Brilliant Summer Reads for Entrepreneurs

Summer’s in full swing, and it’s the perfect time to get caught up on a little business reading. Are you looking for entrepreneurial inspiration and not sure what to read next? We reached out to our influential colleagues to find out about the business books they are enjoying this summer.

Read on to be inspired by the books our B Corp Founders, Digital Marketing Influencers,  partners, and our staff are reading right now. 

Great Summer Reads for Business

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande

Suggested by Denise Taschereau of Fairware Promotional Products

‘”It’s a short and compelling read on how something as simple as a short checklist can solve problems and workflow issues. Needless to say, we now have workflow and process checklists at Fairware to try to minimize common mistakes.”  – Denise Tashereau
About the book
“Atul Gawande shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.”

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battlesby Steven Pressfield

Suggested by Mari Smith, Facebook Guru

About the book

“Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love… for yourself.”


Here Is Real Magic: A Magician’s Search For Magic In The Modern Worldby Nate Staniforth.

Suggested by John Jantz of Duct Tape Marketing 

About the book

Here Is Real Magic follows Nate Staniforth’s evolution from an obsessed young magician to a broken wanderer and back again. It tells the story of his rediscovery of astonishment–and the importance of wonder in everyday life–during his trip to the slums of India, where he infiltrated a three-thousand-year-old clan of street magicians. Here Is Real Magic is a call to all of us–to welcome awe back into our lives, to marvel in the everyday, and to seek magic all around us.”


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Suggested by Madeleine Shaw of Lunapads

About the book

“Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”


21 Lessons for the 21st Centuryby Yuval Noah Harari

Suggested by Gilad Babchuk of Groundswell

About the book

“Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.”


The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, by Sally Kohn

Suggested by Mike Rowland of Junxion

“As a talking head on Fox News, Kohn managed to stay calm and friendly, regardless of the mud-slinging that flew past. In this timely and often hilarious book, she talks about how we can beat back hate.” –Mike Rowland

About the book

“Look into the epidemic of hate all around us and learn how we can stop it. In The Opposite of Hate, Kohn talks to leading scientists and researchers and investigates the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate and how incivility can be a gateway to much worse.”


Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, by Joe Dispenza

Suggested by Mari Smith, Facebook Guru

About the book

“The author of the New York Times bestseller You Are the Placebo, as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain, draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012 to explore how common people are doing the uncommon to transform 

themselves and their lives.”.


The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism, by Joel Solomon 

Suggested by John Harrison of Ecotrend Ecologics

About the book

“Joel Solomon, impact investor and change agent, lays it on the line. The Clean Money Revolution is part memoir of an inspiring thought leader’s journey from presidential campaigner to pioneering investor, part insider’s guide to the businesses remaking the world, and part manifesto for a new vision of profit, power, and purpose.”


The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, by Sean Covey

Suggested by Mari Smith, Facebook Guru

About the book

The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following the 4 Disciplines—Focus on the Wildly Important; Act on Lead Measures; Keep a Compelling Scoreboard; Create a Cadence of Accountability—leaders can produce breakthrough results, even when executing the strategy requires a significant change in behavior from their teams.”.


Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar, by Allison Maslan

Suggested by Michela QuiliciMarketing Expert

About the book

“In Scale or Fail, author Allison Maslan—who has successfully scaled ten companies from scratch and has guided thousands of small businesses to do the same—shares her revolutionary

 SCALEit Method ® for successfully growing, replicating, and expanding your business. She also shares pivotal mindset strategies she’s used to break the fear barrier as a trapeze artist so you can move past any obstacle, take strategic Big Picture risks, and fulfill your dreams of business expansion and skyrocketing profit.”.


Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell

Suggested by Darian Kovacs of Jelly Digital Marketing & PR

“I’ve yet to find a book that articulates ‘virality’ so well. Using case studies and historic references Malcolm breaks down how movements happen. He helps us as entrepreneurs understand the key elements needed to see our business grow and catch on with the general public. Every time I read this book I find new ideas and I’m inspired to keep analyzing how we’re setting our clients up for success for growth.  And hey, if you’re finding the concepts to be too much work in the book – you can always buy a can of viral spray” –Darian Kovacs

About the book

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.”


Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman

Suggested by Mari Smith, Facebook Guru

“In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.”


This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, by Seth Godin

Suggested by Angela McGregor of Indalma Creative

“His values and principles always ring true for me and help guide the way I like to approach my business and client projects. He talks about “If you can bring someone belonging, connection, peace of mind, status or one of the other most desired emotions, you’ve done something worthwhile. The thing you sell is simply a road to achieve those emotions, and we let everyone down when we focus on the tactics, not the outcomes. Who’s it for and what’s it for are the two questions that guide all of our decisions.

About the book

“Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless package. This is Marketing shows you how to do work you’re proud of, whether you’re a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation.”

“I also like to take my BC Business magazines with me and catch up as they tend to stack up, unread, from March to the summer. The magazine keeps me updated on what’s happening in my city and often, in the design industry.” –Angela McGregor


Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, by Kate Raworth

Suggested by Mike Rowland of Junxion

“An important, critical look at why the way we think about economics makes painfully little sense—and what we should do about it.” –Mike Rowland.

About the book

“Doughnut Economics hand-picks the best emergent ideas – ranging from ecological, feminist, behavioural, and institutional economics to complexity thinking, systems dynamics, and Earth-systems science – to reveal the insights of eclectic economic rethinkers. It promises that the economic future will be fascinating, but wildly unlike the past, if we equip ourselves with the mindset needed to take it on.”


Becoming, by Michelle Obama

Suggested by Mike Rowland of Junxion

“Amazing reflections on a life well lived, by a leader whose grace seems unparalleled in contemporary politics” –Mike Rowland

About the book

“An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.”


Lifescale: How To Live A More Creative, Productive, and Happy Mind, by Brian Solis

Suggested by Mari Smith, Facebook Guru

About the book

Lifescale is a journey of self-discovery and growth. It’s about getting back into balance and remastering our destinies. Author Brian Solis knows first-hand. He struggled with distraction and all of its ill-effects. To get his life back, he developed a set of techniques, exercises, and thought experiments designed to tame the chaos, and positively and productively navigate our day-to-day lives. Instead of falling victim to the never-ending cycle of newsfeeds, Likes, addictive apps, and boredom scrolling (aka the endless scroll), we can learn to manage our time and inspire our own lives in a way that will bring meaning back—without sacrificing the benefits that our devices bring us. “.


Staff Picks

Better Work Together: How The Power of Community Can Transform Your Business, by the Enspiral Foundation

Suggested by Kyle Robertson

About the book

“Better work together” is a treasure trove of storytelling, lessons learned, and practical tools for “creating radically collaborative, innovative and caring workplaces where people thrive.”

“The book is a beautiful, visually engaging anthology out of New Zealand — a real gift providing me much food for thought this summer!” –Kyle Robertson


Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller

Suggested by Mhairi Petrovic

“This book really gets you thinking about how stories are told, from movies to books to the story of your business. It’s written in a concise and engaging way which makes it easy to pick up where you left – perfect for summer reading. This is a great formula for storytelling.” – Mhairi Petrovic

About the book

“Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides listeners with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services”.


The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Suggested by Mhairi Petrovic

“There’s so much to learn from this book that can be applied both to your own habits and to those of your target audience. The writer weaves in engaging real-world experiences to make the read more entertaining.” – Mhairi Petrovic

About the book

“The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: our most basic actions are not the product of well-considered decision making, but of habits we often do not realize exist. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our lives.”

Case Study – Search Engine Optimization, WordPress and Google Ads Set up

Out-Smarts worked with Hippie SnacksHippie Snacks Case Study on an SEO Audit and SEO set up for their new WordPress website, including redirects, knowledge transfer, Search Console, Google Ads Set up, Analytics, and Google Tags. 


Hippie Snacks reached out to us in the summer of 2018 when switching their website to the WordPress platform. They wanted to make sure that the site’s SEO assets were maintained as part of the move and they wanted to use Search Engine Optimisation techniques to help build awareness for Hippie Snacks and two new product lines.

About Hippie Snacks

Hippie Snacks is a healthy snack company based locally in Burnaby, BC. Certified B Corp, like its parent company Left Coast Naturals, Hippie Snacks is committed to using high quality, minimally processed and non-GMO ingredients, all sourced from sustainable farmers and processors. They offer their customers unique and delicious food creations and are doing it in an ethical and environmentally responsible way.

SEO Project

Hippie Snacks believes that food made right can make the world a better place on many levels, and they needed SEO to spread their message to a larger audience. In order to make this happen, we provided SEO services (META review, keyword research, update SEO foundations and framework), Google Ads (Google Ads account plan, set up, ad creation and management including negative keywords, extensions), Google Analytics (traffic reporting, conversion tracking and analysis), and consulting services. By implementing these strategies for this thriving B-Corp, we were able to produce significant results in traffic, ultimately leading to increased sales. Below is a snapshot of the results we produced for their website.

The Results

  • Website Traffic (sessions) went up 163% over the past year
  • Organic traffic went up 110% over the past year
  • Search engine visibility has gone up from 11 – 50%
  • 33 keywords now rank in the top 10

In The Customer’s Words

“I really enjoy working with Out-Smarts Marketing. Since we’ve started our contract, we’ve seen amazing results leading to concrete wins for our business. Not only Out-Smarts Marketing is of great advice when it comes to our digital strategy, they are also providing us with some helpful training with our online tools (Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Search Console, etc.). I am always looking forward to our bi-monthly calls with Mhairi! 

Pauline Fleitz, Marketing Specialist at Hippie Snacks

Why We Loved this Work

One of our top priorities is to create digital marketing success for companies that are making the world a better place. From their transparency and accountability in business, to their B Corp status, to their commitment to sustainable farming and processing (to name a few!), working with Hippie Snacks has been a pleasure. We loved getting to know their company top to bottom to understand their target audience and attract new customers through higher search rankings, and to help get such a reputable company to the top of Google. 

Social Media Strategy, Planning, Management, Advertising, and Reporting – DōMatcha Case Study

Out-Smarts partnered with DoMatcha, one of the world’s most trusted matcha brands, to develop and implement a strategic and well executed social media marketing plan to drive sales and build brand awareness. Working with directly with DoMatcha’s founder and International Director John and Anna Harrison and the DoMatcha team to learn about the company behind DoMatcha, their unique competitive strengths, and the value they offer, we were able to use social media to engage a highly targeted audience, strengthen their brand, and nurture relationships with their customers and prospects.


We have been working with the DoMatcha team on their social media since September 2017. They had goals to expand their presence online by building brand awareness, developing an online community, and to ultimately increase sales.

About DoMatcha

DoMatcha is one of the world’s leading matcha tea brands producing 100% authentic Japanese matcha, directly from Kagoshima and Uji, Kyoto where matcha originated and where the most premium quality matcha is produced. Their matcha is supported by the famous Japanese tea master Mr. Kazunori Handa, whose family’s knowledge and expertise has been handed down generation after generation for over 400 years.

Social Media Strategy and Planning

John and Anna Harrison wanted to see a stronger online presence for DoMatcha to share their matcha with a global audience, and to integrate their social media with their other digital channels such as their email marketing. To help them reach their goals, we worked with them to develop a strategy to increase brand awareness, build online relationships, and increase their website exposure. Since good planning is the foundation to any successful marketing endeavours, we took the time to work with key members of the company to ensure we knew the brand and their goals inside and out.

Social Media Community Management

We managed the DoMatcha brand across four major platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Our goals were to develop their brand awareness, foster an online community, and increase website traffic. We built brand awareness by growing the DoMatcha following on social media to increase word of mouth and authentic referrals and reviews. The result is a following that matches the demographics, interests, and behaviours of their target customers. When you have a strong connection with your audience through engagement, they are more likely to support and buy from you. That’s why we based a lot of our community management tactics on increasing engagement (likes, comments, messages, etc) on their social media platforms. Our third pillar of community management was increasing web traffic. By curating content that leads back to the DoMatcha website, we were able to increase sales.

Social Media Advertising

We focused on developing social media advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram that drove high volumes of traffic to their website. We ran a combination of engagement and page promotion posts and increased numbers within a modest ad budget.

Social Media Reporting and Analytics

Showing proof of our work is the best part. We prepared detailed monthly reports for the DoMatcha team to review. They also have access to view their campaign’s progress at any time. We also provided the option for monthly strategy meetings to disseminate the data and plan for more growth.

The Results

38% increase in page likes
97% increase in reach
106% increase in page views
164% increase in post engagements
250% increase in followers
118% increase in impressions
70% increase in reach
185% increase in profile views
254% Increase in user-generated content on tagged posts and Instagram Stories
45% increase in followers
74% increase in impressions
6% increase in followers
204% increase in daily impressions
258% increase in daily viewers
Website Sales
634% increase in website sales of DoMatcha from social media traffic in 2018

In The Customer’s Words

“Out-Smarts has been an instrumental part of DoMatcha’s success. They have headed up our Social Media side of the business and really assisted us in getting our message out to the world. We would highly recommend Out-Smarts to anyone who needs digital marketing services for their business.”
John Harrison – Founder – DoMatcha

Why We Loved this Work

It’s part of our mandate to work with ethical companies, and DoMatcha’s authentic brand was an honour represent on social media. Having full-service strategy, management, advertising, and analytics over the DoMatcha social media feeds meant we could really dig in and get to know the company and their target audience to grow their brand in a significant manner.

Website Design and Development – PIRS Hackathon – Out-Smarts Case Study

Out-Smarts designed, developed and optimized a responsive one-page website that integrated to Eventbrite to promote registration for Pacific Immigrant Resources Society’s Innovation in Childcare Hackathon.


Pacific Immigrant Resources Society, approached us to work on a new and innovative project. This project was something that had never been done in their industry before – a social Hackathon. After evaluating proposals from several agencies, PIRS hired Out-Smarts, to design and build a fully responsive one-page site to support their Hackathon initiative.

This project had a modest budget and was initially set to have a tight turnaround with a little over a month from concept to creation. When they contacted us to see if they could launch a week early, we pulled out all the stops to make that happen.

About Pacific Immigrant Resources Society Hackathon

Pacific Immigrant Resource Society (PIRS), a non-profit organization, is hosting a social (non-tech) hackathon to come up with everyday solutions to real-life problems faced by immigrant women and their children. This is an incredible opportunity to get involved, give back, and collaboratively find better solutions to the ongoing childcare needs in our community. The Hackathon’s goal is to better meet the needs of young families across the Lower Mainland through this dynamic and innovative social enterprise initiative.

Website Design and Development

Out-Smarts excels at WordPress work, but sometimes a content-managed solution is excessive for the project at hand. In this case, PIRS had minimal content requirements for the site and — given the time-sensitive nature of the hackathon event — required few future content changes. These factors made a single-page, standalone site the best (and most cost-effective!) option for the non-profit.

We designed a bold but accessible look for the hackathon site using a few images PIRS provided us and a two-tone colour scheme based on the organization’s brand colours. The webpage itself was handwritten (rather typed!) in good old HTML and mobile-friendly, responsive CSS, two foundational tools of the web for structuring and styling content. Our use of subtle yet snappy transition states and slightly skewed design accents help to really convey the fun, modern sensibility PIRS intended for this government-funded project.

The Results

Pacific Immigrant Resource Society – Hackathon

PIRS needed a responsive, one-page website on a tight budget and turnaround time. We were able to give them a successful launch one week early, with a modern, upbeat, and simple user flow tailored to the updated version of the PIRS brand. By taking the time to get to know their values and intentions of the project, we could create a custom web design that reflects the innovation and optimism of the Hackathon.

In The Customer’s Words

“It is rare to find a caring multi-talented team like Out-Smarts. The feedback we’ve received has been incredibly positive. Out-Smarts delivered a site that stands out and showcases our Hackathon in the best light. Their team took the initiative to step up and help us to take this from concept to creation to launch in a little over a month and days ahead of schedule. Mhairi and Kyle truly showed that they cared about our organization.”

Why We Loved this Work

The PIRS Childcare Innovation Social Hack is such an incredible cause to bring attention to childcare solutions and can have a huge impact on immigrant women and their families. We’re proud to be a part of such an innovative cause to help our fellow Canadians and we are happy to be able to pull together to launch the site ahead of schedule.

Search Engine Optimization – Fairware Case Study

Out-Smarts worked with Fairware on search engine optimization through two redesigns, launching both new websites with no perceivable drop in traffic despite there being a complete revamp of the user flow, maintaining page one rank and growing traffic, with organic search rates up over 30%.


We began working with Fairware in 2015 to optimize their freshly redesigned website. In 2018, it was time for another website redesign, and they chose Out-Smarts again to optimize their new site.

About Fairware

Fairware is a pioneer in creating sustainable, custom branded products for businesses. These B Corp founders take great care to ensure your promotional merchandise helps tell your story and animate your brand. Fairware brings emerging retail, consumer and sustainability trends to the forefront of promotional campaigns and product assortments. They’re sustainable brand strategists and merchandise is their medium. Further, Fairware does the homework on ethical sourcing and sustainable materials so you can rest assured that your marketing merchandise lines up with your values.

Fairware website

SEO Services

With this project, it was crucial to optimize both website redesigns to maintain or improve their page rank and positioning given that the redesigned site would have a different user flow and navigation. To ensure this, we worked with Fairware on keyword research, keyword mapping, creation of keyword targeted META titles and descriptions, managing redirects, and identifying and fixing any crawl errors. We also provided extensive Google Analytics consulting services and developed custom dashboards and reports to measure SEO, social media, and email campaign impacts.

The Results

By implementing these strategies, we were able to produce significant results for Fairware and by creating Analytics dashboards and reports for them, they’re able to measure their efforts more effectively. Here is a snapshot of the results we produced.

Through both new website launches, there was no long term drop in web traffic. Fairware was not only able to maintain their page one rank, but they increased their positioning for priority keywords. Organic search rates went up over 30%. When it comes to first page rank for priority branded keywords and search terms, 29 keywords are now in the top ten Google rank for Canada and the US.

Results from the Latest Redesign

  • An overall increase in traffic 21% (in 6 months following redesign)
  • Increase in organic traffic 30%
  • 34% increase in search engine visibility
  • 29 priority Keywords in the top ten Google rank

In The Customer’s Words

“Fairware has worked with Out-Smarts on two projects so far: Search Engine Optimization for our website redesign and on developing an email marketing strategy. Traffic and conversions have increased, our business is growing and we’re very pleased with the results. Mhairi is a joy to work with and has been great at building our internal capacity so we can continue the work in house.”

Why We Loved this Work

At Out-Smarts, our priority is to work with clients that have mandates to make the world a better place. From their environmental impact to their B Corp status, to their ethical principles, it was a joy to work with and learn from Fairware, to understand their business and to provide search services to attract their target audience and improve their ranking. Through working with Fairware we believe we play a small part in helping disrupt and positively influence the promotional products sector.