Summer Reading List 2014

Summer Reading 2014 BooksI love summertime because I travel more. Traveling more means more time on airplanes and in train stations. As much as I enjoy the destinations I visit, I sometimes enjoy the journey even more because it gives me dedicated time to read. My favorite way to relax while still feeling productive is by reading business books.  This allows me to keep up with what other entrepreneurs are thinking and doing.  Here are some of the books I have been diving into over the past few months.

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie. I read this book in one sitting, on a train from Washington D.C. to NYC. I was so inspired by Blake’s enthusiasm I immediately told all of my friends to buy a copy and to start wearing TOMS shoes.   Blake discusses how to do good for the world and make money and I was really inspired by his approach.  I think it would be hard to read this book and not be motivated by Blake’s generosity and spirit.

Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal. I stumbled on this book when it popped up on my recommended reads from the New York Public Library. It is a super quick read but it packs a big punch. What I love about it is that it gives you Miki’s story woven in with tasks and challenges for the reader. If you don’t already have your own business you will want to start one after reading this book, AND, thanks to Miki, you will also have the basic know-how to do it!

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. What struck me most about this book was how success has to do with some hard work and some factors out of one’s control. The book tells fascinating tales about how “overnight successes” really have a lot more going for them than we can see on the surface. Timing is everything – the time you start a project, the time you put in to it. Sometimes the stars are aligned for something unusual to happen.  It struck me that you have to keep working hard, but you also have to be open to what the universe is putting out there for you.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I read this book after Malcolm Gladwell inspired me to become a connector in his book The Tipping Point (another great read). I finished Never Eat Alone without a “To Do” list of at least twenty things. Mr. Ferrazzi is clearly good at connecting and he gives some definite and concrete steps that even the shyest people can try.  I find myself re-visiting this book when I want to try a new way of connecting with colleagues and clients.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. You can’t read only business books, it’s summer after all! This was one of the top five books I read last year and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This author is incredible – you can see for yourself in her TED talks on the danger of a single story and why we should all be feminists. In this book she tells the story of a Nigerian native who comes to the United States and eventually decides to return to Nigeria. The voice was stunning and the characters crawled into my head and refused to leave.

Have you read any of these books?  Did you enjoy them? What book should I pick up the next time I am on the road? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Starting a Business on the Side – Do Tell?

This economy has a lot of people thinking about starting a side business.  Starting a new company, freelancing, and contracting are all great ways to bring in some extra money while reducing your costs.  If you do it the right way you can see if the new business idea is really going to work while maintaining stability at your current gig.

Over the next four weeks I will talk about the various things you need to consider before launching a start-up side business or taking on a second job.

First: To Share or Not to Share

One of the first things you will need to decide is whether or not you are going to tell your employer about what you are doing.  If you decide to go the stealth route keep in mind that you probably want to keep it mum from the entire office.  Co-workers tend to talk and word will probably get back to your boss at some point unless you tell absolutely no one.

Remember to Check your Contract!

Before deciding to ‘fess up, you should also take a look at your employment contract (if you have one).  Many employment contracts limit an employee’s ability to get a second job.  Sometimes contracts require employees to jump through hoops like such as getting the employer’s written permission before taking on any other employment.  If you don’t follow the rules you expose yourself to being fired for cause.

If your contract seems limiting but you are still interested in working at a second gig and your contract discourages this you can always approach your employer and negotiate with him or her.

Once you know where you stand and how up front you are going to be, you are ready to consider the type of work you will be doing and how that work product may affect your employer.  Stay tuned for next week’s post on this issue and how to navigate it.