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15 New, Must-Read Business Books for Achieving Success

15 New, Must-Read Business Books for Achieving Success

Growing up as a kid, I never exposed myself to books unless I absolutely had to. Sometimes I’d “have to” read a book and write up a report. Other times, I’d “have to” read a book to prepare for an exam of some sort. To sum it up: unless I had some required reading to do for school, you’d never see me reading.

Fast forward into my late teens. I started becoming interested in the notion of “Why.”

Why do some people succeed in life and business, while others get left behind? After talking to or studying some of the most successful people I could think of at the time, I learned something special that nearly all of them had in common—they read books. Lots of books.

And that’s when I asked myself the following question:

“If successful people keep saying they became successful by reading books about what they were passionate about—and then taking action on what they learned—then why couldn’t I do the same?”

Today, I read about a book or two per week. In fact, reading is part of what I do for a living. I imagine that if I were to have a conversation with the 14-year-old version of myself, I’d have a pretty tough time convincing him of how much of a dorky book worm I’ve turned into.

In this article, I’d like to share with you 15 new, must-read business books for achieving success in your professional career. This list is filled with gems. Ready? Let’s go.

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1. Zero To One by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

zero-to-one-cover

    This book is a collection of lectures delivered by billionaire investor and founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, during his teaching years at Stanford. Along with co-author (and former student) Blake Masters, Thiel has put together a hard-hitting set of standards for entrepreneurs, startups, and thought-leaders to carefully consider when building the “next big thing” of the future. Quite frankly, certain sections of the book are so ridiculously well put together that one just sits there and thinks after reading them. Chapter after chapter, Thiel gives example after example of how to successfully build the future.

    2. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

    Leaders-Eat-Last-Cover

      If you honestly believe in the possibility of a brighter future for the way we work and how our organizations are led, then this is not recommend reading—this is required reading. Leaders Eat Last lays out idea after idea that provokes us to think about whether we need to overhaul our approach to leadership completely. In this book, Sinek explains why leaders must replace “Command & Control” models of management with more sustainable approaches, that are grounded in empathy and designed to boost engagement and a sense of “family” that we’ve all wished we could experience in the workplace. Pick this book up to gain an understanding of what it truly means to be part of a team, and how to cultivate an environment that fosters it if it’s something you currently lack at work.

      3. 

      If you’ve ever wondered what makes the most innovative people in the business and tech world tick, then this book is for you.

      4.

      If you’re interested in learning the mechanics of what goes into designing habit-forming products, then this book is for you. In this book, author Nir Eyal breaks down the ingredients of a habit-forming product, and uses supporting examples to clarify his points, so that you can really learn how to implement the triggers that popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and Google have used in order to get us “hooked” on their products. If you’re at all interested in learning what it takes to create products that help others create positive habits in life and business, this episode is for you.

      5. Mindset by Carol Dweck
      mindset
         

        After decades of research on achievement and success, Carol Dweck shows us how the power of our mindset can contribute to our success in life and business. It’s more than just skills and abilities—it’s about how we approach things in life: are you cultivating a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset?” Reach your goals and raise your quality of life with this book on psychological mastery—and how to put it to use.

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        6. Crazy Is a Compliment by Linda Rottenberg
        crazy-compliment

          If you’ve been called crazy for your business ideas, or if people don’t seem to understand what you understand—then this book is a way for you to cope and collect the inspiration and insight you need to forge ahead and do what you love—successfully.

          7. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
          the-happiness-of-pursuit-chris-guillabaeue

            What good does all your business know-how do you if you’re not in the moment, enjoying the journey?This book is about the patterns of happiness author Chris Guillebeau has recognized in successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and change-makers around the world. What he noticed was simple: they were happiest throughout each of their individual journeys—not necessarily when they finally achieved a specific goal they were after. Essential reading for anyone who wants to extract as much fulfillment out of life as possible.

            8. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder
            value-proposition

              This is a hard-hitting book that equips people and teams with the tools to drive meaningful, productive, collaboration towards creating and building the future.

              9. How to Speak Money by John Lanchester
              how-to-speak-money-cover

                If confusing algorithms and number-crunching financial talk confuses you, then How to Speak Money is for you. In this book, you’ll learn how the world of finance really works: from little loop-holes in the Terms & Conditions of your checking account, to the actual definitions (and implications) of terms and acronyms, like “amortization,” GDP, and the real definition of “inflation.” He also dives into how the IMF and World Bank operate, as well as how hedge funds work. This is essential for anyone who feels the need to get a handle on how the financial industry really works—in plain English.

                10. The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris & Rob Walling
                7-day-startup

                  What if you could learn from someone who built a business in 7 days, from scratch, and grew it up to $400,000 in annual recurring revenue within just a few years?

                  If you just asked “where do I signup?” then this book is for you. In this book, author Dan Norris discusses unconventional methods and strategies you can apply towards your business (or business idea), such as:

                  – Why validation isn’t the answer
                  – How to evaluate your startup idea
                  – How to build a website in 1 day for under $100
                  – 10 proven marketing methods you can apply quickly
                  – and much, much more.

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                  This is the essential guide for founders, freelancers, boots trappers, and entrepreneurs to stand up and start something that matters.

                  11. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

                  the-art-of_doing_twice-in-less-sutherland

                    This is a book about designing efficient systems that you can leverage at work and at home to maximize your output, results, and rewards. Pick this up if you want to achieve the unachievable. 

                    12. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts

                    adam-smith

                      More than another book about the father of capitalism, this book exposes a side of Adam Smith that most economists never knew he had—in this book, author Russ Roberts dives into the virtuous side of Smith, influenced by one of Smith’s writings that barely got read, titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Roberts pulls nuggets of practical wisdom from this text about human nature, and organizes it all into a master piece for personal and professional wellbeing that provides an answer to the age old question of “how to live a good life” that rings just as applicable today, as it did when Smith originally penned it three-hundred years ago.

                      13. Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell

                      good-leaders-ask-great-questions-john-maxwell

                        Get ready to have all your pressing leadership questions answered, because in this book, Maxwell tackles questions every leader wants to know, such as:

                        – How can I discover my unique purpose as a leader?
                        – What is the most effective daily habit that any leader should develop?
                        – How do you motivate an unmotivated person?
                        – How would you work with a difficult leader who has no vision?

                        14. Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work by Liz Wiseman

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                        rookie-smarts

                          If you think what you know now may eventually become useless and obsolete in the uncertain—and increasingly changing future—then Rookie Smarts is for you. Pickup on the skills that will help you “pay the bills” (plus some) in the rapidly changing economy that we’re heading into over the coming years. 

                          15. Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder by Jim Clifton & Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

                          entrepreneurial-strengths-finder

                            From the same folks who brought you the famous StrengthsFinder books, Gallup delivers again. This time however, they’re aiming for the success and prosperity of the entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder delves into the psychology of the entrepreneur. Everything from personality to sustainability—the authors of this book leave no stone un-turned when it comes to addressing even the most minute of details that can have an impact on the growth of a successful business.

                            Decisions, Decisions…

                            Okay, now you’ve got a list of the 15 newest, must-read books for achieving success as a modern professional in a modern world that’s moving faster than ever. Now what?

                            Which book do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all? So many options. So little time.

                            Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

                            • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashNotes Book Summaries to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
                            • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
                            • If you’re in a rush, try Audio books, or Audible Book Summaries.
                            • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                            More by this author

                            Dean Bokhari

                            Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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                            Published on March 20, 2019

                            How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                            How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                            Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

                            As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

                            While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

                            What is a Mission Statement?

                            Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

                            In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

                            “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

                            In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

                            Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

                            While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

                            First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

                            While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

                            While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

                            “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

                            This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

                            What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

                            When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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                            Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

                            When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

                            • What we do?
                            • How we do it?
                            • Whom do we do it for?
                            • What value are we bringing?

                            Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

                            After all, that did check off all the boxes:

                            What we do? Provide widgets.

                            How we do it? Online.

                            Who do we do it for? The consumer.

                            What value we bring? The best widgets.

                            The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

                            Compare that mission statement to this one:

                            “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

                            What’s the difference?

                            Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

                            Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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                            You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

                            A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

                            Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

                            1. Keep It Brief

                            Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

                            You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

                            2. Have a Purpose

                            A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

                            Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

                            3. Include a “How”

                            Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

                            How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

                            4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

                            This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

                            Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

                            5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

                            It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

                            Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

                            6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

                            Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

                            7. Think Long Term

                            A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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                            8. Get Feedback

                            This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

                            Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

                            9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

                            You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

                            First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

                            And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

                            For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

                            The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

                            It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

                            First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

                            If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

                            Strategic Planning

                            A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

                            Measuring Performance

                            By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

                            Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

                            Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

                            Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

                            As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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                            Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

                            To Hold Management Accountable

                            By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

                            So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

                            If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

                            To Serve as an Example

                            This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

                            After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

                            Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

                            Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

                            Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

                            That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

                            By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

                            More Resources About Achieving Business Success

                            Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
                            [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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