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15 Books You Should Read Before Starting Your Business

15 Books You Should Read Before Starting Your Business

When my first company failed, a young startup I founded right after college, I wanted to know why. I spent the next year reading and working like an animal. In total, I finished one hundred and thirty books. I then began to implement my new-found knowledge with incredible success.

I started to help companies and individuals market themselves knowing exactly what I was doing. What I realized is reading books can tremendously help you overcome some of your biggest obstacles, and reading the right books will help you even more.

For that reason, I made this list of fifteen books you should read before starting your business:

1. “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people-one

    How to Win Friends and Influence People is the first best-selling and one of the most renowned self-help books. Authored by Dale Carnegie and published in 1936, it has sold million copies worldwide. Countless entrepreneurs who build great businesses attribute this book to being their source for success. Many of my friends have even read this several times, so they don’t forget the main points.

    Carnegie’s advice is practical and may seem obvious, but it’s a one-of-a-kind type of common sense brought to life with excellent examples. I listed this book as number one because I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t read this book.

    2. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

    7-habits-of-success

      The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best leadership books of the last century that changed the lives of possibly tens of millions. The beautiful takeaway from this book for every entrepreneur looking to build a business is the power of focus and initiative. Stephen Covey voices how without these two characteristics – no matter what knowledge you obtain – you won’t become a better person.

      Covey notes that without adopting a “paradigm shift” in the way you perceive and interpret how the world works, then The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will fall short of its intention.

      This is not a simple book that gives you shortcuts or a few quick tips. The concepts are sophisticated, and the chapters should be re-read with fervent note taking. This book is about the fundamentals of staying on your path to success. Without the right focus, your business won’t succeed making this a must read.

      3.  “30 Lessons For Living” by Karl Pillemer

      30-lessons-for-living

        Self-improvement books are a billion-dollar industry, and self-improvement overall is over $10 billion. With endless advice columns, so-called television experts, lifestyle publications, and health and wellness bloggers, it’s difficult to discern who the experts are, especially when few speak from experience. 30 Lessons for Living was a 5-year project by Karl Pillemer, a renowned gerontologist (someone who studies the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging).

        He talked with thousands of Americans over the age of sixty-five, many of whom experienced WWII and Vietnam. His determination to find out what lessons we could learn from this generation led to one awe-inspiring book for not just entrepreneurs starting business looking to live a balanced life, but for everyone. Without a balanced life, your business won’t survive for the long run. So, start preparing to embrace a healthy lifestyle by reading this book.

        4. “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

        power of habit

          Investigative reporter for The New York Times, Charles Duhigg, researched how habits form, how they can be beneficial, and how they can be destructive. This book helps entrepreneurs take a deeper look at themselves so that they change their habits. The Power of Habit puts you on an intriguing journey talking about the habits of individuals, how habits interact with the brain, how companies utilize habits, and how retailers use them to manipulate buying habits.

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          The Power of Habit teaches you how habits form in a variety of ways, not just product specific as it teaches you about the benefits of utilizing good habits for embracing personal change. If you’re interested in making sure habits keep your company running and your products satisfying customers, then this book is for you.

          5. “The Sovereign Individual” by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg

          soveriegn-individual

            The Sovereign Individual, authored by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, is a thought-provoking read. Written in 1997, the book aimed to predict the future and was dead on. It covers many soon-to-happen – and now past – events both technological and financial. Anyone who wants to start a business should read this book to gain clarity on how the future of technology will affect everyday commerce.

            The book’s premise revolves around the notion that governments will decentralize, and self-rule will become more prominent as technology improves. The authors conclude that governments will no longer be able to compete with the speed at which the private sector innovates. And soon, the government won’t even have the means to offer a worthy substitute.

            The Sovereign Individual takes on the idea of nationhood and explains the source and type of propaganda used to legitimize it. Here are a few great quotes that came to life in the following years after the book was published:

            “All nation-states face bankruptcy and the rapid erosion of their authority.”

            “You can expect to see crises of misgovernment in many countries as political promises are deflated and governments run out of credit.”

            Any business owner should understand the intersection of technology and commerce because in a world that’s constantly innovating, it’s the only way to keep up.

            6. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacsen

            steve-jobs-672x1024

              The book Steve Jobs is a read about an entrepreneur who took it upon himself to change the world. Author Walter Isaacson compiled forty plus interviews with Steve Jobs and over a hundred interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues to create this one-of-a-kind book. If you want to start a business, this book will motivate you to take your aspirations above and beyond.

              Isaacson writes about every aspect of Jobs’ personal life from personality to beliefs. He even touches on little-known facts about Jobs such as being born out of wedlock to a Syrian Muslim, then adopted at birth by working class parents.

              Also, Steve Jobs was a multi-billionaire who lived on an average street without security or servants, devoted to Zen and in love with simplicity. Moreover, he was not the best parenting father to say the least. But, he was a leader with massive influence in the computing world even with little knowledge of code. Part of his incredible influence resulted from his sales and marketing genius.

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              Steve Jobs lived one of the most incredible lives that you’ll ever read about. The story inspires your inner leader and business sense while convincing you that one man can have a tremendous impact on the world.

              7. “The Art of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin

              the-art-of-learning

                The Art of Learning is a must read for any entrepreneur interested in how one processes information and turns into a tangible skill. The book is about the life of the author Josh Waitzkin, who put himself on a remarkable journey. Josh Waitzkin is widely recognized as the main character in the best-selling book, Searching for Bobby Fisher, whereas a chess prodigy, he received significant publicity that took a huge negative toll on him for years.

                He rose to the top of the world in both chess and tai chi martial arts. He reflects on his experiences to teach us valuable methods on how to reenact his journey of learning for our passions. This book will help you overcome any learning curve in starting a business.

                An important takeaway from The Art of Learning is the idea that you should concentrate on executing the task at hand rather than the results and outcomes. This type of focus creates a path of learning and eventual mastery. Josh continues to teach us how to focus on creating a lifestyle that ignites creativity and growth so that we can trigger intuitive breakthroughs, perfect techniques, and master performance psychology.

                Josh’s assessment of the moments he overcame challenges both physical and mental, give the reader an excellent understanding of his principles in application. The Art of Learning is a cornerstone for business owners and Tim Ferriss recommends it as one of his top books, too.

                8. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

                war on art

                  Renowned author, Steven Pressfield, wrote The War of Art to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel their creative ambitions. His book is more than about being creative, though; it’s about reaching higher to fulfill your potential as someone who innately has some form of art to offer the world. As an entrepreneur interested in starting a business, you are aiming to produce some form of art to sell. From that perspective, this book is perfect for you.

                  Josh consistently mentions the word “resistance,” a word that every person must overcome in their journey to become an artist. Resistance wants you to be lazy, average and avoid risks. Resistance is the reason many people choose to watch Netflix over creating art. Pressfield describes the battle against resistance as a never-ending war – one to the death.

                  Some of his more notable points in The War of Art include refuting the motivation nonsense that by following the right formula and working hard, you can achieve your dreams. Instead, he aims to convince his readers that “We are not born with unlimited choices… Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal that we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

                  Pressfield’s prescriptions for defeating resistance are not awe-inspiring, but common sense: show up every day and get to work. If you want to push through your creative strugles when differentiating your business, then pick this book up immediately.

                  9. “Linchpin” by Seth Godin

                  linchpin

                    Linchpin is one incredible read and has changed many lives. Seth Godin writes this book beautifully with passion spilling out from each page. If you’re interested in leading a business, this book will encourage you to take on a powerful role you need for your company’s survival. Seth Godin defines a Linchpin as someone in an organization who is indispensable and can’t be replaced because their role is too unique and valuable. Without hesitation, he points out that not becoming a Linchpin is career suicide.

                    Seth Godin points out, “Everyone’s an artist now.” And his definition of an artist is someone who does “emotional work,” work that needs your heart and soul to be great. Seth challenges every reader to become a linchpin – an artist. That no matter what the sacrifice is, it’s worth it.

                    10. “How To Work A Room” by Susan Roane

                    how to work a room

                      How to Work a Room is a book about networking and socializing. Most of us are shy, in fact, the author Susan Roane claims 93% of us are so. Networking is key to creating a successful business. Without connections and relationships, no one will buy your products. For those with savvy socializing skills, you may not get whole lot applicable usage out of this book. However, for many of us it can be that push to help us break out of our shell and meet people.

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                      Even though this book is about socializing and networking, the truth is that it’s also about relationship building. Without the ability to meet people, your relationships won’t grow, hindering your success and happiness. She notes that “natural public speakers” and “savvy socializers” don’t exist without practice. These characteristics are achieved through hard work, preparation, and perseverance. Most of us, even the super socializer is just as self-conscious as everyone else, but they use techniques and practice to enable them to make connections.

                      11. “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin

                      purple cow

                        Purple Cow, written by Seth Godin, is one of those motivational books you rarely come across. Purple cows are somewhat of a mystery – something phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting, and surprising. If we saw rows of cows every day, eventually we would stop looking. But if we saw a purple cow, you bet we would stop and stare. Is your business a purple cow?

                        This is the point of the book – whether you’re branding yourself or a business – be unique and stand out. Be the purple cow you were always meant to be. If you’re another blank page in a notebook, then no one will notice your business, and before you know, you’ll be starting back from square one.

                        This book won’t teach you how to become a purple cow; however, it will give you some examples of how other people and businesses did it. This book is for inspiration. The truth is: the purple cow is inherent, it’s either there or it’s not. And if you can find your purple cow, do everything you can to embrace it.

                        12. “Tribes” by Seth Godin

                        tribes

                          Tribes, another fantastic book by Seth Godin that teaches you how to form a community with the same goals and interests around you. He points out that it is human nature to seek out being a part of a tribe, whether ethnic, economic, political or even musical.

                          For any successful business, they must create a community of loyal followers, otherwise known as a brand. And no company lasts without a brand. He notes that the internet eliminated many of the barriers to creating tribes and enabled a myriad of new tribes to be born. With so many new tribes, who will lead them? If you’re looking to make a difference as an entrepreneur, you need a tribe that will help you make your vision successful.

                          The web is incredible, but it’s not a platform where you can lead in full force. You have to work online and offline with determination and idealism. Similar to Seth’s book, Purple Cow, you won’t find the exact steps to become a leader, but the inspiration and courage to do so through case studies and well-presented information.

                          13. “Hooked” by Nir Eyal

                          Hooked

                            Hooked is about building user engagement, so products are launched with great reception. Authored by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, Hooked teaches you how to create and design habit-forming products. The worst thing you can do when starting a business is not do your research. Step one is finding out whether your product will engage users, that’s where Hooked comes in.

                            To understand how habits control us, we must identify their origin. Hooked is just as much helpful in removing negative habits as it is in building excellent products. After I had finished the book, I began seeing products and services in a user-oriented way; for instance, why people spend hours every day on Facebook and Instagram.

                            I came across this book when working for a startup that built several mobile apps, and I was surprised when I received personal development benefits.

                            14. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss

                            four-hour-workweek

                              Tim Ferriss wrote the 4-Hour Workweek for those looking to maximize their productivity and freedom. The book is an excellent read, and it was so good that it was on The New York Times bestseller list for seven years. Many entrepreneurs consider Tim Ferriss the ultimate business guru and he has a huge devoted following to prove it.

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                              So what’s in the 4-Hour Workweek:

                              It includes Tim Feriss’s story of having a lifestyle of $40,000 per year and 80 work hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week. Also, he teaches you how to outsource many of your projects to virtual assistants and how to step up and become a top-notch entrepreneur that can travel the world. Furthermore, the book explains how you can eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the Pareto principle, and how to trade a long-term career for short work sprints and frequent “mini-retirements.”

                              15. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

                              think and grow rich

                                Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. In between 1930 and 1970, the book sold over 20 million copies. When a book is written with the truism found in inherent life principles, it becomes a timeless since its lessons will always be relevant. In accordance, Napoleon divides Think and Grow Rich into 13 principles and lessons to be mastered. Here’s an overview of the first seven:

                                Desire: Desire is not about wishing; it’s about wanting. Only when someone wants something do they act towards attaining it. When you’re fully committed to wanting something, you have Desire, and it’s best to put that desire into a mission statement.

                                Faith: What Napoleon Hill calls Faith is actually a type of self-confidence that is similar to a religious passion. He teaches you the importance of disciplining your mind to understand the purpose of failure before it arrives. Hill also developed a self-confidence formula in five steps to commit to memory (found in the book J).

                                Auto – Suggestion: As Hill once put it: “If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance.”

                                Specialized knowledge: Hill talks about the importance of having a niche – a unique selling point. But also the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have specialized knowledge, too.

                                Imagination: “It has been said that man can create anything which he can imagine,” Hill writes.

                                Organized planning: “You are engaged in an undertaking of major importance to you. To be sure of success, you must have plans which are faultless.” Hill also mentions that a leader must possess the quality, quantity and spirit of service.

                                Decision: Leaders know how to reach decisions promptly and how to stand behind their decisions. Such people, Hill writes, “know what they want, and generally get it.” That is because “the world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.”

                                Think you’re ready to start your business?

                                Featured photo credit: Timothy Ferriss via brazigzag.com

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                                Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                                Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                                The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                                Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                                In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                                When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                                Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                                1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                                When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                                As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                                That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                                The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                                What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                                Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                                There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                                So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                                2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                                When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                                No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                                3. Move Your Body

                                A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                                It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                                So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                                4. Connect With Another Person

                                Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                                One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                                Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                                5. Use Your Imagination

                                When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                                That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                                And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                                Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                                Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                                More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                                Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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