Seth Godin, author of seven business bestsellers, offers 184 brief and sometimes bizarre outtakes from a decade of writing, speaking and blogging on business in Small Is the New Big (Portfolio, $25.95). The riffs represent Godin's iconoclastic and offbeat approach to marketing, management, entrepreneurship and other topics. In the title riff, for example, he discusses the advantages of starting small, keeping costs low, trying different things and being innovative.
The bottom line is often a question, not an answer. When someone says his rabid blogging suggests egomania, Godin says, "That's not a negative social trait; if you don't respect your opinions, who will?" When he does offer answers, they sometimes come across as half-baked, like the time he lauds a salesperson for taking a tack that causes her to be thrown out of a sales presentation. Godin may leave you with more questions than answers, but he never fails to be entertaining and thought-provoking.
In Focus Like a Laser Beam (Jossey-Bass, $24.95), management consultant Lisa Haneberg uses the metaphor of laser optics to guide entrepreneurs to get done what must be done while minimizing distractions from "should-dos." The best of her 10 techniques are the last three: devoting chunks of time to single chores instead of multitasking, aiming to accomplish one great thing every day instead of a multitude of quotidian achievements, and learning to let go of outdated, irrelevant projects. This is a wide-ranging book, but like the lasers it uses for inspiration, it packs a powerful punch.
Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Staff Smarts" columnist.