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10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too

10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too
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Reading is essential for knowledge and continued learning outside of a formal education. A person that reads once a day about his profession will become an expert in their field 5 times faster than someone who doesn’t. In no time at all (or half a decade) you can become far more knowledgeable and thus more able to perform your duties than a person who has not been reading.

1. Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged will be on almost every list of this type. It’s iconic, in depth, and the defining masterpiece that Ayn Rand built. As an individualist Rand displays the prowess of a leading women in literature of the time. Some people say that as a writer you have to be an expert on everything you write about. Ayn Rand did the research with every novel she wrote and this book is no exception. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says that this is his favorite book, and the library of Congress named it the most influential book in America after, you guess it, the Bible. Rand is able to capture the spirit of America in such an important period in our history that many Americans regard it as the best secular book out there.

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2. The Great Gatsby

Thematically directly in contrast to the previous title, this one has been immortalized by a recent film, staring Leonardo DiCaprio, that closely follows the plot of this book. Your sixth grade English class probably also required that you read this. After showing up on so many lists as being influential you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t do that book report on it.

3. The Aeneid by Virgil

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that this was one of his favorite books, and if you know the story you might deduce why. The book is the story of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who travels to Italy after the Trojan war and becomes the ruler of area after defeating the Italians. This effectively makes him the ancestor of the current Roman empire, which was in full swing by the time this book was written around 20 B.C. The lesson that it teaches is one of revenge, but a righteous one.

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4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This is a book written by the pupil of Shunryū Suzuki that details speeches that he made in the Untied Stated in the 70s. Shunryū was a Buddhist monk and brought the teachings of Zen to America. Of the books on this list this is the only religious one.

5. The Honourable Schoolboy

Former mayor of New York, Micheal Bloomberg, notes this book about a British spy in Hong Kong as his favorite novel. The book is about a spy that sets out to save the service that the government plans to eliminate. Sounds very bureaucratic and dry just as you would expect as being the favorite book of a politician.

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6. The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

This one makes really makes you think. With a small investment you could start a company that earns millions of dollars. The book looks at several examples of these types of successes, including some of the author’s. Chris Guillebeau is a young entrepreneur that travels the world and has come up with some great ideas for companies that have earned him more than enough money, one idea being to write this book.

7. Outliers: The Story of Success

This novel by Malcolm Gladwell is about the success of some notable characters. It’s non-fiction and takes a look at why people become more successful than others and enjoy a sort of super success.

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8. Catcher in The Rye

J.D. Salinger wrote this coming of age story at a time when the country was recovering from the great depression. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield runs away to find a New York City that isn’t very inviting to a teenage boy. Holden must navigate the urban jungle and find his way in a scary world. Bill Gates, being a boy wonder himself, notes this as one of his favorite books.

9. The Brothers Karamazov

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s favorite book is the last novel written by famed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky’s books are best read in his native language of Russian, but you can find English translations.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird

O Network creator Oprah Winfrey has said that To Kill a Mockingbird is her favorite influential novel. The novel deals with the racial injustice of a time when it was widespread and institutional. Written in 1960 this novel immediately won a Pulitzer prize after it’s debut.

Which Books have You read on the List?

I’ve personally read 5 out of 10 on this list. This doesn’t mean I will become super successful like an outlier, but maybe I should read that one as well. Many of the books that will help you with your profession are indeed non-fiction.

Featured photo credit: Sam Greenhalgh via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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