Kristina Bouweiri
Business owner

Kristina Bouweiri

Owns and operates Reston Limousine, one of the D.C. area's largest limousine and shuttle services.

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5 fantastic reads

Q: We all need advice as we seek success in our careers and lives. What are your five favorite business books, and why? What advice wasn't so helpful?

I was fortunate to be invited to join a business book club years ago. There were six of us in the club and each month we read a different book and then discussed it. Not only was it a great group for book reviews, but we bonded as business women and served as mentors for each other. Conversations about the effectiveness of the books we read led to discussions of problems at work and possible solutions. From this book club I drew much inspiration on how to grow and manage my business.

I'd like to recommend some of my favorite titles. For me, the best business book of all time is "Good To Great" by Jim Collins. One critical point the author notes is the importance of hiring the right people to work for you. I have been in business 20 years and never really experienced what it feels like to have the right people working for me until the past several years. It makes all the difference. As the CEO, I can focus on the external and internal business relationships and my "team" takes care of everything else!

I am very grateful to my employees because they inspire me each and every day with their work ethic, attention to detail, integrity, focus on customer service, and attentiveness to our mission, which is to be the nation's capital transportation company that has the best reputation for service and quality -- not size.

My next favorite book is "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits" by Verne Harnish. This book drove home the importance of a one-page, five-year strategic plan. I had been in business for 10 years, thriving, growing my business to $5 million in revenue without a line of credit, business plan, strategic plan, and monthly financials.

Today, I have all of the above and live and breathe by my financial statements, metrics and dashboard information. I loved this book because I felt like it was written for me! Other gems I learned are the importance of regular meetings, rituals, celebrations, policies and procedures.

Another great book that I discovered was "Now, Discover Your Strengths," by Marcus Buckingham. I value this book and give it to each new hire. It was recommended to me because I mentioned that I felt my employees were often pressured to do things they were not good at. I felt that I had learned in my many years in business that employees were either good at something or not. You could not force them to do things they were not good at. A fellow club member said, "You are right!"

Read this book. That is what it talks about. I now give each manager this book and have them take its 20-minute test. We all know up front what each person's strengths are. When we are hiring, we look for strengths we don't have. There is also a chapter that references how to manage people who have certain strengths; and that chapter has been very helpful!

My fourth recommendation is "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferazzi. This book talks about the importance of a personal network, and how you need to give in order to receive. Once again, I felt like the book was written for me. The first 10 years I was in business I never left my office. Then, following 9/11 business came to a standstill, and I decided to get out there and pound the pavement and network. I have spent the last 10 years networking, serving on committees, volunteering, helping raise money, and sitting on boards--and it has paid big dividends. I have tripled the size of my company. I attribute this to networking!

My final recommendation is Vital Friends by Tom Rath. I really loved this book. It talks about the different types of friends you can have and be. I found I am definitely a "connector." I experience great pleasure "connecting" people. I do it because I enjoy it and I sincerely want others to grow, learn and prosper from each other. The return benefit is that I have developed a large database of people that I know, connect with, and keep in touch with. This database has been my savior in times of crisis. When I have a problem, I reach into my database and someone comes to the rescue. Whether it becomes a brainstorming session or an opportunity to troubleshoot, only good comes of it.

By Kristina Bouweiri  |  June 24, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Careers and success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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