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3 Books Small Business Owners Should Read

Rieva Lesonsky
books small business

There is so much small business owners need to know to operate at peak performance. Luckily we live in the Information Age with plentiful resources. To help you sift through some of the data, every week we’re going to look at three business books and the lessons you can learn from reading them.

The Ignorant Maestro: How Great Leaders Inspire Unpredictable Brilliance ($26.95)

By Itay Talgam

Author and conductor Itay Talgam, a disciple of the great Leonard Bernstein and a leadership instructor, starts with an interesting premise: “Great leaders embrace ignorance and use it to elevate their people to new heights of achievement.”

Talgam looks at six of the greatest orchestra conductors of all time and tells you what you can learn from them to get the most out of those you manage. (Not all the conductors are role models, either.) For instance, he says Bernstein (who he calls the “master of conversation”) showed how to be, simultaneously, “a soloist and a member of the ensemble.”

This is an unusual take on a leadership book, and it’s fascinating and illuminating. Talgam’s lesson: If you want to be a great leader, you need to let go of knowledge and embrace the unknown.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communication With Power and Impact ($24.95)

By Annette Simmons

With storytelling currently all the rage in marketing and media, this is a timely moment to release the updated and expanded second edition of this book. Annette Simmons, a storyteller herself, believes everyone has the potential to be a great storyteller. She reminds her readers that we already tell stories every day; we just don’t realize how much they matter.

So to make our stories more effective, Simmons offers tips and techniques (as well as real-world examples) to help us improve our storytelling skills. She also shows how to incorporate stories into any of our communications, from coffee breaks with the staff to vital presentations in front of potential clients. There are also plenty of exercises so you can practice and hone your innate storytelling skills.

The HEAD Game: High Efficiency Analytic Decision-Making and the Art of Solving Complex Problems Quickly ($26.95)

By Philip Mudd

The first thing you should know is that Philip Mudd is the former deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch—so he knows, more than most people, how to overcome threats and solve problems.

HEAD stands for High Efficiency Analytic Decision-making, and the method involves working backward from defining your end goal. Mudd says you have to start with the question and then figure out what your “drivers” are. Once you do that, you can work your way through to the best solutions for you, a process that involves measuring performance, looking at the data and figuring out what you’re missing.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.