Laura Ferrell
Woodenwings Builders
Palo Alto, Calif.
Big50 2002

The best book I have read about marketing and business is Building a Business the Buddhist Way, by Geri Larkin. Even if you're not interested in Buddhism, the book is solidly great training from a marketing expert who helps companies do business in a purposeful, ethical way — one that serves the business owner, the employees, and the clients. The book is also a workbook, and it can have a transformative effect when used with some thought.

One of the major principles I took away was the importance of identifying your market and then figuring out how to get in front of it in a way that is of service to your community. My company's specialty is historic restoration, so I decided to accept a volunteer position on the local preservation board. Though the work was mostly educational, my expertise provided a unique perspective. I also served on the Citizens Advisory Board to the Historic Preservation Measure, which went on the ballot in 2000. In both cases, I felt that I was able to serve my community and be a visible resource for people who might want to restore their homes.

I keep Larkin's book on my desk and refer to its highlighted pages each year as I rewrite my marketing plan.

Mary Bennett
Terry Bennett Builders & Remodelers
Westlake, Ohio
Big50 1996

Two books that have made an impact on our company are Good to Great, by Jim Collins, and Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.

Collins's book has helped us focus on “getting the right people on the bus.” We are almost there! It has been a transition, but a very important one for our team of 25 employees.

Having highly satisfied clients is our focus on every job and a very important aspect of our company culture. We give each employee a copy of Raving Fans to help them understand the importance of client satisfaction.