April 4, 2020. The Top Ten List.
Thank you for subscribing. Since writing the book, I have been asked many times about the different books that were the strongest influence on how we grew our firm and shaped our culture. Culture is growth. I talk about a lot of books and writers in The Case for Culture. However, some books were simply more influential than others. Culture is about the way a company acts together as one cohesive unit. It is not always about ‘growth’ in the sense of adding more people and increasing mass. Growth to me is about growing and evolving as a company. What most great companies find, is with that evolution comes growth in numbers too. We grew profits by 1300% in the first five years. An insane amount. However, I know there were times we should have slowed down and simply gotten better.
There are many books that I have found influential. Frankly, this Top Ten list might change over time… new books are written all the time. New great thought leaders emerge onto the scene. Right now I’m reading The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. It is quickly becoming one of my very favorite business books of all time. Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last is already in my Top 10. However, Infinite Game shows the immense importance of long term thinking in running a company.
Here are the Top Ten… The first two… The Game-Changing Attorney, by Michael Mogill and and You Can’t Teach Hungry by John Morgan. These books are both essentials and if you read nothing else on creating a law firm, read these. Here’s the funny thing. This blog post is a rehash of the Reading List on my website, which was launched at the end of February. This week Mogill launched a companion Podcast called the Game-Changing Attorney. Morgan is his first guest! Michael has one of my favorite quotes about law firms and it is actually the beginning of one of my chapters in the Case For Culture. “The best cases don’t go to the best lawyers, they go to the best markers.” Michael’s company Crisp Video does some of the best work out there for lawyers and his Game Changers’ Summitt which I have attended twice is worth every penny!
Morgan’s book, You Can’t Teach Hungry, was originally published in 2011. It is currently listed on Amazon for between $78.00 and $124.00 Yes – you read that right. I will say it is worth every penny. His follow up You Can’t Teach Vision, The Twenty-First Century Law Firm is also an important book and highly recommend as well. If you haven’t read Mogill or Morgan and have time for nothing else, read these. But remember, if you are running a law firm or want to… you better make time to read. As much as possible!
The Other 8!
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 mailroom 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 crapshoot on whether or not the person would work out. Adam site www.TheBestTeamWins.com 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.
Simon Sinek has one of the most viewed TED Talks in history based on 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.
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.
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).
Chip Conley’s book Peak was an absolute game-changer for me and my firm. He applies Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to 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 lot 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.
How I love Ryan Holiday! In my humble opinion, he is simply the best writer out there today. 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 are now the market leader for this particular kind of workers’ compensation cases. All from a little experiment from Holiday’s book. (Incidentally, the whole thing cost me $7.50 and a few hours of time). We have landed about 75 clients from the experiment… a gross value of approximately $450,000.00! 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.
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.