Teach Yourself: 10 Good Reads for Meeting Pros

Reading is a means to grow as a leader, entrepreneur, creative professional, and person. There is a direct correlation between reading and success. But it’s not the amount you read, it’s what you read. There’s a difference between reading for entertainment and reading to learn.

These 10 titles have been included on various best-seller and top-10 lists, and many are required reading in business and marketing courses. Each is good for self-education in leadership, influence, and living on purpose.

None of the titles listed here are specific to the meetings industry, but each provides helpful insight, experience-based wisdom, and practical steps for anyone in business, marketing and creative work. Whether you’re an avid or occasional reader, a planner or supplier, a business owner or a staff member, you’ll discover applicable ideas in each title.

Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
by Chip and Dan Heath

Why do some ideas take hold and why do others die? These brother-authors explore what makes ideas memorable and viable, and ways we can frame our ideas to form compelling messages. This is a must-read for marketers, planners and communicators who need to create compelling messages.

Start with Why
by Simon Sinek

Do you need to inspire others? What makes some people and organizations more influential and profitable than others? Why are so few successful people able to repeat their successes over and over? Sinek explores the reasons you should begin with WHY. When you want to influence, lead, inspire, sell, attract or communicate, beginning with WHY sets the stage for others to buy in and believe. Great leaders throughout history have had a few things in common. Sinek identifies those things and then guides you in using them to build a framework that influences others.

Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

One of the few broadly-targeted (meaning it’s not focused on women) business and leadership books written by a woman, this volume shares insight about how great thinkers and game-changers are really no different than anyone else in having dreams and goals, except that they take the initiative to be tenacious, gutsy, persistent, and focused. All of these are choices that anyone can make, but most people do not. The premise is that achievement comes by setting a course and staying on course over the long term, and investing what you do now for good results later on.

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
by Scott Belsky

The creator of Behance, Belsky spent a number of years researching the habits of highly- productive creative people who can make ideas happen time and time again. He compiled his findings of what they do differently. His premise is that instead of pursuing new ideas, we should develop the capacity to make ideas happen.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
by Todd Henry

Don’t run out of time. Do your most important work now, while you have time. Similar to Cal Newport’s premise in Deep Work, Henry outlines the need to do what matters rather than chase advancement. We don’t have all the time in the world, but we need to make the most of the time we have. Each of us has a unique contribution to make, to impact the lives of others, and the time to do that is now. Henry presents principles and tactics for setting goals that are purpose-driven.

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want
by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

It’s possible to float through life, and it’s possible to live life on purpose. Michael Hyatt suggests that it’s possible and preferable to design your life in order to create meaning. Hyatt outlines a process of creating a life plan in which you decide what matters most, get realistic about where you are and sure of where you want to be. Pair this with Getting Things Done by David Allen and you’ll gain a new perspective on the fact that you can’t do it all, but you can do what’s important to you.

She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur
by Carrie Green

This title reaches out to women entrepreneurs to help them get clear about their business goals, identify their audience and build a following. Green identifies common challenges that many women in business experience, and provides ideas for overcoming a sense of isolation, inhibiting self-talk and un-productive habits, among other things. She focuses on how people hold themselves back, why they do this, and how they can get over it their obstacles. Green, who is the founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, was recognized as an under-30 rising star and was the Great British Entrepreneur Awards Entrepreneurs’ Champion of the Year in 2014.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen

David Allen wrote the bible for managing projects and tasks, and staying organized. Allen lays out a specific triage process for identifying what’s important, what’s relevant and what’s not useful. He provides highly-practical methods for mapping next steps and removing common barriers to uncertainty, which is what holds most of us back. Popular apps like Omnifocus and Nozbe are structured to optimize Allen’s ideas. Allen recently updated his book to include current workplace cultures and technologies.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport

Newport delves into the divide between appearing productive by staying busy and connected, and the necessity of detaching and what I call burrowing in in order to create truly substantive work. His hypothesis is that deep work is rare and at the same time valuable. Newport uses the first part of the book to explain why deep work is valuable and what it looks like, and then in the second part shares how to change your approach in order to engage in deep work.

The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers
by Douglas Atkin

Cults are all about belonging and acceptance. Successful brands and thought leaders understand that to cultivate long-term relationships with clients and customers, those clients and customers need to feel accepted and special.  The way brands achieve loyalty from their followers is the same way planners, suppliers, leaders and owners develop their customer base.

What books would you include on your top-10 list? Share in the comments below.


Alvalyn Lundgren is the owner of Alvalyn Creative, an award-winning consultancy providing visual branding, design for marketing, and narrative & conceptual illustration. Her clients include CSUN, City of Los Angeles, Epson, Baxalta US, Southern California Edison, MPISCC, AHMA-NCH and SITE SoCal. Her work has appeared in Graphic Design USA and Create.