Three Books Every CEO Should Read with George Janson

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This is a podcast episode titled, Three Books Every CEO Should Read with George Janson. The summary for this episode is: <p>What’s on your to-be-read list? Executive coach George Janson is sharing the top three books he believes CEOs should read. Tune in to find out what they are and why they’re so valuable for leaders. </p>
📕 The Art of Gathering & Why It Matters
02:42 MIN
📗 Atomic Habits
02:16 MIN
📘 Referral of a Lifetime
02:32 MIN

Intro: Welcome to the Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.

Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with George Janson. George is a Vistage Chair and executive coach, CEO Coach. He is a longtime media and advertising executive who I've gotten to know over the past year. George, welcome to The Daily Bolster.

George Janson: Thank you, Matt, for having me.

Matt Blumberg: Absolutely. So you are, what I like to call a student of the game. You like to read a lot, you like to learn a lot, and you like to pass those learnings on to your clients, executives and CEOs. So I thought it'd be interesting to just ask you, what are your top three book recommendations for your clients at the moment?

George Janson: Great. Well, the three books that I'm gifting clients this holiday season are three of my all- time favorites, and they are Atomic Habits, Referral of a Lifetime, and The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I thought we'd start there because her book, the Art of Gathering and Why It Matters, I think is extremely relevant and timely, and it's really applicable for both personal and professional gatherings, be they in- person or also virtual, which we need to consider in today's day and age. So I thought I'd share what were the three things I found really valuable in this particular book. The first, I think is a really potent reminder that we need to be very intentional about the purpose of the gathering and also the why. Why are we asking people to take time out of their busy schedule for our gathering? What's the win for them? I think most people, they just start the meeting with the agenda, which is snooze, a little bit boring, and not going to get anyone too excited, so really putting some oomph into the why. Next is... It's going to sound a little wonky, but it's establishing a temporary alternative reality for people. What this means is really getting people to step outside of their everyday roles and routines once they come to your gathering, and creating this environment that really promotes openness, creativity, and engagement. This could be anything, Matt, from icebreakers to games like the Marshmallow Challenge, which I've done with my groups, which is all about teamwork, collaboration, and even challenging ourselves to change the physical setup of the space. You can also change the setup of the space different times of the day, and I found this really helpful and useful as a way to get people energized, especially after lunch. Next is to control the ending. I know this may sound kind of obvious that a lot of people take the ending for granted, and I think it's just as important, if not more important, than the opening. I think the reason we sometimes forget about the impact and it can have is because before the meeting's even over, people are starting to pack their stuff up, put their laptop away and head for the hills before the meeting is officially done. But really, as the host of a gathering, it's our responsibility to ensure that the ending is really impactful and meaningful to people. Sometimes I'll even ask people to reflect on, in one or two words, what was the most valuable thing you took away from this meeting? Or, who would you like to acknowledge or say thank you to that really made an impact on you during the meeting or showed some support? Okay?

Matt Blumberg: I like that. So that's the Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which sounds like it's about meetings, but it's about a lot more than meetings.

George Janson: Yes, it's about life, too.

Matt Blumberg: It's about life. Okay, what's book number two?

George Janson: Number two is Atomic Habits by the great James Clear. I thought this also is very applicable, timely, since many of us are thinking about our goals for the new year. I know I'm working with my clients on this right now. The premise is that these tiny or atomic changes, if you will, can produce remarkable results. Te reason I really love this, Matt, is because I'm often a go big or go home kind of guy. So he's suggesting breaking down habits into these smaller, manageable steps. He even has something called the Two- Minute Rule, which, a- ha, suggests that we start with a task that takes less than two minutes. The thinking is that the short timeframe makes it easier to initiate and even build momentum. Who doesn't have two minutes, right, Matt, for our favorite habit?

Matt Blumberg: Exactly.

George Janson: So he also talks about habit stacking, which I had never heard of before, but it's about integrating new habits into existing routines by stacking them on top of established one. So for instance, I really struggle to meditate, so maybe after I brush my teeth, I set a goal to sit on my couch and meditate for 10 minutes. So brushing my teeth is really the prompt for me to do this every morning. By the way, I've tried this and so far, it's working for me.

Matt Blumberg: I really like that concept of stacking habits. That's going to stick with me.

George Janson: Good. Maybe I like the other one, too.

Matt Blumberg: Yeah.

George Janson: It's about making your habits obvious by making cues and triggers for those habits more apparent. He's encouraging us to design our environment to really prompt these positive actions and reduce, sometimes the friction that we have for desired behaviors. So maybe I put my gym bag or my running shoes in front of my door at night as a not so subtle reminder that working out is one of my big goals for the year. If I don't pick up that bag, at least in the layout of my apartment, I'm stuck staring at it. All day long, this bag that's stuck in front of my door, so I can feel guilty about it for the rest of the day, which is something I want to do. So, very, very practical book.

Matt Blumberg: All right. That's a good second one. Atomic Habits by James Clear.

George Janson: Yes.

Matt Blumberg: What's the third and final?

George Janson: Matt, do you like making cold calls?

Matt Blumberg: Does anybody?

George Janson: Yeah, just to call random people to cold call.

Matt Blumberg: I found it a very valuable part of my early career training, but I can't say I enjoyed it.

George Janson: So, I hate it. I really don't like cold calling, and that's why I love this third book called Referral of a Lifetime, and it's by Timothy Templeton. His big focus is really creating and leveraging strong relationships that we have through referrals. What he does is break down the actual process of getting referrals bit by bit, and he turns them into actionable steps. He guides readers on how to navigate each stage from the initial contact to successfully gaining referrals, so the outcome that we desire. I know this may sound like it's too much for some people, but he actually suggests starting your database with the names of 250 people you know, who also then will know another 250 people, and so on and so forth, who are your center of influence, and that can help make referrals for you. He also talks about sending clients you haven't been in touch with for a while, what he calls a confessional letter, as a way to reignite conversations with that person. Some of my clients have done this, Matt, and gotten very positive results because basically, it's humanizing you and it says, well, I haven't been in touch. You're still very important to me, and can we have a chat?

Matt Blumberg: Yeah, I mean, that's kind of disarming. I like that.

George Janson: Exactly. It takes people by surprise. So the next one I think is really important, especially as a lot of people looking at their expenses for next year, the overhead bottom line, so on and so forth, is to establish a referral rewards budget. As you're doing your budgeting, put money aside to thank the people who made a referral, whether it's sending them flowers, a gift card to their favorite restaurant or even a bottle of wine. Really, the key here is to try and personalize the thank you based on what you know about the referrers interest. So if they like golf, maybe getting them a gift card to a country club or something like that. But really important for them to see that you've taken the time to really know and understand them. Setting a budget now, great time as many people are active doing this as we speak. So that's my top three, Matt.

Matt Blumberg: Those are all great. So the Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton, Atomic Habits by James Clear, the Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. George Janson, Vistage Chair, and CEO Coach, thank you so much for joining me today. These are all great recommendations.

George Janson: Thank you, Matt.


What’s on your to-be-read list? Executive coach George Janson is sharing the top three books he believes CEOs should read. Tune in to find out what they are and why they’re so valuable for leaders.