How I Built My Practice | The 12 Books I’ve Read Since Joining B2B CFO® – Part Two

Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit – Sharpen the Saw 

In my first 6 months as a partner with B2B CFO® I read 12 books. In Part 1 of this article I discuss 6 books that help me to help clients. In Part 2 I discuss 6 books that help me to build my practice. I highly recommend all of these books. All are available at 

Integrity Selling by Ron Willingham.  B2BCFO® bases its sales training around this book’s concepts. If one needs to build a business but is repelled by the idea of becoming a stereotypical salesperson (think Alec Baldwin in Glengarry, Glen Ross), this book will calm those fears. To Willingham, a legendary sales trainer, sales is a process by which the salesperson and customer come to a mutually beneficial understanding. Willingham’s AIDINC approach to sales will begin to influence all of the reader’s communication. One doesn’t read this book once. The material comes so fast and has so many layers of meaning that multiple readings are necessary to take it all in. I’ve read the book in full twice and I’ve read certain sections three and four times. I discover something new in every reading. A classic.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi. Consultant and uber-networker, Keith Ferrazi leads the reader through a myriad of techniques for building one’s network, all the while explaining the need for and value of networking for professionals. After a while the reader wonders if Mr. Ferrazi ever sleeps or does any actual work and in the last chapter he admits that one can have networking success without being as obsessive as he is. My favorite lesson comes in the title of the second chapter, “Don’t Keep Score”. It helped me to understand that networking works best when we are willing to give value to those who might never be able to reciprocate and to accept value from those to whom we might never be able to return the favor.

Power Questions by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas.  In this book consultants Sobel and Panas show the value of different types of questions in building and nurturing relationships and offer over 300 examples. The value of this book to me was in giving me confidence to ask pointed, direct questions of potential clients at the right moment. Many of my best client discussions have come as the result of particularly insightful question.

Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. I’ll admit it. The previous three books had a “touchy-feely” vibe that made me a little uncomfortable. This book provides the antidote. A consultant to large organizations, Ms. Glaser explains the hard neuroscience behind effective communication and why certain types of communication do and don’t work. This book helped me to understand the effectiveness of the techniques championed by the previous three authors. Did you know that open-ended questions and closed-ended questions stimulate different areas of the brain? Neither did I and the significance of that difference can be profound. Surprisingly understandable given the topic.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. Mr. Gallo, a communications expert (and the keynote speaker at this year’s annual B2BCFO® Partners’ meeting), outlines 9 techniques that explain why the best TED talks work. As with Ms. Glaser’s book, Mr. Gallo uses cutting-edge neuroscience to support his theses. Before reading this book, I thought I was a pretty good presenter. Now I understand that I’ll need to change my approach radically if I want to achieve excellence.

Discover Your Next Best Step by Gordon Bell. Gordon Bell is a former CEO and current consultant in my home town of Fort Wayne, Indiana where he seems to be everybody’s mentor.  He is also The Exit Planning Institute’s Exit Planner of the year for 2016.  In this very personal book on servant leadership Mr. Bell helps the reader to align personal, professional and spiritual goals. One can read this book in one sitting but the lessons stick far longer. 

About the Author 

Jeff Mann is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based Partner with B2BCFO® where he brings “big company CFO” expertise to privately held businesses and helps business owners to achieve their personal and financial goals. Jeff holds a BS in accounting from the University of Virginia and an MBA in finance and marketing from Northwestern University. You can find a B2BCFO® Partner near you on the “Our Professionals” tab at

photo credit: emma_lopez_proelt books via photopin (license)


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