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Survey reveals the top ten business books that inspire agency leaders

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Founded six years ago, BenchPress, an annual agency benchmarking report commissioned by The Wow Company, has grown to become the largest survey of independent agency owners in the UK. Having previously identified the UK’s most inspirational agencies and the most inspirational leaders, this time round we focus on the independent agency leaders that are inspiring the rest of the industry…

The book most recommended by agency owners is Eating The Big Fish

The title of this book comes from an advert from Avis, the car rental firm, published at a time of planned growth. It positioned Avis as a small fish being chased by a bigger one - a bigger car hire firm. They had to stay ahead or be swallowed.

The book’s author, Adam Morgan, examines 40 challenger brands in this book, identifying their common traits. By using the lessons revealed in the book, smaller agencies can develop strategies to consolidate and, if they want to, compete with the leaders.

The second most recommended book among agency owners is Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation Studios; into story meetings, the post mortems, and the ‘Braintrust’ sessions where art is born.

It is, at heart, a book about how to build and sustain a creative culture - but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, ‘an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible’.

Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it

The E-Myth Revisited dispels the myths about starting your own agency. Small-business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.

Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business - from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed - and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often-overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

How to get everything you want from your entrepreneurial business

Eileen Sharp and Vic Hightower were frustrated. After years of profitable, predictable growth, Swan Services was in a rut. Meetings were called and discussions held, but few decisions were made and even less got done. People were pointing fingers and assigning blame, but nothing happened to solve Swan’s mounting problems. It felt as though they were working harder than ever, but with less impact.

Their story is not unusual, and the challenges they were facing are common - and solvable. Get A Grip tells the story of how Swan Services resolves its issues by implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). With the help of EOS, Eileen, Vic and their leadership team learn to develop and commit to a clear vision, establish focus, build discipline and create a healthier and more cohesive team.

Why some companies make the leap...and others don't

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people."

The only book you need to lead you to success

Millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding. His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:

-make friends quickly and easily;

-persuade people to follow your way of thinking;

-enable you to win new clients and customers;

-become a better speaker;

-boost enthusiasm among your colleagues.

How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

Why are some people and organisations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again? In business, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters why you do it.

Start with Why analyses leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Steve Jobs and discovers that they all think in the same way -they all started with why. Simon Sinek explains the framework needed for businesses to move past knowing what they do to how they do it, and then to ask the more important question - why?

Why do we do what we do? Why do we exist? Learning to ask these questions can unlock the secret to inspirational business. Sinek explains what it truly takes to lead and inspire and how anyone can learn how to do it.

A guide to profit beyond the billable hour

We’ve all experienced the moment at the end of the project when our clients finally get it and understand the value we provide. We just need them to understand the value of what we do before we do it.

Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour is a book that provides rules and tactics to help creative professionals charge more for new work, demonstrate and articulate the value they provide and run a more profitable business.

Authored by Blair Enns who founded Win Without Pitching, after more than a decade in new business and account management roles in some of the world’s largest advertising agencies and some of its smallest design firms.

How to make your communication stick

Like throwing jelly at a wall, poor communication never sticks. Imagine how effective you'd be if you communicated only what was relevant 100% of the time? You would be better at talking to others, presenting, networking and selling.

You would excel in pitches, meetings and discussions with your team. The benefits would be endless.

The Jelly Effect will show you how to get the best out of any situation, whether you're speaking to an individual or a group, formally or informally, inside or outside your organisation. By the time you close the final page of this book, you will be armed with practical, proven techniques that will help you be more effective in all your business dealings.

Change the way you work forever

From the founders of the trailblazing software company 37signals, here is a different kind of business book -one that explores a new reality. Today, anyone can be in business. Tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible.

Technology that cost thousands is now just a few pounds or even free. Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is now simple.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who's ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs who want to get out, and artists who don't want to starve anymore will all find valuable inspiration and guidance in these pages.

Peter Czapp is co-founder and director of The Wow Company

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