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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

                            How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life 7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) How to Avoid Procrastination and Get Your Work Done 11 Ways to Be Productive And Happy At Once 10 Best Career Books To Help You Do Work You Love

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                            1 How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) 2 15 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Examples Included) 3 How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide) 4 5 Signs You’re Ready for a Career Change 5 Think Your Work Sucks? 7 Ways to Deal with It

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                            Last Updated on March 25, 2020

                            How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

                            How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

                            Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

                            Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

                            Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

                            In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

                            How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

                            Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

                            Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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                            • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
                            • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
                            • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
                            • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

                            If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

                            After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

                            We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

                            Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

                            Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

                            One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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                            These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

                            40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

                            All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

                            For Changing a Job

                            1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
                            2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
                            3. Get a raise.
                            4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
                            5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
                            6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
                            7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
                            8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
                            9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
                            10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

                            For Switching Career Path

                            1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
                            2. Find a mentor.
                            3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
                            4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
                            5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
                            6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
                            7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
                            8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
                            9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
                            10. Create a financial plan.

                            For Getting a Promotion

                            1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
                            2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
                            3. Become a mentor.
                            4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
                            5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
                            6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
                            7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
                            8. Become a better communicator.
                            9. Find new ways to be a team player.
                            10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

                            For Acing a Job Interview

                            1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
                            2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
                            3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
                            4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
                            5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
                            6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
                            7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
                            8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
                            9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
                            10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

                            Career Goal Setting FAQs

                            I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

                            1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

                            If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

                            If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

                            How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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                            2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

                            Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

                            Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

                            Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

                            3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

                            You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

                            Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

                            4. Can I have several career goals?

                            It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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                            On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

                            For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

                            Summary

                            You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

                            • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
                            • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
                            • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
                            • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
                            • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

                            By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

                            More Tips About Setting Work Goals

                            Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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