I loved college and was an excellent student who tried to learn as much as I could during my academic years. My problem was that after law school, I stopped learning the things I needed to learn.
I didn’t realize that my real education only started after my formal education. I continued to voraciously read history, science and biographies, but I stopped reading business and self-help books (and mostly just made fun of them).
In sharp contrast was Heejin. She has been 100% on her own since her teenage years and had little time for formal education. B/c of that, she never confused her “formal” and “real” educations, soaking up business and self-help books to this day.
When she and I started working together in 2007, I was alarmed by how much she knew that I didn’t. Especially b/c I had all the formal education.
My business at the time was thriving but it was neither smooth nor systematic. My team was dysfunctional to say the least, and my stressful operation was just a series of non-stop fires that needed extinguishing over and over.
There were three books in particular that Heejin had me read that completely turned me around.
1. Emyth I have referenced this many times. This wonderful book made me realize that all businesses can systematize almost everything, greatly improving service and freeing up the owner.
2. Good to Great There is still much to make fun of in this book b/c it features Circuit City and Fannie Mae, but I took three powerful lessons from the book: (1) make sure you have the right people on the bus; (2) make sure your business has a powerful mission over and above just “profits”; and (3) successful businesses need “Level Five” leadership. I was failing on all accounts.
3. Five Dysfunctions of a Team I made fun of this book relentlessly as just another stupid management book…until I read it, and realized my team epitomized dysfunction. We had (1) No trust; (2) Ample fear of conflict; (3) Total lack of commitment; (4) No accountability; and (5) No attention to results.
Since then, we’ve read many other invaluable books that completely reshaped JVM. These books include Start With Why, To Sell Is Human, Purple Cow, and many others. We will provide a complete list in a future blog.
What are you reading?
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