Donna’s Library


Reading at least one book a month will change your practice and your life. I guarantee it! Following is a list of my favorite books that will help you grow your practice through all the myriad of activities that a dentist does (besides the dentistry).


smartest doctor in the room
Smartest Doctor in the Room: How Doctors and Dentists Are Outwitting Wall Street
In this short book, Stephen Gardner offers you an investment plan that will put your mind at rest about the safety and security of your invested money: Buy discounted insurance contracts, sometimes call viaticals. In doing this, you’re purchasing equity versus trying to grow it, Gardner says.

As a doctor or dentist, you are in a unique position to understand your patient’s health and life expectancy. By carefully choosing your investments, you can buy life insurance policies from policy owners for less than the net death benefit, pay the premiums and collect a lump sum when the patient dies. Through this transaction, you will be helping the policy owner by putting immediate money into his or her pocket – money that will be of no use to that person when the policy pays off. If the doctor or dentist chooses wisely, the eventual payout will be far more than the total of the monthly payments and possibly tax-free.

This, the author says, is how big banks safely grow their money. Individuals can legally use the same strategy – and medical professionals have an inside edge.

Though the author’s subject is complex, the book is easy to read and understand and, according to several reviewers, highly educational.

smartest doctor in the room
Repositioning: Marketing in an Era of Competition, Change and Crisis
In 1980, Jack Trout and Al Reis wrote “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” which broke ground on ways to cut through the mass communications slog and nudge your company (or product, politician or career) to the forefront of people’s attention. Since that book first appeared on shelves, the world has changed – think computers, new medical devices, big box stores, even book-buying – and with it the amount of information that is bombarding our brains. This revision expands Trout’s message to deal with this onslaught.

To validate his approach, Trout cites some dramatic statistics, including: The total of all printed knowledge doubles every four or five years. One weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average 17th-century Englishman encountered in a lifetime. More than 4,000 books are published around the world every day.

In “Positioning,” Trout teaches how to differentiate your product in the minds of your consumers. In “Repositioning,” he discusses how you adjust the perceptions of consumers toward your product. He organizes his information by three factors: competition, change and crisis.

To compete in today’s fast-paced world of over communication, you may need to reposition your company. You must understand your competition and then reposition the competitors to your advantage. You must evaluate potential market changes and act quickly – waiting can be fatal. And you must learn to deal with crisis as an opportunity.

Here is a Trout gem: The best way to cut through today’s complexity and confusion is to oversimplify your message, down to a single idea or even a single word – and drive that consistently.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
Swim With the Sharks
Without Being Eaten Alive
You may already have heard of Harvey Mackay, the well-known motivational speaker, author and business leader. This best-selling book was his first, published 28 years ago, but I only recently got around to reading it. Let me tell you, the advice Mackay offers in this volume is not the least bit out of date.

The core message is one business owners can’t hear too often: Your success depends on learning to stay competitive in the cutthroat business world without compromising your ethics. Mackay is a master negotiator yet adamantly advocates creating genuine relationships with customers and staff. He’s so resolute about getting to know the people he deals with that two chapters in his book cover “The 66-Question Customer Profile.” The questionnaire, he writes, “is designed to convert you from an adversary to a colleague of the people you’re dealing with and to help you make sales.”

And when you’re negotiating deals? His most famous advice is priceless: “Smile and say no until your tongue bleeds.” In other words, learn to confidently turn down the wrong opportunities and say “yes” to the right ones.

“Swim With Sharks” is not a book about becoming a shark; nor is it a dry tome of time-worn platitudes. Mackay teaches you how to get along with “sharks” while staying true to your personal values, and his ideas are as fresh and innovative as when he first proposed them. Reading this book is like having a conversation with the author over coffee – he’s humorous, down to earth and focused on you.

You can trust his advice: His own multimillion-dollar business success is proof it works.


now discover your strengths
NOW Discover
Your Strengths
This is a wonderful book, but there’s a hitch: The foundation of the book is Marcus Buckingham’s StrengthsFinder survey, which can only be taken online using a code hidden in the book. Only one person can take the test per code, so multiple members of each family will have to buy their own books; and library books will not work. You can buy just the code online – when I looked it was about $10. I think it’s worth it.

The test assesses for 34 strengths, things like achiever, communication, deliberative, ideation, maximizer, positivity, restorative, strategic and so forth. Once you know your personal combination of five strengths, you turn to the book to learn how to use them to power up your career. For employers, knowing and working with your employees’ strengths can improve the functioning of your office.

The reason the test is valuable lies in Buckingham’s prime takeaway: Successful people work on enhancing their strengths; they don’t waste time trying to “fix” their weaknesses. The book discusses the attributes of each strength to help guide you toward a fulfilling career. My test pretty much confirmed what I already knew, or thought I knew, but I appreciated the confirmation. And the process of discovering and analyzing my strengths has made me more aware of my own assets and shortcomings and, more important, how to make the most of the strengths of my staff.

This book follows Marcus Buckingham’s earlier book with another author, “Break All the Rules.” In that book, Buckingham coaches managers to look for talent ahead of experience, brainpower and willpower when hiring employees. Once you’ve hired the talent, this new volume will help you determine your and your employees’ unique talents and strengths. Then you can let them soar.

smartest doctor in the room
How to Stop Worrying
and Start Living
Look at the original copyright date of this book inside the cover: 1944. Don’t let that keep you from reading this gem! There’s a reason it’s still in print after 70 years: It contains great, classic advice. You will also find a lot of timeless information in Dale Carnegie’s first book, his more famous “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – copyright 1936. But this later one deals specifically with worry, something all of us who own businesses do far too much of.

Carnegie, who died in 1955, was born to a poor farming family in Missouri. He was ambitious but, through hard work and a great attitude, managed to obtain a college education and eventually became a leading salesman and, later, a public speaking instructor. It was here he achieved his greatest success – it turned out, the American people wanted more self-confidence, and his programs taught them how to get it.

In this book, Carnegie inspires more than instructs with practical advice warmed with stories of real people whose experiences illustrate the success of his methods. At the crux of the book is the famous quote: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” Today, Carnegie reminds, is our most precious possession.

Carnegie counsels readers in ways to transform your life to eliminate worry and bring “peace and happiness.” He offers lots of practical advice without wearisome preaching, just clear common sense. Here are some sample chapter titles (there are 28 of them, plus two-dozen or so fascinating personal stories): “Fool Things I Have Done,” “Four Good Working Habits That Will Help Prevent Fatigue and Worry,” “Don’t Try to Saw Sawdust,” “Don’t Let the Beetles Get You Down,” “The High Cost of Getting Even,” and so many more. After reading this book, you can’t help but come away with a more realistic perspective of how unimportant your worries actually are.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
From Rags to Restaurants:
The Secret Recipe
Usually I’m a snob about what I eat, so you might be surprised to find me digging into a “Racy Tracy” or “Veggie Vigor” at a Squeeze-In in Truckee or Reno. They serve the best omelets on the planet, their tagline proclaims.

Their omelets are certainly good, and varied, but the great quality of the cooking isn’t the main reason for the little restaurant’s renown. That honor goes to owner Misty Young and her talent for finding success in both her restaurant business and her life.

This is much more than a story about a restaurant. Young expanded her single establishment in Reno – mired in the technological dark ages when she took it over – to more locations in California and Nevada and increased sales, even during the recent economic downturn. Her pinnacle came in 2009 when she was invited to compete on a Valentine’s Day special of “Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.” The celebrity chef visited her restaurant to film the breakfast portion of the program. She didn’t win, but, as she tells you in the book, she didn’t lose. The publicity from the show increased her business beginning the very next morning. However, as Young reminds, she couldn’t have won the right to compete if she hadn’t been prepared long before she ever got the call.

How did she create such success in a notoriously difficult business? She tells you how in this book, and her “Five Irrefutable Laws of Restaurant Success” – her secret recipe to turbo-charge her restaurant’s growth, as she puts it – are practical tools that apply to any business or endeavor, not just restaurants. One of her not-so-secrets is kindness and courtesy. Her customers are “guests,” and she nurtures them with special reward programs and constant positive attention.

Young didn’t achieve her success overnight, and you’ll read about the hurdles she had to clear and the setbacks she survived, which, given her ultimate success, will definitely inspire. The writing style is just like the owner – warm, friendly, accessible, comfortable. You’ll learn some new ideas for managing your business, and maybe find a new favorite place to eat in the bargain.


smartest doctor in the room
The Entrepreneur’s Secret
to Creating Wealth
Chris Hurn is a friend of mine and the founder of a Florida company that finances commercial real estate purchases for businesses. I knew how successful he was, but with the publication of his book, I now know his secret: Always exceed your customer’s expectations – so much so that they talk about their experiences with their friends and acquaintances. That is also a key to building your practice and, in turn, increasing your wealth. Hurn’s focus is real estate, but his principles work for any business.

Here are three of my favorite lessons in Hurn’s book:

1. Provide a stress-free, even delightful, experience for your client. You want your customers to rave about your business — that’s what brings in new prospects.

2. Make sure your customers always understand exactly what they’re getting and why it will make their lives better. In Hurn’s case, clients aren’t buying just a building; they’re investing in an opportunity to create long-term wealth through ownership of commercial property. In the case of a dental practice, you can help your patients understand that good dental care not only affects their appearance but also their health, quality of life and even, possibly, their life expectancy.

3. Reward your clients. Hurn’s company hosts an annual appreciation event for its customers, which motivates them to talk up his services to others. Any business, large or small, could do something similar.

This book is not only useful but interesting to read. Hurn relates many real-life stories, including his own, that will motivate and inspire you. He definitely didn’t start with a silver spoon, but he did amass significant wealth, and he makes you believe anyone can do it.

smartest doctor in the room
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
I have recommended Tony Hsieh’s book as must-read to my staff — it’s that good. The core principle of Hsieh’s success is one I want implemented in my office, and I think you’ll agree it can be valuable in yours. Essentially, Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, a merchandise website, concentrates on happiness, not his own but that of his customers and everyone around him. He decided almost from the start that the focus of his entire company would be extraordinary customer service. His philosophy has paid off: After starting Zappos in 1999, he increased sales from virtually zero to more than $1 billion by 2008.

Recently, on a business trip to Las Vegas, where Zappos is headquartered, team members and I took a public tour of the offices and experienced the company’s corporate culture first-hand. The atmosphere was casual and fun — and we certainly felt well taken care of.

Here are some of the ideas our office took away from this tour:

1. Post the core values prominently.

2. Do not give customer-service employees pre-set scripts; let them have as much time as they need to help each caller.

3. Give employees incentives to recognize one another. Each employee at Zappos is allotted $50 a month to give to another employee who has gone out of his or her way to help someone.

4. Set up a lending library for employees. In our office, we challenge employees to read six books in six months – and offer an iPad mini as an incentive for team members who do.

Hsieh writes that the company spends very little on marketing; most of their success has come by word of mouth from satisfied customers. His is a philosophy you can’t argue with: Making your customers and staff happy is a sure route to success.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success
Most of us, at least sometimes, are so focused on looking at the big picture of our lives, tomorrow, the next day and beyond, that we forget about today. But John C. Maxwell in this book teaches that “the way you live today impacts your tomorrow” (his italics). Whatever your dream, you must be prepared when it arrives or you will miss it. To make sure you don’t miss it, you need to start today and work at it every day. Another important quote: “People create success in their lives by focusing on today. … It’s too late for yesterday. And you can’t depend on tomorrow. That’s why today matters” (again, his italics).

Maxwell helps readers learn to make every day count through a series of 12 disciplines he calls the “Daily Dozen.” Each discipline is explained in a separate chapter, but he starts by asking you to rank your skill in each area so you know where to focus your attention. What are your best and worst skills from: attitude, priorities, health, family, thinking, commitments (keep them every day!), finances, faith, relationships, generosity, values and growth.

Maxwell makes it easy to master his advice by giving you a pattern to follow with specific objectives and goals. For example, you pick two of your top strengths to enhance and one of your weaknesses to improve for a 60-day period. When the 60 days are past, you determine if you have made enough progress. If you have, you choose new strengths or weaknesses to address. Taking these disciplines a couple at a time is much less overwhelming than trying to tackle all 12 of them at once.

All we really have is time, and none of us knows how much will be allotted to us. This book, an interesting read, will wake you up to the necessity of never wasting a single day. That’s the real key to long-term success.


now discover your strengths
NOW Discover
Your Strengths
This is a wonderful book, but there’s a hitch: The foundation of the book is Marcus Buckingham’s StrengthsFinder survey, which can only be taken online using a code hidden in the book. Only one person can take the test per code, so multiple members of each family will have to buy their own books; and library books will not work. You can buy just the code online – when I looked it was about $10. I think it’s worth it.

The test assesses for 34 strengths, things like achiever, communication, deliberative, ideation, maximizer, positivity, restorative, strategic and so forth. Once you know your personal combination of five strengths, you turn to the book to learn how to use them to power up your career. For employers, knowing and working with your employees’ strengths can improve the functioning of your office.

The reason the test is valuable lies in Buckingham’s prime takeaway: Successful people work on enhancing their strengths; they don’t waste time trying to “fix” their weaknesses. The book discusses the attributes of each strength to help guide you toward a fulfilling career. My test pretty much confirmed what I already knew, or thought I knew, but I appreciated the confirmation. And the process of discovering and analyzing my strengths has made me more aware of my own assets and shortcomings and, more important, how to make the most of the strengths of my staff.

This book follows Marcus Buckingham’s earlier book with another author, “Break All the Rules.” In that book, Buckingham coaches managers to look for talent ahead of experience, brainpower and willpower when hiring employees. Once you’ve hired the talent, this new volume will help you determine your and your employees’ unique talents and strengths. Then you can let them soar.

smartest doctor in the room
How to Stop Worrying
and Start Living
Look at the original copyright date of this book inside the cover: 1944. Don’t let that keep you from reading this gem! There’s a reason it’s still in print after 70 years: It contains great, classic advice. You will also find a lot of timeless information in Dale Carnegie’s first book, his more famous “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – copyright 1936. But this later one deals specifically with worry, something all of us who own businesses do far too much of.

Carnegie, who died in 1955, was born to a poor farming family in Missouri. He was ambitious but, through hard work and a great attitude, managed to obtain a college education and eventually became a leading salesman and, later, a public speaking instructor. It was here he achieved his greatest success – it turned out, the American people wanted more self-confidence, and his programs taught them how to get it.

In this book, Carnegie inspires more than instructs with practical advice warmed with stories of real people whose experiences illustrate the success of his methods. At the crux of the book is the famous quote: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” Today, Carnegie reminds, is our most precious possession.

Carnegie counsels readers in ways to transform your life to eliminate worry and bring “peace and happiness.” He offers lots of practical advice without wearisome preaching, just clear common sense. Here are some sample chapter titles (there are 28 of them, plus two-dozen or so fascinating personal stories): “Fool Things I Have Done,” “Four Good Working Habits That Will Help Prevent Fatigue and Worry,” “Don’t Try to Saw Sawdust,” “Don’t Let the Beetles Get You Down,” “The High Cost of Getting Even,” and so many more. After reading this book, you can’t help but come away with a more realistic perspective of how unimportant your worries actually are.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
Linchpin:
Are You Indispensable?
In the past decade or so, as everyone must have observed, the workplace has changed. Your employer no longer takes care of you from cradle to grave. Jobs don’t break down into the two standard categories of bosses and obedient workers. In this book, Seth Godin propounds a new third team of employees that fit into the middle: the linchpins. Linchpins are the workers who become emotionally involved in their jobs, feel confident enough to break the rules, stop complying with the system and challenge their employers.

You want these people on your staffs, and you want to foster an environment that allows your employees to feel comfortable innovating and challenging. These are the employees who will find new, more efficient ways of performing what you always thought of as routine tasks. They will solve problems and fix mistakes. Yet many employers are afraid to give their staff members this level of freedom and autonomy.

However, there are rewards for your practice if you do. These employees, the ones who are willing to innovate and grow, can help you take your practice to new heights.

The information applies to you, the business owner, too, of course. In this book, you will learn new ways to innovate and manage your own practice to achieve your career goals.

Godin is the author of 17 books, including “Purple Cow” and “The Icarus Deception.” All his books in some way urge readers to step outside their comfort zones and look at new ways to succeed. His writing is comfortable and you’ll enjoy reading his stories of real people and historical milestones. In this book, chapter titles include “The New World of Work,” “There Is No Map,” “The Powerful Culture of Gifts” and more.


smartest doctor in the room
Organizing From the Inside Out
(2nd Edition)
What would you see if you took a good look around your offices? Chaos? Piles of papers or loose files? Messy magazines? Or a pristine, clean space? Even more important, if you need a tool or form, could you find it? If you’re like most everyone, your surroundings could use some cleaning up and clearing out.

On the other hand, you and your staff are busy and have very little time for chores. Is organizing worth it?

Julie Morgenstern, a columnist for “O” magazine and widely known organizing guru, says it is – and I heartily agree. In fact, Morgenstern states, “You can no longer afford not to be organized” (italics hers). People who are disorganized – and believe it or not, Morgenstern once was – “feel overwhelmed, unsure of which way to turn, and flounder.” In contrast, people who are organized, she says, will thrive.

Morgenstern isn’t offering a 15-minute fix. Her organizational plan teaches you to make lifelong changes to get rid of what she calls “the Yo-yo Organizing Syndrome” – where, as with yo-yo dieting, you get organized quickly with a burst of energy but always give up and slide right back to where you started. Morgenstern’s unique plan to “Organizing From the Inside Out” will teach you a simple, reliable formula, tailored specifically for your personality, that she assures will get you organized for life.

I’ve found in our practice that being disorganized leads to wasting time – which cuts into our bottom line. This book is a wonderful reference that you can return to again and again, whenever you feel you’re getting off-track. She’s fun and interesting to read, and she provides lots of resources.

lead the field
Lead
The Field
Originally written in 1937, this is the second gem by Earl Nightingale, acclaimed by many as the first and most inspiring of the genre of motivational speakers. This book or recording – it is available in both formats – is a compilation from his 7,000 TV and radio commentaries, organized into 12 categories, or ideas, by chapter.

All together, the book is a practical course on how to think and act like a successful businessperson (remember his “secret”: “We become what we think about”). Just a few minutes a day of thinking about our practices, and a few more working toward achieving our practice goals, can inspire positive changes.

Here’s one of my favorite Nightingale exercises, one he promises will bring “all sorts of wonderful things … happening in your life.” The exercise: “Treat every person with whom you come into contact as the most important person on earth. Do that for three excellent reasons: (1) As far as every person is concerned, he is the most important person on earth. (2) That is the way human beings ought to treat each other. (3) By treating everyone this way, we begin to form an important habit.”

This advice is gold when applied to how we treat our patients. When we make them feel important – because they are – they will not only continue to use our practice but recommend us to others as well.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
The Strangest Secret
(Original Version)
The motivational expert Earl Nightingale recorded this story for business colleagues in 1956, when he was 35, and it was so well-received, he had it reproduced – on 33rpm records – for the mass market. It was the first record, of any kind, to sell a million copies, and the personal development industry grew out of it.

The book, written in 1935, is now a classic. It’s small but the message is strong. Reviewers still refer to it as “one of the greatest motivational books of all time.”

A child in a family that struggled during the Depression, Nightingale wondered why some people grew up to prosper but others, like his parents, did not. He opens his book depicting a scenario of 100 men – updated to “individuals” in the current version – at age 25. They all hope to be successful, he says, but by age 65 only one will be rich and four will be financially independent. The rest will still be struggling. Why?

His answer: goals. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal,” he is famous for saying. In other words, people who work toward goals, and know where they’re going, will get there.

And how do we achieve our goals? That’s his “strangest secret”: “We become what we think about.”

To fulfill your ideals, or your goals, keep them in your thoughts all the time – keep striving toward them. His motivational messages will help do just that.

One of my favorite Nightingale quotes is: “Observe what everyone else is doing and … do the opposite.” After reading this book, I looked around my dental offices and realized that while they they might look different from the others, the messages and offers we were generating were the same. I wondered: What can we do that will make people view us as unique?

This book is a quick read, and you can find recordings of it, by the author, on YouTube. However you choose to read it, I highly recommend you do.


now discover your strengths
Trust-Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships
You may think, as a dentist, that you are not a salesman. But, in fact, you are selling your services, and many principles of good salesmanship apply to your practice. Nowhere have I seen these principles better laid out than in Charles H. Green’s book, “Trust-Based Selling.” In his opening chapter, Green immediately debunks the convention that to win a sale you need only to demonstrate the best expertise. That’s fundamental, of course, but far more important in building your practice is trust. The bottom line: People buy services from professionals they trust.

And what is the most important component of building trust? According to Green, it’s authenticity. If you have it, you will enjoy a thriving practice. If you don’t have it, you can’t fake it. And that’s where this book can come in. If your patients don’t trust you, Green’s book is certain to help. In it, you’ll learn in detail the best ways to win your clients’ trust as well as ways to overcome the barriers that are stopping you from achieving a trust-based practice. In our office, we believe Green’s principles are working for us: More than 90 percent of prospective patients who visit us for a consultation sign on for treatment.

Green’s book is comfortable to read, with anecdotes that illuminate his theories and lists to help organize the information. Each chapter begins with a short prologue to familiarize you with the material to be discussed.

smartest doctor in the room
Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
The tagline for this book probably tells you why it is one of my favorites. Jay Abraham does give you 21 strategies for handling your competition, and each one is explained in its own chapter – with titles that practically beg you to read them. “How Can You Go Forward If You Don’t Know Which Way You’re Facing?” (chapter 3), for example. In it, Abraham helps you assess your current business strengths, a critical step if you want to achieve your goals.

Other titles include “Would You Like the Left Shoe, Too?” (chapter 8) and “Watson, Come Here, I Need You,” (chapter 15). My favorite is chapter 4: “Your business Soul – the Strategy of Preeminence.” The first sentence of this chapter is a question: “Why do some people gain levels of success of much higher than others?” Unlike so many self-help books, Abraham actually gives you the answer.

In a nutshell, he says that successful people deal with everyone more effectively by changing the focus from “me” to “you.” In other words, always put your clients’ needs ahead of your own. Instead of asking how you can get your patients to commit to treatment, you should figure out what benefit you can give to them. Be a problem-solver for them and they will come to view you as a trusted adviser.

Abraham’s valuable strategies work in any area of your life, and they are all totally ethical and honorable. Though the book is long, it includes scores of examples of successful entrepreneurs who have followed his advice that make it always easy to understand and at times riveting.

swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Dr. Brene Brown, author of “I Thought It Was Just Me,” has written several books helping readers learn to embrace their imperfections. This is one of my favorites. In this important volume, she relates how she learned to live a “wholehearted” life free of insecurities and negative self-talk. She structures the book around 10 guideposts, such as: Cultivating Authenticity (Letting Go of What People Think); Cultivating Gratitude and Joy (Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark); Cultivating Meaningful Work (Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”).

One way Brown’s book has worked for my life is in helping me overcome the need to be perfect – and nothing less. Perfectionism leads to procrastination, a problem nearly all of us experience. If you’re afraid of failure and the shame you think it will bring, you will likely pull back from beginning new tasks. But it’s OK to be just OK rather than always perfect. And once you’ve relaxed that unattainable standard, you will find you’re moving ahead more quickly than you thought possible.

One aspect of this book that I appreciate is Brown’s credentials. She is a research professor with both a doctorate and a master’s in social work, and she doesn’t simply express her opinions or even observations but backs up everything she writes with solid research.

If Brown’s message could be condensed into a single statement, it would be this: “I am enough.” Yes, we’re imperfect, but we are still worthy. We are enough. That’s a lot for some people to accept, but this book should get them there.


smartest doctor in the room
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Time is money, Ben Franklin wrote some 250 years ago, and the advice still is sound today. In his book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” – one of my favorites – David Allen offers tips and processes for perfecting your personal organization and productivity that would do Ben proud.

Compiled over a quarter-century of “rigorous exploration,” the ideas Allen has developed, if followed, will allow you to get more work done in less time – and with almost no stress.

The book is organized into three sections. He starts with an overview in Section I, goes into detail about how you put his ideas into practice in Section II and reinforces what you’ve learned in Section III.

Here are a couple of ways his book has helped me: If you tend to feel overwhelmed by the tasks and appointments floating around in your head all the time (who doesn’t?), Allen’s “Five Stages of Mastering Workflow,” briefly discussed in Section I and explained vigorously in Section II, will quickly get you on the right track. The stages are: collect, process, organize, review and do.

Second: If you waste time trying to decide what action to tackle next, Allen offers a plan that will streamline that process. Briefly, again, the four criteria he applies are: context, time available, energy available, priority.

These concepts cannot be explained quickly – you’ll have to read the book. But if you’re sincerely looking to manage your time even down the the minute level – stress-free! – I cannot recommend this volume more highly.

youtility book review by donna galante
Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype
One of the successful ways I market my practice is by blogging. The time it takes to post information to my website pays off: My patients often tell me they appreciate being able to find the answers to many of their questions right at their fingertips. So I was heartened when I read this book by Jay Baer. He confirms what I have found to be true: Companies that blog 15 or more times a month get five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. My effort pays off because I am giving clients and prospective clients a “gift” they can use – in this case, the gift of accessible orthodontic information.

That’s the essence of Baer’s book: As the title says, “help not hype.” Baer, a digital marketing pioneer, emphasizes what I have tried to create in my practice: customer-center marketing. Instead of reaching clients through competition, Baer advocates a strategy that offers to help. In other words, his marketing actually provides something useful to prospective clients, even if they never buy his services.

If you’re trying to reach clients, and you don’t know what “inbound marketing” is, you should – and this book will explain it to you. The book also gives you an invaluable six-step “blueprint” for creating what Baer calls “Youtility” in your company.

Here’s another quote from the book I like: “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.” After reading this book, you will never approach your marketing plan the same way again.

co-giver book review by donna galante
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
Bob Burg and John David Mann have published a little red book with a powerful version of the philosophy I have adapted for my practice: Put the other guy first. “The other guy,” in this case, means not only your patients but everyone you deal with in your life: colleagues, family, friends, even competitors.

The book is fun to read, following the fictitious Joe as he learns the “secret” from the also-fictitious Pindar and comes to understand the wisdom of the authors’ five laws of success. After he’s experienced these laws, he realizes this new way of doing business – other-centered – is the only way to reap rewards. And part of those rewards will be the riches, whatever form they take, that he desires.

I won’t keep you in suspense. Pindar’s “secret” is not really a secret. It’s simply one word: “Giving.” I suggest you read this appealing book to find out exactly how to incorporate this secret into your life.

Here are Burg and Mann’s five laws, in brief:

The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give than take in payment.
The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

The stories in this book are fun to read even as they are powerful. You can finish it in an evening – in fact, once you pick it up, you probably won’t want to put it down. I highly recommend it.


now discover your strengths
#GIRLBOSS
The CEO of a company called Nasty Gal may not seem like a writer I’d recommend. But I wholeheartedly do. Sophie Amoruso – now age 30 – rose in seven years from a broke and directionless “badass” of 22 to become CEO of a $100 million fashion business – a favorite of my 18-year-old daughter and her friends. Don’t be put off by Amoruso’s age or her irrepressible writing: The maturity of her advice is timeless. Her predominant theme is one we all should follow, and which I try to incorporate into my practice: Focus relentlessly on your customers.

I took away many gems from “#GirlBoss” but here are my favorite five: (1) Find out what your customer wants and get it for them; without your customers you have no business. (2) Develop a mentality of frugality; always do more with less. (3) Set yourself apart from the competition; but keep your quality the best. (4) Don’t allow your workplace to become a venue for drama and crashing egos. (5) Have fun.

Amoruso’s story proves you don’t have to force yourself into a preconceived corporate mold to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You can be you and have fun even as you succeed. But, you will learn when you read her book that you do have to work hard – very hard – and be committed to your goals. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

smartest doctor in the room
How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life, Revised Edition
I read Michael LeBoeuf’s book on a recent trip and found it contained a wealth of ideas for anyone who owns a business. How can it miss with such chapters as “To Keep Customers Coming for Life, Ask the Platinum Questions”; “What to Do When the Customer … Refuses to Buy”; and “What Gets Rewarded Gets Done”? However, one chapter stood out as being exceptionally relevant to me: “The Only Two Things People Ever Buy” (Chapter 4).

If you’re thinking along the lines of bread and milk, you’re way cold. No matter what product buyers choose, what they’re really paying for is (1) good feelings and (2) solutions to their problems.

I learned from this book that in my practice, it isn’t a mouth full of metal that patients want or necessarily straighter teeth – what they are actually seeking is a beautiful smile and a prettier appearance and the confidence they feel comes from having those assets. I need to keep in mind when I market my services that my clients don’t want things – they want feelings.

When you are able to reward your patients’ feelings, and help them solve their problems, your customers will be loyal for life. And as a result they’ll also eagerly refer other prospective customers to you. So it stands to reason, if you don’t reward your customers with what they want, you won’t be in business very long.

This is what LeBoeuf, who is an in-demand business consultant, calls the “Greatest Business Secret in the World”: The rewarded customer buys, multiplies, and comes back.

This book is well-written and engaging to read. When you’re shopping for it, be sure to get the “revised edition,” which has been updated for today’s high-tech world.