As voting has now begun for the 2014 Small Business Book Awards , our dedicated panel of judges will be assessing the 100+ entries and choosing the best in each category. I thought it would be fun to do a little Q&A with some of our judges to get to know them.
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What was the trigger that launched you into being a small business owner?
Robert Brady, Head PPC Wizard at Righteous Marketing :
I was working for an Internet marketing agency, but I was the only guy doing paid search. That meant that I went on sales calls, negotiated rates, sent reports, communicated with the client and did all the work. I realized that doing it for myself really wasn’t much different than what I was doing so I took the leap.
Martin Lindeskog, Owner of Egoist International Business :
The trigger came in the late 1980’s, during an one-year advanced study program after high school. The program was a theoretical and practical program in small entrepreneurship. We as students started, developed, and closed a company together during the school year. Our school company became an authorized dealer for dry flowers and plants. I started my first trading company together with my younger brother around the same time. We had the “big” company name, Swedish Important Import, and we imported computer peripherals, e.g., 3.5″ floppy disks.
Kimberly Crossland, Owner of The Savvy Copywriter :
I worked for a startup and loved the culture, the excitement, and the energy in the company – so much so in fact that I decided to branch out on my own and start my own thing. Startups have this unique way of focusing more on the actual value they deliver. It’s something that big brands can’t do as well.
Tell me about a time when you used a business book to solve a problem — and what were the results?
Daria Steigman, Founder of Steigman Communications :
I’m always looking for takeaways in business books, whether it’s big ideas that make me think or actionable takeaways I can implement either now or later. But rarely does a business book come in as handy as David Garland’s Smarter, Faster, Cheaper .
I was reading a review copy around the time of one of my website redesigns when I came across a bulleted list of things to consider in addition to content. One of the bullets: “It is clear how users can contact me? Do I tell them the best way to reach me is? E-mail? Phone?…”
I was so focused on making sure I was getting my shiny social media icons on my new site that I’d forgotten to include email and telephone information front and center. Fortunately, the site wasn’t yet live.
Scott Wolfe, Jr., CEO of Zlien :
Our organization absolutely loves the book Switch , by Chip and Dan Heath. Here’s the deal — our company, like many companies, has customers who use our product (i.e. our technology platform). That requires folks within our customer’s organizations to “buy in” to the platform’s abilities, and then for the end users to “buy in.” This frequently requires organizations to change how they think about the problem we solve…or Switch. The Chip & Dan Heath book really analyzes the why and human elements behind change management challenges, and we have literally modeled our onboarding and account management theories behind the principles in this book. The results have been very good. We feel like our customers are more successful at using our platform as a result.
Carla Jenkins, Program Analyst, Federal Government:
I read The E-Myth  while in graduate school and it crystallized the difference between a business owner and an employee who is just good at their job.
I often recommend a business book for one my clients to read and take action on to solve a specific problem he or she is having. When my client does so, the results are almost always excellent.
What’s the last business book you read, and what did you learn from it?
7 Habits of Highly Effective People , and every time I read it, I’m empowered by the concepts of responsibility and accountability.
The latest business book I read was Marketing Judo: Building Your Business Using Brains Not Budget  by John Barnes & Richard Richardson. I got a Eureka moment and started a new blog, EGO Dojo . I learned that it is time to focus more on defense in a gentle way, rather than hard attack (read: hard selling).
Christina Bouza, Cofounder & Director of Content for CJ Creative Solutions :
The last book I read, and am still reading is,The Focused Business  by Dave Crenshaw. I enjoy the author’s language, tone, and honesty. I learned that there is a lot more to be wary of as an entrepreneur when building a team. I’ve gained some good insight here about certain characteristics of employees that can bring you down and how to combat unproductive habits from the start.
If you could be any business author, who would it be, and why?
Brian Smith, Senior Managing Partner of Individual Advantages :
David Avrin . I find his way of writing to be down to earth and easy to understand. I also find his approach toward personal interaction to be refreshing and honest. He has always been approachable and offers himself without violating his set of ethics or his position as an author, speaker and coach.
Adrienne Graham. Her No, You Can’t Pick My Brain…It Costs Too Much  is a classic for anyone who has been approached by someone to do something for free.
I would be Dale Carnegie . I love his approach to winning people’s trust, and I love how he uses self-less communication tactics to skyrocket his own success.
Why are you excited about being a Judge for Book Awards?
I am excited about being a judge for the 2014 Small Biz Book Awards because judging is something I have always loved and my immediate focus on reading as many business books on marketing, social media and management [as possible], is at the forefront of my list of priorities as a new business owner. The opportunity to gain insight through shared reviews, new book introductions and networking with like-minded professionals is why I am delighted to be a part of the team of judges.
There are so many books out there that it can be a challenge weeding through the clutter to find the gems. I’ve been a fan of the Book Awards for some time, and have relied on them to help me identify a few new books each year I might have missed but ought to read. So when the chance arose to help identify those gems for other members of the Small Business Trends community, I jumped at it.
I love reading books on marketing, and business in general. I hope that my participation as a Judge helps inspire entrepreneurs and small business owners to read more business books themselves. I have my own saying: “Lifetime Learners Are Lifetime Earners.”
Book  Photo via Shutterstock