Books that made an impact

Geoff SearleGreat leaders learn every day in business that storytelling is key to their role. Reading great books is one of the best ways to learn for some. A company that inspires leaders and business owners to meet results using the power of stories, personal branding, and thought leadership is a necessity in today’s business world.

I have been fortunate enough to read some excellent books over the last 25 years – books that have inspired me to change the way I see the world, my career, business, and the opportunities in front of me. Below is a list of those books that changed my life:

1. Mark H. McCormack – ‘What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School’

Mark McCormack, dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sports’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification.

In this book, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues like analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques, and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.

2. J.W. Marriott, JR., Kathy Ann Brown and Jim Collins – ‘The Spirit To Serve’

Since taking over the business from his father in 1964, J.W. Marriott has moved from triumph to triumph, building an international chain that includes more than 1,000 hotels making Marriott one of the most recognized names in the hospitality industry. In this book, Marriott explains for the first time the unique management philosophy that brought him this enormous success. Written in an informal first-person narrative that is both engaging and easy to read, The Spirit to Serve distills his years of hard-earned wisdom and experience into a practical blueprint that anyone wishing to emulate his achievements can follow. It includes tips on how to motivate employees, nurture in-house talent, cultivate customer loyalty, as well as invaluable advice on handling growing pains, understanding the big picture, and knowing when to take risks. Packed with many real-life examples that illustrate his principles, The Spirit to Serve is vital reading for all CEOs, middle managers, and department supervisors.

3. Phil McGraw “Self Matters”

The well-known “life strategist” and TV personality Dr. Phil begins this upbeat self-help book by recalling one of the most unpleasant phone calls he ever had to make. In 1989, ten years into a flourishing career, McGraw called his father to say that, despite the outward trappings of success, he was miserable. His new plan was to move away and start a new career and a new life. According to McGraw, many people are now in a similar situation. They are trapped in unsatisfying lives or jobs that they loathe.

Too many people, says McGraw, are “so busy being busy, that they have let the colors fade from their lives. They’re worried about superficial matters rather than what’s important: “I’ll bet 90-plus percent of them spent months, or even years, planning their wedding and almost no time planning their marriage!

To change their lives, McGraw’s readers must first complete two questionnaires that he designed to assess their “authentic self” and their “congruence” (how someone’s current life compares with a vision of an ideal life). With the scores from these tests, readers can then embark upon a specific plan for changing their lives and for determining which external and internal forces they will, or won’t, allow to control their futures.

Readers familiar with McGraw’s aggressive TV personality may be surprised by this book’s thoughtful and serious tone. McGraw’s notion of making change is not a simple one. It requires readers to look at every aspect of their daily lives and it’s likely that some readers may not be able to make all the changes he advocates. However, his book offers a thorough, realistic resource for those who are committed to turning their lives around to get what they really want and need.

4. Tom Peters – The Circle of Innovation

Business guru Tom Peters has been recognized for his originality and perception since co-authoring one of the most influential management books of all time: 1982’s ‘In Search of Excellence‘. Now, in his seventh work, ‘The Circle of Innovation: You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Greatness’, he presents a provocative new vision for prospering in the “permanent state of flux” that is ruling today’s business world. By juxtaposing short text passages and bold graphic images, Peters simply but passionately offers his prescription (perpetual innovation) in a nontraditional way intended to foster individual interpretation.

5. Paul R. Lawrence & Nitin Nohria – Driven

Harvard Business School professors Lawrence and Nohria present a socio-biological theory of motivation, claiming that humans have four basic drives

  • to acquire,
  • to bond,
  • to learn, and
  • to defend

What makes their theory novel is the way they apply it to the workplace. The authors use historical case studies to show that successful organizations are those that give their employees opportunities to fulfill these drives, while those that fulfill only the drive to acquire are ultimately less stable. Examples of both types of organizations are provided.

The authors are well versed in sociobiology and their four-drive theory makes intuitive sense. There are, however, a number of competing drive theories, from Freud’s sexual drive and death urge to Steven Reiss’s 16-drive theory. The authors acknowledge that the numbers and exact nature of our drives need further exploration and offer suggestions for research projects that would verify their hypotheses.

6. John Simpson – A Mad World My Masters

Some people just aren’t cut out for the suburbs. As one of the BBC’s top foreign correspondents, John Simpson has been at the epicentre of many of the world’s flashpoints for more than 30 years. Afghanistan, Belgrade, Hong Kong, Baghdad; you name it, he’s been there. And what’s more, he hasn’t just met the great and the good, such as Clinton and Blair, he’s met the top bogey men, too. He’s had Osama Bin Laden pleading with some Afghani guerrillas to kill him and his crew, he’s interviewed Emperor Bokassa, Colonel Gadhafi and Arkan and had close up dealings with Saddam Hussein. And it goes without saying he was one of the first people in the entire world to see in the new millennium on the specially named Millennium Island, which the Kiribati government claimed just squeezed inside the international date line.​

What books can you recommend to me?

How I experienced the Shen Yun performance

Geoff Searele at the Shun Yen Performance, Birmingham 2014 smallI was lucky to attend a performance of the Shen Yun Performing Arts Troupe in Birmingham.

Shen Yun was established in 2006 as a company with about 30 dancers, as well as an orchestra, soloists, artistic directors and production staff. Since its inaugural season, the company has expanded to include three equally large companies with dozens of dancers, soloists, and orchestras.

Shen Yun promotes itself as “a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and virtues distilled from five millennia of Chinese civilization.”

I was interviewed after the show, you can see that here. The news anchor and the short narrative are in Chinese but my interview is in English. In your browser an option should pop up to translate the page.

Here is a YouTube clip to show you a Shen Yun performance:

Enjoy!

Life after the sharks

Geoff SearleFreedom After The Sharks has really changed my life. I have always believed that it is your right to speak truthfully in all matters that concern you and to speak from the heart.

It has been an overwhelming experience to receive emails and phone calls from people across all walks of life wanting to share their experiences, their story. Entrepreneurs, business people, students, children, and charitable causes have approached me for key note sessions, general advice, and inspiration leadership.

I have been overwhelmed with inquiries but will continue to expand and express the journey that each and every one of us deserves, within our heart-motivated purpose in life, because there is ‘life after the sharks.’

Every audience has a different dynamic, a different rhythm, and a different reaction. The audience wants, needs, and expects pertinent, real-life information to enhance and support their lives and importantly what they’re facing. I believe it was my destiny in life to push things to the limit. You only get one chance to make an impression. I gave Freedom After The Sharks every opportunity I had of the events that took place for what I believed to be right and true.

In life you survive. You move on but with a purpose. A great philosopher and friend in the US once told me that you are in this world by divine right and you have the right to reach your highest potential through your own uniqueness. I know so many people who are only in bliss when they are miserable. They blame their parents, their spouse, their family, the system, their employers, their friends.

You know what’s amazing — and I’ve said this for years  — you have the capacity to love and be loved with an open heart. You can do whatever you have to do to get past your problem, you can do it. The question is how much do you want the dream or the purpose.

It’s your quiet inner drive and tenacious disciplined focus that will set yourself apart from those who seemingly fall by the way side. This may sound a little strange but when I’m asked about the key to my success, it has always been that guttural ignorant persistence. You do more, you give a little more of yourself in everything you do until it becomes a natural part of your lifestyle, it is also important to be a mentor to those who need help, encouragement and share.

If there is any question I can answer for you please leave me a note.