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10 Books That Bill Gates Wants You to Read to Become as Successful as Him

10 Books That Bill Gates Wants You to Read to Become as Successful as Him

Ever heard the quote “learners are earners”? Bill Gates certainly has. He strives to read a book a week. No one is questioning his ability to earn! Luckily, you can follow his lead by following his blog, Gates Notes. He posts his thoughts on the books he reads so anyone can get into his mind and understand his views on success. Read on. Lead on.

1. Business Adventures by John Brooks

Business Adventures

    To have great success, it is important to understand why businesses are successful and why they fail. This book dives into the deep inner workings of why on both sides.

    What the publisher says about it: “From Wall Street to Main Street, John Brooks, longtime contributor to the New Yorker, brings to life in vivid fashion twelve classic and timeless tales of corporate and financial life in America.”

    What Bill Gates wrote about it:

    “Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me–and more than four decades after it was first published–Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer.”

    Actually, this book was so important to Bill Gates that he made a short video about it. In it, he interviews Warren Buffet and other high-profile business leaders. Read Gates’ review and watch the video here.

    Buy the best business book Bill Gates has ever read.

    2. Tap Dancing to Work by Carol Loomis

    tap dancing to work

      It’s no secret that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have a strong relationship. This book is a compilation of Buffett’s articles interwoven by his colleague and close friend, Carol Loomis. If you want to learn about the unfolding of great success, this one is for you.

      What the publisher says about it: “Warren Buffett built Berkshire Hathaway into something remarkable–and Fortune journalist Carol Loomis had a front-row seat for it all.”

      What Bill Gates wrote about it:

      “I think anyone who reads it cover to cover will come away with two reactions: First, how Warren’s been incredibly consistent in applying his vision and investment principles over the duration of his career; and, secondly, that his analysis and understanding of business and markets remains unparalleled.”

      Buy the book that gets inside the mind of Bill Gates’ mentor.

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      3. Life is What You Make It by Peter Buffett

      life is what you make it

        Peter Buffett has been successful in his life too, although not completely because of his wealthy, successful father. This book tells the story of a hard-working wealthy child, and what his father instilled in him to become successful in music and philanthropy. Bill Gates said he will be reading it with his older children. You don’t have to be the child of a wealthy man to get this wisdom and enjoy your path.

        What the publisher says about it: “From composer, musician, and philanthropist Peter Buffett comes a warm, wise, and inspirational book that asks, Which will you choose: the path of least resistance or the path of potentially greatest satisfaction?”

        What Bill Gates says about it:

        “Contrary to what many people might assume, Peter won’t inherit great wealth from his father. Instead, he was encouraged by his parents to find his own path. The book is a chronicle of that journey–and the wisdom and perceptions he has developed along the way.”

        Get the book that Bill Gates wants for his children.

        4. Awakening Joy by James Baraz

        https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937006220?tag=s7621-20

          Why do you want to be successful? Joy may be a reason. This book teaches you how to have joy while you are becoming successful.

          What the publisher says about it: “Awakening Joy is more than just another book about happiness. More than simply offering suggested strategies to change our behavior, it uses time-tested practices to train the mind to learn new ways of thinking.

          The principles of the course are universal, although much of the material includes Buddhist philosophy drawn from the author’s thirty years as a Buddhist meditation teacher and spiritual counselor.”

          What Bill Gates says about it:

          “Joy is not for just the lucky few–it’s a choice anyone can make. In this groundbreaking book, based on his popular course, James Baraz helps you discover a path to the happiness that’s right in front of you, offering a step-by-step program that will reorient your mind away from dissatisfaction and distraction and toward the contentment and delight that is abundantly available in our everyday lives.”

          Get the book so you can successfully have what Bill Gates has: joy.

          5. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

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          Where good ideas come from

            Being successful requires a certain amount of innovation. This buzzword does not spark a strong visual for many people. Where Good Ideas Come From defines what makes fertile ground for successful innovation.

            What the publisher says about the book: “The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery–these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson’s answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines.”

            What Bill Gates wrote about it:

            “Especially for people in business or education, it’s a worthwhile book. It talks about the institutional structures that facilitate good ideas–how you get lots of people thinking about cutting edge problems, how you put people together in a space where different skill sets and influences can come together, how you make the right kinds of materials available but don’t force a conclusion.”

            Get the book that Bill Gates says successful educators and businesspeople need for great innovation.

            6. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

            Moonwalking with einstein

              You can’t be successful if you are known as forgetful. This book can teach you how to memorize obscure facts and useful ones. Great for those of us who are bad with names.

              What the publisher says about it: “Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top ‘mental athletes.’ He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human memory.”

              What Bill Gates says about it:

              “Like most people, I’m fascinated by how the mind works, and memory is a big element of that. Part of the beauty of this book is that it makes clear how memory and understanding are not two different things. Building up the ability to reason and the ability to retain information go hand in hand.”

              Get the book that makes Bill Gates’ mind work out hard.

              7. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa

              Academically adrift

                This book outright says what we have all suspected: our college education may not have emphasized learning as much as we believed. This book can make you successful for two reasons:

                1. You can put your college education in a mental box and give yourself permission to learn in the real world.

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                2. If you are an educator, there is a real need for successful innovation.

                What the publisher says about this book: “In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born.”

                What Bill Gates says about it:

                “The dismal results presented in Academically Adrift are based on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test in which students are asked to make a practical decision–such as, what kind of airplane a company should buy–and explain their choice based on a set of goals and facts about different options. I’m optimistic about the potential of innovation to help solve many of the problems with our post-secondary system. But we need more and better information.”

                Bill Gates is lobbing this innovation softball at you. Will you take it and become successful?

                8. That Used to be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Freidman and Michael Mandelbaum

                That used to be us

                  Thinking that the US is going to hell in a handbasket creates a dismal picture of the world. Dismal pictures dampen a person’s ability to be successful. Some aspects are true: America is not growing as fast as other countries; we are falling behind in math and science and sometimes even business. It’s not actually horrifying; we have just been really amazing at inspiring other countries to be like us. And now it’s time for the US to take the next step and lead the world.

                  What the publisher says about the book: “In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum analyze the four major challenges we face as a country–globalization, the revolution in information technology, chronic deficits, and our pattern of energy consumption–and spell out what we need to do now to preserve American power in the world.”

                  What Bill Gates wrote about the book:

                  “That Used to Be Us is a fantastic book, and I really encourage people to read it.

                  The basic message is that other countries, the ones that are now competing with us and kind of scaring us, are not doing anything different from what we did in our past. We have a difficult time responding to them, however, because they’re copying the way we used to be, and meanwhile, we’ve changed. As our society has gotten richer, we’ve become more careful about protecting people’s rights and not harming the environment, for example.”

                  Get the book that can position you to change the world.

                  9. Deng Xiaoping by Ezra F Vogel

                  Deng Xioping

                    Being successful requires taking a tough situation and transforming it into a beautiful piece of art. That’s what Deng Xiaoping did with the most populous country in the world. Before he came into power, China was in poverty and was unable to pull itself out. Deng transformed China’s business practices and and improved the country’s economy.

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                    What the publisher says about it: “No one in the twentieth century had a greater impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar is better qualified than Ezra Vogel to disentangle the contradictions embodied in the life and legacy of China’s boldest strategist–the pragmatic, disciplined force behind China’s radical economic, technological, and social transformation.”

                    What Bill Gates wrote about it:

                    “China in 1979 was one of the poorest countries in the world, far poorer than India. They were barely scratching out a living and their population density made it difficult for them to feed their population. There was very little to build on other than the fact that the party had incredible authority.

                    With this authority, Deng set in motion a series of critical changes early on in his leadership to achieve cultural stability and significant economic growth. To have done this essentially in one generation is an unbelievable accomplishment and is unique in the history of the world.”

                    Get the fascinating book about one man who inspired a whole country to become successful.

                    10. The Most Powerful Idea in the World by William Rosen

                    the-most-powerful-idea-in-the-world_books_2014_471px_v1

                      At first glance, it looks like this book is about railroads and engines. That’s plenty cool if you’re into that kind of stuff. The real meaning is about why these machines were so successful. What was the idea that made railroads so capable of changing the world?

                      Here’s what the publisher said about it: “Hardly a week passes without some high-profile court case that features intellectual property at its center. But how did the belief that one could own an idea come about? And how did that belief change the way humankind lives and works?”

                      What Bill Gates wrote about the book:

                      “The book’s premise is that the Anglophone world–England, Scotland, Wales and America–was the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution because it ‘democratized the nature of invention.’ Rosen makes a compelling argument that the steam engine is the quintessential example of that democratization at work.

                      Rosen’s view fits my own view of the power of measurement to advance the work of our foundation. (I focused my 2013 Annual Letter from the foundation on measurement and the amazing things you can accomplish in global health, education and other areas if you set clear goals and can measure your progress toward them.)”

                      Get the book that can change the way you invent new ides so you can become successful.

                      Featured photo credit: Thomas Hawk via compfight.com

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                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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