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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 In fact, much of what is taught at prized business schools is outdated, and none of it will guarantee you anything.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 August 12, 2020

                      When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                      When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                      Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

                      In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

                      How to Listen to Your Gut

                      The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

                      Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

                      1. Tune Into Your Body

                      Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

                      However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

                      Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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                      Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

                      In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

                      2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

                      Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

                      There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

                      3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

                      Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

                      As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

                      This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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                      4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

                      As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

                      Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

                      5. Challenge Your Assumptions

                      When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

                      In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

                      A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

                      6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

                      Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

                      There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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                      Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

                      Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

                      Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

                      We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

                      The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

                      We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

                      7. Trust Yourself

                      It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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                      Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

                      If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

                      The Bottom Line

                      The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

                      Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

                      More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

                      Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
                      [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
                      [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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