind of a niche interest, but it’s actually really good and is applicable to anyone building a company or building their own personal brand! Storytelling in marketing is super powerful. I think most people understand this on some level. Just think about your favorite brands…chances are they’re telling great stories!

Building a StoryBrand really lays out how to use storytelling to accelerate your brand’s results by discovering how to craft a message you’re customers want to and need to hear. It walks you step-by-step through the framework and explains the concepts in a clear, easy-to-read format.

I’ve also read Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson, the founder of Clickfunnels. While I liked that book a lot, I think Building a StoryBrand is easier for a non-marketing person to understand. The examples Donal Miller gives are a little more tangible and aren’t necessarily bound up with the online world. I think sometimes people who aren’t digital natives (and even some that are) struggle with concepts when they are tied up with the digital space. It’s a lot easier to understand an example from a movie, a book, or even a company that sells physical products like cars or t-shirts.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section introduces the concept and explains why storytelling is so powerful for brands. The second section is where you get to go through the StoryBrand framework and create a script for your brand. The third part shows you what you can do with your StoryBrand script once you have one.

After reading the book, I went online to MyStoryBrand.com where you can actually fill out the framework for yourself. Even though it’s been a little bit since I finished the book, the notes at the end of each chapter helped me quickly remember what each part of the framework was about and fill out my StoryBrand script.

Even if you don’t run a company or have anything to sell, this book is great for anyone who is building a personal brand, running an organization, or just managing an entity that needs an identity. This book makes the concept of storytelling easy to understand, develop, and implement!

Getting Things Done

By David Allen

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

* Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
* Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
* Feel fine about what you’re not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

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This book was referred to me by a friend a few years ago and I bought a copy at a used bookstore and only recently got around to reading it. That was at the end of March and I applied the tactics in the book and it’s now the middle of June and I’m still using and benefitting from them.

The method that underscores the book is basically a To-Do list on steroids. So if you’re already into making lists, you will LOVE this book. If you’re not into making lists, this book will not come naturally to you, but it’s super worth it to learn the methods.

But it’s more than just a To-Do list. The core of his method involves the use of 4 lists: Next Actions, Waiting On, Reference Material, and Someday/Maybe. You can add on as many other lists as you would like, but this is the core of it.

When I read this book, my work inbox had 40 pages of emails in it. I marked emails as “Unread” if I needed to come back to them. And that was about the extent of my inbox organization. Now my inbox tends to close out the day between 5-15 emails (I can’t quite get myself to inbox zero, I’m a work in progress). But switching to David’s method of organizing your life, helped me stop reacting to every single item that arrived in my inbox and take a higher, project-minded view of each email. I quickly evaluate each email to see if it can be categorized or if it represents a new task I need to get more information on to complete.

I also use these lists to organize my life outside of work and (hopefully!) keep myself on track. As any busy professional knows, it’s almost impossible to keep your work and private lives functioning at the same efficiency. But these tools certainly help.

I’m a convert to the David Allen method now. I’ve told several people about this book and how its method has helped me get better control over everything and cut down my anxiety that I’m forgetting things. Go read it!