What does it take to succeed online?

  • Create highly useful content?
  • Build authority and Influence people?
  • Be business savvy?
  • Master social media?
  • Engage in promotion and marketing?
  • Have the right mindset?
  • Be productive?

I would say all of it.

And the best way to get up to speed on all of it is to pick up the best books covering these topics. All the ‘experts’ and the ‘gurus’ do it, so why should you lag behind?

There is one problem though, for the uninitiated, the simple task of picking up a so-called business book can be daunting and unnerving. Where to start? Aren’t all business books kind of…dry?

Not the ones on my must-read list.

I suggest you jump in with both feet. All books are followed by a brief book description to help you pick the right one. Good luck!

Books on Productivity and Success

It all starts with the right mindset.

1. Drive

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money–the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake – that the secret to high performance and satisfaction–at work, at school, and at home–is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Daniel Pink examines the three elements of true motivation–autonomy, mastery, and purpose–and offers smart and surprising techniques to transform our lives.

2. The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg talks about all the successful who achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits. Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. Habits aren’t destiny. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

3. Brain Rules

See how the brain works while using it in the process of reading this book! Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know – like that physical activity boosts your brain power.

4. Accidental Creative

It isn’t enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today’s marketplace, all of us, regardless of our role, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand. The Accidental Creative teaches effective practices that support your creative process like how to focus in on your most critical work and reclaim your attention, develop stimulating relationships and leverage your hours wisely and effectively to eliminate creativity drains.

5. The War of Art

The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

6. The Big Moo

Most organizations are stuck in a rut. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they’re petrified that growth means change, and change means risk, and risk means death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so most companies (and individuals) just keep trying to be perfect at the things they’ve always done. Seth Godin challenges people to become remarkable.

7. Getting Things Done

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance. His premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. It transforms the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

8. The 8th Habit

The world has changed dramatically since the classic, internationally bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. In order to thrive, innovate, excel and lead in what Stephen Covey calls the new Knowledge Worker Age, we must build on and move beyond effectiveness…to greatness. Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set — in short, a whole new habit.

9. Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

10. The Dip

The old saying is wrong—winners do quit, and quitters do win. When you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle; maybe you’re in a Dip—a temporary setback. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Books on Content

If you are online, you need content. Period.

11. Content Rules

Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about on platforms such as Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Find an authentic “voice”, Leverage social media and understand why you are generating content.

12. Convert

Solve your traffic troubles and turn browsers into buyers and double the conversion rates by identifying simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. Understand the essentials – your market, your proposition, and your delivery.

13. Blogging for Business

The authors talk about why businesses should embrace blogging. The book talks about how to tap into the power of blogs and how they are different from e-zines, Web sites, and message boards.

14. Content Strategy for the Web

Better content means better business. Your content is a mess: the website redesigns didn’t help, and the new CMS just made things worse. How can you realize the value of content while planning for its long-term success? Read it to understand content strategy and its business value and make smarter, achievable decisions about what content to create.

Books on Influence

Now…it is time to be a thought leader.

15. Influence: Science and Practice

This book is an examination of the psychology of compliance (i.e. uncovering which factors cause a person to say “yes” to another’s request). It reminds the reader of the power of persuasion. The compliance techniques are organized into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behavior: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

16. Platform

Michael Hyatt shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform.

17. Fascinate

Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision-making. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

18. Clout

Results. Everyone wants them, whether to sell more products, spread good ideas, or win more funding. In our busy digital world, the way to results is influencing people on the web. But how? Clout explains the key principles of influence and how to apply them to web content.

19. Enchantment

“Want to change the world? Change caterpillars into butterflies? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to convince people to dream the same dream that you do.” Guy Kawasaki argues that it is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.

Books on Social Media

Don’t forget to promote your stuff…

20. Trust Agents

Two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits. Learn how businesses are using the latest online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can use those networks to positively impact your business.

21. Likeable Social Media

The secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing on the social web is easy: BE LIKEABLE. A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, that recommendation can travel farther—and faster—than ever before. This book helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.

22. No Bulls#!t Social Media

Stop hiding from social media–or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.  “Conversations” and “communities” are wonderful, but they’re not enough. Get this book and get what you really want from social media: profits.

23. The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Business communication has changed over the recent years. Creative ad copy is no longer enough. This book has brought thousands of marketers up to speed on the changing requirements of promoting products or services in the new digital age. This pioneering guide offers a step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the Internet to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

24. The NOW Revolution

The social web has changed the way we do business forever. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, The Now Revolution outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you. Read about seven shifts that will help you make your company faster, smarter, and more social.

Books on Marketing

And on to marketing…

25. Made to Stick

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? Brothers Dan and Chip Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier and communicate better. It shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

26. The Tipping Point

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.

27. Permission Marketing

Book based on the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it, the opposite of Interruption Marketing, which no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity — time — Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily.

Books on Entrepreneurship

Reaffirm that you are meant to do this.

28. Crush It!

Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

29. The $100 Startup

In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living. He presents stories of those who’ve found ways to opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful. You can start small with your venture, committing little time or money, and wait to take the real plunge when you’re sure it’s successful. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

30. The Everyday Entrepreneur

A primer for pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions and achieving success, it is filled with strategies and powerful anecdotes about defining and setting goals and pushing for entrepreneurial success. The book reveals how readers can apply the ambitions of a go-getter in their own lives, position themselves ahead of the pack, examine how to calculate risk, and understand the mindset necessary to venture forward on their own.

So there you have it. What are some of your favourites that should go on this list? Share in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Books by Shutterhacks and inline photo Content Rules Book by Shashi Bellamkonda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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