• James Walton

Helpful Books I Read in 2019

A book remains the best investment in the world. The chance to encounter a life-changing idea, methodology, mental model, or operational framework is high when you commit to reading regularly.


Here's a recap of some of the titles I encountered this year that have made a significant impact on my thinking.


The Book: The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger

The Big Idea: A compilation of hundreds of insightful questions designed for better decision-making, more consistent creativity, improved connection with others, and stronger leadership.

How I Put it Into Practice: The ability to quickly connect with another and learn something is directly related to your ability to ask a meaningful question. Berger's approach gave me a framework to more confidently approach anyone and see a positive outcome. One client of mine even commented: "we've talked to a lot of consultants in this process, and you're the one we're deciding to go with because you ask the kind of questions that make us feel like you get us and the problem we're trying to solve."


The Book: Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James Womack and Daniel Jones

The Big Idea: Lean methodology, originally developed by Toyota following WWII, is a proven set of organizational behaviors that eliminate waste, increase efficiency and even, joy.

How I Put It Into Practice: The first step in Lean is learning to see the 8 wastes. Everywhere I go, I'm asking, "how could this be better? what steps in this process are unnecessary? how do we mistake-proof this assembly? For a continuous improvement junkie like me, Lean is a time-tested methodology to making things better.


The Book: Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

The Big Idea: OKRs are Objectives and Key Results. They clarify what you want to accomplish (Objectives) and the measurable behaviors you'll take to get there (Key Results).

How I Put It Into Practice: I immediately set out to apply the OKR framework on top of Trellis Group and gave myself an action plan for how to make next year even better than the last.


The Book: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Big Idea: The Enneagram is an ancient personality typology tool to help you understand your core disposition and fears, and that of others

How I Put it Into Practice: If you're familiar with the Enneagram and reading this post about the books that I love, you've probably discerned that I'm a classic 5. But understanding this about myself has only given me more tools to discern where my weaknesses lie, and how to capitalize on my strengths. It's also shifted my relationship with colleagues and family members as I'm better able to understand their perspective.


The Book: How to Price Effectively: A Guide for Managers and Entrepreneurs by Utpal Dholakia

The Big Idea: Setting the price is the single biggest determiners of profits for a good or service, yet the least systematic and thoughtful part of the process. The value pricing framework set forth in this book changes all that.

How I Put it Into Practice: I raised the prices I charge after reading this, and became more confident in communicating the value I bring.


What books have been especially helpful to you in 2019? What are you looking forward to reading in 2020?

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