When we decided to start our business, we sought input from a variety of sources — friends, former colleagues, podcasts, blogs. In particular, we’ve found valuable advice in books. And not just business books, either: applied psychology, memoir, and fiction have all provided rich insight.
These seven books have changed the way we think about goal-setting, communication, planning, and mission at Open Eye Creative.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
“When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”
Jason Fried caught our attention in 2009 when he was featured in Inc. magazine’s The Way I Work series. Many of the ideas expressed in that article — less is more, worker smarter not harder — popped up again in the bite-sized chapters of Rework, co-authored by fellow 37 Signals (now Basecamp) co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson. In their inspirational manifesto, Fried and Hansson knock down a few long-held beliefs in the business world, namely that growth is always good and constraints are always bad.
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
“Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead.”
Like it or not, everyone is a salesperson nowadays, argues Daniel Pink in this 2013 bestseller. After all, most of us spend a significant portion of our time trying to persuade, influence, and convince others. But successful selling is less about pushing and more about listening. Among our favorite parts of the book: Pink says spreading ideas requires clarity, and he offers six pitches to clearly explain your offering to prospects.
In the Blink of an Eye
Most of us are searching—consciously or unconsciously—for a degree of internal balance and harmony between ourselves and the outside world.”
Much has changed since 1992, when Walter Murch first published In the Blink of An Eye. A film editor for movies like Apocalypse Now and The Godfather, Murch updated this influential book in 2001 to reflect changes in digital editing. The best editing advice, however, transcends technology. We like his so-called Rule of Six for an ideal edit: it preserves emotion, moves the story forward, is rhythmically satisfying, guides the viewer’s gaze, follows the axis, and is true to established physical and spacial relationships.
Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
“Suspense … is simply an unanswered question.”
Let’s mix media for a moment. Skilled radio producers are master storytellers, going beyond the merely interesting to find narratives that are resonant, transformative. Jessica Abel, a comic book writer and artist, went behind the scenes at seven popular radio shows and podcasts to learn how they do it. This generous, entertaining book is about their process, and the insights can be applied across media, including video.
Man’s Search for Meaning
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
Part memoir, part existential meditation, Man’s Search for Meaning puts the quest for meaning—not pleasure, as Freud thought—at the center of human motivation. A purposeful life doesn’t come from chasing happiness or success, said Frankl. Rather, it comes from devoting our energy to something outside ourselves: a greater cause. This is a guiding principle for us as business owners.
“One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.”
Being soft-spoken and sensitive can seem like a liability in the business world, where “[i]t’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent,” Cain says. Introverts are finally having their moment, and it’s due in part to her research. We love the story she opens with: As a young lawyer, she navigated a tense negotiation by asking a lot of questions, listening well, and never raising her voice. This has helped us appreciate our own style of communication, and it’s a book we keep going back to.
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Our favorite children’s book for grown-ups, The Little Prince, has charmed us both for years. Here are its lessons for business and life: Value friendships over stuff. Recapture the creativity of your childhood. Ask the right questions. Explore. Challenge ignorance. Invest in relationships. Honor life’s mysteries. What better advice is there?
Open Eye Creative is a small video production company with a huge vision: to use the power of story to strengthen and propel organizations that are changing the world. Read more.