Best Business Books: The Book Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Best Business Books: The Book Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

The holidays are my absolute *fave.* Despite the fact that I always draft up long lists for Santa 🎅🏾, chock full of the best business books and must-have techie toys (I’m looking at you Canon EF 24-70mm Zoom Lens), my family loves to grace me with makeup and clothes. Probably ‘cuz they know me just a little too well – like the time my sister-in-law bought me a portable eyeshadow palette because she said I’m a (and I quote) “nomad.” Okay, yeah… so I carry my whole living room and home office in my bag BUT ’tis the perks of being a creative entrepreneur.

I digress though. The point is I was drafting up yet another list of the best business books to share with Santa and figured I’d share it with all of y’all instead. While, yes, Christmas is an overly-commercialized way to SELL SELL SELL it is also a lovely reminder to celebrate the people in our lives. Or you know… cat. No judgment here. I’m personally praying for a cute little golden retriever puppy *hint hint family* this holiday season but they’re not exactly the most ideal stocking stuffers. 😋

Now, in an ideal world, this is what I’d find under the Christmas tree. You may know a dope creative business owner who would love to find one (or four) of these books under their tree too! These are the best business books I’ve read thus far and would recommend to just about any creative, entrepreneur or hustlin’ Harry.

Aaaaaaaand just so you know, there are affiliate links in this here bad boy which means if you click a link and make a purchase I get a small percentage. Like small small. And no, you don’t get charged extra (‘cuz I know you was thinking it! This ain’t guac!) Here’s the thing though: I love the products and services I’m sharing and truly believe they’ll help your business become the best it can be. I’ll never sell you on something I myself wouldn’t buy, haven’t bought or recommended to a friend. (And books are like my best friends. 😍) Okay! Enough nerding out. Let’s get to gifting.

Best Business Books Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Dronile Hiraldo is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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For the Spiritual Warrior

You know her: the one who speaks from her soul and just *vibrates* with love. She’s uplifting, enlightening and the sweetest there is. This woman loves balance, in every aspect of her life. If one part of her life is out of whack, she’s sure to feel it, and will quickly do everything she can to get centered. When it comes to gifting the Spiritual Warrior, focus on books that will help her in areas of personal development, spiritual success, and holistic wellness.


1. Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within by Latham Thomas

In her second book, celebrity wellness/lifestyle guru and birth doula, Latham Thomas, delivers the ultimate guide for soulful mamas. Each chapter in Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within is full of enlightening tales about Latham’s own spiritual growth and powerful meditative practices. From creating a vision journal to supporting women in re-vamping their wardrobes for greater confidence, Latham provides an easy to read and soulful manual that you (or a friend) can return to time and time again for encouragement.


2. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

This is one of those reads you can pick up and take on-the-go (perfect for all you nomads out there 😉). The agreements provided here by Don Miguel Ruiz are useful for any human – business owner or not. Tapping into deep wisdom from his own Mexican culture, Ruiz dives into 4 ways we can unlock personal freedom not only for ourselves but for others as well. It’s one of those “do unto others as you’d like done unto you” with spiritual insight on why these agreements are important and actionable tips on how to make them part of our everyday lives.
3. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra

Before Deepak Chopra, I’ll admit I laughed at self-help. I’m actually an avid fan now having created my own spiritual life and relationship with Jehovah, but had you told me 6 years ago that I’d be merrily pulling titles from the self-help section of B&N I would’ve given you the side eye and laughed. Some of the best business books I’ve read have been titles that actually tapped into my spiritual life and development, like this one from Deepak. Laws like “The Law of Giving” and “The Law of Detachment” can help any entrepreneur create space in their lives to genuinely do what they love. It’s great for those who appreciate affirmations and speaking their dreams into existence.

 

For the Artistic Maven

The Artistic Maven is always coming up with new visions and ideas. From cutting up her overalls to spewing out new stories, this little lady is brimming with otherworldly narratives. For her, being able to hone in on her craft and deeper understand how to be a better artist is a much-desired necessity. Pick out memoirs from her favorites, reads full of applicable tips and titles in line with her artistic pursuits.


4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary) by Stephen King

Ah, the writing master himself. Stephen King’s ability to weave rich details into a suspenseful narrative is no mystery to any of us. (See what I did there? 😂) King takes us through his early days at college, his wedding and even the days his first manuscript got sold while also highlighting the habits that helped him become the writer he is today. One key nugget from the book?

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” – Stephen King

Tis true Mr. King. Tis very very true.


5. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (25th Anniversary) by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is the book that changed it ALL for me. Before picking up this creative guide, I was WAAAAAAAAY blocked. Like not writing a lick type blocked. I read this book nearly a year ago, right before landing my first freelance writing client *yay!* and starting this blog. Because of it, I’ve started to let go of my fears, doubts, worries, and anxieties about following my dreams. And here we are ladies and gents! 😄 It’s a 12-week “course” with exercises and creative homework at the end of every chapter. If there’s ONE book I’d suggest for the creative in your life *and yes, that means you too* this would be it.


6. Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez

So, in a past life (and by past life I mean 4 years ago lol) I worked in film production. As a young college grad hoping to 1) become a screenwriter and 2) break into Film & TV this made me think long and hard about the Hollywood we see today. To think, Robert Rodriguez edited his first movie back when digital editors didn’t exist! Yup. He used a VCR to create the final “cut” of El Mariachi. Today, we have a lot more tools readily available to us for video production but this goes to show, if there’s a will there’s most definitely a way.

For the Hustlin’ Boss

She’s the money makin’, selfie-takin’, on-the-go C-Suite professional. If there’s a deal to be cut, she’s sure to be at the head of the table leading it. For the Hustlin’ Boss, learning how to master sales, business, and marketing is at the top of her list. Share with her stories of inspiration, practical guides from previous business owners, and how-tos for her career aspirations.


7. She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur by Carrie Green

You know when you have like a million ideas and try to do all of them at once to only find out that actually, you need to sit down and focus on ONE idea before moving onto the 100 others? That’s what Carrie helps entrepreneurs do in her book. If there are a thousand ideas swimming around in your head and you’re wondering “hey…wait… how do I make these a reality?” Then this is the book to pick up. Carrie even includes a 28-day She Means Business challenge to help you take action and move your dreams into real plans.

8. Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life by Tyler Gage

Last summer, when I decided to finally take a chance on going into business for myself, I volunteered at Life@Work, a company culture conference for the team development brand Live Grey. In my goodie bag was a copy of Tyler Gage’s book which details how he and a few friends from business school created RUNA, an organic energy drink made from the Amazonian plant guayusa (gwhy-you-suh). Tyler’s willingness to be all the way R-E-A-L about entrepreneurship – like that time the board of RUNA almost fired him… from his OWN company – is really refreshing as a creative business owner. Goes to show being your own boss is oftentimes a roller coaster, with big twists that will make your stomach drop and sudden turns that will make you giggle with delight.


9. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Ever tried saying YES for a whole year to everything that excites your soul? Well, Shonda Rhimes did. The creator and executive producer behind such hit medical dramas as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice use to actually avoid doing interviews and public appearances. Finally, she noticed how much of her saying “no” had seeped into other areas of her life – including her love life! If you’re ready to live a life of Y-E-S then pick up Shonda’s read or slip it in as one of your picks for Secret Santa this year. It’s a read that is sure to positively alter anyone’s path.

For the Essayist At Heart

For this outspoken believer, even a trip to the salon can become a 1,000-word essay on why today’s blowout goes against feminist ideals. She’s all about the culture and at heart, is a true changemaker. Her book list is brimming with books centered on empowerment, justice, and hope. Go for the non-fiction section or literary pieces centering on identity.

10. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack

Okay, so Ytasha L. Womack’s Afrofuturism isn’t a business book *per say.* BUT it is a thoughtful exploration into the world of sci-fi and fantasy culture considering the growing representation of people of color in today’s media: from Black Panther to Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle In Time. Womack traces Afrofuturism through music, art, and even literature. For the Essayist at Heart, this is a book that is sure to spark inspiration and a number of cultural essays.


11. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

This.This.This.This. 💝 Funny. Raw. And oh so Issa Rae. Between the pages of Issa’s debut book, she shares how growing up as a Los Angelean without “style” or “cool points” can fuel your passions. Through humorous vignettes of life as a Senegalese-American, Issa Rae brings to life what it means to be a Black woman in today’s U.S. of A. It’s inspiring to read how Issa has taken her culture, personality, and upbringing to create a career that is all her own. This is the kind of book that will have any changemaker ready to tap into themselves deeper to figure out how to make that much-needed change in the world.


12. Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport by Jen A. Miller

This one is a double whammy for anyone who is a runner and a lover of words. Jen A. Miller found the love of her life on the pavement. Through her love of running, Jen A. Miller found not only her life’s calling and purpose but also a sense of self. It’s a beautiful tale about how one sport can be the catalyst we need to open the door to a new world. You may even find yourself wanting to strap on a pair of sneaks too by the end of it!

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Any books you’re hoping to see in your Christmas stocking this year? Tell me which ones and why in the comments below. I may just give Santa a list after all!

Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love

Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love

Woo! Yes! Congrats on taking your first steps to live a creative life. Doing what you love and brings you joy can seem daunting. It’s what we’re taught NOT to do. Today, nearly half of the world’s population is online. And looking for a way to break free from the monotony that has become much too common. You may worry that with so many writers, designers, social media managers, etc. etc. that what you want to do is already being done. Or the highlight reels may make you think you just don’t have what it takes. You want to do something from the heart, something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning and that you’re passionate about. You may wonder if it is even worth it to start blogging.

First, let go of fear & comparison.

Fear and comparison are two silent killers that are always after our dreams.

But think about this…

Two sparrows sell for a coin of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

So have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31

Do you really think there’s someone out there who is exactly like you? Down to the way you think, the experiences you’ve had, the hairs on your head? Sure, you’ll find similarities. But the specific, minute details of who our Father and Creator made you make you and your life uniquely yours. You see things differently. You have your own perspective. Like those two sparrows, your value and what you have to offer is not defined by the sell, but by the knowledge, the Maker himself has embedded in you. And that’s what this world needs. Besides, do you really want to look back on your life and say “man, I should’ve done that really scary thing that could’ve made me really happy?” Hmmm… yeah, nope. Exactly. SO. Sweep all of those doubts and fears and worries and anxieties into the trash bin (where they belong, thank you very much) and rip a page out of Nike’s playbook. Just do it.

Next, why do you want to start blogging?

There are a number of reasons why you may want to start blogging. For example, are you a young professional looking to explore your career interests, build your expertise and create a solid portfolio? Or are you a 9-5’er looking to build your own freelance biz? I mean jeepers, you could even make blogging your career! Whatever your reason blogging can be a really fun and rewarding experience.

Creating consistent content – whether that be in the form of blog posts, videos, or even social media – is a great way to connect to your community and potential customers. A blog can show that you know what you’re talking about and can help position you as an expert in your craft. In this four-part series, I’ll share exactly what you need to know to start blogging and get your biz off the ground!

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

One of my favorite Ted Talks is with author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek. In his talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” Simon shares that moving people to action is all about understanding your motives and intentions. Your why. Keeping your “why” top of mind will be what keeps your drive high when the honeymoon period wears off. And yes, the honeymoon period will wear off. But if you clearly identify why you do what you do the spark will come back every time. So what are some reasons to start blogging?

  1. To entertain: Creating a blog to entertain can keep readers on their toes. Many online publications and magazines use their blog for this purpose. This could be a fun way for a filmmaker to share their inspiration and tease out an upcoming script. Exhibit A: Issa Rae‘s blog. If you find that you really love lifting people’s spirits and providing entertainment then this could be the way to go.
  2. To sell or promote a cause: Do you primarily sell goods or services? Are you creating a non-profit? A blog here can help you get your idea out into the world. For folks who are very passionate about a cause or craft, a blog provides you with a platform to connect with people of similar interests.
  3. To network: Sites like LinkedIn, Medium and DeviantArt have created ways for us to share work online. Displaying your expertise and networking with others is another reason why you may decide to blog. Say you’re a finance professional building a Styling agency. With a blog you can begin actively sharing fashion news, developing your brand voice and letting people know about your new venture.
  4. To build community: By tapping into what’s going on nearby, a blog can work as a catalyst for why your work exists. A local artist can benefit really well from having a blog that highlights how her drawings are inspired by the surrounding community.  Your customers will appreciate knowing the background and history attached to your craft.
  5. To teach: Are your friends always asking you how you make those delicious apple pie turnovers? You may just have a skill that others want to learn or know more about! Educational blogs range from social media managers sharing “how-to” create a personal brand to life coaches helping others develop self-confidence.

Which one of these 5 do your blog fall into? I love getting to talk to other writers and creatives about how to stay healthy, master social media and see the world while doing what we love. For me, it’s really fun to be part of a community, share and collaborate. Keeping this why at the center helps me stay motivated. Once you’ve got you why turn it into a pretty quote or poster and put it somewhere you’ll see every day. That way, you can always keep motivation high!

Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love via Dronile Hiraldo

Ok, so… what will you blog about?

Whew! You’ve sacked your fears, you know your why, and you’re ready to start blogging. Now you’re wondering what do I even blog about? Good question Padawan. This is where knowing your business and being totally YOU comes into play. The first and most important thing to think about: Why’d you start your business? Ha! See, why your why is important now? 😋

When you start blogging, to do what you love, put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Think about:

  • What made them look for your blog in the first place?
  • Are there challenges or problems they’re currently dealing with that you can write about?
  • What questions do they have about your goods and services?
  • Who would your readers like to hear from or know more about?
  • What resources (books, podcasts, events) would your reader be really interested in?

For instance, say you’re the girl who’s always got the freshest sneakers. You know where to buy for the best deals, you know how this brand is really changing and stepping up the sneaker game, and you know they come in 3 dope colors. It may seem obvious to you because it comes naturally, but to others (hello 👋🏾 moi) style and fashion may just not be a forte. And that’s ok. That’s why your fashion knowledge and expertise are needed. You could… create style guides on how to wear this season’s hottest kicks, interview up and coming designers, share a recap of a cool fashion event you attended with inspiring quotes, create a Christmas shopping guide for sneakerheads based on personalities… and on and on…

Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to deciding what to blog about. Looking to your own challenges and lifestyle can provide tons of inspiration. Ever stop to think and wonder why mommy blogs are so popular? Life experiences help us connect with one another. They offer us opportunities to swap ideas and tell others what we know. There will always be people interested in trying that new fusion Japanese place down the block with the really good fish tacos. Or learning how to create a budget for their next trip to Italy. Digging through your own interests, hobbies and challenges can provide you with blogging gems.

Cool. Sounds like you’ll need a name.

Once you’ve settled on what you’re going to blog about, you may be wondering what the first step is. Do you dive straight into blogging? Create social media channels and then start blogging? These are all really great questions.

First though, take a step back. You actually want to iron out what your blog name is. This will be the domain name or website address that people will use when looking for you. Mindset coach and business strategist, Melyssa Griffin, has a great guide on how to choose the perfect name for your blog or business that you’ll definitely want to read. It’s what helped me ultimately decide.

When thinking about your name refer back to why you do what you do and what you’ll start blogging about. You may decide to give your blog a title, the way Contently does or you may just allow the blog (and your potential business) to fall under the same name. A name may define your values such as, Soul Lipstick Mavens, for women who use makeup as a form of self-love. Or your name could hint at what you do. “In The Air Virtual Assistants,” a virtual assistant biz for high-level execs in the travel & hospitality industry. Most of all, have fun and let the name you choose reflect you.

And who will your readers be?

Sure, you may be creating this blog because you’re an aspiring author or because you’re really good at creating graphics and want to help others create pretty posts. But your reader is the cornerstone of what you do! A wellness blog, for instance, will attract others who are into healthy living and taking care of themselves. Similarly, who will your blog attract and why? Some things to consider:

  • How old are they?
  • What’s their lifestyle like? What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What do they do for work? How much do they earn? Where do they live? (City, Suburbs, Farm?)
  • Are they single? Married? With kids?
  • What are their challenges? Why are they reading your blog?
  • Where do they shop? What magazines or publications do they read?
  • Do they read your blog from a laptop? A tablet? A phone?

Mhm, you’re gonna want to get real personal with readers. Think deeply about who this person is and how you can reach them. As a freelance writer, attending blogging conferences and participating in writing communities has been a saving grace! Take to MeetUp, go to local events or even try marketing on social media to find your community. Attend events you love with the kinds of peeps you’d like to work. As you start blogging you’ll make friends who share your experiences and who you can collaborate with.

Make your friends your colleagues

Dope! Now, what’s next?

Before you start blogging and start doing what you love you need to nail down your why. Let go of fear. And stop comparing yourself and your work. You’re well on your way to living creatively! In the next post of this series, we’ll talk about setting up a website, creating a blogging schedule and grabbing your social media channels.

I’d love to hear why you started a blogging or why you’d like to start one. What’s been your motivation? Share in the comments below!

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Falling in Love Is a “Good” to Do: Brooklyn’s The Good Batch

Falling in Love Is a “Good” to Do: Brooklyn’s The Good Batch

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on The Little Dominican as “The Little Dominican Eats…The Good Batch.” It has been edited & condensed for this site.

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New York City is a mecca for delicious plates, innovative desserts, and mouthwatering bites. As a sugar aficionado (read: sugar= bae) discovering this little Brooklyn gem was a true treat.

The Good Batch is a modern Dutch bakery nestled in Clinton Hill. Inspired by her husband’s family’s nostalgia for stroopwafels, Anna Gordon began selling the Dutch cookie at the Brooklyn flea market in the spring of 2010. This cute little artisanal bakery features brick lining the interior walls, pops of cool hues and marble tabletops.

The Good Batch Bakery interior

I was standing in line at Murray’s Bagels (highly recommended) circa 2014 waiting to pay, probably checking my watch and praying I’d still have a job (because I tended to always be late back then… but a story for a later time), when I first discovered The Good Batch. A 2-pack of oatmeal raisin cookies caught my eye by the checkout. I could see the plump raisins bursting from between the oats and flecks of cinnamon shimmering underneath the plastic. The big bold black lettering on the front seemed to be calling my name. “Eat me. Eat me.” How good was good? Two cookies couldn’t possibly hurt… I read the ingredients a few more times. Eventually, I placed them down. I was going to be quote on quote good.

Unbeknownst to me my rendezvous with The Good Batch had just begun. I was just beginning to date a guy at the time who I thought was “the one.” We both had a deep appreciation of food, and grew up accustomed to home cooked meals filled with tender, love and care. So we headed down to Williamsburg for Smorgasburg, a weekend food market, in what is now one of Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhoods to bond over.

The Good Batch Brown Sleeve

It’s interesting to think about Williamsburg now, a hub for food and young creatives, when 1960s Williamsburg, was a predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhood seeing a rise in crime, drugs, gang activity and unemployment. That’s 56 years of small gradual changes that exploded into a huge cultural shift in a pocket of New York City. But I digress, the point is we were going to this food event that had New York City all a buzz.

“I want that!” I yelled back to J, pointing excitedly towards the massive chocolate chip chunks peeking out from the girl’s fierce manicured fingers.

It was hot, the line was long, and the crowd was exploding. But I was pretty sure I’d never forgive myself for letting this ice cream cookie sandwich go. I swore, it was meant to be. Once away from the crowd, I started to pull my pick – the Chocolate Nutella sandwich – out if its delicate sleeve. I investigated the light ridges in the big brown cookies and zeroed in on my first bite. I tilted my head, gently placing the ice cream sandwich to the tip of my tongue and savoring those first few crumbs of rich velvety chocolate. Then I chomped down!

The Good Batch Blue Cart

I licked my lips in pleasure, savoring the roasted buttery undertones of the Nutella buttercream. I watched J bite into his Oat Chocolate Chunk ice cream cookie as we walked down Kent towards North 11th street. He closed his eyes, analyzing the flavors melting on his tongue. He offered his choice up to me. I’m a sucker for salted chocolate chip cookies so it was an obvious yes. The Oat Chocolate Chunk flavor was named “The Goodwich.”

And good it was.

I knew I had to make my way down to their bakery. It wasn’t until 2016 though, after moving to Crown Heights, that a visit finally became a reality. The bakery provides a comfy little space for anyone looking to study, get some work done or just laze around on a Saturday afternoon.

I decided to give their Mini Caramel Brownie Crunch a go: vanilla ice cream, caramel and caramel sponge candy sandwiched between two soft brownie cookies. Mmmmmmm.

The Good Batch bitten Mini Brownie Caramel Crunch
Taking a bite out of The Good Batch’s Mini Brownie Caramel Crunch

Like the rest of their flavors, it does not disappoint. Founder and Head Pastry Chef Anna Gordon clearly has an idea of where The Good Batch stands: it’s welcoming and inviting, like the finest pint of ice cream. A quiet boy in the corner with headphones closes his books and starts talking to the cashier about the latest Pokémon Go craze (90s nostalgia!). The couple lounging by the window, their plates still sitting before them from an earlier treat, stand to go. The cashier personalizes their departure and waves goodbye, smiles appearing on their faces as they step out the door.

I’m delighted to find this cookie haven down in the nooks and crannies of Brooklyn. For the traveling foodie, this is a spot worth exploring. Next time you’re in the Clinton Hill area, pop in and try one of their delicious artisanal offerings: either an ice cream sandwich, one of their classic stroopwafels or a tasty cookies and cake!

The Good Batch Cookies & Cakes

Got a Brooklyn gem you love? Let.me.know. The foodie in me can’t resist. 🙈