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What book has had the most impact on your professional life?
In today’s world of social media influencers, podcasters and YouTubers, the old fashioned book seems to have lost its luster. However, to express impactful ideas and really change your outlook, books remain a powerful tool. How do we know? We asked and numerous emerging leaders from all industries answered. So, we compiled a list of the most influential books.
And interestingly, of the over 50 books that influenced minds, improved business practices and changed outlooks on life, there were three repeated titles. In particular, for anyone looking to improve their communications and sales to jumpstart your business, then How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic that continues to stand the test of time!
58 of the Most Influential Books
From fictional novels expressing the ideas of love and humanity to business books showcasing the dedication and focus needed to succeed, the most influential books spans the gamut. We all find inspiration in different places, so if you are looking for a change and perspective that will start the foundation of your professional success, perhaps one of these books will do the trick!
“The most inspirational book I read was Dale Carnegie’s HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. The book explains strategies to get people to do what you want– anything at all. The way the book positively impacted my business is as follows: Carnegie teaches the way to negotiate prices is to tell people how what you want will help THEM.
I’ve tried this tactic and it works! I’ve received business from people who weren’t sure about hiring me as a freelancer. When I explained how my writing could help them, they fired me.”
“Easily one of the best books for any budding entrepreneur or established business owner is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Although I first read this book as a teenager, it was what spawned my interest in becoming a business owner – in fact, it’s what gave me the interest in pursuing business to begin with, and has impacted my life as a business owner in so many positive ways. It’s such a great book that I don’t let a year go by where I don’t pick it up again and re-read it either in its entirety or the sections that I know I most need to improve on. Simply put, this book emphasizes that meaningful relationships and providing value are more than just great qualities to help you live a successful life, but also help you make a lasting, positive impact on the world. In the end, any successful business owner must agree that even if you’re only in it for the money, you’ll never be as successful by trying to reap the rewards and being money-focused than by trying to provide as much value as possible.”
“Back in college, I had a coach strongly recommend that I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People. Of course, I put it off and honestly forgot about it until almost a full year later. Wow, I truly wish I had read this book not only back then but before I even joined the military back in 2009! No matter how much our society evolves, the essential human desire to be understood has and will remain the same! This book is full of personal relatable stories that will have us reminiscing on moments that either we’ve experienced or that we have accidentally done to others without realizing the consequences of those poorly chosen words! I soon began experimenting with some of the tips in this book when it came to dealing with difficult clients. I was flabbergasted at how quickly a majority of the interactions turned for the better! Communication skills are highly required in any given field, so if anyone wishes to improve their own skills of building strong connections, I highly recommend giving this book a chance!
“In my years of coming up in the corporate world and sales roles, one of the best books I’ve ever read was the age old standard: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Despite the publication date of this book and it’s references to popular oil and steel tycoons, it has some sincerely different and effective approaches to communicating with people that do not follow common instincts. Empowering people, making them feel productive, and showing interest are far more effective tactics than anger, belittlement, and fear based approaches.”
“The reason it should be the first and most fundamental book is because of the world we live in, how we were raised as humans. We’re meant to interact with people all around us on a daily basis. Parents. Friends. Teammates. Coaches. Future bosses. Future clients. Negotiating bills. The economy is depending on millions upon millions of people to keep it moving. All doing their parts. When you know what parts you need the most help with or you want to make the most impact, there’s likely going to be somebody already ahead of you and somebody chasing behind you, whether you meet them or not. This book does everything it says in the title. We all could use more good friends and who doesn’t want to have more influence over other people?”
Kyle Pullins, Founder of The Money Minded Athlete
“Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People is hands-down the most impactful book I’ve read. I own a marketing agency, and one of the basic tenets of marketing is to listen first, talk second. That’s exactly what Carnegie teaches in this book, and honestly, it’s a great life lesson.”
“This is one of the very few books which can carry anyone up towards success in professional and personal life. This is that timeless bestseller of Dale Carnegie which is probably considered as one of the best self-improvement books of all time. It was published in 1936 and still this book is essential for those who want to make a place among people at home or at profession. Carnegie has taught you in this book 6 ways to make people like you, 12 ways to make people think in your ways, 9 ways to make people change as you wish and so many useful ways to influence people around you.”
“The book that has had the most impact on my life is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. That book helped me dig deep on the reasons why I do what I do. It has motivated me every single day to continue no matter what. Some days are harder than others, but I always have my “WHY” in front of me. This is why I’m able to stay focused and get results.”
“A book that’s brought me the most inspiration in my professional life has been Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It really helped me reflect on why I started my business and what’s most important in both business and in life. Education is at the heart of my business, and this book really inspired me to continue focussing on that aspect, even though that’s not what my competitors are doing, so it’s helped me develop my USP. I still refer back to it from time to time. I’d highly recommend the audio book.”
“In this book, Sinek beautifully explained that individuals are influenced by motivation or inspiration. He believes that when people do work that inspires them, they are able to achieve more and contribute greatly towards the world. He compared and contrasted different organizations and individuals that have reached the success to organizations that could be more successful if they understood and figured out why they were doing what they are doing. He provided examples of successful companies and individuals included Apple, Southwest, and individuals like Martin Luther King, President Kennedy, the Wright brothers, and many more. He uses examples to show how great leaders inspire us to support their causes. In his book, he explained that a number of organizations talk about what they do and how they do it but don’t tap into why they do it. He believes it is the why that drives the loyalty of its employees, its customers, and its fans.”
“The E-Myth by Michael Gerber is a game-changing book for those in small businesses. It clearly demonstrates the difference between a business owner and a technician who does the actual work. That alone is an “ah ha!” moment for most people starting their own small business. But the book goes on to explain how to create processes and systems to help define and grow the business itself, not just the work being done inside the business. It’s written for a person who knows how to do the work, but doesn’t have the business management experience. The transition can be daunting, but the E-Myth helps clearly explain all the steps.”
“The book is a must for every small business owner. It explains why most small businesses fail and what should the business owners do about them. The book is written as a long story in an easy to understand language. There is absolutely no business jargon. It can be understood by anyone. The book painstakingly explains why small business owners should work on their business and not in it. It talks about the virtues of implementing systems and processes to run the business. After implementing the ideas written in the book, small business owners can transform their business and make it a great business.”
“I always have a soft spot for the E-myth. Nothing in the book is earth shattering, just logical easy steps to take in order to grow your business. It was really the first business book I read when thinking about going out on my own and it inspired me to take the chance on myself as an entrepreneur.”
“Thinking Fast and Slow has been the most influential book in my professional life. It changed the way I think. Taught me, along with experience, to take a step back when I face a challenge, understand myself better generally, and communicate and think more effectively. It’s also influenced some of the courses that we teach. Not bad for one book, huh?”
“The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle remains as a major turning point for me in my professional career. Opening my eyes to the diversity of a community and the importance of being able to connect with diversity professionally has been instrumental in my growth as both a public speaker and digital marketing consultant.”
“Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson taught me early on to enjoy taking risks and that determination is the sole factor in achieving success. I learned to take pride in my ideas, build like-minded teams, and give my vision a shot. Most importantly, if you fail there is always another chance as long as you keep at it.”
“Every business has customers and can do well by making those customers and employees feel amazing. The founder of Zappos, the successful shoe company, shares the secrets he’s learned to really make his customers and employees happy over the long term by building a strong culture and putting a focus on customer service. Even if customer service hasn’t always been the biggest focal point in every organization I’ve been apart of, the advice here has certainly helped make experiences better for customers overall.”
“The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B White has been, by far, the most beneficial to me. As a creative I found it difficult to transition to technical prose, but this book gave me such a helpful outlook on writing in clear, sticky ways!”
“This book is truly remarkable for any entrepreneurs out there looking to build their next venture. The book uses a simple analogy. If you were driving past a field full of cows and amongst all these cows, you saw a purple one. You would straight away notice it because of its uniqueness. This book talks about the importance of making your products remarkable. In this day and age, it is hard breaking through the clutter and having some uniqueness about your product and service can make a massive difference.”
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the best self-help book ever written by a country mile. It includes practical and actionable wisdom about how to live a happy and successful life as well as a happy and successful business.”
“Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. It’s the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and it gives a ton of insight into the duo’s leadership skills. It’s a fascinating read, and has taught me real-life applications of group management, conflict resolution and leading by following.”
“Hands down, my favorite business book is Shoe Dog. It’s the biography of Phil Knight, and how he started Nike. This guy was the definition of grit. He graduated with an accounting degree from Stanford, and would have had no problem landing a high-paying job. But no. This guy was so tenacious that he flew to Japan, bluffed some Japanese executives, and scored a deal to sell shoes in America. When he pivoted to Nike, he was so determined to make it work, that he worked a full time job, while getting Nike off the ground. As a side-hustler with a full time job, I can’t emphasize how admirable and inspiring that is.”
“I bet I’m the only one to share this book: It’s Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It by Al Ries. Although written over 20 years ago, I still find myself talking about it today (in fact, just this morning). In a world where we have so much more noise and options than we did twenty years ago, I find it to be more true than ever. Focus is a simple but powerful concept. Brands often are diluted when trying to be everything to everyone. Focus shows that if a brand is going to add products or services, staying consistent with your core business is imperative! This books gives a ton of examples of brands we all know.”
“I want to share a book that really helped me when dealing with customers in my business. The book is Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman. He calls Zombie Loyalists those customers that are fervent fans that help companies massively increase their customer base, brand awareness and most importantly, revenue. Peter gives fantastic examples of how specific businesses have earned their Zombie Loyalists.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have actually stumbled across a book that has truly had a positive impact on my professional life and is a book that I often go back to. The title of the book is called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin. What pulled me into the book was that it wasn’t written by a traditional business man that learned these principals over their years of working and became wealthy so they wanted to share their “knowledge”, it was actually written by someone who used these practical beliefs in a very real world scenario – the war in the middle east.
The basis of the book is that it’s up to you to take ownership for everything in your life and that you must hold yourself accountable for everything – whether good or bad. You are responsible for making sure everyone on your team understands their roles and that if one person makes a mistake, it’s not on them, it’s on you for not explaining it or managing it properly. What really stuck with me is how the author was able to tie everything back to him. Whether it was a subordinate 3 ranks lower than him, he still tied back how it was his responsibility for any failure that occurred.
This completely altered my mindset on how to approach both my personal life and my business. I own a marketing agency that specializes in influencer & athlete marketing, there are so many things that can go wrong with a partnership between an influencer and a brand that are honestly out of my control. However, the idea that “everything is my fault” has been so ingrained in me after reading this book years ago, I now approach every business deal with caveat that if the influencer fails to produce the agreed upon deliverables, it is my fault and my responsibility. This mindset has had a direct positive impact on the work I do and the success of my business.”
“I believe that professional development comes from an aspect of personal development which is driven by emotion and inner-ambition – stories in which we can relate to. For me that source of inspiration would be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This story, comprised of Fitzgerald’s memoirs of the formative years of modern America, dates back to the earliest concepts of what would form the concept we have defined as the ‘American Dream’. Having grown up and lived in these areas in which the novel takes place there is a such a relatable familiarity in how these characters move about from the prosperous Gold Coast of Northern Long Island through Queens and over the Queensboro Bridge into the promising island of Manhattan. It is certainly a scenario that plays out almost daily for me to this day and encapsulates the true essence of what it means to be a New Yorker.”
“I have been in sales for over 26 years and I can say that I owe the foundation of my success to one book, The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino. In fact, the book is so much more than the title. For instance, it will teach you about life in general. In addition, this book will teach you how to respond to life’s adversities, not to react. Although the book is only a mere 150 pages, it takes 10 months to read if you follow the instructions in chapter 1. Above all, this book will lead you to persist to you succeed, to be a master of your emotions, and to live each day as if was your last. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants to have the best perspective in life.”
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki gave me insight and understanding of how radically different each social class thinks and how they interpret and understand the environment around them. Another “out of the box” thinking book that teaches “If you think like everyone else, you will be like everyone else”.
Benjamin Ross, Mission Real Estate Group
“W. Edwards Deming’s Out of the Crisis is the book that had a tremendous impact on my professional life. Deming was in Japan with Douglas MacArthur after WWII, and he taught Japanese managers the skill of Statistical Process Control, along with how to implement those skills. From total devastation during the war, in 10 years Japan was a world leader in manufacturing in electronics (Sony), automobile quality (Toyota) and numerous others. The Japanese business leaders listened to Deming because they had no other choice, but his message was a very hard sell in the US. The book is a fascinating combination of stories, what happened and why you should do certain things, as well as technical guidance. I got to meet Deming briefly when I attended his 4 day seminar, when he was 90, he was still driven to teach. I never understood the business world until I read that book and now it is all very clear and easy to understand. (Not necessarily easy to execute.) The essence of Deming’s message and Statistical Process Control is that it shows you how to improve everything, not how to do things, but how to do them better.”
George Willison, President, WymansBest, Inc.
“One of the business books that has had the most impact on my professional life is Good to Great by Jim Collins. I’ve worked for a few small businesses over the course of my professional career, and this book has really given me insight as to what it takes to grow any size company really, from a moderate level of success to where the sky is the limit. It talks about things like always having faith that you will eventually succeed, picking something that you do great and then going ahead and executing. Plus, the book comes with research and engaging anecdotes. This book has given me a better understanding of how businesses function and succeed and has also allowed me to make key insights and suggestions during my career that seemingly have had a direct effect on the success of the business.”
“To get ahead early in your career, you need to figure out what motivates you and how to tap into that energy. Daniel Pink lays it all out in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. With research to back up his claims, Pink explores the idea that a sense of progress and a feeling of purpose are the primary factors that propel us forward in our work. The book includes a tool kit section that will help you figure out how to tap into the coveted “flow” state, your way.”
Libby Fischer, CEO of Whetstone Education
“One of the most influential books I have ever read was The Secret to Teen Power by Paul Harrington. Don’t let the title fool you, it is just as important to read as an adult. This book is based off The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. However, Paul Harrington’s novel is a much easier read. The book explores the power of positive thinking and uses real life stories to help understand it. This book has helped me every time I have needed it. I have used it to find a job, stay healthy, and remain financially sound. It doesn’t have to go that deep, you could simply use it to find the shoes you thought you lost or to make it to work on time. It is a super powerful novel that changed my life and I would not be the person I am today without it.”
“In an age when we are increasingly disconnected in real life and more likely to engage in fleeting online interactions, I found Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering to be exceptionally inspiring and relevant to my work and my life today. Parker’s is the rare book that is easy to read, makes you see things with new eyes, and every page is relevant. As someone who works in meeting design and facilitation, its overarching focus on people and connections over logistics really clarifies what I want to bring to clients. However, I’ve been recommending the book to everyone lately – even if they’re not meeting designers. I think the book reframes the idea of gatherings – be it a small business meeting, a conference, or even a party – in ways that lead people across the business spectrum to have easy-to-apply “a-ha” moments. After all, even in a digital world, in-person gatherings are still at the core of who we are and what we do and getting them right is really important.”
Lee Gimpel, Founder of Better Meetings
“One of my most recent reads was Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is life changing! I have been purchasing the book for my team and also friend/colleagues because I am certain that everyone can benefit from reading Atomic Habits. The book is full of gems on how to create good habits that can really help drive a person to be more successful in life. This doesn’t pertain to monetary success only, it can be simple life success. The small things we do on a day to day basis can have a huge impact on our future choices and outcomes. Atomic Habits gives you the blueprint on how to establish habits in your life that become your everyday actions without even thinking too much about it.”
“The book that has had the most influence on my professional life is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which was one of the very first self improvement books I have read. It’s an amazing book that introduced me to the concept that we’re not our minds, and all suffering is caused by living in our heads instead of being present in the moment. Reading this personal development book helped tremendously in overcoming the depression I used to suffer from in my past daily job, by simply learning how to be more self aware and think more optimistically. I can confidently say that The Power of Now is the book that kick started my journey toward becoming a better person, both during the past career and while running my current business.”
- Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
“Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson because it teaches how to completely open your eyes to EVERY part of your business and make sure that you’re getting customers closer to buying with everything they encounter. It covers brick-and-mortar stores, massive agencies, and online.”
Dan Fradenburgh, CTO
“The book No More Mr. Nice Guy has had a tremendous impact on my professional life. Although this book’s primary purpose is to improve the love life of guys who have no self-respect due to various childhood circumstances, it inevitably has affected more than my love life, it has also affected my professional life. It’s taught me to have respect for myself and others, to stop trying to please others, to say no when I don’t like a situation, and to stop living in fear. For the first time, I traveled alone after reading this book. The book motivated me to start my own business, something I would never have the audacity to do if I were still living in fear.”
Jesse Harrison, Founder, HopeTree Legal Funding
“The most impactful book I’ve read for my professional career is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. A leadership coach recommended I read the book. Fast forward 15 years and I am now a leadership coach who recommends this book to most of my clients. Ruiz explains in four simple steps how to show up at work, and in life, more human.”
“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer is the type of book that makes you think, often to an uncomfortable extent. It puts a wrench in your automatic thought processes that evoke anxiety, fear or pain. It dichotomizes the mind experience with the emotional experience and asserts that no matter what happens, we can choose our thoughts, and be free of any of our past experiences if we so choose. Much of the pain we internalize is actually the ego, something that isn’t “us” at our core and can be let go of so that wherever we are, peace is. This book sets the stage for a mindset shift to lessen stress and increase productivity.”
“As a fiduciary financial advisor, one that resonates is Where Are The Customers’ Yachts? by Fred Schwed. This stands out because it was written in 1940 and the wisdom is super applicable to the current fiduciary movement within the investment advice industry. The reputation of Wall Street greed is well documented and some of the greed and excess may have been avoided if more people had read this book. It’s also a good reminder that the ‘right’ information is usually out there, we just have to find it. It’s amazing that a book written almost 80 years ago still is applicable to modern finance.”
“The Millionaire Next Door is the book that most impacted my professional life and personal life. Written by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko and released back in 1996, it outlined the importance of accumulating wealth even when you don’t have a lot of money or income. (Wealth doesn’t mean $1 million, it can mean $20k.) The avoidance of flashy purchases or status purchases is an important way to not only aid in the accumulation of wealth but it can aid in your overall level of happiness. Status purchases are a short term buzz but a long term anchor to your overall happiness. It impacted my professional life because I’m an investment advisor and it showed me that flashy homes, cars and even professions aren’t necessarily the people with the most money. It instilled in my the importance of keeping an open mind. Still to this day I’ll step into homes in very poor North St. Louis neighborhoods who have accumulated very significant portfolios because they live within their means and save prodigiously. It’s not about how you look, it’s who you are inside and your priorities.”
“As both a writer and an entrepreneur, I was blown away by this recent find, a book my business partner recommended for me. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller proved to offer me advice that helped me in more than one area. It discusses the ways in which businesses can increase customer engagement and retention by using the structure of good stories to describe their services. As a writer, I very much understood and appreciated having the template of some of the most successful stories laid out for me in such a simple format. As an entrepreneur, I was surprised at what a good argument Miller made for his assertion that brands that effectively make the customer the hero of a story encourage action and faithfulness in those customers. I was able to use my experience as a writer to create my own effective entrepreneurial story, both in my work as the leader of the Grant Park Academy of the Arts and as a writer of books that will transform my audience.
I’ve read quite a few business books and been moved by many of them. In this case, I’d been at it long enough, and failed enough times, to be receptive to the messages that Building a StoryBrand had to offer. In this way, it truly transformed my outlook.”
Adam Cole, Co-Director, Grant Park Academy of the Arts
“Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. This book is everything. Yvon is the founder of the outdoor clothing company, Patagonia. After briefly gets into his upbringing to provide the context for the rest of the book, Let my People Go Surfing provides a manual on how to build a company built on empathy for employees, customers, and the planet. It’s a beautiful story of how a wildly successful company can be built on principles other than maximizing shareholder wealth. There are great examples of innovative employee benefits, expanding and reducing product lines, philanthropy, and many other examples of big decision making grounded in the purpose and mission of the company. Readers will get a unique perspective of a “reluctant businessman”. They will have the opportunity to explore their purpose for getting into business and relate to a great story-teller who diligently optimized his business so he could make the impact he desired.”
“Without a doubt, the most influential book I’ve read is, Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute. As a high energy professional, continual progress is important to me. This book helped me break through my own voice and needs; and directed me to better understand how to recognize the needs of my clients and colleagues. The outward mindset philosophy greatly enables friction reduction by building your curiosity muscle about others needs and desires. That curiosity improves communication, problem-solving and change management.”
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
“The Lean Startup by Eric Reis details a handful of vital lessons for early start-ups, and discusses everything from the importance of the MVP (minimum viable product) to accentuating the metrics that matter and not “vanity stats”. He also expounds on the importance of making customer oriented pivots and the pitfalls of thinking you are smarter than the customer during the design process. For me, the book was a foundation for how to effectively design, pivot and adapt in business and I found that inspiring.”
“The book that’s helped me the most in my professional life (and quite a bit of my personal life as well) has been Getting Things Done, more commonly called GTD by David Allen. My natural tendency is to get excited about many different ideas at once. I start lots of projects and run them in parallel, and the result is that, without a system to structure my time, I often feel disorganized. That’s where GTD comes in…it presents a system that frees my mind to focus on the task at hand and not on the other thousands of “open tabs” we all have in our heads in 2019. The principle is simple: move the clutter out of your head, into a simple system and organize the projects and tasks by priority and urgency. That makes it easy to be present and concentrate on what’s important right now. It’s not just a time management system, it’s almost a spiritual path – the calm and focus you’ll get if you implement the system can easily be compared to a 10 day meditation retreat.”
“Secrets of a Freelancer Writer by Bob Bly. Bly is one of the leaders in effective corporate communications. He is one of the few who actually told us what fees to charge for different projects like brochures, annual reports, etc. Bly is still around and has written many other take-offs on this.”
“I am a book collector and avid reader, but the book that has been the most influential in my professional life is a quirky one. Its title is almost dull – Letters from a Self Made Merchant to His Son. The book presents itself as letters of advice and direction from John Graham, a forthright, down to earth, turn of the century Chicago entrepreneur – in the meatpacking industry – to his college educated son. Hidden in these beautifully observed, easy to digest letters is such commonsense combined with an astute understanding of people and what motivates them – the very essence of management. Essentially the book is about the joys of working with different kinds of people while trying to improve your life and job. There are many, many practical insights that have informed my professional life. On hiring salesman, I always have in the back of my mind – A real salesman is one-part talk and nine-parts judgment; and he uses the nine-parts of judgment to tell when to use the one-part of talk. And behind every perfectly put, usable piece of work or life advice, hidden in plain sight in the letter, is a memorable and fun story. Mine may be closest to the one about a young hire so lazy that he couldn’t help himself but find inventive ways to reduce his workload by improving the processes in the factory until he had to be promoted again each time he was promoted. The wisdom and insight around people, business and motivation has certainly informed my professional life – but I have also found myself able to borrow and use the specific insights – even finding just the right quote or story to read out at farewell celebrations. A tribute to the book – not my delivery skills – that the “sermons” never sound preachy.”
“Another good one is Getting To Yes — I took his negotiations class in business school and this reminds me of what he taught us, we are constantly negotiating in business and you have to always keep in mind what your best alternatives are and be ready to walk away.”
“The Four Hour Workweek. This is the book that started it all. If it weren’t for Mr. Tim Ferriss my life would’ve been relegated to low-income jobs and boring life. Instead, I’m successfully self-employed and get to do what I want to do every day. Pretty good trade-off just for reading one book. I basically implemented every principle in this book to get where I am today.”
“After a year working in an unsatisfying cubicle job, I needed a bit of a pick-me-up to motivate me to continue pushing forward as I made strides into a new career (from business to teaching). I was feeling a little doubtful in myself, wondering if I would actually be a good fit as an educator, and decided to read this book that was recommended to me. It moved through discussing some of the limiting beliefs women have in themselves, much of which is indoctrinated in us as young children, but then offers women practical advice to put themselves out there and learn how to promote themselves in a way that feels genuine for them. I loved following along with this book and practicing the tools provided as I was setting forth mastering a new set of skills required for teaching.”
Kristine Thorndyke, Teacher, Founder of Test Prep Nerds
- They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer
“A book I read recently that I keep referring back to after finishing it is Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask, You Answer. While it’s aimed at marketers, I find it to be incredibly insightful for any C-level executive or leader of an organization — not just those who are in marketing, but all aspects of business development. The reason for this is because it reinforces some critical best practices for customer acquisition and lead generation. Sheridan makes it very clear that blogging and other content creation tactics aren’t just for marketers, but that they can be an all-hands-on-deck venture. This holistic perspective to marketing is accompanied with many case studies explaining how engineers or software developers can be valid, useful contributors to your company’s marketing efforts. If you want your company to build a successful marketing funnel that expands beyond the conventional ideas of content creation, this is the book for you. And I really appreciate that it’s taught me to think about marketing outside of the perspective of marketers, and more from the perspective of the most important component of a successful enterprise: the customer.”
“I probably bought my copy of Endless Referrals, published by Bob Burg in 1994, sometime in the late 90’s after I had been in my first serious, professional job after college. This idea that you could deliberately and intentionally build business relationships (and therefore sales) with systematic, yet very personal strategies was NOTHING they had taught in school. Yet to me, it seemed like the most powerful and obvious business and marketing strategy you could have. After ten years of intensively applying networking principles to great success in my job, I decided I wanted to write my OWN networking book. After being challenged by a friend to “think big… no, bigger!” about the foreword, I decided that Bob Burg was the absolute top choice if I was going to “dream big” and write a book on networking. Five years later, I published my book “Networking on Purpose” with a forward by … Bob Burg! How’s that for an impact one book can have on someone’s life!?”
“I am an avid reader, and there are so many good books that have helped me in my career and business tremendously. But the book that has had the most impact on my professional life has to be The One Thing by Gary Keller. This self-help book makes me realize that by focusing on the ONE most important thing in any project I undertake, I can stay on track and achieve my goals in less time without all the overwhelm and stress. It has also significantly increased my productivity and allowed me to accelerate my business growth.”
- The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data
“I come from an IT security background. When I left corporate life, I decided I wanted to open up my own consulting firm and build a separate organization that could help everyday people. I already had clients for my firm and began helping organizations shore up their security. I was still lost on how I could create something to help people who were not running their own businesses and organizations. That is when I found The Art of Invisibility. The book details how your data is being tracked and stored. Mitnick delves into how everyday people can protect their privacy. It dawned on me that helping people on this subject could be taken a step further. In turn, I created my organization to help people understand the changing world of data privacy and offer tips on how to defend their digital sovereignty.”
Will Ellis, Founder of Privacy Australia
“I’m a former military officer who five years ago who traded in my combat boots for a career of creative entrepreneurship and writing. I’ve read countless inspiring books during both my time in the military and also as an entrepreneur, written by world leaders and successful business people. This is important to know because basically, I’ve read, seen, or heard about a lot of the books out there in the world intended to change your life. The one book that really inspired and influenced me to live my most authentic life and also encouraged me to believe in myself is Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass. Sincero skips the fluff, uses conversational language, gets straight to the point, and forces her readers to make observations about themselves that are sometimes hard to swallow. The self-realizations made and the easy-to-implement action steps she provides have been invaluable to my life and mindset…Sincero feels like the best friend who tells it as it is, gives it to you straight and inspires you to be the best person and live the best life you possibly can. I highly recommend!”
“The most influential book I’ve read is The Compound Effect by Daren Hardy. His message is simple but profound – If you keep going in tiny steps there’s an amazing result. You may not see results in a week, 1 year, 3 years or 10 years, but you’ll see huge success eventually! I used it to help me initially get up one hour earlier and talk a morning walk (in practice for getting a dog) and after 3 years (now with a dog) I then decided to wake up another hour earlier so I can work on my business, not in it. The target time is 5:30 am. I have peaks and troughs of consistency (largely depending on what happened the night before!) but 5:30 is the standard and anything else is now a variance. Of course, once that idea is in your head you can use it for everything, exercise, eating, working, writing etc. I now recommend it to many of my coaching and communications skills mentoring clients!”
“Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig was a life–changing book for me; a truly influential read helping me to analyse my working life, my attitudes towards it and my overall happiness. For instance, Haig discusses, in great depth, how important sleep really is and how a lack of it considerably affects our lives, both personally and professionally. The book also discusses how keeping your phone too close to your bed, or even inside your bedroom when you go to sleep is a habit you need to quit. This book is also great at teaching you that happiness is relative; I became happier in my job by discussing my expectations, my progression and current role; ensuring I live up to my potential, focusing on myself and my goals instead of instantly comparing myself to others.”
“I’d recommend The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Now, I do not consider myself a feminist in anyway. But obviously, as a human-being, I believe in the importance of empowering women and helping those less privileged than myself. Gates’ book takes an intelligent, thoughtful and passionate look at the problems behind inequality among some of the most marginalized populations in the world. She discusses the importance of lifting empowering women, “because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity”.”
“If I had to pick just one book that impacted my career, it would be The Definitive Book on Body Language by Alan and Barbara Pease. Growing up on a hippie commune and in a free-love environment, I entered the business world with a unique set of social norms. In my early years in business, I received feedback about my looks, my hair, and even how I sat in meetings. The Definitive Book on Body Language breaks down different postures and positions, as well as practical guidance such as where to sit in a business meeting. This book helped me understand what I was unconsciously communicating to the world with my body language. After reading it I found myself at a networking event, noticing how everyone was standing and interacting. I found myself standing with my arms straight and tight next to my body, afraid to move. This book helped me to loosen up, be conscious about my body positioning, and present myself in the manner I wanted to be perceived.”
“When I began studying management in the mid-70s, the original edition of this book had just been released. And back then (in my first graduate management course), when I read through Drucker’s thoughts on how businesses could best be organized and managed, it was a revelation! I’d previously thought that “management” was simply another subject that I’d need to pass in order to complete my master’s degree. But this book convinced me that “management” was truly a separate discipline that included elements of psychology, economics, political science, sociology — and even a wee bit of anthropology! Thus, in and of itself, management was a separate branch of the social sciences and was worthy of serious study and formal research.”
“Filled with great examples and practical advice, Michele Huff’s book,The Transformative Negotiator will help anyone from the seasoned attorney to the frustrated spouse get a better deal out of any bargaining session. Sharing from her decades of experience, Huff offers expert negotiation techniques with a mindset of understanding and empathy. Her unique approach provided negotiation insight I didn’t know I needed.”
“I like to draw inspiration for my productivity from the successful people of the past – the book I always recommend is Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. It centers around the inspiring daily rituals of 161 famous people from various professions – from writers and painters to directors and composers, and more. Some of the many highlights include Kafka, Beethoven, Mozart, Andy Worhol, Agatha Christie, Picasso, Benjamin Franklin, Stravinsky, Simone de Beauvoir, David Lynch…And that’s just the start. Some of them had unusual daily rituals, some of them had unusual schedules – for example, Picasso worked solely at night, and Igor Stravinsky could not compose unless he had an audience. In gist, the book serves as a reminder that all successful people have different daily rituals and that you never know what could be good for your own productivity. Plus, it always makes for an entertaining read.”
“For anyone looking to make a change in their life, specifically career or as an entrepreneur, should read An Economist Walks by Allison Schrager. My father, an entrepreneur himself, gave me this book and told me it would be relevant to my life in many ways. He was right! It’s about how we behave with risk and what assessment patterns we tend to fall into. The book shares how to gain financially, when to risk, when to remain in balance and when to push harder, risking more for bigger outcomes through proper mindful thinking about risk behavior. Often we don’t realize what is truly at stake or what we ultimately want out of a ‘big risk.’ Career defining moments, decisions to start a business or how to plan for retirement are all important risk-based decisions. Defining goals financially and life balance is a must. I’ve applied this book to many areas of my life, specifically with Beautiac, my new start-up, and how we maneuver the company as we traverse the traction gap into a saturated beauty market. Learning how to properly assess risk is a valuable new tool in my toolkit.”
“My all time favorite book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It taught me that one key ingredient needed to produce effective teamwork is getting to know each team member and engage them as much as possible on items and projects that utilize their strengths. One paragraph from the book that molded this management philosophy that I’ve adopted states: “Dink, who deftly carried out instructions but was slow to improvise; Bean, who couldn’t control large groups of ships effectively but could use only a few like a scalpel, reacting beautifully to anything the computer threw at him; Alai, who was almost as good a strategist as Ender and could be entrusted to do well with half a fleet and only vague instructions. The better Ender knew them, the faster he could deploy them, the better he could use them.”
“I was introduced to the book Traction by Gino Wickman in an unorthodox way. I wrote letters to each of the Inc 500 CEOs in Chicago asking to meet with them to hear about how they were able to grow their businesses so quickly. Nearly half of the CEOs I met with credited this book with a significant portion of their success. We have applied the Traction principles in our businesses and they have more than doubled in revenue every year since then.”
“The most influential book I have ever read is So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. This book’s main idea is that you shouldn’t be looking for something you can be passionate about because you can learn to love and be passionate about what you are already doing. However, what I was really hooked by is the author’s concept of taking vs giving mindset. My key takeaway is…you cannot succeed in business, being a taker — that is when you focus on what the world can give you (e.g. loyal customers, good profit, quick growth) rather than on what you can give the world. This book explains the importance of your ability to offer value. And after reading it, I’ve changed a lot about my way of doing business, including certain changes to the product, marketing strategies, and the ways we communicate with customers. As a result, we improved our key metrics, and I started to enjoy what I am doing much more.”
- The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms
“The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani gave me permission to quit following society’s BRULES (bullshit rules) and be “unfuckwithable” which means I finally quit worrying about what other people think of me. It’s a very freeing way to live – you can focus on living YOUR life, not someone else’s version. It made me bolder and more comfortable pursuing my own dreams.”