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6 Must Reads for Marketing Leadership

Reading with your team gives you (and them) space to take a step back from daily business and reflect. It can provide new ideas, approaches to current challenges, and, best of all, curates a culture that embraces continued learning. Good marketing isn’t just about being skilled or knowledgeable; it’s a field that champions innovation and agility. This means taking inspiration from everywhere and anywhere you can get it. So, we’ve compiled a reading list of six books that we think every marketing team lead should add to their 2023 TBRs.

1. Think Again by Adam Grant

Best for: experimenting with and brainstorming campaigns

Adam Grant’s Think Again advocates for the benefit of doubt by examining the science behind changing your mind – and persuading others to change theirs. It explores the biases and assumptions we bring to our decision-making and outlines how individuals and organizations can build a mindset of lifelong curiosity.

What does that mean? Seeing being wrong about something as a golden opportunity to learn something new. Grant argues that most of us think as a preacher, prosecutor, or politician. We hold our ideals sacred, pick apart the opposition to prove our point, and focus on how to sway others to our side. Instead, we should find a kind of joy in failure the way scientists do, with the mindset that their initial ideas will need some adjusting.

What makes it a must-read: Admitting ignorance can be a scary thing in an industry that praises expertise, but as Grant says, “Put your confidence not in your existing knowledge, but in your capacity to learn.” Be ready to re-think your ideas, strategies, and tactics— and see what happens.

2. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan

Best for: approaching hard conversations respectfully (without sounding pretentious)

On the heels of the last suggestion, let me introduce a potential pairing of Crucial Conversations.

What defines a conversation as “crucial”? It’s when:

  • opinions vary

  • stakes are high

  • parties involved have strong emotions

Listen, I know what you’re thinking— and I hear you. Books like these are a tough sell because they are often an inky mass of anecdotes covered in cheese. Yet, if you’re not willing to have hard conversations, your team will suffer, and if there’s one book I’d trust my team with— it’s this one. Crucial Conversations takes a refreshingly practical and engaging approach to the topic of conflict.

Although it’s not exactly a book to read cover-to-cover in one sitting, it’s a great resource to have on hand.

Some examples of techniques given include:

  • how to be persuasive but not abrasive

  • navigating when others blow up or clam up

  • how to actively take crucial conversations and follow them up with action and results

What makes it must-read: The short answer? It makes you get out of your own way and encourages others to do the same.

3. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Best for: finding creative approaches to case studies

For anyone who’s not acquainted with Malcolm Gladwell and struggles with nonfiction reading— here is the perfect introduction. In David and Goliath, he breaks down the preconceived notions of advantages and disadvantages, exploring how we define success and failure. From a tale of the book’s namesake to stories of dyslexia, policing, and the Korean War. You will learn— and— you will be entertained.

What makes it must-read: Malcolm Gladwell is an expert at taking complex and sometimes very dry topics and turning them into addictive, digestible articles. It’s a golden example of how compelling.

4. Outside Insight by Jørn Lyseggen

Best for: rejuvenating inspiration

It’s very easy to get trapped in a bubble. Facebook taught us that. Suppose you feel the marketing industry is a tad oversaturated with news and trends that all look the same. In that case, Jørn Lyseggen advises professionals to step outside their industry bubble and look beyond internal data. Using real-life examples from Nike to L’Oréal to Barack Obama, Outside Insight is packed with tools to aid forward-thinking industry professionals in making innovative and, most importantly, data-driven decisions.

What makes it a must-read: As we stated before, it’s essential to take inspiration from everywhere, everything, and anyone you can. Branch out of the bubble!

5. Make Time by John Zeratsky, Jake Knapp

Best for: dealing with burnout

Make Time is an ink and paper embodiment of the thought, “if only there were more hours in the day....”

Zeratsy and Knapp provide a framework for and a reminder to prioritize your life around your passions and values rather than reacting to your expectations. It's a better way of redefining productivity to what suits you, not out of the fear of stagnation. Admittedly, the advice isn’t life-changing. However, it is pertinent, and the writing style is personable enough to charm you into sticking with it. As someone in a leadership role, it's essential to recognize your strengths, weaknesses, and boundaries. If you burn out, what hope does your team have?

What makes it a must-read: The book doesn’t suggest unrealistic solutions like throwing out your smartphone. It presents solutions to productivity without radically overhauling your lifestyle; instead, offering small shifts in your environment that suit you.

6. Range by David Epstein

Best for: coping with imposter syndrome

For those who have read (or maybe just heard of) James Clear’s Atomic Habits (a runner-up for this list), Range is a great follow-up. In a nutshell, this book explores the study of match quality (finding a career or lifestyle that fits you instead of specializing early in a particular area or field.) Epstein illustrates how we evolve through anecdotes and case studies of athletes, artists, and even animals.

What makes it a must-read: "Experts" can — and should— learn to operate out of their comfort zones at any stage if they hope to thrive without A: continuously burning out and B: making their career their whole identity.

Show some shelf love in 2023

No matter what your goals for the year may be, these six books will be a great addition to a bedside table, office book club, or audiobook library. Have suggestions for more marketing reads? We’d love to hear them!

Looking for in-person, off-page experts to help you elevate your digital marketing strategies? Contact us today to learn more about how Omnio can get you to the next level.

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