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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 March 21, 2019

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                      1. Start Small

                      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                      Do less today to do more in a year.

                      2. Stay Small

                      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                      Why?

                      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                      Peter Drucker said,

                      “What you track is what you do.”

                      So track it to do it — it really helps.

                      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                      Peter Drucker also said,

                      “What you measure is what you improve.”

                      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                      For writing, it’s 500 words.
                      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                      6. All Days Make a Difference

                      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                      Will two? They won’t.

                      Will three? They won’t.

                      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                      What happened? Which one made you fit?

                      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                      10. Punish Yourself

                      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                      11. Reward Yourself

                      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                      In the End, It Matters

                      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                      Keep going.

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                      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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