Who of my listeners likes to read or listen to audio books? 

As Dr Seuss once said, “The more you read the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Several years ago, I kinda stopped watching TV. I do still watch the occasional movie with my family of a Saturday night, but it’s rare for me to watch telly any other night of the week. 

I’m not sure that it was actually a conscious choice at the time, but I must have realised two things:

  • After a long day spent in front of a computer screen, more screen time in the evening just razzed up my brain more rather than helped me relax. I was finding watching TV was preventing me from going to sleep easily. And I already suffer from a bit of insomnia, so I didn’t need to make getting to sleep any harder for myself than it already was!
  • Passively watching TV just felt like a bit of a waste of time…

These days, I consume two very different kinds of book.

I listen to Audiobooks that educate and inspire me in my professional life, which I tend to do when I’m either out walking or running, or during the many hours of driving my kids too and from their many swimming training sessions each week. I can typically get through one Audio book per week like this.

And then, in the evening I read novels. It’s funny – I know that I read books to my own kids before bed every night, right from when they were really little. And I’m pretty sure my own parents did that for me as a little girl too. So since I started reading novels again each night before turning out the light, it’s like my brain has reverted back to the habit I knew as a kid – sleep happens after reading. Works a treat!


Today’s podcast is actually going to be me sharing the details about the top books I’ve read or listened to that have inspired me or helped me in business. 

If any of you are avid readers and want to swap recommendations for novels as well, let me know! 

So I’m going to share my top 7 books for the year. They’re all a bit different and varied, so hopefully there’s one or two that you might enjoy.

We Should all Be Millionaires, by Rachel Rodgers

I grew up in a pretty conservative, slightly left-of-centre family of artists and academics who would have strongly identified as Protestants. For a long time, I was fed the notion that money was evil, to aspire to have money made you greedy and evil, that money was the root of all evil, and probably other beliefs along similar themes. 

It was probably fortunate that I did not grow up ingesting the belief that women are poor money managers or can’t look after their own personal finances, because in my family it was my Mum who managed the family budget. 

But I do know that many girls and women have grown up believing that they’re bad with money. We are inundated with messages that we are shopaholics buying way too many lattes and making poor financial decisions. The government has reinforced these messages with actual laws designed to discriminate against women’s earning potential. For example, my own Mum was forced to quit working as a school librarian when she fell pregnant with her first child (a bit over 60 years ago now) because it was illegal for pregnant women and mothers to keep working. Only in the last hundred years have laws been passed to stop widespread discrimination against women’s economic lives. 

I don’t know whether it’s more common for girls and women to be raised with those beliefs, but when I read the book “We Should All Be Millionaires”, by Rachel Rodgers, I was kind of mind blown and actually quite horrified by some of the facts that she shared. 

For example, 90% of businesses that reach the million dollar revenue mark are run by men. Only 10% are owned by women. 

Women own 51% of all businesses in the US but generate less than 5% of the revenue. I have no doubt that figure would be similar in most of the developed world.

Women are 80% more likely to be impoverished in retirement than men. 

And there is more and more that she shares.

To say that I’ve shed the unhelpful beliefs around money that I grew up with would be an understatement. 

Women will never achieve financial independence and equity with men unless we step up and aim for much bigger results. 

And in this book, Rachel shares not just the reasons why women makes Broke Ass Decisions, but also strategies and suggestions for how to make Million Dollar Decisions instead.

I highly recommend this book to any woman who struggles with aiming really big in your business.


Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

“Kim Scott was a highly successful leader at Google before decamping to Apple, where she developed and taught a management class. Since the original publication of Radical Candor in 2017, Scott has earned international fame with her vital approach to effective leadership and co-founded the Radical Candor executive education company, which helps companies put the book’s philosophy into practice.

Radical Candor is about caring personally and challenging directly, about soliciting criticism to improve your leadership and also providing guidance that helps others grow. It focuses on praise but doesn’t shy away from criticism?to help you love your work and the people you work with.”


What is Radical Candor?

Kim defines the role of management as “guiding a team to achieve results.” From this definition, she defines the three key responsibilities of a manager:

  • Guidance: to create a culture of guidance (praise and criticism) that will keep everyone moving in the right direction
  • Team: to understand what motivates each person on your team well enough to avoid burnout or boredom and keep the team cohesive
  • Results: drive results collaboratively

People work in teams based on the belief that a collaborative team can accomplish more than a single individual. The goal of radical candor is to enable individuals to develop strong personal relationships which will increase the team’s collaboration and innovation, enabling the team to achieve impressive results. In order to develop these relationships, managers must “care personally” and “challenge directly” with their teams in order to build trust and show the team that they care about them as human beings.

In my business, our team has grown from a team of 4 at the end of 2020, to a team of 14 at the end of 2021.

For someone like myself, who has always shied away from confrontation of any kind, and who was brought up with the saying ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’, and who definitely identifies with being an introvert who shuns being the centre of attention at all times, it has been incredibly important for me to learn skills around building and nurturing a team and providing strong leadership for that team. 

So I found Radical Candor incredibly helpful. In fact I think I’ll actually re-read it in the new year now that I have a much bigger team. 

I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is managing and directing a team of any size or make-up, whether you have a VA, a few contractors, or your own staff. 

Especially if you have ever caught yourself saying, ‘it’s just easier if I do it myself because other people can’t do it how I like or will just stuff it up’.

Indistractable, by Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal is a public speaker and business consultant. In addition to running his consulting firm NirAndFar.com, he also works as a behavioral design consultant, an investor , and as CEO of AdNectar, Inc., a social media advertising company. Nir Eyal was previously CEO of a renewable energy company, a lecturer at Stanford University, and an associate with Boston Consulting Group. 

The Main Idea

Many products made today are deliberately designed to be captivating and habit forming — which is OK but that also means they are distracting. In fact, if you look around, you’ll notice that distractions are pervasive in the digital age. If you’re not careful, you can fritter away all your time on interesting things, and have little or no time available for your most productive activities.

To avoid that fate, you’ve got to learn how to become indistractable.

According to Nir, being indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do. But for years we’ve been conditioned to expect instant gratification. The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. Planning ahead ensures you will follow through. With the techniques in his book, you learn exactly what to do from today onwards to control your attention and choose your life. The fact is, in this day and age, if you are not equipped to manage distraction, your brain will be manipulated by time-wasting diversions. In the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world: those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves ‘indistractable.’

Personally, I actually went into reading this book feeling like I’m already pretty indistractable and good at focusing and getting stuff done. 

But even I came away learning some practical strategies for controlling and preventing distractions, and just getting more done and being more productive.

Think of it this way – if you move away from aiming to complete something by the end of the week, and instead get it done by the end of the day, imagine how much traction you could achieve? You would literally have the potential to speed up your business’ growth by 7 times!

Definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to be more productive, get more done in the time they have available, or even if you just want to gain control over how much time you spend on social media!!


Billion Dollar Loser, by Reeves Wiedeman

I initially downloaded this book as a bit of a laugh. But honestly – it is a fantastic education on how to build a giant business, followed by how NOT to run that business. 

This book is about the rise and fall of the office sharing business WeWork, and about its founder Adam Neumann, and it’s a real page turner. I actually couldn’t put it down.

It opened my eyes to the power of having a massive goal – and how inspiring a massive goal can be, not just for investors, but also for customers and for your team. 

Saying that, I personally don’t advocate for the level of hubris that WeWork’s founder Adam exhibited. And obviously that came back to bite him in the backside anyway, as the title of the book hints at. 

But seriously – this book is as entertaining as any work of fiction. 


Believe It, by Jamie Kern Lima

In Believe It: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable, IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima tells the wild but true story of how a once struggling waitress turned her idea into a bestseller. She eventually sold the company for more than a billion dollars and became the first woman CEO of the hundred-year-old L’Oreal brand.

Faced with self-doubt, body doubt, God doubt, all the way down to her last dollars and told, “No one will buy makeup from someone who has your body,” Jamie shares the journey of what happened in her professional career. 

One of the greatest challenges we face is when our gut is telling us something completely different from what other people are telling, and we have to decide which to listen to.

The key is being aware of the things that prevent us from listening to our intuition: past mistakes, self-doubt, other people’s opinions. These can cloud our instincts, but when you’re aware of them you’re able to take your power back. 

Every one of us has intuition, and the better we get at tuning into it, the more we’re able to step into our authentic selves and our full power.

And it’s important to be patient with ourselves. Sometimes learning to develop and then trust our own gut can be a journey. It may require us nurturing ourselves while looking at where we came from, just how far we’ve come, and how strong we had to be to get where we are right now. Rejection, failures, and even the times our gut turns out to be wrong, are all gifts along life’s journey. Don’t waste them—they are all valuable lessons. We can use them to refine our instincts and intuition.

‘Believe’ Where You Come from Doesn’t Determine Where You’re Going

In life it’s not our experiences that make us unique, it’s our response to those experiences. And to the uncertainty they immerse us in. Where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you’re going, but it definitely shapes the foundation you have to build on. When something hard happens, once you’re able to process it emotionally, you’re then left with choices. Do you victim-up or do you warrior-up? Do you give up or do you level up and believe? The up is up to you.

Jamie shares with raw vulnerability, how she almost didn’t make it, and the deeply personal and powerful business lessons that you too can use to move from underestimated to unstoppable. With radical vulnerability and sincerity, Jamie shares deeply personal stories of grief and resistance, including the accidental discovery that she was adopted in her early twenties and the impact it had on every aspect of her life. She also pulls back the curtain on her fight to change the beauty industry’s use of unrealistic images, on behalf of all little girls who are about to start doubting themselves, and all of the grown women who still do.

This book is for you, if you have big goals, hopes, and dreams, but let rejection or doubt get in the way. Or if you find it hard to feel that you are not enough and that success is something that happens to others, and you find it hard to believe that it is possible for you. Or if  you let the mistakes and failures of the past stop you. Or you know deep down that you have something else to give, but you don’t know how. If you answered yes to any of these, believe me, this book is for you. Especially if you’ve created your own product and you want to hear the real story of a successful female Productpreneur in detail, warts and all.

In Believe It, you will learn how to:

  • Overcome self-doubt
  • Connect and trust your own intuition
  • Forgive your mistakes and insecurities
  • Turn down the volume of your inner critic
  • Defend your ideas
  • Deal with rejection, haters, and bad girls
  • Start your dream (and keep going!)
  • Follow your ideas
  • Handle personal dilemmas and find your true self 
  • A lot more…


Of Gold and Dust, by Samantha Wills

Do any of you listeners own a piece of Samantha Wills jewellery? I do – several in fact. I knew that Samantha Wills had closed down her business a few years ago, but I didn’t know why, so when this book hit the shelves I was keen to get it. 

But I also love to hear the stories of other entrepreneurs, especially women, especially product inventors, and even better that Samantha is Australian. 

I love that Samantha reads the audio book version, in all her ocker Aussie accent glory, and she doesn’t hold back. It’s a fantastic read.

This book is a memoir, so she shares a lot about her life, from growing up in a small coastal town, to moving to the big smoke in Sydney and how she inadvertently started her business crafting and selling earrings. 

She shares about finding her business partner, and how they worked together to build the Samantha Wills brand into a multi-million dollar international venture, with Samantha splitting her time between New York and Sydney.

She also weaves a lot of other personal stories into her business journey, about her relationships and health, and how all of that impacted on her career. 

She does not shy away from sharing uncomfortable truths, or highlighting the fact that not everything was rosy perfect, which is a comfort for any entrepreneur who is currently experiencing difficulties or struggling through the messy middle of growing a business.

Absolutely loved this book, and I would definitely recommend you listen to the audio version of it!


The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl

This might seem an odd choice to finish up on for a podcast like mine. Dave Grohl of course, was Nirvana’s drummer and then lead singer/guitarist of the Foo Fighters. 

As a teenager in the 90’s, music like this was like the sound of the era. My own teenagers now absolutely love 90’s punk rock and that’s what they play themselves. (My father in law is a guitar maker, so we have like 32 guitars, a couple of drum kits, and more microphones, amps and other bits and pieces to make up a punk rock orchestra!) 

The Storyteller is Dave Grohl’s memoir, and he is absolutely brilliant at telling stories. He shares all kinds of anecdotes from childhood through early adulthood to where he is now – an accomplished musician with an incredibly successful, commercially successful international career. 

Not only is this story highly entertaining, and yes, some of the stories are pretty rock and roll and would definitely make your grandmother blush. Plus, he reads it himself on the audio version of the book, and you hear some audio of his music in it as well.

But – to become as successful and as accomplished in any career as Dave Grohl requires dedication, it requires us to back ourselves, to take big opportunities when they’re presented – with confidence, even if you’re quietly freaking out that you won’t be able to live up to it. 

So many of the lessons Dave Grohl had to learn and shares in this book are applicable to all of us in different ways.

Definitely give this book two thumbs up as an inspirational, motivational, and very entertaining holiday read!


OK – so there you have it. My top 7 reads for 2021. I hope you’ve enjoyed that, and found one or two books that you might read yourself. 

If you do – I would love to hear your thoughts. What did you take away from it? What will you apply in your own life or business? 

Or if you have another great book recommendation, I would also love to hear from you.

Jump into our Rockstar Productpreneur community to let me know. Just head to https://www.catherinelangman.com/rockstar