Sharpening your saw is not only limited to your experiences but also knowledge acquired from reading books and absorbing knowledge from great authors and mentors. Today, Ken Courtright covers three of his most-read books and shares some key life lessons and leadership strategies he has learned from them. These books highlight some interesting ideas, including doing less as not being equal to laziness, how to be focused on business, and the importance of mentorship.
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I spent a couple of days with the New Peaks’ GMP grads. These are the Global Mastermind Program graduates. They’re 40 amazing people, entrepreneurs and business owners. When I was sitting in the planning sessions in the mastermind sessions, I found myself spotting a number of different repeatable things in different people’s business plans. I found myself consistently recommending certain tips, nuggets and techniques. One thing that was common is there were a number of books that I kept recommending. These books are, I don’t know, maybe 7 to 30 years old. In their heyday, they were all New York Times, Wall Street Journal bestsellers but they’re not common now. With the speed of thought and how massively disruptive the internet is, I’m sensing a tremendous drive towards fundamental principles of business. I’m also smelling a fundamental thought that entrepreneurs today think the internet and the web are going to do all the work for you and all the heavy lifting. If you can have this one magical website, everything’s going to be great. The world’s going to find you and everybody’s going to buy stuff from you. That could not be further from the truth.
I wanted to dedicate a show to a series of books that I have read over and over. There’s a number of them. I’m only going to cover three of them but I don’t think these are optional. I recommend them to many different people. I am glad that I have the first time to digitize this recommendation so people can read it and pass it to their friends. I’m going to get started. The first book is tremendous and overlooked because it was incredibly popular for a couple of years. It’s almost like that cliché where, “If I hear one more person recommend that book,” yet I recommend all the time. I bump into few people that have ever read it cover to cover. The first book is Tim Ferriss’ original 4-Hour Work Week. It’s from 2007. There are three fundamental points to this book that as I have conversations with people about the book, these never come up. I wonder if people read it or I’m reading into some stuff that other people aren’t catching.Everything rises and falls on leadership. Click To Tweet
The number one point of the book, less is not laziness. Working less does not mean you’re lazy. He dedicates 2 to 3 chapters to this point. That principle’s got to get slammed home. Number two, ask for forgiveness not permission. I cannot tell you how much I apply that principle in my day-to-day operations. Third, doing unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic. Doing the unrealistic, the far-reaching goals, the too good to be true goals is much easier than doing the realistic. I’m such a believer of this and Tim has changed my mindset through this book that I dedicated the whole show number eight called Front Facing Growth, where I don’t use anything in Tim’s book but I explained through Danny Sullivan, Nido Qubein and Brian Tracy techniques. Front-facing growth, which is to a degree setting these ridiculously unrealistic goals and aspirations. Achieving those goals is much easier than growing a company 10% to 100%. I walk you through the psychology of it in show number eight. That book is ridiculously powerful.
Number two, I’ve never met anybody that’s read this book but I love it. I continually reread it every few years. It’s called Leadership, Management and The Five Essential for Success by Rick Joyner. There are four absolute gems in this book. Number one, to understand that every company, every venture has a soul, a unique identity, and that soul shows its identity during a crisis. In that one, he’s got two chapters dedicated to that. Number two, Henry Ford fell from grace because he kept improving the assembly line not the car. General Motors came in, made a better car, and Ford almost lost everything. You almost went out of business. You’ve got to focus on the product because when you focus on the product, it always trumps focusing on the process. How many people reading this haven’t started a business because they don’t have their ducks in a row, the business plan, and the next product line because they don’t have all their processes straight? Scratch that. Forget the process. Focus on the product and the customer service and listen to the clients that tell you how to change your process. It’s simple.
Number three, history shows improve that true greatness only comes when a person concentrates his love and attention on something beyond himself. There are a couple of chapters dedicated to that one. Number four, in management, you get what you reward. If you reward growth, you get more growth from your employees. If you reward people for showing up and giving them a paycheck for showing up, you get more people that want to show up. Think about that. The third and final book that I want to talk about, save the best for last is Brian Tracy’s Focal Point. What a book. Tip number one, knowing what I know today, if I were not doing this now, would I start it over again today? He expands it. Knowing what I know today, would I hire the same employees if I started over today? Would I have the same product line? There are 3 or 4 chapters dedicated to that. Point number two, his whole 2 to 3 chapter concept of single-minded concentration. What it takes and why it’s not optional. That one right there has probably made us more money than anyone or a tip from anyone in a book.
Number three, it’s the concept of learned optimism and the fact that if you think like a winner, you become a winner. If you think like a loser, you become a loser. He doesn’t talk about it. He absolutely from five different angles proves it. Here’s the question of the day, “Do we need a mentor?” This is titled Mentorship and yet I talked about books. The question is, it kept coming up in the mastermind program about mentorships. They were talking about, “Do you need 1 or 5 mentors? Do you need a mastermind group like Napoleon Hill talked about years ago?” Yes, you need it all but the reality is, what are the odds or even the statistical chance that in the next couple of years you’re going to find the 1 to 5 perfect mentors for you? I’m here to tell you on this show that it’s 100%. If you look at the people that author great business books or make some pretty decent podcasts, you can find the mentorship you need.True greatness only comes when a person concentrates his love and attention on something beyond himself. Click To Tweet
Sometimes it’s not in person. There is no question that Brian Tracy is one of my mentors. He’s been mentoring me since 1994 and I met him and wrote a book with him a couple of years ago. He’s been mentoring me for two decades through his phenomenal book. May I suggest that you rip through 5 to 10 to 15 business books by different authors in the next year? I read a book a week, at least a book a week. Can you read through 6 to 10 books, put yourself back to school, go to business school, and find 2 to 3 business type authors that you resonate with and let them mentor you through their books? Read everything they’ve ever written. I’m absolutely in love with Dr. John Maxwell, who for years, had more shelf space in Barnes & Noble than any author in history. Every one of his books, but one or two have the word leadership in the title.
Do we think that’s relevant now? Everything rises and falls on leadership. One of the six major organizations we tied to corporately is John Maxwell’s group. Why? It’s because I love what the man’s all about, building leaders and fostering leadership. He set a BHAG, Big Hairy Ambitious Goal, many years ago to equip and inspire one million leaders worldwide. Years ago, everybody told him, “John, you’re crazy. What a goal. Come on, a million? Seriously?” Guess what, he blew past a million. Now he’s working towards inspiring and equipping three million leaders. Knowing John the way I know from meeting him in person, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he came out with a goal of 30 million.
My goal of this podcast is to see if I can motivate people to go back to school, jump into the most unvisited room in your house, the room for improvement and understand that less is not laziness. If we work less but read more books in the evenings and weekends, our saw would become incredibly sharp. There’s a great story in the old adage about a gentleman that comes home from work and he sees his next-door neighbor sawing down the cherry tree that died in front of his house. He’s on his hands and knees and he’s exhausted. This guy sweating bullets. He walks up to his neighbor, we’ll call him Bob, and he says, “Bob, what’s shaking?” Bob’s like, “I’ve got to get this tree cut down. I’m sick of looking at it. My wife’s on my back. I’ve got to cut this tree down.”
He looks closer at Bob and he can tell from twenty feet away, even ten feet away that he’s using an old, dull, rusty saw. He knows that inside his garage, he’s got a brand new handsaw and he’s like, “Bob, can I stop you for one quick second?” Bob’s like, “No, stop. Don’t talk. Look at me. I’ve been here for 90 minutes. I’m almost halfway through. I’ve been at it for 1.5 hours. If I keep this up, I’m almost halfway through. I’ll finish in another 1.5 hours.” Bob knows the cherry tree’s diameter is only four inches. If he goes and gets his brand new saw out of his garage and stopped Bob from working for one second, he can hand Bob the brand new saw. In literally twenty pulls in less than a minute, that tree’s coming down. Bob, to his dismay, will not stop and talk to the guy and say, “What are you trying to say?” The guy goes back in his garage and grabs his band new saw, walks up to his neighbor and the neighbor won’t even pick his head up to look at the brand new saw.
The neighbor walks up, kicks the guy in the hip, pushes him away from the tree where the guy backs up and is in complete shock. The guy gets on his hands and knees and in less than 60 seconds, saws the tree down. What’s the point of this obvious lesson? If that person would have stopped working hard, showing up early for work, staying late to work, working nights and weekends, working stinking hard and took some time off to breathe, relax and read incredible business books and sharpen their business saw, they would learn much quicker. When they went back to business 90 days later, after their intellectual property is through the roof, they would find themselves doing more deals, bigger deals and faster deals than ever before. I’m trying to convince people that mentorship is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be in person. I hope this helps. See you all on the trail. Take care.
- 4-Hour Work Week
- Front Facing Growth – previous episode (Episode eight)
- Leadership, Management and The Five Essential for Success
- Focal Point
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