In my role as executive producer of the web series and podcast, Simpli.fi TV, I get the privilege of speaking with thought leaders in the marketing space. My favorite question to ask my guests is if they have a favorite book or podcast that has been instrumental in their success. Here’s a complete list of their recommendations.
The following are paid links.
Jeff Swartz, CEO & Founder of Ethic Advertising Agency, recommends Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.
“I got a lot of great information that has allowed me to scale and create a really strong vision for my company. So from a structure standpoint of how to build a profitable long-term business, it’s honestly my favorite book.”
Eric McGehearty, CEO & Founder of Globe Runner, recommends Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.
“As an owner of an agency. I think the book Drive was one of my favorites for helping me think through how to properly motivate my team of employees to do their best possible work for the right reasons.”
David Goode, Digital Director at Asher Agency, recommends How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
“Going through [The Dale Carnegie] training for me was really impactful just in how to conduct myself professionally, how to stay motivated, how to influence people on my team that I now manage.”
“It’s just a great explanation about how businesses that deliver exemplary customer service have extremely high retention rate with their clients.”
“It’s about putting others first, which I’ve always been a big believer in being educational, informational and helping others, which I take very seriously from a consultative perspective.”
Jason Holmes, Founder and CEO of Thrivefuel, recommends The Innovator’s Dilemma, bu Clayton M. Christensen.
“[It] has really a unique take on that disruptive innovation. And the most interesting part about it to me is that you can do everything right as a traditional or incumbent company and still fail if you’re not paying attention to the right metrics.”
“If you read that from a business point of view, it will actually go and it will change your alignment and thinking when it comes to a lot of things. There’s a line where Ender says, ‘I didn’t want to win the battle. I wanted to win the war.’ And that has stuck with me for years. If you are going to do something, do it for the long term. Don’t do it for the short term.”
“Zig Ziglar talked about how to stand out. You’ve got to step out. And so if you step out and you make a difference and you’re persistent, not being overly persistent, but enough that you are in somebody’s head, you’ll make a difference.”
“I think it’s so important to figure out why you want to do what you do, for yourself. Not necessarily even as an organization, but as an individual.”
“It really just puts you in the mind frame of how to create better habits around the things that are really important to you and your life effectively, personal and professionally. If you think about it, in business, it’s all about consistency and perseverance. And the same pretty much can hold true in terms of building great habits.
“I was in a place where I’m like, ‘hey, I need to refocus and get started right at the beginning of the year’ and it kind of gave me back my Zen.”
Stephon Jacob, Strategic Planner at The Martin Agency, recommends Truth, Lies & Advertising: The Art of Account Planning, but Jon Steel.
“I think that’s a really interesting book when it comes to marketing and advertising.”
“[Jonah] is just a brilliant marketer and business person. And the thing I like about it is it doesn’t just tell you about what’s best in marketing. It gives you examples and it gives you stories that are really relatable. It’s a fun read. I recommend it to anyone.”
“I think it doesn’t necessarily dive directly into marketing and what we do, but if you think about things as an economist and the way they frame many, many different types of topics, I think it’s definitely affected my work over time and the way I think about things.”
“I love the approach to how you build out culture… where having everybody understand how the business works, who it is we’re servicing, and everybody benefits from the good work that we do together.”
“It’s really great for social media in my opinion. It tells a better comprehensive story about how to activate marketing in an authentic, realistic way that highly informs our DEI campaigns.”
Frank Neill, Founder of FN Digital Marketing, recommends Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson.
“It’s a nice alchemy combination of basketball, if you’re a sports fan, Buddhism, spirituality, and leadership all rolled into one so if your personal life touches on any of those things, there’s definitely something in it for you.”
Augie Johnston, CEO of Vidchops, recommends The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch, by Dan Norris.
“[It] inspired me to start Vidchops, and it’s one of my favorite books.”
Patrick Smith, Founder and Creative Director, C2 Creative Studio, recommends Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t.
“To start to understand what makes something good versus great, as far as business goes, and all the little factors that came along with it, was really interesting to me.”
Barrett Matthews, Founder of Media Boss Pro, recommends his book, Why Didn’t You Get It Done? A Guide to Helping You Get off Your Assets.
DJ Virtue, Northeast Region Manager at Simpli.fi, recommends The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz.
“It’s a great book about leadership lessons from companies that [Ben Horowitz] ran in the dot-com era.”
Jonny Holsten, Messaging Strategist and StoryBrand Guide at South Mountain Messaging, recommends Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller.
“This book impacted me so significantly that I decided to get certified in the StoryBrand Framework.”
Mark Savant, Owner of Mark Savant Media, recommends Gap Selling:Getting the Customer to Yes: How Problem-Centric Selling Increases Sales by Changing Everything You Know About Relationships, Overcoming Objections, Closing and Price.
“[Gap Selling] is really just contrasting the pain that the prospect has versus what their life will be like after a solution.”
“[This] really small book… was super cheap. I think it was $5. It’s about creating storytelling and leveraging that to help inspire and get people to take some kind of action or pay attention.”
“It’s from the guy who comes from nothing, who has nothing, who takes a risk in music, and then after he realizes that, ‘oh, this music thing isn’t working anymore,’ he switched gears and just kept switching and switching to different things, whether it be drinks or clothing and he just kept going. And now it’s TV and entertainment, and he’s now making smash hit after smash hit when it comes to his videos.”
Matt Walker, Founder and Managing Director of Rally Digital, recommends The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, by Sasha Issenberg.
“The idea [of the book is] about political campaigns and how they can leverage psychology to impact elections.”
“When people ask me what is marketing? I say, read this book. You can read it in an airplane flight. It’s very simple to understand and very hard to do, but if you can grasp this, you’ll understand what we do.”
“I love the book. It shows me exactly the path of the founder, how you should approach things, and how hard it is.”
“[The book] is pretty much the primer for the copy side of things when it comes to the full funnel and it’s old school, but use your new school brain and translate.”
JJ Reynolds, Founder and Lead Measurement Strategist at Mediauthentic, recommends The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.
“I just really enjoy the fact that a lot of the things that we do are habitual, and so if you can change those either in business, in an agency, in whatever you’re doing, it becomes a lot easier to move a bigger rock, because you have all these little things that are moving things forward.”
“What I really like about her material is it’s about storytelling and engaging your audience. And so as you’re having these conversations, you really need to understand your audience and how to tell the story in a way that they’re going to be open and receptive to it.”
Trevor W. Goodchild, Facebook Policy Specialist, recommends Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level, by Ryan Levesque.
“[It] is an incredible book, which switches your whole frame of reference as well. Instead of trying to just force people to buy something or sell to customers, [the author] says to survey your audience, put them in buckets, and then give them what they already want, but aren’t receiving.”
Jeff Coyle, Co-founder of MarketMuse, recommends Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing, and the Future of Business, by Paul Roetzer.
“If you think AI equals ChatGPT, if you think those two things are an equals sign, Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute is going to give you the primer, all the way up to the masterclass is available.”
Lee Doyle, Executive Vice President, Group Managing Director at Empower Media, recommends The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning, by Scott Galloway.
“I’m a huge fan of Scott Galloway actually in all forms, his podcasts, he’s got a newsletter that he sends out free on Fridays. I’ve read his books. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s always provocative. He always makes me think a little bit. And he’s always funny. He manages to deliver his message wrapped in wit, so it keeps it entertaining. Well, a lot less dry than a lot of other sort of business-oriented reading. So he’s at the top of my reading list all the time.”
“If you’re into B2B marketing, this is a great book. It’s just a great read. It really adapts to SaaS companies and what they’re looking for to grow your business.”
“I’ve had [the book] for 20 years. Anytime I’m uninspired, I open it up to a little chapter and I find just sheer wisdom. If you haven’t read it, read it.”
Brian Piper, Director of Content Strategy and Assessment Organization at the University of Rochester, recommends Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less, by Joe Pulizzi.
“The book that changed my entire career path when I read it back in 2013, got me into content marketing, and earlier this year I actually co-authored the second edition of Epic Content Marketing with Joe, and that book is changing my career once again.”
Scott Palmer, Vice President Media and Digital at French/West/Vaughn, recommends Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight.
“I just recall from the book Phil’s days competing with Tiger in early days. And when I think about opportunities and challenges that are ahead, that just kind of motivates me to take those challenges on. Thinking about where that particular instance was in the book, taking on the big brand, the legacy brand, and going after and going and get it.