I’ve always enjoyed a good read, and just around the time I started building my career, I started getting into so-called “business books”. After nearly a decade of reading across the genre, I’ve worked my way through a good mix of the classics and trendy new arrivals. So I thought–heck, maybe I should share the ones that I’ve truly enjoyed and gotten the most out of. Without further ado, here’s my Magnificent Seven:
Good to Great, James C. Collins
A classic. This was my first “proper” business book read and it’s stuck with me. If you’re new to the genre, this book does a great job explaining what it takes to be excellent and cultivate your professional drive. My key takeaways were that you should never settle and that building something great takes a constant push of energy to build momentum, a phenomenon the author calls the “flywheel effect.”
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
Another foundational book. A few of the “Habits” may feel a bit dated now (e.g., “Synergy”), but there are some really strong core building blocks for professional development in this book that will likely ring true for eternity. Examples include the notion of starting a project with the end in mind, plus some great time management tips. Since discovering the book years ago, I’ve always been drawn to Covey’s idea of dividing activities up into “quadrants,” identifying how certain quadrants have value, while others do not.
The Dip, Seth Godin
The book for quitters! Kidding aside, this is a great book that dives into putting in the hard work to overcome the dip of professional development. An example is getting through the dip of medical school to enjoy the benefits of being a doctor on the other side. Now, things get interesting in this book when it delves into some great analysis on when you should actually consider quitting. It’s definitely helped me make a few big decisions!
Creativity, Inc., Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull
Learn how to build a great company culture the Pixar way. This book has some keen insight into how the leadership at Pixar has worked tirelessly at communicating in a positive way through tough challenges in the company. There are also some powerful corollaries on business strategy, picking your projects, and how to find great staff.
Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
This book was a great read. Sure, Steve Jobs tends to be a fairly polarizing figure, but reading about his life and professional career is eye opening. It’s the ultimate comeback story, and you’ll be reminded of what “insanely great” really means!
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary does a fantastic job giving readers not only a playbook for social media usage, but he also outlines a philosophy that is based on providing value for your audience (jabs) and giving of yourself before making your ask (the right hook). It’s a very entertaining read packed with actionable detail. (And here’s a bonus tip…I’m currently reading his latest book, #AskGaryVee, and it’s packed with good stuff!)
And lastly…Anything written by Austin Kleon
Austin’s reads are a blast. Show your Work and Steal like an Artist are books about creativity that can be read time and time again. And not only are they enjoyable, but they’re beautiful. Austin’s profuse use of handwriting and conversational tone make these a no-brainer!
Business books are like mentorship in your pocket. No matter where we all are in our careers, there’s always something to learn. If you have a favorite book, share it in the comments–I’d love to hear about it! And for more insight on what I’ve been up to lately (including more on the topic of mentorship), check out my recent blog post on being a Salesforce MVP. Now get reading!