We are a vicarious generation ruled by the internet with the thoughts of the world in our mind but with the immense dormancy to translate that into our lives mainly because of the lack of motivation or “appropriate” ideas.
Though torrents of information scattered in the burrows of the internet provide us some ideas, to develop concrete ideas with which we can work on, we must read books–the accounts of people who have “been there, done that” to have comprehensive knowledge of the subject.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur and really want to understand the essence of entrepreneurship, here we present you the list of ultimate entrepreneurial books, written by highly successful CEOs in their realm.
1. Smart People Should Build Things (Andrew Yang)
“Personally, I always dreamed about going into the woods and fighting the dragon, not selling the guy a sword.”
Andrew Yang is the Founder and President of “Venture for America”. He was frustrated by the students studying law or finance or medicine for the sake of money and status. Yang worried their perfunctory work produced no real output.
In Smart People Should Build Things, a resurrected lawyer and entrepreneur weaves a compelling narrative of success stories (including his own). With thorough limpidness, he describes the flow of talent in the U.S. and explains how the current trends are resulting in a cultural decline in the “Land of Dreams”.
2. Straight from the Gut (Jack Welch)
“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
John Francis “Jack” Welch, Jr. is a former American business executive, chemical engineer and an author. He served as the CEO and Chairman of General Electric from 1981 to 2001.
In this NY Times bestseller, Welch narrates his spectacular career with his work ethic, passion and overtness. From his early childhood era to his job at General Electric and his meteoric rise, his business fervor led the way for successes in his extraordinary career.
3. Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain (Ryan Blair)
“Your future takes precedence over your past. Focus on your future, rather than on the past.”
Ryan Blair is the CEO and co-founder of the multi-level advertising corporation ViSalus Sciences. In his book, Blair rushes our adrenaline by making audacious points with his devil-may-care attitude that reflects in his words.
He inspires entrepreneurs to take bold decisions and never regret the past. “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” This well-known quote by C.S. Lewis, author of The Great Divorce, perfectly summarizes Blair’s book.
4. The Promise of a Pencil (Adam Braun)
“The single most powerful element of youth is our inability to know what’s impossible.”
With relevant anecdotes and motivational monologues, Adam Braun, CEO of Pencils of Promise, delivers his prophecy in this book. The gist of the book, as he summarized it in his Reddit AMA interview, is “Speak the language of the person you seek to become.”
Braun advises that you shouldn’t hold your dreams within you, but express them to others and they’ll not only help you move in that direction but you’ll feel responsible to them and yourself in getting there.
5. The Impact Equation (Chris Brogan and Julien Smith)
“Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.”
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith are authors, journalists, marketing gurus and social media marketers. As the title suggests, this book is about self-actualization and covers a great range of exercises to evaluate your ideas and communicate them properly.
Brogan and Smith’s book includes easy to understand mnemonics, insidious tactics and many interesting encounters with the writer duo’s favorite celebrities. The things you’ll learn from this book will be tantamount to the fun you’re going to have.
6. Who: The A Method of Hiring (Geoff Smart and Randy Street)
“Do not hire anybody who has been pushed out of 20 percent or more of their jobs.”
Randy Street and Geoff Smart are entrepreneurs and authors from Atlanta. They arrange motivational seminars and conduct campaigns to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.
This book can be an important manual for entrepreneurs to hire the appropriate individuals for the job. The authors have presented a detailed account of personnel management and have simplified the tedious process of employee selection.
7. Taking People with You (David Novak)
“Roots can live without branches, although truncated; branches cannot live without roots.”
David Colin Novak is an American businessman. He currently serves as the executive chairman of YUM! Brands, Inc. In this book, he highlights one of the most vital quality of entrepreneur–social skills.
An entrepreneur should be more than everything affable and should be able to inspire people. As Michael Jenkins of Shout Agency rightly puts, “Companies who are too reliant on technology and do not have enough of a human presence will lose their edge over the next few years.” And Novak exactly illustrates how in his honest book.
8. Conscious Capitalism (John Mackey)
“It’s competition that forces companies to get out of their complacency.”
John Mackey is an American businessman. He is the current co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, which he co-founded in 1980. Named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003, Mackey is a strong supporter of free market economics.
Though modern businesses tend to be filled with fraud, deceit and counterfeits, Mackey still believes business–more than anything–is an art. He believes in living up to the spirit of fair trade and offers his highly persuading views on logical capitalism.
9. Rework (Jason Fried)
“What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”
Jason Fried is the CEO and co-founder of Basecamp, Inc. He is a dedicated man and he believes commitment plans are way more important than exit plans.
He has presented an almost stepwise guide to establish a successful business. If you are a committed entrepreneur who wants to establish something big and are willing to be patient, you’ll certainly bow to his higher degree of wisdom in entrepreneurship.
10. Let My People Go Surfing (Yvon Chouinard)
“The more you know, the less you need.”
Yvon Chouinard is a rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman. He’s the founder of two successful companies, Black Diamond Equipment and Patagonia. He is also a writer, who first started by writing on climbing issues and ethics, and later on entrepreneurship.
What creates a well-functioning machine are its well-functioning components. If machines are analogous to an enterprise, employees are the functional monomers. Chouinard’s book postures that the creative output of the company is cumulative of the individual creative output of employees.
11. #Girlboss (Sophia Amoruso)
“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.”
Sophia Amoruso is the founder and owner of Nasty Gal, which trades women’s fashion that includes modern and vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories through the brand’s website.
From a school drop out to shoplifter to eBay seller to CEO, her journey has been full of twists and turns. After 200 odd pages, entrepreneurs will be surely inspired to be a #Girlboss themselves.
12. Raising the Bar (Gary Erickson)
“I’ve seen what happens to companies that get bought. They lose the values that were set up.”
Gary Erickson is the co-owner as well as co-chief visionary officer of Clif Bar, a company in America which produces organic foods and drinks. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, this book can be a guide to your corporate integrity.
The book is filled with arresting personal anecdotes of Erickson, with refreshing personal stories from his life trekking in the Himalayan Mountains to his bicycle riding over roadless European mountain passes, with a perfect blend of his life philosophy.
13. Pour Your Heart into It (Howard Schultz)
“I think if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got to dream big and then dream bigger.”
Howard D. Schultz is an American businessman, best known as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks. He formerly owned the Seattle SuperSonics and was on the Board of Directors at Square, Inc.
Schultz insists on offering customers something they are not accustomed to–something superior. Although it may take some time for customers to be palatable, it helps you instill a sense of discovery in them and create a higher bond of loyalty.
14. CEO Tools: The Nuts-N-Bolts for Every Manager’s Success (Kraig Kramers)
“The two most powerful words in any language are: What If.”
Kraig Kramers is an experienced and seasoned business executive, author and business speaker who has been CEO of eight companies in diverse industries. Currently, he is president and CEO of Corporate Partners, Inc., which is one of the top consulting firms.
CEO Tools, with its worthy subtitle, is truly an encyclopedia of management. As The Effective Executive writer Peter Drucker bemoans, “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” This book helps you understand the essence of management.
15. The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company (David Packard)
“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
David Packard co-founded Hewlett-Packard along with William Hewlett and served as president, CEO, and chairman of the board. He also served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Nixon administration.
Packard describes HP’s history with pieces from his life and devotes each chapter to the seven commitments of his company vision: profit, customers, field of interest, growth, employees, organization and citizenship.
16. Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book (Jack Welch and Suzy Welch)
“When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”
This is the second book on this list that features Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric. Along with his wife Suzie, Welch gives valuable advice from his perspective to today’s managers and future managers on how to organize and manage a company.
This book provides deep insights on the pros and cons of management. It focuses on important issues, such as creating a company’s mission statement, developing its strategy and building its values. The authors also emphasize the importance work-life balance.
17. The Hard Thing about Hard Things (Ben Horowitz)
“What is the hard thing about hard things? That they don’t have a formula.”
Ben Horowitz, former CEO of Opsware, shares his opinion on opening and running a startup company. While many people write about the power of entrepreneurship and the holy thing about starting a business, very few speak about the difficulties.
This is probably one of the most influential books every aspiring entrepreneur must read if they want honest management advice. A lifelong devotee of rap music, he offers business lessons in style, using his favorite lyrics to strengthen them.
18. Business @ the Speed of Thought (Bill Gates)
“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
Bill Gates, former CEO and co-founder of Microsoft, puts his views on the influence of technology in running a business in a better way in his book. He discusses how technology can be used to run businesses in a more effective manner.
This book is particularly for those who agree that “technology will be the major form of business in near future.” It’s perfect as a manual that offers an outline on the use of information technology in order to improve business.
19. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business (Danny Meyer)
“Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel.”
Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, shares a fascinating tale about the creation of his most beloved restaurants which provide warm hospitality and consistent excellence.
Setting the Table is a best-selling treasure of valuable, innovative thoughts full of exciting examples. It is applicable to all kinds of businesses. The focus of this book is on hospitality and the author views it as the foundation of his business philosophy.
20. My Years with General Motors (Alfred Sloan)
“Bedside manners are no substitute for the right diagnosis.”
Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. was an American business executive in the automotive industry. He was a long-time president, CEO and chairman of General Motors Corporation.
The life of Alfred Sloan like every other entrepreneur was cranky, unpredictable and above all difficult. Sloan’s book praises the idea that while entrepreneurs can be good at many things, there are still things they need help with. And it’s okay to ask for help.
Featured photo credit: Business woman and project/Sergey Nivens via thinkstockphotos.com