Chris Goward, Author & Founder of Conversion Optimization Company WiderFunnel, on the Books That Taught Him a New Way of Thinking
Chris started WiderFunnel in 2007 in response to the agencies that are more interested in winning industry awards regardless of client results. He founded his own conversion optimization agency and is now helping some of the world’s most successful websites lift their leads, sales and revenue – they’ve improved results for numerous companies, such as Google and SAP. He developed the LIFT Model, PIE Framework and Infinity Optimization Process – frameworks that improve conversion rate, help enterprises take evidence-based decisions, and lead to dramatic business improvements.
In 2012, he released You Should Test That! – if you only read one book for your conversion rate optimization skills, this should be the one! For an extended list, keep on reading this interview. 🙂
He’s also an international speaker and in 2015 I had the chance to see him live at GPeC, the biggest e-commerce conference in Romania (the country where our team is based). Chris talked about how you only have less than 8 seconds to grab the attention of a customer, how to test different hypothesis on your website by thinking about what’s in your customers mind, and why it’s important to ignore “best practices” and turn them into “tested practices”.
Chris is a founding member of Go Group (“Global Optimization Group”), an international network started in 2010 to provide international services to their clients. Today, the network has more than 250 consultants worldwide.
In our interview, Chris shares the books that had an impact on him, including those that helped him go deeper into learning about meditation without spirituality, the best CRO resources he’d recommend to young people interested in a career in this field, how reading during his commute helped him become one of the best in his field, and much more.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
Narrowing down a favourite book in either business or non-business from the hundreds of mind-expanding books I’ve benefited from in the four decades of my life (beginning with Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss) would be impossible.
How about we start with the best books of the past few months instead, shall we?
I recently enjoyed The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. It was a good reminder about the importance of managing energy rather than time and how important rest and balance are to achieving the highest levels of performance.
In the non-business category recently, I found Living with a SEAL by Jesse Itzler to be both entertaining and inspiring. It summarizes a month he spent with the former Navy Seal, David Goggins, living in his home.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
I remember reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris on one of my many flights to speak at a conference a couple of years ago. I had been practicing meditation for a few years, and had tried to get deeper into learning about it, I struggled with the religious aspect many Buddhist authors brought, which seemed to bring more confusion than clarity. The way Dan described his process of skepticism and discovery of the practical benefits without religion involved was a breath of fresh air.
On the topic, I also highly recommend Sam Harris’ Waking Up, which is a more well-rounded unpacking of non-religious mindfulness practice.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.
Here are some of the books that have been very impactful for me, or taught me a new way of thinking:
- Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Predictably Irrational
- Don’t Make Me Think
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Principles by Ray Dalio
- The Lean Startup
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- 3HAG Way by Shannon Susko
- Only the Paranoid Survive
- Turning the Flywheel
- The Obstacle is the Way
- An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
- Start with Why
- The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox
- Influence by Robert Cialdini
And many more…
What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?
Well, if someone wants to get into our field of Conversion Rate Optimization or business experimentation generally, they should start with my book, You Should Test That!. Then, Don’t Make Me Think, Predictably Irrational, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Influence by Robert Cialdini.Interview with @chrisgoward , on what books he'd recommend to young people interested in a conversion rate optimization career: Click To Tweet
We’re interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? How often do you read? What format do you prefer?
When I started my company, WiderFunnel, in 2007, I remember hearing somewhere (and I don’t remember which book or podcast it was) that you can become one of the top experts in your field within a year if you simply study one hour a day. At the time, I had a 1 1/2 hr commute, so I had 3 hours per day to read and become the best in the world. That’s called turning lemons into lemonade! (And, consequently, now I’ve been able to afford to upgrade to a 10 minute commute.)
Links where you can follow Chris Goward or find out more about his projects:
- His CRO book: You Should Test That!
- Connect with Chris on Twitter | LinkedIn
- Follow WiderFunnel blog to learn more
- WiderFunnel @ Twitter
- Go Group
All books mentioned by Chris Goward in our interview:
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss
- The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
- Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, by Jesse Itzler
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story, by Dan Harris
- Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, by Sam Harris
- Psycho Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
- Principles, by Ray Dalio
- The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
- 3HAG WAY: The Strategic Execution System that ensures your strategy is not a Wild-Ass-Guess!, by Shannon Susko
- Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andrew S. Grove
- Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great, by Jim Collins
- The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday
- An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield
- Start with Why, by Simon Sinek
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini