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AMY PORTERFIELD: Ah, today is a very special day. Can you take a guess why? You might actually already know. Today is my four hundredth episode! What?! That’s wild to me. That's four hundred episodes since I started this little show back in 2011, plus a few little bonus episodes sprinkled in there. And I will tell you, all of them have been with my blood, sweat, and tears. I mean, I just wanted to make sure that when I started this podcast, those who were listening felt totally supported every step of their entrepreneurial journey. So I hope that I've been able to do that job. And I think that many episodes, I think it deserves a little celebration. So I'm so very glad that you're joining me for today's episode, where I'm not only bringing you behind the scenes on something very near and dear to my heart, but I'm also sharing how you could win a really cool giveaway. So cheers to four hundred episodes, and cheers to four hundred more.
INTRO: I'm Amy Porterfield, and this is Online Marketing Made Easy.
AMY: When I was in my podcast meeting for this batch of podcasts—you know I do a batch of six every time I sit down to record—and I was talking with my team, and I knew I wanted to do something special with this episode, something that was a little bit more personal. And if you're looking for a step-by-step episode right now, well, dear listener, I've got you covered with about 399 other episodes to choose from. But here we are on the four hundredth episode, and I want to invite you into my home. Well, more specifically, my personal library.
If you know me at all, then you know, I am a book lover. And by chance, if you're new here for the first time, welcome. So glad you're here. But if you know me, you know I'm a book lover, and I always have them. For me, books are a huge part of my overall growth, including my business and including taking care of my mental well-being and, not to mention, just enjoying myself and giving myself a break from the everyday hustle. And so for the four hundredth episode, I thought, well, I'm going to share my top twelve books, also because I get asked all the time, “Amy, what are your favorite books? What books should I be reading as an entrepreneur?” So today I’m going to share those books, and I’m going to talk about how they’ve helped me in my business or how they’ve helped me personally, and why you should read them too.
And ready for the best part? In honor of this episode, we're giving away all of these books to some lucky listeners, maybe even you, and I'm thrilled about it. So here are the details in how you can get entered into this giveaway. For the next six days, starting today, we're going to give away a book bundle with all of these books mentioned in this episode, every day. That means that each day, you'll have a chance to win a bundle with all of these wonderful books that I'm going to tell you about.
Here's what you need to do to get entered. Head to my Instagram—so on Instagram, I'm just @amyporterfield—and each day, we'll put up a giveaway post. On that post, share something that you've learned from Online Marketing Made Easy in the comments or what you love about it, and you'll be instantly entered to win. However, if you’re like me and you love bonus points, post that image on your Instagram Stories, and we’ll enter you to win for a second time for that day. It's going to be a blast, and I'm so excited to give away my very favorite books.
And really quick, if you haven't recommended Online Marketing Made Easy to an entrepreneur friend or two yet, I'd love to invite you to do so. My goal is to reach and support as many entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the making as possible. So I'd be so grateful if you took the time to share this episode with someone who you think might love it.
So, for now, let’s talk about those books.
Let's kick things off with one of my favorites, Atomic Habits by James Clear. Have you read it? I mean, if you haven't, you got to get your hands on this book. Now, in life, there are two things I love a lot. Number one, I love systems; and number two, I love a good step-by-step strategy, which explains why I love this book so much, because that's exactly how James approaches creating good habits that yield remarkable results. James says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Let me repeat that one more time. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Okay. This system girl, I totally get that. But what this book helped me do was really zoom out and take a good, hard look at how I was approaching goals and the habits I had to help me accomplish them. And to be honest, it made me say to myself, “Okay. What if I just took one step at a time? What if I focused on one habit at a time?” And listen, I've said it once and I'll say it a million times more, habits are a crucial part of any entrepreneur's success. So if you want to commit to habits, take a new approach to them and make them lifelong habits by reading this book. Honestly, he breaks habits down and gives you simple ways to finally make them stick. I had James on the podcast in episode 295. It is by far one of my most popular episodes, so go check it out. Amyporterfield.com/295. Okay. So that's Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Next up, I absolutely loved this next book and love how she writes. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. Honestly, this book reminded me that not everything I say is going to be received with open arms. But despite that, I have to be myself through and through. Through her storytelling, humor, and lessons learned, Luvvie gives you permission to be true to who you are and reminds us—this is important—that if you are willing to not always keep the peace and not be everyone's cup of tea, although that's not always easy, it's worth it because it keeps you in alignment with who you are and what you stand for. This book is real and raw, and it's entertaining. And Luvvie speaks so much truth about fear. What I love so much about this book is that fear can feel lonely, but Professional Troublemaker reminding me that we all feel it at different points of our life, that fear is something that unites us, but we can also change how we manage it. So she does a beautiful job of sharing how to kick fear and imposter syndrome to the curb—and my motto always—do big things. So go grab that book too. You will not be disappointed.
Also, if you want to hear Luvvie speak, check out Online Marketing Made Easy episode number 375. Her and I have a conversation there about her book and being a professional troublemaker. Oh, and by the way, if you are in the class of 2021 for Digital Course Academy and you will be attending the Entrepreneur Experience live event, Luvvie is our keynote speaker. So get ready for some amazingness because she'll be live.
All right. Next up, Believe IT: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable by my sweet friend Jamie Kern Lima. So what I love about Jamie's book is that she's so raw and real about the number of setbacks she's had. And I mean, we're talking about a woman who has been named by Forbes as one of America's richest self-made women. So hearing her share her setbacks gives you a lot of hope, as you can imagine. She talks about cyber bullies—ah, it just breaks my heart to read that part of the book—and people high up in the industry not believing in her and her vision and what she was creating, stories that just pull at your heartstrings. But all this to say, Believe IT reminds you to lean into your internal knowing. That's what I love about this book. Even if you don't feel you have total support, you have to lean in and rely on yourself, to keep showing up for yourself, keep pushing, and know that you have something special to offer the world. Honestly, this book is full of inspiration from cover to cover. I can't recommend it enough. And if you want to hear more about Jamie and from Jamie, I interviewed her on episode number 363, so go listen. You’re going to fall in love with her.
Funny enough, when I was creating the list of these twelve books, the last thing I had in mind was to reference the podcast episodes that these authors were on my podcast. That was, like, not even on my radar. And when we created the list, we're like, oh, my gosh. So many of them have been on the podcast, which was just a lucky coincidence. But I thought, “Well, I'm going to mention that if you want to go deeper.”
Okay. Speaking of someone who's been on the podcast, this next book is Free to Focus. You guys, this is, like, one of my favorites. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less, and, again, from my mentor, Michael Hyatt. Now, this book is just phenomenal, and it really helps you to get clear on your focus in your personal life as well as your professional life. It also helps you to understand your unique gifts and really how you can add more value to your company or your career.
So here's what I'll say about this one. I've had the opportunity to get to know Michael, his wife Gail, and his five wonderful daughters. And I will say that he actually walks the talk. What I mean is that I've seen how Michael has worked hard to create the lifestyle he wants. And the lessons and strategies he shares in his book are literally the foundation for how to do that successfully for yourself. I've seen him live the way he teaches in his book.
In fact, what I learned from this book is a huge part of what allowed me and my team to successfully transition to a four-day workweek. So this book was part of that transformation there. Specifically, if we as a team weren't using the Full Focus Planner and identifying our ideal weeks or getting clear on our yearly, weekly, and our daily Big Three, which are all part of what he teaches in this book, we wouldn't be the well-oiled four-day-workweek machine that we are today. So, yeah, if lifestyle freedom, both personally and professionally, sound good to you, this book has your name on it. And if you want to hear more from Michael—again, this is just so cool—he's been in a few episodes. So episode 258 touches on this book a lot, so maybe that's the one you want to go listen to. So amyporterfield.com/258.
Okay. This next book I want to share with you is someone that has not been on the podcast, but I'd kind of die if she were. Like, I would fall over if she was ever on my podcast. Let's just put out into the universe that one day she will be. Good? This next book is Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. I cruised through this book the first time I read it. Then, I got it on Audible, and there are some random days that I'll just listen to a chapter when I'm walking Scouty. Like, there are some days that I'm like, “I just need a little Shonda. Let’s put it in my ears.”
So I just can relate to Shonda in wanting to say no to opportunities because I didn't want to be out in front of people. I didn't want the attention. Like, I can fully relate to that. And she talks about this a lot. But this book, my friends, this book taught me and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. People talk about that all the time, but Shonda, like, brings it to life, and she shows what's possible, and she encourages you to be open to new opportunities, and then, holy heck, she encourages you to say yes to them. So she tells a lot of personal stories, she's incredibly funny in this book, and she just really inspires you to go for it. And talk about someone who walks the talk, you see her doing that throughout the entire book. So, yes, Shonda is doing big things. And that's very much because of what she shares in this book, which personally helped me to be more open to inviting new opportunities in my world instead of shying away from them, so accepting them with somewhat-open arms. Okay, kidding. Wide-open arms. So if you're hanging back because of fear, if you find yourself saying no to things, or not going after things, if you find yourself being too comfy where you are, this book is a must read. I love Shonda Rhimes, and I hope she comes on the podcast one day.
All right. Moving on.
Attention to all my Enneagram twos, all those people pleasers out there, this book is for you. Radical Candor by Kim Scott. So why did I mention Enneagram twos and people pleasers? Because that's me. And if you're anything like me, you've never felt comfortable having hard conversations. Maybe you're not even in Enneagram two, but the thought of having really hard, awkward, uncomfortable conversations—I mean, I guess who loves that? I mean, there's maybe one of you out there that's like, “Ooh, bring it on.” Most of us, I don’t care what Enneagram you are, most of us don’t like that, right? So in my personal life, I don't shy away from hard conversations. Poor Hobie. Like, when something's going on that I'm not comfortable with or that I need to speak up, my Italian roots, my grandmother comes through me. My hands are flailing all around. My voice is a little bit more elevated than it should be, and I'm speaking my mind.
However, I struggle with saying the hard things as a boss or leader, and in the past I'd hide back from sharing what I needed because it was hard to do that with team members that I cared about. I didn't want to hurt feelings. I knew they were working so hard. I didn't want to be a nuisance to them. I just had all these issues. But this book helped me to understand that if I respected those I employed, then the hard conversations were a form of that respect. That was big for me.
When I had this realization, thanks to this book, I became more open to those conversations, and I have had so many situations where, let's say, I'll go to someone on my team, and I'll say, “Hey, look. When this happened, the reason I was frustrated was that x, y, z, and I really encourage you to…,” and whatever the request I needed to make. More often than not, the employee will say to me, “I am so glad you spoke up.” They can't read my mind. They don't know. So they actually are like, “Thank you. Consider it fixed. Not a big deal,” but the fact that I actually said something to them, they respect.
So Kim Scott, in this book, she takes you through exactly how to approach those conversations, and I think that part is important. Like, how do you have these hard conversations? And she shares personal work stories that keep you engaged throughout the entire book. Like, oh, give me an example, and then she does. Honestly, if you're looking to grow a team, whether you hope to have twenty full-time employees like I do or you want just to have a virtual assistant a few hours a week, I don't care where you are in that mix, get this book. Get your hands on this book because it will be transformational in how you communicate, especially as the boss.
Next book. I remember listening to this one, and it was so good that the few days I listened to it, I had my earbuds in during every minute of the day. Like, going for a walk, doing tasks around the house, grocery shopping. Hobie kept saying, “Uh, can you take your earbuds out?,” like, he motions for me to take my earbuds out because I can't hear them. I just couldn't put it down.
So the book is Becoming by Michelle Obama. This one was just exceptional. Michelle shares beautiful stories about friendships and family and work and persistence and courage and just going after her dreams. And I think the reason this book is such an important read is that it's a gentle and loving reminder that we have to be true to who we are. I think a lot of the books I'm recommending are. And she talks about following your heart, no matter how scary something is or how different that might make your life look than you had planned.
I think that part's important. I just remember feeling like, yes, we've got to go for it, even if it means leaving that college degree behind or stepping out of the path that our family or our loved ones expected for us, to follow that little voice inside us that says, “This is important work. Keep going for it.”
So if you're feeling like you're not sure you should just keep pushing for something you believe in or maybe you're not sure if you should keep working towards becoming your own boss or starting your own business, get this book. I wish I had an Online Marketing Made Easy episode to point you to with Michelle, just like with Shonda, but I'm not there yet. So, Michelle, if you're listening, why don't you come on the podcast?
All right. Moving on.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. And this book, it's really forced me to look at the tasks I was doing in my life and in my business and pare them down to what was absolutely essential. My friends, this is a must-must read. I still abide by some of the strategies that Greg shares in this book. I couldn't have a four-day workweek if I didn’t. So this book felt like I finally had permission not to do all the things, and instead focus on being more present and better at the things I was doing. I preach on this. I feel like I could maybe write a version of this book of my own experiences because I'm always saying less is more, less is more. I think as an entrepreneur with so many responsibilities outside of being a business, I think it's easy to try and take on the world, but this isn't the best way to do it. So Essentialism helps you to get to the core of where you want and should focus your energy and time so that you can become more efficient and more intentional and a lot less stressed out. So this book was a biggie for me, and it might be for you if you're ready to cut through that never-ending to-do list and set out each day with intentional focus. Last year my word was intentional, and so this book was a really big part of that. Also, this one is great for both your personal and your professional life, so something to keep in mind.
Now, moving on to something kind of similar, like, similar theme. the book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Okay. So just for the record, I got to go to Austin a few years back, and Jay and I met and had what I call street tacos. It was, like, a vendor on the side of the road. And they were so delicious. So, Jay, if you're listening, I'm still thinking of those breakfast tacos in Austin. Let's do that again.
Okay. So I truly believe that the principles in this book, The ONE Thing, are the difference between realizing your potential and true success and, honestly, just settling. So for me, this book helped me to move past distractions and overwhelm and get to a place where I was finally hitting my goals, struggling less along the way to achieve those goals, and living more stress free. So essentially, this book helped me to realize that I needed to build a vertical business. And that means that I sell the same course over and over again, get better at launching that same course, improve that course, and see growth much quicker. You all know that I talk about this over and over again, right? Create one digital course. Launch it over and over again. Well, that's kind of the theme that you get in this book. And I just feel like this book really solidified that having fewer projects but doing them better was always the right fit for my business and would offer more freedom. So my big takeaway for this book is that freedom comes from doing less and making more of an impact, and this has been an essential part of all that I do.
Now, if you're kind of waffling around in your business, maybe you have a bunch of different offers, nothing’s really kind of hitting the mark and making you as much money as you want, and maybe you're even thinking about jumping ship or maybe just creating a new offer, so you're starting from scratch once again, first, read this book. I think you'll be surprised to find that there's actually just a better way to achieve success and freedom, and it's getting really good at one thing. I think every entrepreneur needs to read this book. Also—surprise, surprise—check out episode 264 for more on Jay and this idea of the one thing. I got to interview him. So amyporterfield.com/264, if you're interested in learning about the one thing.
Okay. This next book, I just can't. It's so good. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. So dang good. You know when I say all the time that you're a big deal? Well, this book is all about that. You're a big deal, your ideas are a big deal, and you have so much to offer this world. I think why I love this book so much is because the concept she talks about is how we all have wonderful, big ideas come to us through strikes of inspiration or whatever it might be. And she shares how we can either choose to go for those things or dismiss them. But if you go for them, huge things can happen. This is honestly what I tell my students and what I tell people in my audience. The ideas you have are brilliant—maybe it's an idea for a course or an online business—and those hits of inspiration happened to you for a reason. Like I say, they happened for you. So don't let fear hold you back from going after them, because all in all, someone is going to do something big with this idea, so why not let it be you? I can't say enough good things about this book. Just go get it. Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, go get it.
The next book spoke to my soul. It's The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. And the reason I connected so deeply to it is that I've experienced everything he's talked about. In fact, I think most entrepreneurs have. Because the truth is that all entrepreneurs at some point get to a spot where they are fearful to take the next leap. I have been here so many times. Fearful of what's on the other side. And the worst part is that you may not even know you're fearful, but this book gives you what you need to identify the symptoms so you can recognize that fear. Like, this book, I feel like he wrote it just for me, so I'm guessing other people feel that same way, too. So it's like he's looking you square in the eyes, and he's telling you this is exactly what you're up against and here's how to move past it. So The Big Leap gives you the steps to move forward past fear. I don't think I'm alone when I say that this is one of the most impactful books you can read as an entrepreneur. It's that good. I think we should all read it as entrepreneurs, like, every single year to remind us what is needed to keep moving forward.
And the last book I can't recommend enough is Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown. I mean, let's be honest, anything by Brené is, like, the best of the best, right? Brené, there's a place on my podcast that's just waiting for you. Like, I've got a spot. Give me a call. Cool?
So this brilliant book talks about leadership in such a raw and vulnerable way. For those days when imposter syndrome feels bigger than what you've got in you, lean into this book. She really helps you to understand that you can still be human and be a leader. You don't have to be a superhero to be a leader, but you do have to find that courage.
I recently did an episode, a few episodes back, about three different life changes I've had. And if you haven't listened to that episode, I’ll link to it in the show notes. I think it's an important one because I started talking about how normal it is to struggle as an entrepreneur, how normal it is to have setbacks. And I just believe that this book by Brené, she's talking about, like, you can be human and still be a leader. And I think my whole message in that podcast episode, I didn't even realize it, probably learned some of those lessons from this book.
So on those days when you're thinking, “When are they going to find me out? When will someone call me out? I'm such an imposter,” when impostor syndrome just gets the best of you, like, “Who am I to be teaching this?” or, you know, “I'm not a real entrepreneur,” whatever comes up for you, read this book. She gives you permission to step into your role as a leader, no matter how basic or normal you might feel or less than than you might feel, because the truth is that no one has what you have to offer the world.
So there you have it. Twelve wonderful books. You could read one every single month or just binge on them. And let me be clear that I have all these books in my library, but you can bet I have most of them on Audible as well. You all know I'm obsessed with Audible, right? I love to listen to books. And one of the reasons I love to have books in my earbuds is that I go back and relisten and relisten, just certain chapters, like I mentioned earlier, or just the entire whole book. Like, I've listened to Year of Yes probably three times, and I've read it once. So I just really like the repetition. I think it kind of gets into my bones a little bit deeper when I go back to stuff. So anyway, something you might want to think about, getting them on Audible as well.
But before I go, I want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for tuning in every single week. Thank you for listening to all four hundred episodes or maybe two hundred episodes. Or maybe this is your first one, and if so, thank you for being here. To all of you, you mean so much to me. I think about you nonstop. I think about what you need, how I can serve, how I can show up on this podcast, to make your entrepreneurial journey a little less lonely, and I hope a whole lot easier as you go. You're the reason I made this podcast, you're the reason I do the work that I do, and I just really thank you for tuning in. Thank you for being a part of my journey as well. Thank you to all of you who have left me a review or recommended my show to a friend or a fellow entrepreneur. It means more to me than I can ever express. I'm very grateful for you. So thank you so much.
So now I want you to win. I want you to head on over to Instagram—remember, I'm amyporterfield on Instagram—and get signed up every day for six days for our giveaway. You have six days that you can enter and win one of these book bundles. And if you have some of these books, then you can give away some to your own audience or to your friends. So head on over to Instagram, find me, enter to win. Look for the giveaway post for six days in a row. And I hope you're one of the big winners.
Thanks so much for joining me today and all the days of this podcast. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.