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30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

30 Books You Need to Read if You Want to Make it Big Online

What does it take to succeed online?

  • Create highly useful content?
  • Build authority and Influence people?
  • Be business savvy?
  • Master social media?
  • Engage in promotion and marketing?
  • Have the right mindset?
  • Be productive?

I would say all of it.

And the best way to get up to speed on all of it is to pick up the best books covering these topics. All the ‘experts’ and the ‘gurus’ do it, so why should you lag behind?

There is one problem though, for the uninitiated, the simple task of picking up a so-called business book can be daunting and unnerving. Where to start? Aren’t all business books kind of…dry?

Not the ones on my must-read list.

I suggest you jump in with both feet. All books are followed by a brief book description to help you pick the right one. Good luck!

Books on Productivity and Success

It all starts with the right mindset.

1. Drive

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money–the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake – that the secret to high performance and satisfaction–at work, at school, and at home–is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Daniel Pink examines the three elements of true motivation–autonomy, mastery, and purpose–and offers smart and surprising techniques to transform our lives.

2. The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg talks about all the successful who achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits. Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. Habits aren’t destiny. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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3. Brain Rules

See how the brain works while using it in the process of reading this book! Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know – like that physical activity boosts your brain power.

4. Accidental Creative

It isn’t enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today’s marketplace, all of us, regardless of our role, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand. The Accidental Creative teaches effective practices that support your creative process like how to focus in on your most critical work and reclaim your attention, develop stimulating relationships and leverage your hours wisely and effectively to eliminate creativity drains.

5. The War of Art

The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

6. The Big Moo

Most organizations are stuck in a rut. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they’re petrified that growth means change, and change means risk, and risk means death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so most companies (and individuals) just keep trying to be perfect at the things they’ve always done. Seth Godin challenges people to become remarkable.

7. Getting Things Done

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance. His premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. It transforms the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

8. The 8th Habit

The world has changed dramatically since the classic, internationally bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. In order to thrive, innovate, excel and lead in what Stephen Covey calls the new Knowledge Worker Age, we must build on and move beyond effectiveness…to greatness. Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set — in short, a whole new habit.

9. Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

10. The Dip

The old saying is wrong—winners do quit, and quitters do win. When you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle; maybe you’re in a Dip—a temporary setback. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Books on Content

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    If you are online, you need content. Period.

    11. Content Rules

    Content Rules equips you for online success as a one-stop source on the art and science of developing content that people care about on platforms such as Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Find an authentic “voice”, Leverage social media and understand why you are generating content.

    12. Convert

    Solve your traffic troubles and turn browsers into buyers and double the conversion rates by identifying simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. Understand the essentials – your market, your proposition, and your delivery.

    13. Blogging for Business

    The authors talk about why businesses should embrace blogging. The book talks about how to tap into the power of blogs and how they are different from e-zines, Web sites, and message boards.

    14. Content Strategy for the Web

    Better content means better business. Your content is a mess: the website redesigns didn’t help, and the new CMS just made things worse. How can you realize the value of content while planning for its long-term success? Read it to understand content strategy and its business value and make smarter, achievable decisions about what content to create.

    Books on Influence

    Now…it is time to be a thought leader.

    15. Influence: Science and Practice

    This book is an examination of the psychology of compliance (i.e. uncovering which factors cause a person to say “yes” to another’s request). It reminds the reader of the power of persuasion. The compliance techniques are organized into six categories based on psychological principles that direct human behavior: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

    16. Platform

    Michael Hyatt shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform.

    17. Fascinate

    Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision-making. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

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    18. Clout

    Results. Everyone wants them, whether to sell more products, spread good ideas, or win more funding. In our busy digital world, the way to results is influencing people on the web. But how? Clout explains the key principles of influence and how to apply them to web content.

    19. Enchantment

    “Want to change the world? Change caterpillars into butterflies? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to convince people to dream the same dream that you do.” Guy Kawasaki argues that it is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.

    Books on Social Media

    Don’t forget to promote your stuff…

    20. Trust Agents

    Two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits. Learn how businesses are using the latest online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can use those networks to positively impact your business.

    21. Likeable Social Media

    The secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing on the social web is easy: BE LIKEABLE. A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, that recommendation can travel farther—and faster—than ever before. This book helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.

    22. No Bulls#!t Social Media

    Stop hiding from social media–or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.  “Conversations” and “communities” are wonderful, but they’re not enough. Get this book and get what you really want from social media: profits.

    23. The New Rules of Marketing & PR

    Business communication has changed over the recent years. Creative ad copy is no longer enough. This book has brought thousands of marketers up to speed on the changing requirements of promoting products or services in the new digital age. This pioneering guide offers a step-by-step action plan for harnessing the power of the Internet to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

    24. The NOW Revolution

    The social web has changed the way we do business forever. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, The Now Revolution outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you. Read about seven shifts that will help you make your company faster, smarter, and more social.

    Books on Marketing

    And on to marketing…

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    25. Made to Stick

    Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? Brothers Dan and Chip Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier and communicate better. It shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

    26. The Tipping Point

    The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

    27. Permission Marketing

    Book based on the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it, the opposite of Interruption Marketing, which no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity — time — Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily.

    Books on Entrepreneurship

    Reaffirm that you are meant to do this.

    28. Crush It!

    Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

    29. The $100 Startup

    In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living. He presents stories of those who’ve found ways to opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful. You can start small with your venture, committing little time or money, and wait to take the real plunge when you’re sure it’s successful. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

    30. The Everyday Entrepreneur

    A primer for pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions and achieving success, it is filled with strategies and powerful anecdotes about defining and setting goals and pushing for entrepreneurial success. The book reveals how readers can apply the ambitions of a go-getter in their own lives, position themselves ahead of the pack, examine how to calculate risk, and understand the mindset necessary to venture forward on their own.

    So there you have it. What are some of your favourites that should go on this list? Share in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Books by Shutterhacks and inline photo Content Rules Book by Shashi Bellamkonda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    More by this author

    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Published on November 12, 2020

    5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

    5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

    What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

    Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

    Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

    While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

    Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

    1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

    When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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    Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

    In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

    • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
    • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
    • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

    While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

    2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

    Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

    Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

    Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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    However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

    3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

    Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

    But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

    It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

    4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

    Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

    Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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    5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

    Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

    For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

    How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

    The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

    If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

    Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

    It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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    Final Thoughts

    If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

    If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

    It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

    More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

    Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

    Reference

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