I read at least one business book a month. Right now I’m reading


by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and

Rising Strong

by Brené Brown.


has helped me simplify. I thought I needed to attach myself to as many opportunities as possible, but everything became too complicated.


reminded me that the best businesses are based on simplicity and on solving a basic need. I work with women with diastasis recti, and I need to be consistently serving that population.

Rising Strong

is a personal development book that has had a profound impact on how I run my business. The book’s message is that we will all fall flat on our faces. We will fail. We will be humiliated. That is what happens when we take a risk, and there is no business without risk. The journey and the self-discovery are made,


when we succeed, but on the journey back


from failure. It’s


we get to the win, not what happens afterward. It’s usually ugly and painful, and we tend to skip over that part when we retell the story, but


is where the lesson is, and


is how we improve our businesses.

Carrie Harper

Owner, CarrieFit

Austin, Texas

I am currently rereading

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey. This book has had the greatest influence on my personal life and significantly affects how we operate our business. Here are three ways it has had an impact:

Begin with the end in mind.

We use this important motivational concept in initial consultations with clients, as well as when we develop programming. Many clients don’t know what success looks like when they start their fitness program. All they know is that they are out of shape and need help. We start by helping them visualize how being fit will positively impact their life, and then we show them what steps we will take to help them get there.

Spend time in “Quadrant 2.”

Working in Quadrant 2 means focusing on items that are not urgent but are highly important. Business leaders are responsible for ensuring organizational growth by driving new initiatives, refining the product or service and investing in a strong team. Too many of us get caught in the trap of working “in” the business rather than working “on” it. Spending time in Quadrant 2 is challenging because it requires discipline, creativity, critical thinking and exceptional focus. I have learned over the years that “busyness” does not equal effectiveness.


Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At One on One, we are fortunate to experience the power of synergy every day. Our team is composed of 16 caring, committed and competent individuals working toward the same goals. Every aspect of our business is about the team. Our clients train with a team of trainers; a team of senior staff members leads our newest employees; and a team of individuals develops and refines our services. Focusing on “we” instead of “me” creates a healthy culture and empowers everyone involved.

The ultimate goal of the book is to provide solutions that will help people live healthier, happier lives. We believe that by owning the concepts in the book, personal trainers can better serve themselves, their clients and their business.

Ryan Burke

Director of Business Development, One on One

State College, Pennsylvania

Business and personal development books are fuel for the soul, just as fitness is fuel for the body. After 10 years of owning a community health club, I can attest that books have carried me through tough times, given me perspective and hope, helped me fail forward, and even shielded me with protective armor.

I am always reading something. I will usually read the same book two or three times before I move on. I remember Darren Hardy, author of

The Compound Effect,

telling me at a business retreat that reading the same (good) book 52 times is better than reading 52 books. I agree. A business book is not like a sci-fi thriller. You can’t just tear through the pages to find the surprise ending. You have to let it digest. You have to think about what applies to your life and why. You have to dig into the teachings and actually dig into yourself. The things we need to learn most, our greatest areas of growth, are often the ones we want to skip over. Slow down and give yourself a chance to marinate over the pages of your favorite books. You’ll finish the books a better person, a stronger leader and more capable of inspiring the world to fitness!

I just finished my second read of John C. Maxwell’s

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

I was so excited that I had a hard time sitting still. I had to pause, think, write and reflect. Find a book that speaks to you like that. Keep reading it and applying it. Here are two of the points I loved:

1. Understand your unique talents.

One of the keys to being successful and fulfilling your purpose is understanding your unique talents and finding the right arena to use them. Discover your uniqueness, and discipline yourself to develop it. This can set you free. Instead of worrying about what the trainer down the road is doing, listen to your gut. Where do you shine? What is your big gift? Develop your business and your brand around that. Likewise, instead of criticizing how others in the industry choose to carry out their work, simply celebrate that there are many ways to coach, train and inspire. We are not in a cookie-cutter industry. We will continue to change lives in a positive way when we let our talents meet the needs of the world around us. Be bravely you.

2. Remember that your habits decide your future.

People do not decide their future. They decide their habits, and their habits decide their future. Just as we coach clients to drink more water, get more sleep and move more, we need to evaluate our own habits. Some of our worst habits have to do with our mindset. If we get in a trap of criticizing others, talking negatively to ourselves, worrying about what might happen or blaming others, our lives and careers will stay stuck and stagnant. We can bolster our daily habits by practicing gratitude, sharing good energy with others and reaffirming our self-worth. That mindset, along with strict time management, proper self-care and giving to others, can build any future you desire.

Trina Gray

Owner, Bay Athletic Club

Alpena, Michigan

I’m reading

The Four Agreements

by Miguel Ruiz. It’s not your typical business book, but it provides timeless foundations that every business owner can benefit from.

“Be impeccable with your word” is the first agreement. Choosing words and statements that agree with the outcomes you want to have is important for positive growth. For example, “I hope I get more clients this year” is not as confident as “I will get more clients this year.”

This agreement also applies to what we think about ourselves. Our thoughts impact our attitudes, which affect our actions. If you tell yourself you’re broke, your attitude suffers and subtly turns off others, making you more broke. If you recognize the abundance in your life and remind yourself of it daily, this will make you naturally more positive and attractive to potential clients. We also tell ourselves stories that aren’t really true, like “I’m bad at marketing.” This is certainly not a way to get better! You can stop thinking counterproductive statements,


you can change your thoughts to “I’m good at marketing.” Simply becoming more aware of my words (and thoughts) and then shifting them has already made a significant difference in my business productivity and accomplishments.

Beverly Hosford

Bozeman, Montana

When I first started my business, I read

The E Myth

by Michael E. Gerber. It tells you why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it. It talks about putting systems and processes in place in the beginning, even if you are a one-person business. This enables you to grow and duplicate yourself seamlessly. I recommend it to all new entrepreneurs who are going into business for themselves.

When your business grows, you might hire people to work for you. I found

The One Minute Manager,

by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, to be very helpful in managing people. The book refers to “One Minute Goals,” “One Minute Praisings” and “One Minute Reprimands.” It is a short read but makes a lot of sense. If you are not used to managing people, it is a great resource to help you be a better manager.

The third book that I found helpful is

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey. It talks about what sets effective people apart from others, and it gives you examples of how you can be more effective. When you have people working for you, you need to set the example for the business. I always want to be as effective as possible.

These three books will help any business owner succeed.

Holly Kouvo

Owner, Fitting Fitness In™

Stow, Massachusetts

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