My top 10 must read business books

This is always a work in progress but I’ll start by listing out my current top 10 business books and then if this changes over time I’ll republish them. I do read a lot of books and it takes something pretty special to break into this top 10 so I can’t see it changing that much. However, I certainly recommend each and every one of these books as an absolute must read for anyone and especially anyone running a business.

You can follow all the books I read and want to read over at Goodreads where I have an account. You can also view my activity via:

or just follow me on Facebook:

Here’s my current top 10 in order:

1. The Art of War – Sun Tzu

The all time classic on strategy. As relevant today as it ever was. A very short read but very deep.

2. The Millionaire Fastlane – M.J. DeMarco

I love the brutal honesty of this book. It doesn’t mince words about what it takes to shift from a pay check to actually living the life you want.

3. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

The world is all about not what you know but who you know. This book explains exactly how this works and how to use it to your advantage.

4. The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

Many people believe this book is about shirking responsibility. It is in fact a blueprint for how to free up your time to do things you want and enjoy. It will challenge the way you look at your career.

5. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth – T. Harv Eker

Successful are defined by a different mindset. This mindset can be learned. It can be trained. This is a great book to show you how to do just that.

6. Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling – Michael Port, Tim Sanders

You can’t survive in business without a steady flow of customers. Selling people is the wrong approach, you instead need to attract them to your business. This book helps you achieve exactly that.

7. Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level – Mark Divine

Another mindset book. Business is not always going to be easy or take the intended route. This is when you need to have the determination to see your plans through to success. This book shows you how to develop the mental toughness to make this happen.

8. The E-Myth – Michael Gerber

The classic on ‘procedurising’ your business and creating a structure that doesn’t need you to survive. The simple secrets inside this book can transform any business from hardship to joy.

9. Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine – Mike Michalowicz

Business is about making a profit. This then gives you the freedom to do what you want with that profit. This book helps you focus on profit and setting up systems to make the most of the profit you generate.

10. The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy – by Lewis Howes

A great summary book of many of the things you need to remember when it comes to leading a successful life. This book nicely encapsulates most.

These books make my top 10 list because I have read them all multiple times and continue to do so. No matter how many times I read them I always get something from them.

Let me know what you think. Do these work for you? What’s your top 10? I’d love to hear.

Recommended reading from 2015

I get through a lot of books during the year but here’s my recommended list from what I read in 2015 in no particular order.

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

Checklist are the way to ensure you perform in a standard and repeatable manner. They allow you to focus on getting things done and prevent missing steps or making mistakes. This is a great book that reminds of the power of checklists and why you should be using them every day.

The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod

Those who get up early get more done and are more successful. After reading this book I changed my morning routine to get up much earlier and it is amazing how much more I get done first thing following the suggestions and guidance from this book. If you really want to get more done in your day, read this book.

Profit First – Mike Michalowicz

Another great book that had a major impact in the way I manage money. I like that it keeps things simple and focuses on the money after all expenses (i.e. profit). if you run a business or struggle to save for a goal I’d highly recommend you read this book.

Sleep Smarter – Shawn Stevenson

The key to so many aliments we experience in the modern world is to get more sleep. This book helps you understand why sleep is so important for optimal mental and physical performance. I am still struggling with eliminating technology before bedtime as recommended within the pages but I am getting better and so is my sleep after reading this book.

The School of Greatness – Lewis Howes

A revisit for me of many of the best things I’ve learnt via other books. However, it is always good to have it re-inforced and this is great book to ensure you are across the things you need to be great. There is always room for more common sense and motivation and you’ll find it in this book.

Extreme Leadership – Jocko Willnik and Leif Babin

A book with a strong military focus which I do find both appealing and interesting. Whether on the battlefield or life to be a leader means owning and fixing the problem even if you didn’t create it. Doing so with grace and humility is tough but that what being extreme is all about. Leadership is a skill and can therefore be learned and is something can make a huge impact when applied correctly. This book gives you insight into how to go about that.

Any of these books I suggest you’d find very worthwhile and you’d certainly take away some lessons. As they say – readers are leaders – and I certainly subscribe to that so set aside some time every day and watch yourself grow as a result.

Less is more

The problem is a feeling of overwhelm and indecision that can grip you whether in life or in business. This is a reaction generally to the amount of choice and things that we need to worry about. However, in most cases we have brought this angst down on ourselves through the constant accumulation of things we really don’t need and no longer use.

A great discipline to get into is eliminate such things by doing a regular ‘clean out’. Many people are habitual hoarders and struggle to get rid of anything they have collected. What they don’t realise is that each and every item is weighing them down and taking up precious ‘space’ in their lives and more importantly, in their minds. This means they don’t have the ‘space’ available when an opportunity presents itself.

Let’s start by looking in your wardrobe. How many items of clothes do you have that you no longer wear? What about your drawers? How many old pair of socks are you holding onto because you believe they are somehow lucky or you fear running low? I’ll wager lots and lots. Unfortunately, the only real function they are serving is simply taking up space.

A great place to start de-cluttering your life is to focus on your wardrobe. Go through each item and honestly ask yourself if you really need it. Even if you think you do, could you buy it again if you really wanted? Finally, ask yourself when was the last time you actually wore that item. if you can’t remember, then it’s a great candidate to go. If you are disciplined about this approach and stay strong you’ll be surprised at how much you can eliminate. Give what you don’t need to charity and then take a look at how much free space you now have in your wardrobe. No more having to squeeze items onto the clothes rack. No more being unable to close drawers. Life with less is so much better but this is only the start.

Next, take a look at your workspace. What doesn’t need to be there? What papers and items are you just keeping for the sake of it? Do you really need or use all those Post-It notes? If you really want to keep the papers then scan them and ditch the paper. Most of the stuff you are hoarding at your desk can be purchased again if really needed so be ruthless, what do you REALLY need to get the job done? if you don’t need it, ditch it and don’t look back.

The removal of clutter extends everywhere, even into your digital file system. If you go through all those files you keep on your hard disk or in the cloud do you really need them? Sure, you can probably keep them because there is the space but each item you elect to keep simply adds to the clutter. What happens when you need to find that one file amongst all the clutter? What happens if you need to backup or move those files? The clutter goes along with it. If you really can’t press the delete key on your stuff then I’d suggest you create an archive areas seperate from your day to day data and move the low priority stuff there. Keep the information you work on day to day as clear as possible.

De-cluttering is an essential skill in today’s modern world. We are all adept at accumulating “stuff” we think we need, personally and in business. The more we add, the harder it becomes to manage and more it costs us mentally because we worry about it, consciously or subconsciously. Keeping it simple is unfortunately not simple at all and requires discipline. The way you achieve that discipline is by regularly de-cluttering everything about your life. If you start small, like with your wardrobe, you’ll find it easier when you move onto other areas. The more you use your de-cluttering muscle the stronger it becomes.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that de-cluttering is only a discipline you apply personally, it should be something you apply to your business as well. Regularly. All the stuff you have in your business is weighing you down and drawing your focus away from the opportunities available because you don’t have the space to deal with them. When de-cluttering your business, ask yoruself whether the item in question is helping you achieve success. If not, then it is probably weighing you down and distracting you from success. No matter how big or small the item, if it isn’t helping your towards your goals you are probably better off without it.

De-cluttering improves focus, frees the mind from the unnecessary and promotes discipline. It is therefore an essential skill of the successful but one that anyone can achieve if they simply set their mind to it. Start small and you’ll be amazed at how easy it actually becomes to de-clutter your life and open yourself up to the opportunities around us. Less is always more.

Beware of malware Office 365 statements


It’s taken a little while but the bad guys have taken to impersonating Office 365 billing statements like the one shown above. Unless you check REALLY closely you’d click on the links provided and get your machine infected with something evil like Cryptolocker.

As always, the best defence is to be careful when clicking links and downloading attachments inside emails, even if they look legit.

The average user really doesn’t stand a chance as I have highlighted many times:

Why the bad giys always win

Paranoia is therefore your best defense, so be paranoid, REALLY paranoid when it comes you emails wanting you to click something, even those that appear to come from Office 365!

CIAOPS SharePoint Level 1 course now available



Following on from my Getting Started With SharePoint course I am happy to announce that the follow-on course, SharePoint Level 1, is now available at the CIAOPS Academy.

SharePoint skills is the biggest thing I find that is holding most Office 365 users back. This is because SharePoint is all about collaboration rather than simple storage. That means it has far more features and functionality than people appreciate. Understanding what SharePoint is actually capable of helps people to utilise SharePoint better to solve their business challenges.

My courses are designed to show you what SharePoint can do via focused on-demand video tutorials, reinforced with download PDF lesson notes.

The new course is available on demand and contains 25 lessons:

1. SharePoint structure overview

2. Introduction to Email Alerts in SharePoint

3. Introduction to Document Approvals in SharePoint

4. Changing the Site Title, Logo and URL

5. Document Check In/Out

6. Connecting SharePoint to Access

7. Content types

8. Creating sub sites

9. Introduction to Lookup Columns

10. Advanced List Editing

11. Working with Document Library Versioning

12. Introduction to Views

13. Using Promoted Links

14. Create a SharePoint Document Library Template

15. Using a template to migrate a SharePoint Library

16. Creating and using Site Columns

17. Creating and Editing Site pages

18. Adding a Yammer feed to SharePoint

19. Displaying Linked Lists

20. Getting Started with InfoPath

21. Saving a SharePoint Online Site as a Template

22. Creating a new Site Collection

23. Using a Site Template with a new Site Collection

24. Deleting a SharePoint Online Site Collection

25. Getting Started with SharePoint Designer

It is designed follow on from the Getting Started course and add to your SharePoint knowledge and help you make better use of SharePoint in your business. This course will help you become more of a SharePoint Power User.

The course is available stand alone or now combined into a SharePoint Quickstart package that also includes the original Getting Started course.

I have already commenced work on next SharePoint course which will take up where this Level 1 course finishes, so stay tuned.

You can find all my online courses at

A new CIAOPS SharePoint online course is coming

My Getting Started With SharePoint Online course is available via two methods:

Delivered via email


On demand

I am just putting the final touches to my follow up 25 part SharePoint Level 1 online course that picks up from the Getting Started course and I’ll be posting it to the CIAOPS Academy before Christmas 2015.

ANYONE who has already signed up to one of my online courses at will receive a 50% discount on this new SharePoint Level 1 course when it becomes available.

So, if you have already taken one of my online courses then you’ll just need to keep an eye on your inbox for your discount code on or around Christmas. If you haven’t already taken one of my online courses then you might want to sign up to an existing course before December 25, 2015 to ensure you get the special 50% discount on the new course when it becomes available.

You’ll find all my online courses at

A story with a happy ending

Open Live Writer

By now you should appreciate that I spend a lot of time blogging, not only here but in many other places on the web. When I first started out my blog was running on proprietary software I hosted on my own server. From there I moved to a public SharePoint blog that I also maintained on my own infrastructure. Eventually, I ended up on Blogger for various reasons and the offline tool that I used to craft posts was Windows Live Writer which Microsoft made available for free.

Over the years Microsoft has moved away from maintaining and updating Windows Live Writer which I can totally understand, especially being a free product. Problem was the Internet continued to evolve and was slowly but surely creeping towards being more secure. This meant that Blogger (a Google property) also became more secure in the way it handled authentication.

Doing so back in June 2015 this new autehntication broke the ability for Windows Live Write to post successfully to Blogger. The summary of my experiences are here:

Back with Blogger

As I expressed in that post, I was concerned about the way forward with Windows Live Writer because the writing was on the wall for it no longer being maintained. Kudos to both Microsoft and Google for working together on solving this and for Google to extending the older autentication for another 6 months.

Fast forward to a few days ago and BAMB, unable to post again (the 6 month lifeline was over). The support forums again lit up with people crying, screaming, begging for the problem to be rectified.

Scott Hanselman from Microsoft announced on December 9 that Windows Live Writer was being forked to an open source product called Open Live Writer. You read about it here:

Only problem was the new Open Live Writer still didn’t support the ability to post to Blogger. However, the encouraging news was that some smart people were working on solving the problem.

Martin Woodward from Microsoft who is an author and contributor on the project left a comment on my post:

Windows Live Writer not working with Blogger again

to let me know the issue was being worked on as a priority. Cool, just needed to be patient.


I then received a reply to a tweet from Scott Hanselman that there was now a version of Open Live Write that supported posting to Blogger.


So I popped back over to:

downloaded the latest version and installed it.

One of things I was worried about was the fact that I have two factor authentication enabled on my Google account. Would Open Live Writer handle this? Yes it did! In a better way than before when I had to use one time applications passwords with Windows Live Writer.

So after publishing a test post to confirm all was in order I am now back on the blogging train and normal service will continue.

Firstly, thank you to EVERYONE who worked to resolve this issue. You have no idea I suspect of how many souls you have pleased. It demonstrates the greatness of people when they work together (remembering that both Windows Live Writer and Open Live Writer are free products).

I look forward to continued improvements with Open Live Writer going forward (some stuff still needs doing but that is minor) and again thank everyone who made this piossible. You are legends!