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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 In fact, much of what is taught at prized business schools is outdated, and none of it will guarantee you anything.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 May 22, 2020

                      What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

                      What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

                      The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

                      But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

                      Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

                      So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

                      Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

                      The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

                      1. A Positive Attitude

                      Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

                      Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

                      Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

                      Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

                      The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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                      Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

                      2. Confidence

                      All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

                      Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

                      If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

                      Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

                      You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

                      • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
                      • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

                      3. A Sense of Humor

                      It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

                      Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

                      Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

                      As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

                      Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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                      Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

                      4. Ability to Embrace Failure

                      No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

                      Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

                      Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

                      Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

                      Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

                      By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

                      You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

                      5. Careful Listening and Feedback

                      This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

                      The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

                      The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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                      Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

                      Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

                      6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

                      No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

                      Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

                      Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

                      To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

                      • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
                      • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

                      Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

                      7. Growth Mindset

                      Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

                      Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

                      Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

                      It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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                      Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

                      8. Responsibility

                      Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

                      The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

                      Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

                      Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

                      9. A Desire to Learn

                      It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

                      Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

                      You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

                      Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

                      To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

                      The Bottom Line

                      Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

                      Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

                      More Tips on Leadership

                      Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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