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10 Success Books That People In Their Thirties Should Read

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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 In fact, much of what is taught at prized business schools is outdated, and none of it will guarantee you anything.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 November 18, 2021

                      10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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                      10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

                      We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

                      A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

                      So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

                      • honest
                      • reliable
                      • competent
                      • kind and compassionate
                      • capable of taking the blame
                      • able to persevere
                      • modest and humble
                      • pacific and can control anger.

                      The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

                      1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

                      All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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                      But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

                      2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

                      How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

                      I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

                      “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

                      Abigail Van Buren

                      3. How does this person take the blame?

                      Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

                      4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

                      You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

                      5. Read their emails.

                      Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

                      • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
                      • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
                      • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
                      • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
                      • Too many question marks can show anger
                      • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

                      6. Watch out for the show offs.

                      Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

                      7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

                      A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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                      Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

                      8. Their empathy score is high.

                      Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

                      People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

                      9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

                      We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

                      “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

                      Stendhal

                       10. Avoid toxic people.

                      These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

                      • Envy or jealousy
                      • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
                      • Complaining about their own lack of success
                      • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
                      • Obsession with themselves and their problems

                      Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

                      Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

                      Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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