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Growing Concerns: Turn to four experts to team how to improve yourself and your business.

If you want your life and your career to reach their full potential, starting the new year off with the right advice can get you on your way. For instance, you'll learn to mold your vague goals and wishes for yourself into a solid plan for personal growth that takes the process one step at a time. Ultimately you'll become confident, engaged and prepared for any obstacle that crops up.

To help you achieve your business and career objectives, two of this month's books drill into the nuances of online marketing and the requirements for building customer loyalty. You'll find out how to earn your customers' trust and become a messenger they turn to for advice in various social media platforms. And you'll learn to cultivate your customers so they wouldn't dream of doing business with anyone else.

The savvy tips in these three books will set you on a course for great success in 2013 and in years to come.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

by John C. Maxwell

Center Street, 2012

Whether you are a business owner, church leader, executive or stay-at-home parent, you probably dream of becoming and doing even more with your life. The good news is you have untapped potential that will empower you to achieve your dream. You simply need to learn how to access it.

In his new book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, motivational teacher John C. Maxwell shares insights from his lifetime of studying personal growth. Maxwell says this is the final installment in his Laws series, and while the other two books in this series focused on leadership and teamwork, he says it isn't necessary to have a leadership title or be part of a team to benefit from this book. "You just need to be a person who wants to grow and become better than you are today."

Rather than reading his book all at once, Maxwell recommends devoting a week to each chapter. Go through it intentionally to incorporate each law into your life day by day. (Intentionality, by the way, is the first law in the book.) Other laws focus on personal development standards such as consistency and believing in yourself and your potential. There are a few surprises--"The Law of the Rubber Band," for instance, which explains why tension created by stretching our limits is necessary, even if it's uncomfortable. "It's true that being in your comfort zone may feel good, but it leads to mediocrity and, therefore, dissatisfaction."

If you're ready to grow and fulfill your potential, you'll want to add this step-by-step guide to your success library.

Noteworthy Quote:

"You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day."

A few things you'll learn:

* How to create an environment conducive to growth

* Why you must make tradeoffs if you want to keep learning and growing

* How and why to take time out to reflect on your life

The Impact Equation

by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Portfolio/Penguin, 2012

One of every 11 people on the planet uses Facebook. Some people have as many as 10 social. media accounts. That's a lot of tweeting, posting, blogging, Tumbling, Plus-ing and pinning to keep up with. The question is, are these platforms effective as marketing tools? And if so, are you using them correctly?

If you've ever posted something and waited days for a like or a comment, you know the sinking feeling that accompanies the thoughts: Is anyone reading this. stuff? Do people even know I'm here? In The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, who previously wrote the best-selling book Trust: Agents, explain why so many businesses and entrepreneurs fail at social media marketing--and how you can avoid following suit.

Noteworthy Quote:

"If you've delayed making something of your own or bringing a long-lost idea to life for the first time, congratulations, now is the time to do it. ... The barriers are lower than they ever have been."

A few things you'll learn:

* How and why to make your ideas stand out

* How to create a platform for sharing your ideas

* Why your message doesn't matter unless people trust you

The Commitment Engine

by John Jontsch

Portfolio/Penguin, 2012

In his latest book, John Jantsch--who made a splash with his previous book, Duct Tape Marketing--shifts the focus from acquiring customers to keeping them long-term. Commitment, Jantsch explains, is essential to any business's success, but commitment goes beyond you--the business owner--being invested in your company. "It is perhaps even more important that you are able to generate commitment for your ideas, your values, your story, your products, and your way of doing and begin in all of the various groups of people that make up your business ecosystem."

Generating such loyalty takes time, planning and work. You must be clear about who you are and what you do, and then create a culture dedicated to your business's vision. After those requirements are met, you can build a community of devoted customers.

Noteworthy Quote:

"Authenticity is simply the manifestation of what you truly believe, the core values, and the basic identity of the leader of the business."

A few things you'll learn:

* Why you must be absolutely clear about what your business does better than the competition

* Why it's critical to stay connected and committed to your passion

* Why the process of planning is more important than the plan you create
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Author:Casey, Erin K.
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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