Leading any organization is tough but it is even tougher if your team does not speak the same language and have institutional knowledge to draw from. We are scaling our team at Blue Mahoe Capital Partners and I put together a comprehensive book list that every team member will be required to read over the next 2 years to get in sync with the Mission, Vision and Values of the company as we attempt to grow a profitable business that moves the Caribbean forward.
This list is based on the books that I started reading at age 15 when I graduated from high school in Jamaica and started college in the USA. These books have changed my life for the better and I hope they do the same for you but first I will explain the why of my list and the reason for the order.
At Blue Mahoe Capital, we are building a portfolio of public and private equities but my decades of experience have taught me that most managers have never started a business themselves. My team needs to understand what it actually takes to start and scale a business. This will make them much better at identifying opportunities for improvement and how we can be catalysts for the companies we invest in. We will also become better board members when asked to join boards.
The list is in the order that I recommend they be read, specifically focusing first on ensuring the right mindset about work, money, wealth creation and having a shared definition of “success” then moves on to fostering an entrepreneurial drive, developing a framework and a strong focus on innovation. I have found that too many people inherit beliefs about wealth creation and money that hold them back from creating financial freedom. I have also seen that few people have a clarity of purpose. They do not have a clear reason why they are doing what they are doing and where they want to be at a specific point in the future so they meander with no clear destination.
People also tend to care too much about the opinions of others who have no bearing on their life while thinking they will live forever. Boosting self-confidence is important but it should not turn into hubris and remembering that you will die is humbling. Our team cannot have these weaknesses if we are to be successful at the level I am aiming for.
The best businesses are not afraid to experiment, fail, learn and innovate. To be a cultural fit in our organization, every team member will need to be willing to fail and share the lessons with the team. Every team member will need to be focused on a culture of excellence. We do not mind mistakes but we would prefer not to repeat mistakes that have been made by others and are available as case studies.
This flows into the importance of understanding the importance of strategy, including sales, marketing, public relations, customer service and execution. Too few people respect the importance of marketing and PR in telling the world what you do and why they should do business with you. I strongly believe in Kaizen, continuous improvement, but you cannot improve what you do not measure. Having no clear benchmarks and targets makes measuring irrelevant.
It is also necessary to be a creative thinker because we solve problems. I do not expect people to bring me problems without offering a solution that has been well thought-out. We are “knowledge workers” for a reason and critical-thinking skills are key to becoming invaluable at an organization.
I posted on Twitter that I had shared the list and a number of people contacted me requesting I send it to them. This is the most efficient way to share the books that have shaped my thinking and my life. They continue to shape it. I am sure more will eventually be added but this is my list as of today.
As you can see, I am a huge fan of Seth Godin, Simon Sinek and Richard Branson. If you intend to ever build a business and lead it then I highly recommend these books to guide your strategy.
You do not have to pursue the private equity route of buying an existing profitable business, although that is easier, but if you wish to be massively successful at building a business then you should build it with a goal other than wealth creation as the priority. Focus on your employees and your customers. These books help to remind me of why I do what I do whenever I hit a dip. It helps you to persevere.
I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You pour so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments … that most people give up.— Steve Jobs