Forward by Michael Mogill, Author of Game Changing Attorney and CEO, Crisp Video
I haven’t always been a voracious reader, when I was young my parents couldn’t get me to read a book – so when I was about 8 years old they sent me to a hypnotist, Dr. Abrams. He hypnotized me into ‘liking to read’. Although it didn’t really work very well. It really wasn’t until college when I found books. Since then I haven’t really stopped devouring them. I used to read tons of fiction, but when I started this business I switched to reading business books. In the beginning, the business books were more of “how-to guides” on law firms. Other than a few, (most notably Michael Mogill’s Game Changing Attorney and John Morgan’s You Can’t Teach Hungry) I haven’t found a whole lot of great books directly on law firms and law firm management. So, I moved away from law firm books to the general how-to guides on running a business. I think one of the very first was E-Myth Revisited (there is an E-Myth book directly on running law firms but I wasn’t a big fan). I moved from the direct “how-to” guides to higher level philosophy of building a long term sustainable business. These are books on communication, team building, marketing philosophy, organizational development and thanks to the brilliant Ryan Holiday, stoicism. Back to the hypnotist… I hadn’t really thought much about Dr. Abrams in a long time – really until I sat down to compile this reading list. It’s probably time to reach out and say hi, he would probably be happy that his work with me at 8 years old finally paid off.
I hope you enjoy the list and get as much out of it as I have.
“A firm’s culture is the foundation for its success
or failure. Within these pages are critical ideas and
concepts of how to build your firm’s culture first, in
ways that permanently synergize sustainable growth.
Your new list of ‘to-dos’ will begin on page one. “
Here are my top ten favorite books for building a great law firm or frankly any great business. This was a really hard list to get down to 10 and frankly it will probably change over time. If I had only had time for one book this year it would probably be a coin flip between The Game Changing Attorney and You Can’t Teach Hungry.
Let’s face it, John Morgan’s book is the seminal book on building a great law firm. It was certainly our bible. I have a friend who has built a great firm that says he reads it once a quarter! Michael Mogill’s book is fantastic when it comes to the intersection of law firms and marketing. (There is plenty of amazing information beyond simply marketing. Michael simply gets it. He is at the forefront of just about everything these days in the business of law. Get his book and attend his conference, it’s worth it!
The other books on the list aren’t specific to law firms, however, law firms are businesses and you need to stop thinking otherwise. There’s a few about leadership, about self-awareness, about building great companies and quite a few about marketing.
The Bible, as my partner and I call it. I have a friend who says he reads it every quarter. My partner and I read You Can’t Teach Hungry, before we started our firm. John Morgan built Morgan and Morgan into a 500 lawyer firm and has done billions, yes billions in business. He truly teaches us that anything is possible when you put in a few solid business principles into your law firm.
In full disclosure, Michael and I are friends and I have been a speaker at his conference and he wrote the forward in my book. However, that don’t change the fact that his book, The Game Changing Attorney is the seminal book in how to market your law firm. Michael would be successful in any industry, we are simply lucky he chose law. Once you realize just how important his ideas are, you start to think about how many more people you really need on your internal marketing team to get all the things done you need to do! Do yourself a favor and read his book.
Simon Sinek has one of the most viewed TED Talks in history based off of his book, Start With Why. Start With Why is a tremendous read to get you to think differently about how we are motivated and how others are motivated. However, there is a reason that I skipped over Start With Why for the law firm top ten reads and put Leaders Eat Last instead. Leaders Eat Last truly focuses on the job of any company leader. We are there to help our people create better versions of themselves. Sinek talks about companies that are truly successful because they care about their people. The job of the Leader is to take care of their people – and he shows us how to this the right way. Sinek’s book is where I really began to understand the importance of stakeholders versus shareholders.
Good is the opposite of Great. Good to Great, analyzes the difference between simply good companies and great ones. He is analyzing public companies because he uses real metrics and can only really get information and hard data regarding public companies, however, the analysis is really the same. This is not a simple how to do it guide but an in-depth study of how great leaders, turn good companies into legendary market leaders. He calls these the Level 5 leaders and a lot of them are in companies that you have never really heard of (unless you went to a business program).
How I love Ryan Holiday! In my humble opinion, he is simply the best writer out there. His books are now regularly hitting the #1 Bestseller on the New York Times. His early books on the broader culture and marketing are incredible. Trust Me I’m Lying, Confessions of a Media Manipulator and Growth Hacker Marketing are simply brilliant. I read the book Trust Me I’m Lying and tried one of his strategies for a blog post for our law firm. The post caught the attention of public radio’s online arm, then the New York Times and CBS Evening News. We were contacted by these outlets to interview our client and we became the market leader for these particular kind of workers’ compensation cases. All from a little experiment from Holiday’s book. But back to why Perennial Seller made the top ten above all his other books. Ryan outlines what it truly takes to create something great and then get it out there into the world to last generations. Most law firms won’t carry on past the retirement of the founder, what if yours did? (Most companies are out of business in five years!). What if your law firm was created in a way to carry on long after you left? If you are slaving at your desk each day – or up late working and building your practice, you want it to last. It is your legacy, In Perennial Seller, Ryan shows you what it truly takes to build something that lasts. This book will really get you thinking.
Adam’s book is in the top-ten list because you simply can’t build a great law firm without a great team. The Best Team Wins outlines a strategy for predictive hiring the best people for your organization. The thing I like best about Adam’s strategy is that it is essentially the same no matter who you are hiring. It truly is my biggest complaint about books on hiring, they all seem to focus on higher ups in the organization. Well, after hiring hundreds, yes, hundreds of people over the past 25 years, I have found that people are people – whether they are in the mail room or in the board room. Adam’s strategy works no matter who the people are that you are hiring. We tried so many different hiring practices, yet it was really a crap shoot on whether or not the person would work out. Adam site The Best Team Wins also provides some great tools for the interview process. We used the tools on the site for a while and then went ahead and started using his Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Hireology. Adam’s book is instrumental in our hiring the right people.
What can you say about the best book on getting the right things done ever written. If you don’t know Peter Drucker, he was the greatest management thinker of all time. (He passed his mantle to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, which is on the list below). Drucker wrote book after book on business management theory. He is even credited with the saying “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” – although I had to research this for my book and it seems that although it is one of his most famous quotes, I’m not sure he actually said it. Getting back to The Effective Executive – this is a straightforward book on managing oneself and getting the right things done. It is also a great guide for holding good meetings. Holding good meetings, prioritizing the most important things to get done and making good decisions are the core of any great executives daily actions. This book is where you can really learn how to do that.
Chip Conley’s book Peak was an absolute game changer for me and my firm. He applies Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to running a business. He doesn’t just apply these principles to how to approach your team, but also your customers and investors. My wife suggested I read Peak after losing one of our key employees to another company. I read it over a weekend and began to completely revamp how we, as a company, approached our relationship with our team. Chip Conley is one of the great business minds of our time and I highly recommend this!
Daniel Pink is a former lawyer turned writer. His TED talk on motivation, based on his book Drive, the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a must see – and you should read the book too! To Sell is Human, can upend how you approach far more than sales in your law firm. At its core, you begin to understand that selling is simply motivating others to take action. You also begin to understand that everyone – everyone in today’s world is a salesperson. Especially lawyers… lawyers are constantly trying to motivate people to take action. Whether it’s an opposing counsel, a judge, an insurance company or your own client. I gave this book to our intake staff immediately after reading it. We revamped a good deal of our sales process based on it. We also revamped a great deal of other initiatives in our company as well. To Sell is Human is one of the best books out there on the philosophy and process of motivating others.
Seth Godin is simply the best marketing mind out there today. His principle of building “tribe” for your business is essential. It goes hand and hand with the principle that if you market to everyone, you market to no one. The other day, I was on the phone with a new agency we were interviewing. He asked what we thought was our ‘smallest addressable market’… my response was “why”. He said “because if you market to everyone, you marketing to no one”. I knew this guy understood better than most. I think we call this niche marketing in the legal world. There are some great law firms that understand this concept better than most. Law Tigers is one great example. They focus specifically on motorcycle accidents, but focuses on sponsoring events within certain parts of the motorcycle community. They understand tribe marketing. This is just one small principle you will find in This is Marketing. Godin is not just a brilliant marketer but also understands business. I’ve done his Alt-MBA online course which is not easy but is worth it. If you don’t have time to read his books or do the course, at least sign up for his daily blog at SethGodin.com.
Each one of these books had an impact in helping to craft the culture and
build the business at Pacific Workers’. They are no in particular order.
HOW WILL YOU MEASURE YOUR LIFE, Clayton Christensen
START WITH WHY: HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE
EVERYONE TO TAKE ACTION, Simon Sinek
IGNORE YOUR CUSTOMERS (AND THEY’LL GO AWAY): THE SIMPLE PLAYBOOK FOR DELIVERING THE ULTIMATE CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE, Micah Solomon
THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK: ESCAPE 9-5, LIVE ANYWHERE, AND JOIN THE NEW RICH, Timothy Ferris
GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSERVERANCE,
HBR’S 10 MUST READS ON LEADERSHIP
EGO IS THE ENEMY, Ryan Holiday
DARE TO LEAD: BRAVE WORK. THOUGH CONVERSATIONS. WHOLE CONVERSATIONS. WHOLE HEARTS, Brene Brown
THE E-MYTH REVISITED: WHY MOST SMALL BUSINESSES DON’T WORK AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT,
PRINCIPLES: LIFE AND WORK, Ray Dalio
THE DAILY STOIC: 365 MEDITATIONS ON WISDOM,
PERSERVERANCE, AND THE ART OF LIVING, Ryan Holiday
NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE: NEGOTIATE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT, Chriss Voss
HBR’S 10 MUST READS ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
INFLUENCE: THEY PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION,
WHEN: THE SCIENTIFIC SECRETS OF PERFECT TIMING,
AN EVERYONE CULTURE: BECOMING A DELIBERATELY
THE TALENT CODE: GREATNESS ISN’T BORN. IT’S GROWN. HERE’S HOW, Daniel Coyle
THE CULTURE CODE: THE SECRETS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL GROUPS, Daniel Coyle
YOU CAN’T TEACH VISION: THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY LAW FIRM, John Morgan
CAN’T HURT ME: MASTER YOUR MIND AND DEFY THE ODDS, David Goggins
THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE, Robert Greene
48 LAWS OF POWER, Robert Greene
MASTERY, Robert Greene
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY: THE TIMELESS ART OF TURNING TRIALS INTO TRIUMPH,
MEDITATIONS, Marcus Aurelius
THE NO COMPLAINING RULE: POSITIVE WAYS TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVITY AT WORK,
TRIBES OF MENTORS: SHORT LIFE ADVICE FROM THE BEST IN THE WORLD, Timothy ferriss
THE CAPTAIN CLASS: A NEW THEORY OF LEADERSHIP,
GREAT MONDAYS: HOW TO DESIGN CULTURE EMPLOYEES LOVE, Josh Levine
THE NEW ONE MINUTE MANAGER,
Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
THE POWER OF MOMENTS: WHY CERTAIN EXPERIENCES HAVE EXTRAORDINARY IMPACT,
Chip & Dan Heath
WHY WE SLEEP: UNLOCKING THE POWER OF SLEEP
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