Reading is said to be the spark behind creative thinking, and is one of the most predominate traits of individuals said to pertain a level of “higher intelligence”.
Is the thought of gaining intelligence through reading actually viable? I believe that it is not intelligence that is gained through reading; rather it’s the exposure to other people’s thoughts and perception of events and processes that generally will lead to you being better rounded thinker.
Reading other people’s thoughts and ideas are the key ingredients to being successful in life (beyond being very naturally intelligent).
By reading through stories of people who were in similar situations to your own, and hearing their stories of success and how they perceived the difficulties along the way, you will be able to better separate yourself from your normal thought train and tackle a situation with more “proper” guidance.
I can’t tell how many times I’ve read a book by a successful entrepreneur or motivational speaker to immediately have a burning desire to apply some aspects of their success to my own life. Don't believe me? Ask my wife. She'll be first to tell you how after I read Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Work Week, I wouldn't shut up about it. Thanks to Tim, I hired my first VA (virtual assistant) and was able to free myself of several mundane details that I have from running this site.
Having diagnosed the process and benefits of reading, there are some books that have changed the way I have thought, as well as opened me up to some great ideas I, and the majority of the world, would initially have thrown out as hogwash. My favorite books that help characterize the process, and more important mental game of becoming an entrepreneur are all listed below with a small synopsis of their content.
Top Must Reads for Entrepreneurs
1The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
Tim's book takes the prize for the best book I've ever read that revolves around business and entrepreneurship. Ever. I want my kids' kids to read this book. This book provides a non-standardized idea of how to approach daily situations, and how to think of them with new perspective. It also teaches you positive thinking to maximize your potential.
2Smarter, Faster, Cheaper by David Siteman Garland
This book goes through some cheaper and less main stream ways to market your new personal business. The book focuses on the importance of blogging and an atypical approach. I had the pleasure of meeting David at one of his “Rise” Entrepreneurial lunches up in St. Louis and I'm here to say that HE IS LEGIT. I was so pumped to meet him, that I filmed my own thoughts on what it takes to become an entrepreneur…..while I was driving. Kids, don't try that at home. This guy is a firecracker and he knows his stuff. Also, beware of fluffy pink bunnies – no petting allowed!
3Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
This book goes through an in depth analysis of why it may be more important to market yourself opposed to marketing your actual business. It also gives guidelines for how to attain more clients and raise your business profile.
What's funny about this book is that it's been on my shelf for years. I'm not even sure who recommended it, but it's been a great addition to my reading library. When I asked fellow entrepreneur Matt Sapaula what books he would recommend, this was tops on his list. I knew I had good taste 🙂
4The Brand You Called You by Peter Montoya
A great book that teaches you about how marketing your personal attributes can be more successful and important than marketing your business. This book really helped put into perspective how to differentiate myself from all the competition…like this blog 😉
I've been a huge fan of this book for years and recommend it to every new small business person that I encounter. As you can imagine, I was blown away when Peter called me out of the blue to tell me how he liked my blog and I was doing a tremendous job marketing myself. I'm pretty sure he felt good when I told him that his book inspired me to create it.
5UnMarketing by Scott Stratten
Yes, this book might be more marketing related, but I couldn't leave Scott out of this list. This book goes through the approach of viral marketing techniques and social media becoming the predominant source of profitable businesses. What I like about Scott so much is that he's just a real dude. It's hard not to respect that about him. Plus he likes Pearl Jam. What else is there to say?
6Creating Your Own Destiny by Patrick Snow
I was pleasantly surprised when Patrick sent me a copy of his book completely unsolicited. This book is an inspirational learner of how to fulfill your personal dreams and how to find true happiness in life. Think it's silly to have big dreams? Think again. Patrick's dream is to have a NFL team in Hawaii and is raising money to try and make that dream happen. Tell him that it's stupid to dream big. I dare you.
7The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
This book is an in-depth look at the phenomenon of a small idea turning huge, and how the critical point is referred to as the “tipping point” by the author. I was amazed on how the kids show Blues Clues was able to take the Sesame Street concept and blow it up. If you're looking to grow your business with the same magnitude as Paul Revere galloping on his horse through the U.S. country side, this book is an excellent read.
8Overwhelming Odds by Susan and Denny O’Leary
This inspirational story of a man who is given overwhelming odds of failure, and the story of how he succeeded in life. I was so fortunate to meet Susan and Denny's son John, and a small intimate gathering put on by the next author on the list. John was involved in a horrible burning accident as a child that left him nearly for dead – the doctors telling his parents that he had a 1% chance to survive the night.
John did survive and used that tragedy to inspire others to be better people and also better business leaders. If you need help in redefining your purpose in life, this is a must read. Find out more about John and his professional speaking business at Rising Above.
9Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
How can you not love Gary V? This guy is loud mouthed, full of energy and lives and breathes entrepreneurship. His book gives a guide of how to think successful in life, opposed to the ordinary how to be successful type novel. Favorite word of the book: Passion. <<<<YOU better have some passion if you're going to Crush It!
10Delivering Happiness by Tony Hseish
How do you top selling a business for $265 million at the age of 24? How about selling another company for a mere $1.2 billion. Even though I new the outcome of the book (see previous sentence where he sells company for $1.2 billion), I was on pins and needles seeing how Zappos.com almost didn't make it. Think Tony was worried? Nah. He decided to go ahead with a scheduled trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now that is an entrepreneur that has brass balls.
11Fight The Good Fight by Ben Newman
More from GFC, Below
I didn't know what to think when a buddy of mine recommended this book to me. I have to say, I'm thankful that he did. Fight the Good Fight shares the story of a son who loses his mother at a young age. Later on in life, his grandmother delivers a gift to his son that will change his life. Turns out his mother had kept a memoir of her life, so that her kids could see the courage and inspiration she had – despite her illness.
I can't remember the last time a book moved me the way that this book did. I'm thankful to have it as part of my reading library, and excited to share it to others.
12Industry Transformers by Dan Sullivan
You'll hear more about Dan Sullivan here in a bit. This was a book that I couldn't pass on, especially when I found out I could get it on my iPad for $12.99. What makes this book so good for entrepreneurs? How about 10 interviews from 10 awesome entrepreneurs that have all developed their own Unique Process™ through the Strategic Coaching program (that I'm happily enrolled in). If you ever wanted to know how an entrepreneur started from the ground up, how they learned from their mistakes and were able to fully capitalize on them then this is the read for you.
A few of my favorite interviews are with Phillip Tirone from 7 Steps to 720 Credit Score and Joe Polish from Pirahna Marketing. Both were well respected in their industries and were able to develop their own unique product that launched them into the stratosphere. I've been fortunate to speak to Phillip directly a few times and I've inspired by his continued drive as well as his love for his family.
For Financial Advisors
If you're a financial advisor and looking to differentiate yourself from the crowd, another good book from Dan Sullivan is Unique Process Advisors. I'm more than halfway through the book and my wheels are already spinning.
13Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Many people feel that Kiyosaki is full of crap with his Real Estate riches and Cash Flow Quadrant. While I have to admit that much of his advice lately (for me, at least) doesn't hold a lot of water, his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad was the first book that really got my entrepreneurship juices flowing. This book tells a tale of two separate people and their life choices. It analyzes these choices to come to some type of conclusion on the more appropriate way to think. Thanks to his book I always knew there was and always will be something more.
On the “Need to Read List”
14Purple Cow by Seth Godin
This book teaches you how to re-market your existing business to satisfy the evolving business needs in an ever changing world. Thanks to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income for getting this book to me. Mike from Oblivious Investor also recommends this book in addition to The Dip and Tribes.
15Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
I just recently was introduced to Guy Kawasaki in an interview that he did on The Rise to The Top.com. I had heard of Guy but didn't really know much about his story. This “guy” just oozes success. I immediately bought his new book Enchantment but also realized that I need to check out his other stuff, too. Another highly recommended book of his is Art of the Start.
Want a little more insight into how Guy Kawasaki's mind works? Check out this witty quote of his:
“Don't worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.”
16Never Get a Real Job by Scott Gerber
I ordered this book as an add on to one of the other books mentioned above. Sometimes Amazon is good at suggest titles I might like. Sometimes they suck. How could I pass on this title though? I'm itching to finally getting this puppy cracked open.
17Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is Gary V's anticipated second release. To be honest, I didn't even read what the book was about. I bought because Gary put his name, heart, and soul on it; so I know it will be good.
18The Dan Sullivan Question by Dan Sullivan
I just joined the Strategic Coach program this year and I'm really excited to see what it can do for me. Dan Sullivan the creator has written several books including this one. I figured with a wildly successful coaching program, the guy has to know what he's talking about; so this has been added to the “must read” list.
19ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
I've heard a lot of good things about this book. Heck, even Seth Godin says, “Ignore this book at your own peril”. Plus, he's like one of like 100 entrepreneurs and authors that vouch for this book.
What Do Friends Have to Say?
Knowing there had to other great entrepreneur books out there, I decided to ask some of my friends on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog to give me their top picks. Here's what they had to say.
20Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson
From Matt Bishop on Facebook saying, “Wonderful, short, very good.”
21The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
22Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields
MD from Studenomics recommends this book. Honestly, I don't know how I left this one off the list. I haven't read his book, but I absolutely love his blog. Jonathan is currently in the process of releasing his second book and I've signed up for his tribe newsletter that has been filling us in through the entire process. A great resource for anyone looking to release a book.
23How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Glenn from Free From Broke and Mixergy CEO Andrew Warner both highly suggest this book. Turns out I forgot I even had this book (though I loaned it and never got it returned – Whew!)
24Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Baker from Man Vs. Debt says reading this book , “Fundamentally changed my life. I read it while transitioning from poker into Real Estate and it shifted how I viewed myself and my life/business relationship. ”
Recommended by Jeff Haywood, CPA via his Twitter account
All of the above listed books are great for anyone who would like to start their own business, or is just looking for a release from the conformist thought process of the majority of Americans. There are many differing viewpoints in the world today, and these books will give you some motivation as well as enlighten you on the thought process behind success.