What the hell does The Great Gatsby have to do with business? You’re talking crap, Turndog! I know you love storytelling, but you can’t link every book you like to the art of building a brand.
I imagine these are a few thoughts swirling around your head right now, but I beg to differ. In my opinion, The Great Gatsby is one of the finest books of all time, and it can help you in your quest of building a brand. In fact, all works of fiction can, and not just the classics, but Young Adult, Romance, Thrillers, Sci-fi, Mysteries, and dare I say, even the Twilight trilogy (okay, maybe that’s going too far).
The thing is, building a brand and developing a business is tough. I don’t care whether you’re a one man show like moi, or an organisation with heavy machines and large workforces. There’s always competition. There’s always pressure to improve. There’s always somebody saying you should do this and that…
Reading, in my humble opinion, is the foundation of great ideas. And over the course of this post I’ll show you how expanding your mind can improve your chances of building a brand.
I LOVE BUSINESS BOOKS TOO, BUT THEY AIN’T ALL THAT!
I recently did a talk at a local primary school (8-10 year old children), and I told them, “I’m jealous of every single one of you, because you’re more creative than I am. Right now, at your age, you’re at your creative peak. And READING and writing fuels this creativity.”
At our age, life has tainted us, and we no longer have the ability to create and imagine like a wee little child. However, it’s still there, deep down, and just like reading fuels children, it fuels YOU, too. I’m not going to delve into the research and science behind it, simply ask you a simple question:
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER FINISHING YOUR LAST GOOD BOOK?
The fact is, most entrepreneurs I know do read, but they tend to read business books from the likes of Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferris, and the like. I love business books too, but they ain’t all that. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most inspiring books I’ve read have focussed on business, and they introduce you to new ideas, practices, and tools.
They’re great, and you should continue to read them. HOWEVER, don’t stop at non-fiction. Let it be the entrance to a much grander world. A world of make believe. A world full of ideas and fascination. A world of building a brand that lasts the test of time.
TO BE DIFFERENT, UNIQUE & BETTER, YOU MUST THINK LIKE NOBODY ELSE
You may think I believe this because I’m a writer. I write fiction therefore I read fiction. At the moment though, I’m in a reading lull.
I’m not sure why. My usual routine includes daily reading, 3 or 4 novels a month, and at least a few books on my to-read pile. In the last couple of months though, I’ve struggled through a single book (it’s pretty good, too. Overall, I’m enjoying it).
Reading and me seem to be experiencing rough times, but like I say, I have no idea why. What I do know is, I don’t like it.
When I sit down to write my latest novel, I feel sluggish, and as I try to form sentences and structure, it rattles around my brain until I nearly pass out. Blogging suffers a similar fate, as does coming up with ideas for said blog. I feel less motivated and inspired on Social Media. And it’s affecting the bigger picture, because where I usually pride myself on an endless vault of ideas, at the moment I feel, meh.
Usually, when I sit in a coffee shop with a task in hand, I tackle it with enthusiasm. The hours fly by, but of late life’s been in slow motion. You could argue this may be down to many things, and that might be true, but I hold reading, or should I say, a lack of, the main culprit.
My creativity needs fuel. It needs inspiration. It desires the enthusiasm a good story offers, and the inspiration an amazing journey provides. This is where Fiction and Non-Fiction differ, because in Fiction there are no rules. It’s not based on life, but imagination.
When it comes to building a brand and growing your business, you can’t remain within some standard box. That makes you like everyone else. To be different, unique, and better, you must think like nobody else. But how the hell can you achieve this when your creativity runs empty? Building a brand is easy when motivated and inspired, but like running in water when you’re in a world full of meh.
NOVELS = MAGIC PIXIE POTION
Look at the companies disrupting their industry, and you’ll find businesses going their own way. They’re being honest and quirky and working like businesses of the past didn’t, and for the most part they’re winning and building a brand that matters.
But you don’t come up with innovative ideas by analysing your competitor’s website. Or holding a daily meeting. Or reading the same business book every other entrepreneur on the planet has read. These things help, sure, but they’re not going to send your creativity into a frenzy.
As entrepreneurs, our creativity and personal spin is all we have.
I love reading fiction for many reasons, but in this instance it’s because it gets my brain working a mile a minute. Only, it isn’t in aid of building a brand. It’s for pure enjoyment, and because you place yourself in a relaxed state, BUT in a state where your mind bubbles along, epiphanies and ideas you could never dream of having form from nowhere.
I suppose it’s like trying to remember that one actors name, and then for some reason remembering it in the shower.
Or why so many great ideas begin as dream or middle of the night sketch.
Novels = Magic Pixie Potion, and we’re all chasing magic pixie potion in the end of the day. Lucky for you and me, these so called novels are everywhere.
BRING A LITTLE HARMLESS HAPPINESS INTO YOUR LIFE
When I read The Great Gatsby, I lose myself in the prose and style and storyline. But I also imagine what it must be like to live in a bygone generation, and the style, the language, and how the magic of then can be replicated today.
My clothes and hair for example, are an amalgamation of several literary characters, and this forms a huge part of my brand.
When you read a compelling love story, you’re shown a world of hope and dreams. Well, how many products and services play on the hopes and dreams of the average Joe and Josie?
Genres like Sci-fi and Dystopian and Fantasy forces our imagination to focus on the future and alter realities. What better way to come up with an innovative new product than to place yourself in such an existence?
But above the potential epiphanies and ideas, and beyond the inspirations of what might be, reading is a refreshing blast our senses yearn for. We’re consumed by TV and laptops and Youtube, and everything begins to act the same way. Reading takes you away from this, relaxes you, enthuses your mind, and dare I say, bring a little harmless happiness into your life.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m happy and relaxed, good ideas… and opportunities… and people… tend to find me.
I can’t wait to fall back in love with reading, and don’t worry, it’ll happen soon enough. It won’t fix every issue in my world, but I know it’ll freshen up my creativity and provide the fuel it needs to write this new novel, work on that new project, and provide damn good work for clients.
And I get it, finding time for reading is hard, but I don’t care, FIND SOME! And don’t just read the same old books that every entrepreneur reads, delve into fiction and genres you’ve never considered. In fact, I dare you to buy a book TODAY (Ebook or Paperback) that you wouldn’t dream of usually buying.
- If you tend to read sci-fi, buy romance
- If you love action, pick up a historical mystery
- If you love steamy erotica, dabble in some fantasy
Read all sorts and ensure novels have a place in your life. The benefits on offer may surprise you, and help in your quest of building a brand.