Village of Gurus - 10 Business Leadership Authors to Learn From


Sometimes running a company is lonely. As you navigate the 4 Stages of Growth, there will be plenty of times where you’re left scratching you head, looking for answers and quick solutions, with few people to turn to for advice.

At Growth Institute, we’re lucky to have access to a ‘village of gurus’ made up of some of the sharpest minds in business. We understand “what got us here won’t get us there”, so we use this group’s methodologies to refine our processes and challenge our preconceptions about different aspects of our company, and we’re more effective for it.


I’ve spoken before about the ‘tower of guilt’ that stacks up on most entrepreneurs’ desks; those ‘must-read’ books you buy, but never actually read. Well I want to share a few of my favorite authors who's books you can't afford to let sit on that tower!

I hope this list of gurus helps you earn some quick wins and provides clarity around any bottlenecks you’re currently battling.


Ryan Levesque - Marketing

Ryan Levesque is the author of the #1 National Best-Selling book, Ask. It's been featured by Inc. Magazine as the #1 Marketing Book of 2015 and by Entrepreneur Magazine as the #2 Must-Read Book for Budding Entrepreneurs. Using his neuroscience background, Ryan developed a blueprint for developing incredibly effective survey-based sales funnels that have changed the way we think about consumer behavior and selling online. By asking the right questions in a different way, his formula discovers exactly what people want to buy, and how to give it to them in a way that turns them into raving fans of your business.

Find his book here.


Erik Qualman - Leadership

Leaders today are made, not born. Erik is a master of modern leadership, and I’ve seen him called a ‘Digital Dale Carnegie’ and the ‘Tony Robbins of tech’. He’s super focused on how digital leaders can become more productive, reduce stress, and drive top-line growth. In his book, Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence he outlines the essential habits that all leaders should embrace in order to become more effective.

Find his book here.


Geoff Smart - Leadership/Culture

Geoff co-authored a book called Who that lays out practical and effective solutions to what many consider the biggest problem in their business: unsuccessful hiring. We’ve likely all been through the pain associated with a bad hire. The effects are often costly, far-reaching, and long-lasting. Geoff’s system helps you avoid these problems, and provides the framework you need to build and retain a team of A players.

Find his book here.


Alan Miltz - Cash Management

Cash is king! Alan knows that in business, it all comes down to numbers - the CEO needs to know more about them than anyone, including the CFO. He wrote the Cash chapter in Verne’s book, Scaling Up, and has developed an incredible system called the Power of One that examines the huge impact to your business when you change any of the 7 levers that drive profitability and working capital by by 1%. His work is essential for anyone at the helm of a business, especially if you leave the numbers up to someone else.

Alan hasn’t published a standalone book on this topic yet, but his website is a great resource.


Bernie Brenner - Strategic Partnerships

Bernie is the strategic partnerships expert. He’s taught me a lot about building sustainable business development relationships that contribute to growth just as much as sales. If you’re looking to learn how to identify the most lucrative business development opportunities and forge long-term strategic partnerships, Bernie’s book is well worth a read. 

Find his book here.


Verne Harnish - Growth 

You probably know Verne as the ‘Growth Guy’, and you’ve probably read his book, Scaling Up. If I had to choose just one book to guide me through starting my entrepreneurial journey all over again, this would be it. Verne is a co-founder of both Growth Institute and EO, as well as the CEO of Gazelles, a global executive training and coaching company. Scaling Up is full of instantly applicable, high impact insights that will help you scale your business without falling into the traps that claim so many others.

Find his book here.


Paul Akers - Lean Methodology

Paul is a brilliant entrepreneur and educator who practices what he preaches. His energy is infectious, and his lessons are impactful because he’s in the trenches himself, having applied his own concepts to build his own successful company, FastCap. Paul’s book goes beyond lean as just a product development methodology; he also offers valuable insights into how to integrate lean thinking into your company culture and personal life. If you’re looking for a simple, clearly written guide on what the lean methodology is, how to get started, and how to take it to the next level, this is the one.

Find his book here.


Caryn Kopp - Sales

Caryn is a business development superstar, adept at uncovering and managing blind spots in any sales process. She’s an expert in refining sales tactics so that there’s less resistance from initial gatekeepers, and more time spent in front of decision makers. Her book lays out a proven process and provides actionable insights that allow her clients more face time with decision makers at most of the Fortune 500 companies.

Find her book here.


Jeff Thull - Complex sales

For anyone who needs to navigate a sales process that involves factors like multiple decision makers, multiple agendas, or multiple territories, Jeff’s book will provide enormous clarity. He’s worked with executive teams at companies like Shell, HP, and Microsoft to help position their sales teams as value-focused advisors that contribute to their customers’ success and guide quality business decisions. For anyone wanting to fight commoditization by adding value, Jeff’s book should be at the top of your pile.

Find his book here.


David Meerman Scott - Marketing 

Marketing has gone through an unbelievable upheaval in the past 10 years, and most of the traditional rules and best practices have gone out the window along the way. David is a marketing strategist and best-selling author with 8 books under his belt, and serves as an advisor to many emerging technology companies. His work will help you demystify your modern marketing strategies, and ensure you have targeted messaging resonating with savvy customers.

Find his book here.


Christine Comaford - Building great teams

Christine might have lived the most interesting life of anyone I’ve ever met, having done everything from living as a Buddhist monk for 7 years, to founding and selling multiple businesses, working on US government policy, investing in Google pre-IPO, and eventually helping more than 200 startups through her venture fund. Her incredible experience has given her unique and powerful insights into what it takes to build an effective team and work together to achieve innovative disruption. Anyone looking to supercharge their team should pick up her book, SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. 

Find her book here.


Pat Lencioni - Organizational health

Pat is an expert on leadership and organizational health. His work with companies all over the world helps reduce chaos and build a culture of teamwork that makes everyone more successful. His book, The Ideal Team Player, is perfect for anyone searching for a framework for hiring and developing team players by focusing on identifying people with three key virtues.

Find his book here.

I hope the insights from the village of gurus I have relied on over the last 18 years will help you and your business. I can’t stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with a the right knowledge and implementation tools. For every problem you are facing, someone has already experienced it, got through it, and written a book about it.

So make sure you find your village because I guarantee you you’re not the first to experience whatever is keeping you up at night!

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