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.
1. Zero To One by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters
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
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.
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. Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
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
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.
6. Crazy Is a Compliment by Linda Rottenberg
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.