At CPC Strategy, we’re all about learning and creating things which inspire. We applaud others who are dedicated to inspiring and sharing knowledge.

Below is a list of books that we have read and reviewed. To check out our review simply click on the book cover and you will jump to our review of that book:

The Happiness Advantagedo more faster the facebook effectexceptional service exceptional profitreworkswitch

made-to-stick50th lawtraining-camp

small giantsfounders-at-workthe lean startuppredictably-irrationalonwardunmarketing



The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage, Mary’s Review:

The Happiness Advantage is a great argument for positive psychology in general, but also highlights specific things you can do personally and also at an organizational level to increase performance and productivity. The book looks at 7 elements of positive psychology in relation to your daily life at home and at work:

  • The Happiness Advantage- Fake it till you make it with positive thinking.
  • The Fulcrum and the Lever- It’s all in how you look at it.
  • The Tetris Effect- If you’re looking for it you’ll find it.
  • Falling UP– Use failure as an opportunity to grow.
  • The Zorro Cycle– Start small.
  • The 20-Second Rule– Reduce barriers to change to create habits.
  • Social Investment- Less is more.

Shawn does 2 things which I love in this book:

1) Explains things with interesting examples (mostly case studies) and
2) Gives you easy ways to implement those insights.

In general, a lot of psychology is thrown in the “I already knew that” category, but we know less than we think we do, and we do less than we think we do. Even if you’re not looking to improve your work or home life, there are some really interesting experiments which are likely to blow your mind, just a little.

Do More Faster: TechStarts Lessons To Accelerate Your Startup

Do More Faster, Rick’s Review:

Do More Faster is essentially 91 blog posts authored by over 50 startup founders focused on entrepreneurship .

Normally I’m not a fan of books full of 2-3 page chapters. I’m a sucker for a good story so I prefer my books to be linear and not read as a “manual”.

However Do More Faster had me hooked after the first few pages.

The book breaks down the art of of building a successful startup into 7 separate themes:

  1. Idea & Vision
  2. People
  3. Execution
  4. Product
  5. Fundraising
  6. Legal & Sructure
  7. Work-Life Balance

It was similar to Founders at Work in its delivery of inspiration in short spurts. Each founder only had a few pages to work with so they were forced to really examine the keys to their startups succeeding. Do More Faster is both practical and inspirational and it’s the best business book I have read in 2010. I’ll leave you with five of my favorite quotes from the book:

“The biggest mistake entrepreneurs can make is hiring those less capable than themselves.”

“As long as I listen to my customers, I never need to have another original idea”

“Every moment you’re working on your product or service without it being in the public arena, it’s actually dying”

“If you can’t quit your business no matter how hard you try, then you have a chance to succeed.”

“Having a co-founder to share your burden, walk side by side with you into battle.. is invaluable.”

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World

The Facebook Effect, Rick’s Review:

Have you ever heard of Facebook? No? It’s this cute little site that lets friends and family stay in touch with each other. And by little I mean it has more 500 million active users who spend over 700 billion minutes per month browsing the site. Kirkpatrick goes in great detail about the history of social media and specifically how the early social media sites paved the way for Facebook.

He seamlessly weaves in and out of interviews with the Facebook founding team and does an excellent job of letting them tell their story in their own words. The obvious star of the book is CEO Mark Zuckerberg who demonstrates that Facebook’s astronomical rise to internet domination is far from coincidental.

For business owners I would classify this book as more fascinating than practical. If you are looking for a manual on how to help your business grow, you should look elsewhere.

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization

Exceptional Service, Rick’s Review:

“The magic happens when you, your systems, and the employees throughout the ranks of your business anticipate the needs of your customers, learning to recognize and respond to the needs of your customers before they are expressed – sometimes before your customers even realize they have a need.”

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit is all about gaining and maintaining customer loyalty. The authors discuss the best ways to systematically build customer service into your organization in a way that always exceeds your customer’s expectations.

Once your company routinely and systematically exceeds expectations, your profit growth will follow. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone that interacts with customers on a regular basis.


Rework, Rick’s Review:

The authors of Rework are the founders of 37 Signals. There is a lot of overlap between their Signal vs. Noise blogand Rework, so if you are familiar with their blog be prepared for a lot of the same content. The book feels like a lot of common sense but in today’s business environment it’s important to reinforce the concepts that Jason & David are preaching.
Here are a few of the core concepts:

  • Build a business that is sustainable and pays for itself
  • Don’t get funding if you don’t need it
  • Let someone else try to hit the home run
  • Don’t grow for the sake of growth alone
  • Stop reinforcing the workaholic culture

While the concepts seem simple, Jason & David do an excellent job deconstructing the “let’s build the next Facebook” mentality that consumes a lot of young entrepreneurs. I highly recommend this book, especially to those of you that do not read the 37 signals blog.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Switch, Rick’s Review:

The basic premise of the book is that making sustainable changes to your life is extremely difficult. The Heath Bros. review the psychology behind change and help us understand why it’s so easy to get “stuck” in your daily habits.

They also breakdown the steps that are necessary to sustaining new habits. Once you can understand how your rider (the rational system in our brain) and the elephant (the emotional system in our brain) influence your actions, it becomes a lot easier to identify your rationalization “tricks” which prevent new habits. I was a huge fan of the Heath Bros. “Made to Stick” and Switch was an equally fulfilling read. I highly recommend this book on both a personal and professional level.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick, Rick’s Review:

SUCCESS…If you don’t know this Made to Stick acronym then you are missing out. This is one of my favorite marketing books of all time and a must read for any marketing professional.

The 50th Law

The 50th Law, Rick’s Review:

Robert Greene’s writing is incredibly motivating. He writes a lot about conquering and embracing fear and outlines the benefits for those who can overcome fear. I was also a big fan of the chapter on mastery. The basic premise is that those who master boredom will also outlast their competitors.

Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else

Training Camp, Rick’s Review:

Even if you are not religious you will be inspired by this religious parable. Gordon’s writing style is straight forward and inspiring. What more could you ask for?

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

Small Giants, Rick’s Review:

This is one of my favorite books of 2009. I highly recommend it whether you work for yourself or for a mega corporation.

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days

Founders at Work, Rick’s Review:

Very inspirational and easy to jump around since each founder profile is only about 15 pages.

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup, Rick’s Review

Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational, Tien’s Review

Certain things just don’t make sense. Giving someone cash is awkward, while a gift card is a nice thank you. If I tell you there is vinegar in this beef dish you will not like it, but if you just eat it you likely will.

This is an interesting read, and a good book to help you think of things outside of your normal perspective.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought For It’s Life Without Losing It’s Soul

Onward, Jeff’s Review:

Onward is an retelling of Howard Schultz’s experience with stepping down as Starbucks CEO, and his need to return to the company because of its departure from customer centered goals, and a focus on profit.

Major Themes

  • Know what you’re good at. It’s ok to expand but don’t do it at the expense of losing what makes you who you are.
  • Every interaction you have with someone is an opportunity to build a relationship with them.
  • Successful people treat others with low value and high value the same way.

UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

UnMarketingMary‘s Review:

Marketers tend to get entrenched in daily activities and to-do  lists, so its easy to lose sight of the big picture and an end goal that isn’t MOAR sales.

UnMarketing is a good read to help refresh your marketing perspective and get you excited about marketing. Almost as exciting as a nice long nap!

I find case studies and experiments really interesting, so the examples of engagement and customer interaction in Unmarketing were also really interesting to read about.

More than that just inspiring and informative, Stratten also gives actionable tips on how to start engaging with your audience in each chapter. 

Spoiler alert: The cover tells the whole story. Marketing should be about engagement.