19 Rising Stars reveal their favorite books

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We asked our 19 rising stars, "What book have you found to be the most influential in your career and why." They responded with titles on leadership, working with clients and healthcare.

Here are some of the 2020 class of Rising Stars in Advising’s favorite reads.

Brandon Burroughs, 31
Title: Vice president
Company: Bolton & Company

Three books have made a big impact on how I view the client relationship and my role in business development at Bolton & Company. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino, “Trust-Based Selling” by Charles Green and “Getting Naked” by Patrick Lencioni, have all played a big role in my philosophy around client relationships and the value of transparency. Daniel Pink and Malcom Gladwell books have consistently challenged and refreshed my perception of work and relationships through the years as well.
Dillon Castro, 29
Title: Benefits consultant
Company: Advanced Estate and Insurance Services, Inc.

There are so many to choose from. One I've read more recently that I wish I had found earlier in my career is a business fable, "Go For No." The story positions failing as a necessary step to success. The authors argue that only by trying and failing, failing harder and failing faster do we ever get to truly push past our limits to realize our full potential.

Another that has helped me tremendously is written by Patrick Lencioni. The title, “Getting Naked,” is a bit provocative for a book about business, but it has been instrumental on how I approach working with clients and prospects. Some of the main themes of the book are to be okay with showing some vulnerability and humility, and to not let fear of losing a sale compromise your values or integrity.
Alex Dampf, 31
Title: President
Company: Oakmont Benefits Group

Dave Chase's "The CEO's Guide to Restoring the American Dream." I remember the first time I read it and thinking there is no way all of this could be true. It horrified me and excited me at the same time and became the catalyst for my own journey of trying to find a new way for my clients and their employees to receive better, more efficient care.
Jessica Du Bois, 26
Title: Employee benefits consultant
Company: Business Benefits Group

"This is Marketing" by Seth Godin has been the most influential book for me over the past couple of years.

"The best way to complain is to make things better. Better is when we make the dreams of those we serve come true."

Now that's powerful! This book is about creating work you can be proud of for the smallest viable audience who cares. It’s being a driver of our market, not simply being market-driven. This is what I want to do within the employee benefits industry. I want to provide my best, most caring work for the early-adopter employers who are ready to listen.
Whitney Ehret, 32
Title: Voluntary benefits consultant
Company: Burnham Benefits Insurance Services

I firmly believe that success begins with happiness and happiness begins with you. “The Power of Habit; Why We Do What We Do” by Charles Duhigg, has been a book that I go back to often. The book teaches you how habits are formed, how powerful they are and how to harness that power to create good habits that will enhance your holistic life. The message is powerful and has helped me to transform myself and my behaviors, which in turn has grown my career.
Jillian Foss, 30
Title: Associate adviser
Company: Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners (BKS-Partners)

The most influential book in my career has been “The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live an Authentic Life,” by Mark Nepo. It has changed my perspective on adversity and taught me to look for the “teacher” in everything. I’ve learned to relax and trust that the path I am on is serving me in the highest way and to be grateful for each moment as it unfolds.
Francisco Oller Garcia, 25
Title: Digital operations and marketing specialist
Company: BeniComp Health Solutions

David Thompson, the author of “Hitmakers,” said, “The world is complex, but all meaning comes from wise simplification.” My interpretation of this quote is that the way we communicate determines the impact that we can create. We must appeal to both emotion and logic in order to foster the conversation of change for the better. For this reason, I would say the book that has been most influential in my career is “Building a Storybrand” by Donald Miller.

In the book, Miller describes how the platforms of communication have evolved across history, but what has remained the same is how people connect and how they are driven by stories. As humans, we are adventure seekers at heart and want to be taken on a journey of discovery. This book has shown me that when you confuse, you lose. But there is a framework we can follow to show our why and the value we deliver.
Tony Goebel, 33
Title: CEO and insurance advisor
Company: 5G Benefits, LLC

The most influential piece of literature I ever "read" was actually a fortune cookie that said "Forget the stock market, invest in family." I read this at a time where I was growing my company, I was trying to find my direction personally and professionally and was trying to do everything myself at the time. I literally read it about 100 times and decided right then to build my business around helping other people get what they want. I hired five people (numerous family members) over the next three months and then reinvested again to that next level as an insurance and benefits agency.

Books, videos, magazines, content, and even fortune cookies are out there to get people thinking. It's up to each individual to take that information and make it their own. Many of the books I have read over the years are 300 pages, but there is one line that sticks out and hits home and creates action. I guess all I needed was a one-line fortune cookie to find the direction I needed at the time, and it got me thinking about what I really want in life and who I want to be associated with to help get it.
Jillian Gorres, 35
Title: Benefits consultant
Company: JA Counter, An Alera Group Company

I have enjoyed so many books over the years that keep me positive and striving for continued growth. In college we were required to read, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. This requirement was for a marketing class which inspired me to have an emphasis in marketing and sales to accompany my bachelor’s degree. Stephen Covey is another great author I enjoy reading, especially "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." The timeless principles make this book another favorite.
Nick Hansen, 34
Title: Senior benefit consultant
Company: PSG Washington, Inc.

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear. When we completely changed the focus of our organization I realized that I needed to change a number of things about my thinking and my habits both professionally and personally. A very inspirational book that motivated me to change or make much needed, ignored habits.
Zain Hasan, 32
Title: Managing director
Company: Risk Strategies Company

“Leadership and Self Deception” by the Arbinger Institute. It brings to light a complex issue that I believe everyone faces and isn’t even aware of it until they read the book. I don’t want to give away the story for people who haven’t haven’t read it, but it changed my entire life.
Caitlin Hodge, 29
Title: Employee benefit advisor
Company: HJ Spier

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear. This industry and life in general can get overwhelming sometimes. This book taught me how to conquer tackle one thing at a time and turn all of those small things into a mega machine.
Prabal Lakhanpal, 31
Title: Vice president
Company: Spring Consulting Group

Two books that I have found to be relevant in our ecosystem and have allowed be to view things from a different perspective are:

"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't," by Jim Collins.

In essence, it creates a framework for what one needs to do to personally and organizationally transition from being average to achieving phenomenal success.

“Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” by Daniel Pink. The book provides a radically different perception of success and satisfaction. It forces you to rethink how we are motivated and how we could motivate others.
Richie Marrero, 34
Title: Specialist, employer sponsored healthcare
Company: 360 Benefits

There are many great books out there, but if I had to choose one it would be “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie.

I love it because at its core, the book just crystallizes the importance of being a good human being. Treat people how you want to be treated. When I mentor young people, it’s a book I often gift them.

Lastly, people do business with people they like and trust. The book lays the foundation to accomplish both being genuinely liked and gaining people's trust.
Courtney Pino, 30
Title: Employee benefits consultant
Company: AssuredPartners

I love the book “Getting Naked” by Patrick Lencioni. Everyone in our office has read this book. It is a story of a business consultant who learns the value of vulnerability when it comes to business and shares how it can lead to success with winning and keeping clients. I’ve learned that the best way to earn trust and show your authentic self is to be vulnerable.
Ryan Spencer, 35
Title: Advisor
Company: Conner Insurance

I’ve read many influential books, but the one that comes to mind is Simon Sinek's "Start with Why." I'm a firm believer that people work harder and are happier if they find a purpose in what they're doing.

Our company has found a niche in the marketplace in helping employers use creative solutions to beat the rising costs, help employees retain money in their paychecks, and receive the best care they could ask for. This book has pinpointed those ideas and happenings, then consolidate them into reasoning behind why I go to work every day.
Lisa Talcott, 44
Title: Sales executive employee benefits
Company: Assured Partners

“Traction” by Gino Wickman, because clarity and traction are the lifeblood of any entrepreneurial endeavor.
Chelsea Whalley, 28
Title: COO, partner
Company: J Donovan Financial

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. This book is about vulnerability, a trait that taught me how to bring the human component to benefits. While many advisors are relying on similar financial strategies for insurance solutions, I knew that by being both young and female, I needed an edge that would allow me to connect to prospects and retain clients in a different way than most.
Megan Zimmerman, 38
Title: Employee benefits consultant
Company: Marsh and McLennan Agency

Hands down, Dave Chase's “CEO's Guide to Restoring the American Dream: How to Deliver World Class Healthcare to Your Employees at Half the Cost.” I have seen the framework laid out in this book work countless times for employers who are ready to challenge the status quo in healthcare and benefits advising.

Dave’s book led me to become a Health Rosetta certified advisor and share this framework with my clients. I have stacks of this book in my office and share with as many people as possible.