The Family Business Network’s World Book Day

On Friday the 30th of April, The Family Business Network held their first ever World Book Day where we connected family businesses around the world through their love of books. We asked our family business community to tell us a book that has inspired them or their business, so that others could also gain knowledge and learnings from the books.
Here are the suggestions that we received for #FamBizWorldBookDay.

Rayner Davies, MD of A&R Cleaning Services.

The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz, PHD

This was one of my earliest business book and it started me on the journey of self-development, It got me to Think Big, set goals, set actions to achieve my goals.

It made me realise we become what we think we are, so if I was thinking that I am a failure, then in my eyes and in my life I would be a failure. I had to change my thinking, change my thought process and really step it up to the next level to be able to achieve my business and personal goals.

Positive thinking was a huge message right through out this book, and I really learnt that we can be the barrier to our very own success, if we don’t learn, develop and grow our positive thinking and our outer circle or friends, family and business acquaintances.



Who Moved My Cheese?, Dr Spencer Johnson

This book was a huge eye opener about adapting, changing and being prepared to move with the needs or demands of not only the business but also the economy.

It helped me to realise that if I stayed doing the same thing day in day out like the mouse in the book things really would be very different in my business currently. The covid Pandemic is a great example of why you must be prepared to adapt, pivot and change. If you don’t then your business could die.




Ian Steel, Keeper of the Flame at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters

King Arthur’s Knights, Henry Gilbert

This book taught me the laws of of chivalry, the importance of earning the respect of the team and of treating them all with equal respect. But most of all, the urge to be a force for good!






Pilgrim’s Progress, John BunyanIan Steel Book 2

This book taught me to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. (Something so relevant in today’s trying times). To believe in the faith of your own convictions, to pull one’s self out of the Slough of Despond and head for the Shining City on the Hill!






Don Quixote, Miguel de CervantesIan Steel Book 3

Dare to be different. How often in business do we look for qualities to differentiate us from the competition, those USPs. I’ve always had plenty of dreams and schemes, no matter how Quixotic, and some of them have even come true!






Robinson Crusoe, Daniel DefoeRobinson Crusoe book cover

Finally, my most influential book which I devoured time a time again as a child. Easily the most thumbed through of the four. I would never tire of escaping to the desert island of Robinson Crusoe. I think it taught me resilience and resourcefulness, especially in periods of isolation, so important to us right now.

During lockdown, when I needed to go to the ship for something, I would refer to it as ‘going to the shipwreck’. Luckily the good ship Atkinson’s has survived under our watch and has floated off the treacherous reef and back out into open waters!

I think I shared Robinson’s Wanderlust and sense of broadening one’s horizons with travel to exotic locations (remember that?) something I’ve been very fortunate to explore as a Coffee Roaster and will look forward to doing so again one fine day…


Edwin Booth, CEO & Chairman at Booths Supermarket

Made in America, Sam WaltonSam Walton Made in America Book Cover

The book that I found extremely influential may surprise you. To most people Booths and Walmart ate poles apart but Sam’s story struck a chord.

He was fearless in scrutinising his competition and spent time listening and watching. This enabled him to deliver a unique offer that was always one step ahead. He was also a great communicator, ensuring that the whole business always understood where they were headed.

He was unorthodox in his recruitment methods and looked for people with ideas and attitude instead of a sheaf of academic certificates.




Elliot Horner, Director at Cannabrew

Quench Your Own Thirst, Jim Koch

It is about the beginning of the craft beer revolution. It looks the struggle and challenges of convincing the American beer industry that they should pay more for craft beer.







Losing My Virginity, Richard Branson

Richard, against all odds, took on the whole world. He was quite an out-of-the-box thinker and is also dyslexic, which inspired me as I struggle with dyslexia too. Richard is the living proof that this doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t hold you back or stop you achieving your dreams.






Graham Pillar, Marketing Manager at Castle Industrial 

Open the Mind and Close the Sale, John M Wilson Open the Mind and Close the Sale

This has influenced and changed our whole approach to selling.  We don’t sell product, we educate, influence, and empower customers to see what they need to enhance their brand.  It wasn’t cheap, I think I paid £150 on a special deal, but it is worth every penny and more to establish our brand outside of the very busy market place.

It sits on my desk with two other key books “If you’re not first, you’re last” by Grant Cardone, and “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin.  Both support my mission and vision for the business to establish it as a leading brand in the packaging market.




Paul Deakin, Partnerships Manager at Caudwell Children

Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom

Before I go any further I want to say that I am not a religious man at all.  However Mitch Albom’s books have taught me so much about life, what it means to care and how taking time to understand people can bring even greater personal rewards.

As I am in the “business” of Charity, and I would like to tell you about the book “Have a little faith” by Mitch Albom.  This book is used by religious and non-religious groups around the world, in discussions about faith and as an inspiration for interfaith dialogue, charity, and community service projects.  Quite simply the book taught me to care, remember everyone has a story and when you really listen to someone anything is achievable.  Business is just a word, relationships are what all contact is based on.





Alex Ridd, General Manager at Cherry Top WeddingsAlex Ridd Cherry Top Weddings

Puzzle Adventure Omnibus, Jenny Tyler

There’s a book on the bookshelf in our office, and I am still not entirely sure quite how it found its way there, that makes me smile whenever I notice it. It makes me smile as it brings back happy memories of my childhood.

We used to do the puzzles when we had to fill in time as a family when travelling on holiday. My older brother and I would take in turns reading out the clues (great practice, but we didn’t realise, as it was fun) and then we would work together, with a little help from our parents, to solve the mysteries.

Fast forward about twenty years and I still find myself opening the book up on the occasional lunch break. Granted I don’t find the puzzles as tough as I used to but I still get the same sense of fun and enjoyment out of them. Whilst for me they have been a nice little way to unwind on a lunch break, they have also, funnily enough, provided lots of creative inspiration to both our product development team and our designer when we were conjuring up games and activities for our wedding entertainment booklets.

So, a little bit of an ‘out there’ one, and almost definitely not one anyone else will have chosen, but I suppose that’s fitting – after all, CherryTop Weddings is proud to be different!


Mel Holliday, MD of Chiselwood

NLP at Work, Sue KnightMel Holliday MD of Chiselwood

The reason I have chosen this book is that I started a course to be an NLP practitioner in 2016. Recommended by a good friend and business woman, she thought it would be a great course to help me to manage my team in a more effective way.

Not only did the course achieve this, it also gave me great life tools.

The book was a great start and help during the course, in fact I have read it several times since and found new things to work on each time.

It has been helpful when having those uncomfortable conversations, be supportive of my team and become (I hope) a far better manager for our company.

The book is an easy read whether you want to study NLP or are just curious on what makes us all individual people responding to different scenarios. I has been especially helpful this year when we have all faced our own challenges during the pandemic. I am thankful I was introduced to both the program and the book.


Cameron Richards, Co-Owner of Clacton Kayaks

Jolly Roger, Colin McNaughtonJolly Roger

Ironically, my favourite childhood book growing up was Jolly Roger! A tale about Nine-year-old Roger who is a miserable landlubber with a bad-tempered mother. So when he sees a poster for a cabin boy to join the pirates, he jumps at the chance – or he would have done if the pirates hadn’t already bagged him! The next thing he knows, Roger is on board the Golden Behind with a bunch of the smelliest, hairiest, scariest pirates the world has ever seen – but will they be a match for Roger’s mum?

My love of the water must have been there from a young age and must have been the inspiration to get my own fleet of Golden Behind kayaks!! Although my customers are the opposite of the pirates in the story!


Tom Mathew, Commercial Director at Dunsters

Let My People Go Surfing – The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard.

It is really hard to pick just one so I picked one that I particularly enjoyed in the last few months.

I enjoyed this because it highlighted a few things that I feel are really important and relevant to family businesses in particular.

It highlights the importance of bringing in good people and then trusting them to get on with the job. This ‘letting go’ can often be a challenge for many family business owners.

It also demonstrates really well the importance of having a purpose greater than simply making money. Patagonia were advancing environmental causes way before it was even on the radar of most other businesses.

The book also shows how being smaller in size can be an advantage. A quote that stuck with me was ‘we never wanted to be the biggest company, we wanted to be the best company and it’s easier to be the best small company than the best big company.’

Finally, it reminded me, in a very challenging year, that things don’t always go as planned but if you learn from it you can often use the experience positively. Above all, you must enjoy the journey or otherwise there really is no point in doing what you do.


Faye Mower, Executive Assistant at The Family Business NetworkWho Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese?, Dr Spencer Johnson

I have always been fascinated by change, how it is implemented and how people react to it so I chose this book.

In my role you get to see what happens in many different areas of a business, from HR to Finance and often have to help with a variety of different projects- some fun and some emotional.

I think the messages that come through in this book can be applied to most situations and be implemented by anyone within their personal or professional life. It’s easy to read and its key message is to let go of the past and move forward without fearing the unknown, accepting and enjoying change along the way


Kathryn Jackson, Personal Development Coach & The Family Business Network AmbassadorAudio Book Recommendation Kathryn Jackson

Becoming, Michelle Obama

I deliberately choose this book on audio as it is actually read by Michelle herself which added an extra dimension of what is already was a great book.  I read this during lockdown last year when I was taking advantage of my outside exercise and spent many a summer’s day walking locally and listening to the many life stories and inspiration that she shared throughout the book.

Personally, this book gave be many ideas and solutions to challenges I was facing at the time with running my own business in lockdown and it picked me up when I was struggling.  I continue to recommend this book to others and still read back on certain chapters to reenergise me.


Keith Madeley MBE,  AKA Mr Yorkshire

Shaking the Money tree, Craig Iley

This book is written by a former Senior Executive from Santander. It gives a real insight in to the banking world for the layperson.




Graham Lamont, Chief Executive at Lamont Pridmore7 habits of highly effective people

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey 

Reading this book (many years ago) is one of the four books that changed my life.  (Ask me about the other three sometime!) I’ve applied it to our family business, and to the way in which I live my life more generally.

By guiding you through the seven habits of highly effective people, Covey encourages you to look at the way you respond to personal and business relationships and explains the importance of what we now refer to as a ‘work life balance’.  It offers the tools to help you perform better, be fitter, earn more money, improve your relationships at work and in your private life and to be really happy.

The book helps you focus on what’s really important and how to put some common sense principles into common practice.



Chris Lamont, Partner & Managing Director (Carlisle) at Lamont PridmoreThe One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

This book inspired me to develop my personal skills and helped me align the mission and values of Lamont Pridmore to the individual goals of the team.

The book records the journey of a young man as he searches for an effective manager; someone who manages themselves and their people so that their organisation and the individuals produce a win-win scenario.  The importance of people, and the contribution they make, in any organisation is vital. The book explains the skills needed to become a one minute manager and the clear linkage between people and results in terms of three secrets:


  • One Minute Goal Setting
  • One Minute Praising
  • One Minute Reprimand


Helen Lawrie, Producer and Business Development Manager at Land & Sky MediaHelen Lawrie Land and Sky Media

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

I read it when I was in my twenties and I keep coming back to it again and again. I find the story incredibly inspirational and it reminds me to keep pursuing my dreams even when they may not align with everyone else’s. This desire is embedded into the way we work at Land & Sky – we’re interested in understanding people’s dreams and desires and telling their stories with integrity.

I think this is such an important part of being a good storyteller – understanding our differences and being really curious about what makes other people tick is part of what we do in our films every day.



Lucy Arnold, MD at Lucy Locket LovesBusiness for Punks

Business for Punks, James Watt

When I was first starting my business, I was unsure of how to market myself and my products. This book helped me to solidify these ideas and to develop my products to be unique and worth selling; not trying to sell something I didn’t truly believe in, but something I knew people would love and that I love too. It also influenced the way interacted with customers; I didn’t want it to be stale, I wanted a piece of me in it and I didn’t need to plaster my products everywhere, I knew the kind of content I wanted to make and what people wanted to see and I made that work, with my social media reach rapidly growing within the first 2 years of starting my business.



Fiona King, Marketing Manager at Manchester Gin

The Haçienda: How Not To Run a Club, Peter Hook

In 2019 we partnered with Peter Hook to create a gin celebrating the acid house movement which made a huge stamp on Manchester’s cultural footprint. Still famed around the world for its impact on music and arts, we wanted to distil a bold and zesty gin in homage to the club itself and the culture surrounding it. It’s been a huge part of the city’s identity and continues to inspire generation of artists and musicians; Manchester has always produced world-leading and innovative talent -now it may have changed a lot from the “Madchester” days but has the Haçienda in its history and we’re proud to have it on our label