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10 Success Books That People In Their Thirties Should Read

10 Success Books That People In Their Thirties Should Read

Your twenties are behind you. You have a job and responsibilities, but you know there’s more to life.

You’re looking for inspiration for that next great idea, getting ahead in your career, improving your relationships, being more confident, and finding success.

Here’s how to earn 20 years of experience in seven days…

Read books.

Easy, right? Yet few people do it.

Reading books sets your learning to light-speed. It’s an indespensible, transformational life hack.

Friends of mine who know I read at least one book per week often ask me, “What’s your favorite book?” and “Who inspires you the most?”

Here are 10 of the very best books that you MUST read if you want to ramp it up and get ahead.

1. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA

    Spend $100,000+ at a top-notch business school or learn the same (or better) for 10 bucks. Kaufman takes years of business knowledge and distills a massive list of books and concise descriptions of key concepts into a single, powerful book.

    His bold premise? You don’t need an MBA to be successful in business. In fact, much of what is taught at prized business schools is outdated, and none of it will guarantee you anything. More of a reference and less of a narrative, The Personal MBA is a timely business school hack if you want to skip the line.

    Although he does cover traditional topics such as marketing and finance, Kaufman also delves into human psychology and systems, two of my favorite topics. I’ve gone back to this many times to brush up on concepts like scarcity, habits, testing, and automation.

    2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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    I Will Teach You To Be Rich

      First, get past the scammy-sounding title. Then read it. This is the book that made me question everything about personal finance (and, honestly, more than that). Written by the successful and always unconventional Ramit Sethi, this book smashes every “truth” about personal finance.

      Sethi illustrates through common sense and testing why cutting lattes is a stupid way to save money. Instead, go after the big wins like your car and negotiating down your bills. “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”

      You need a “set it and forget it” system to automate your finances. You only need to spend a few hours every month on investing. You can only save so much; but you can earn infinity – think about both sides. This book is stuffed with fresh insights like these.

      3. The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth by James Altucher

      The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth

        Written by James Altucher, one of my favorite writers and podcasters, this book is chock full of unconventional advice on how to navigate the “new world” of today’s economy and understand the hard truths you’ll want to grapple with if you want to be successful.

        Based on its title, you might think this book is about money. Instead, the principles here are rooted in human psychology and Aluther’s open-eyed view of today’s idea-centered world. These principles are applicable to many areas of life – from relationships to personal development. And Altucher gives it to you through the authenticity of his personal experiences.

        My biggest takeaway was this: Write down 10 ideas every day. It’s something I’ve started doing, and it’s starting to turn me into an “idea machine.” If you want a new, actionable take on success, read this book.

        To learn more about one of my favorite themes in this book, read my in-depth review here.

        4. The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson

        The Social Animal

          This is the book on human behavior and how people can be persuaded to do just about anything. Aronson has revised this book every four years since it was first published in the early 1970s. One of the key takeaways is that calling people who do extreme things “crazy” ignores context. If we can understand the situation, we can prevent such actions in the future. Arsonson explores the use of propaganda and aggression, but also love and interpersonal sensitivity.

          The reverse is also true. If you deeply understand human behavior, you can change the situation and environment to improve yourself and others. I’ve applied some of his insights to how I communicate with family, friends, and colleagues.

          A word of warning. The book is priced more like a textbook, so if you can find a used copy for less, go for it. Either way, it’s worth having this in your collection.

          5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

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          The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

            Considered a classic, this very inspiring book by Covey explores “deep… painful problems – problems that quick fix approaches can’t solve.” His premise is that to change yourself, you must change your mindset. The seven habits are based on internalizing universal principles that lead to happiness and success.

            Like many of the books on this list, it’s really about psychology. How we think but, more importantly, how we perceive:

            “Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others.”

            Savor this one and refer to it often. My favorite habit is Think Win/Win, in which both sides can gain value from a relationship. This abundance mentality has never failed me.

            6. The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

            The Obstacle Is the Way

              In this book, Holiday introduces you to stoicism through personal anecdotes and stories. Stoicism is a philosophy that goes back 2300 years and is centered on how you behave rather than what you say.

              In other words, take action. You will fail more than anyone else. Learn, and be better for it. Let go of your preconceived notions of failure. This philosophy has served the most successful figures in history. Holiday writes:

              “From the stories of the practitioners we’ll learn how to handle common obstacles… Because obstacles are not only to be expected but embraced. Embraced?  Yes, because these obstacles are actually opportunities to test ourselves, to try new things, and, ultimately, to triumph.”

              Successful author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss wrote an excellent in-depth review here if you want to learn more.

              7. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

              Steve Jobs

                This is the ultimate biography of Steve Jobs, the controversial but supremely successful founder of Apple. Learn about his intense and polarizing life based on interviews with the people who knew him best. This book has countless lessons on human psychology, viewed through the extreme lens of Jobs’s personality.

                For example, Jobs didn’t want to give away the computer his friend Steve Wozniak created, which later translated into the premium price his products demanded. The lesson? Customers value what they pay for.

                I was fascinated. Couldn’t put this one down. You’ll find out about Apple, NeXt, and Pixar, his volatile personal life, how he treated others, and the genius behind his (mostly unilateral) business decisions.

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                8. The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

                The Art of Communicating

                  What is a book written by a Buddhist monk doing on my list? It’s just so refreshingly different. What separates this from others in the self-improvement genre is its completely unique perspective.

                  Rather than delve into science, psychology, or detailed tactics for the myriad ways we communicate, Hanh focuses on practices as simple as mindful breathing and walking. He describes scenarios you can relate to, from family arguments to workplace meetings, and how coming “home” to yourself, listening, and communicating with love can make a huge positive difference.

                  This extends to the written word, as well:

                  “What you read and write can help you heal, so be thoughtful about what you consume. When you write an e-mail or a letter that is full of understanding and compassion, you are nourishing yourself during the time you write that letter.”

                  I like this book is because we sometimes get lost in a jackhammer of activity that distracts us from truly hearing each other. Hanh reminds you to step back and be mindful. Be generous. Talk to yourself (but not in a crazy way), and you will connect with others.

                  9. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

                  Mindset

                    People often say, “it’s all about your mindset!” when it comes to {fill in the blank}. But few people can tell you exactly what that means or how to take action to improve your mindset.

                    That’s where this book comes in. Dweck tears apart the psychology of why we’re different and suggests it comes down to two possible mindsets: fixed and growth.

                    With a fixed mindset, you believe things are “this or that” and your traits are what they are. With a growth mindset, you can improve and nurture your qualities through effort and persistence. And doing this leads to new actions and thoughts. And these lead to great ideas.

                    Dweck asks:

                    “How can one belief lead to all this – the love of challenge, belief in effort, resilience in the face of setbacks, and greater (more creative!) success?”

                    Read this book to find out.

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                    10. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

                    Made to Stick

                      The last book on my list is about sharing your ideas. Although I could have listed some excellent public speaking books (classics by Dale Carnegie for example), I chose this one. It’s about how to communicate your ideas effectively, and the advice is both counter-intuitive and easy to implement.

                      Here is one of my favorite quotes:

                      “Almost no correlation emerges between ‘speaking talent’ and the ability to make ideas stick… The stars of stickiness are the students who made their case by telling stories, or by tapping into emotion, or by stressing a single point rather than ten… A community college student for whom English is a second language could easily outperform unwitting Stanford graduate students.”

                      The takeaway is that telling a simple, emotional story is more valuable than your physical delivery at getting your idea across. It really doesn’t matter if you have so-called speaking talent or not. Some of my best speeches were on-the-spot and from the heart. They were personal stories.

                      What’s your story, and how will you tell it?

                      Final Thoughts

                      I wish you all the best in your search for success. Reading these books will help in a big way.

                      Reasons why I love to read:

                      Need more ideas?

                      1. Search online for “{blank} favorite books”, where {blank} is your favorite successful person
                      2. Ask people you know and admire for recommendations
                      3. Search forums like reddit and Quorum for “best books for {blank}” questions

                      Have you read any books on the list? What are your favorites? What else would you have included?

                      Featured photo credit: Flickr/David Goehring via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on October 22, 2020

                      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                      How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

                      Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

                      When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

                      Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

                      What Makes People Poor Listeners?

                      Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

                      1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

                      Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

                      Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

                      It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

                      2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

                      This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

                      Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

                      3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

                      It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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                      I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

                      If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

                      4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

                      While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

                      To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

                      My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

                      Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

                      Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

                      How To Be a Better Listener

                      For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

                      1. Pay Attention

                      A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

                      According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

                      As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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                      I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

                      2. Use Positive Body Language

                      You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

                      A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

                      People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

                      But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

                      According to Alan Gurney,[2]

                      “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

                      Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

                      3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

                      I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

                      Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

                      Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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                      Be polite and wait your turn!

                      4. Ask Questions

                      Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

                      5. Just Listen

                      This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

                      I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

                      I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

                      6. Remember and Follow Up

                      Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

                      For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

                      According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

                      It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

                      7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

                      If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

                      Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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                      Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

                      Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

                      NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

                      1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
                      2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

                      8. Maintain Eye Contact

                      When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

                      Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

                      By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

                      You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

                      And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

                      More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
                      [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
                      [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
                      [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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