• Jennifer Fortney

The Best Business Books to Read While Quarantined

Are you looking for advice, inspiration and know how to help your business survive quarantine? Maybe you are taking time to plan a killer company or product launch once the "dogs are turned loose".


As many of us are working from our home offices, some among worksheets and homeschooling kiddos (can everyone now truly agree that our teachers and educators need some RESPECT?), we still have a little extra time thanks to the shorter office commute and overall time saved not driving, well, anywhere.


If you’re like me in quarantine, you are constantly looking for ways to escape when you can’t go outside that are more productive than binge watching Netflix (although, trust me, I want nothing else!) Among the very long To Do List of things I’ve shelved for months (cough, years) due to lack of time and priority, or making the excuse for lack of time, I’ve finally begun tackling it and been able to do some learning.


In fact, I’ve made a new daily schedule that uses some of my extra time just for learning. Whether its reading books, blogs, magazines, emails, etc., even just one hour I feel has created new imaginative thinking and opportunity for me and my clients.


Now, before you roll your eyes and say “overachiever”, please know that I am like everyone else who owns a business, has limited time and everything I would like to do just doesn’t always get done. So, I am always on the hunt for some high-quality, quick reads – meaning expert authors who know their stuff and get to the point – as well as real gems that I will keep on my bookshelf for years to come.


For those of you in quarantine sifting the Internet for things to do, I have a five recommendations from a new one written by one of my favorite people to a classic and a few everyone can really use today to keep the faith.

Hot Off the Presses in 2020:

Rebrand!: The How-To Guide for the Darwinian Survival of your Company/Candidate/College/ Cause/Career – Bob Killian, Killian Branding.

From one of the cleverest people I know in brand marketing, Bob Killian, I read this book in an afternoon on Kindle. Great, relatable examples and Bob’s quick wit make it a fast but really good read that is truly worth your time. Whether you are considering a rebrand or just looking for a litmus test for your brand and story, or just want to jump start your brand right now, Bob makes it easy to learn, understand and explore the opportunities for all businesses and organizations.


I’ve seen him work. The man has worked for some of the biggest brands and helped companies launch and grow. You want to read this book.

Finally Getting To:

The Physics of Brand: Understand the Forces Behind Brands That Matter – Aaron Keller, Renee Marino and Dan Wallace.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way, but it’s pretty rare when I get a legit email on LinkedIn where someone isn’t trying to sell me or send a generic request to connect. So, when co-author Aaron Keller sent me a note asking me to read his book, I was wonderfully delighted.

Time has gone by since it published and I was able to make a small dent in the pages, but this is meant to be a textbook and while the writing and graphics are refreshing it is still something to get through. What I do know is that it is a great revisiting of key case studies of major brands that is a terrific reminder for me and gets me thinking about what I know in a new way.

Like textbooks, there are loads of case studies, Q&A, metrics, examples, definitions and learning here that is good for students, novices, and businesses of all sizes.

You have no idea how happy I am to finally have the time to sit down with this book more in depth and with purpose to refresh my knowledge as well as learn.

Shameless Plug:

Pitched: A Simple DIY Guide to Public Relations for Small Business – Jennifer Fortney

Okay, I get this it totally bad form, but let me just say that this book started as a class I taught at SCORE Chicago during the recession and for several years after. My intent was to truly help people, small businesses, business leaders who needed to learn a new skill set in order to market and grow their business in a challenging time.


Another challenging time. More people are looking for DIY marketing, affordable advice and how to in order to “keep moving forward”.

Cascade Communications is a story agency. Learn to tell your compelling story to drive awareness, media attention and sales!


So, in service, I will give free copies of my book to anyone who emails me a request. I even offer EVERYONE who buys the book the opportunity to review, for free, their press release, media pitch, brand story to ensure it attracts the attention of customers and media. Want a free copy? Email me jfortney @ cascadecomms.com.

Classics We All Need Right Now

The Road Less Traveled – M. Scott Peck I still have the copy of the book that I bought while in college for my Organizational Behavior class. While I was too busy being a very busy college student who worked almost full time and went to school full time, I admit I really skimmed this book back then, but I have since read it about 10 times. It never grows old. It is a timeless business classic for leaders who want to take a deep dive into their organization, making it better, more productive and improving their culture.


Let’s be honest. These coming months are going to change everything in business. This tried and true book is a great touchstone in changing times to help guide leaders, companies, boards and employees innovate through new eras.



Think & Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill:

I really can’t say enough about this book. For me there is The Bible and Think & Grow Rich. Don’t let the catchy title fool you, it is deeper and more spiritual and practical then you can imagine. Most importantly, it is key to get the correct version of the book. Its popularity meant that everyone had an adaptation. The link above is the version closest to the original.


Personally, during the last recession, and even through what was a much longer recovery time for my business, this book helped me keep perspective, hope and faith. I realized the connection of attitude and emotion on achieving (aka The Law of Attraction) and letting faith shine through the dark place to find my way to more success than I could imagine.


In fact, I took a class on this book. At the time I put forward my last $600 and I’ve never regretted it. My instructor C. Gordon Moose is a master and teaches classes on the book to groups large and small, offers private coaching and has openings in his online groups.


Written about 100 years ago, Napoleon Hill was charged by Andrew Carnegie to interview the most successful people in the world at the time to understand what characteristics they had or employed to reach their particular height of success. Everyone from Vanderbilt and Ford to an opera singer and Filene of Filene’s Basement are included in this book.


My favorite story is “Three feet from gold”. If you don’t know it, read it and you realize just how many times in life you’ve been three feet from gold, and you will never let it happen again.


If there is any book for anyone who needs to be lifted up during this time and any time – whether its personal, business or both – Think & Grow Rich is it. And, if you like it, then you may explore his lesser known, a little out there “Outwitting the Devil” which he wrote after losing everything, himself, and found himself talking to the devil in his mind, and overcoming that devil. Who can’t relate?


If you can’t tell, I just cannot recommend the book and Gordon enough if you want to stir up your life, create that invention, start that company, find your life partner, get over a dark past…check him out: https://yourfocusguy.com/


*Another student of Napoleon Hill and a lovely man I had the pleasure of meeting briefly, Bob Proctor’s book “You Were Born Rich” is another favorite and great follow up to Hill’s books.


Keep Moving Forward!


PS I am always taking advice on books. Have one I should read right now? Share it with me on Twitter @SmallBizPRXpert

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