I love blogs, podcasts, and videos. Each of these has the chance to inspire me and lift me up. I have created time in my morning routine to put some good into my brain each day…and these are often my tool of choice. But if I really want to take a deep dive into a topic, I still am inspired by books. Whether I read a physical book or simply take a walk with the author (in audio form), books help me grow (and level up).
Over the course of the last 10 years, I have had the chance to read hundreds of books. Some have been forgettable. Others have been what I needed to hear at the moment. But here is a list of 29 Game-Changing Books for Business that have impacted me. I wanted to share them with you.
The E-Myth Revisited
This is one of the best business books ever. I have bought countless copies and have recommended it more times than I can remember. I have probably read it 10 different times and have found myself in a different place on the journey each time. If you are in business or want to start a business, this is awesome.
When I first listened to Profit-First, I thought author Mike Michaelowicx was following me around. It spoke to the challenges I was having in my business’s cash flow right then. We tentatively adopted the philosophy and have not looked back. It’s been a game-changer for us. Mike’s goal is to “eliminate entrepreneurial poverty,” and for many in business, that is a real thing. Love this book.
Start with Why
You know a book is powerful when it becomes something that everyone else repeats. It seems every business leader discusses the need to find your WHY now. Sinek created the conversation and it is an important one in today’s business world.
Leaders Eat Last
I think each one of Sinek’s books has gotten stronger. And while I really enjoyed “Start with Why,” I thought “Leaders Eat Last” was even better. Sinek goes into what makes a great leader and even the biological reasons for it. Powerful information…and super interesting too!
As you might expect, this is my favorite of Simon Sinek’s books. He explains the difference between a finite game and an infinite game and why it matters so much to know what kind of game you are playing. For me, it crystallized the idea of playing a “long game” in business. It’s what I have long believed and discussed, but Sinek does it in a much more articulate way than me!
The Thank You Economy
I love Gary Vaynerchuk. I am a fan. But while I love his content, his energy, his speaking, and his philosophy, I don’t always LOVE his books. But The Thank You Economy was different. Gary talks about using social media to create appreciation, value, and connection at scale. Loved this one.
This is the second Mike Michaelowicz book on the list. I am a fan of Mike’s work and this is a powerful one about differentiation. He says “The Riches are in the Niches” and explains how to find your niche and grow into it. He even spends a bit of time explaining how to “fire a client” which just seems so hard for some entrepreneurs. The Pumpkin Plan is worth harvesting.
I am an unapologetic fan of Seth Godin. He is a thought leader in business and marketing. And he has the ability to say things in a way that is simple, yet powerful. “If you want to be remarkable, you have to do something worth remarketing about.” Read this one if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
While this is probably not Godin’s most famous book, it is the one I find myself quoting the most often. It’s short and powerful. When you start something new, you will be learning fast and your improvements will be fast. Then, that will excitement and progress will slow down. It will not be as exciting. This is the Dip…and it’s when most people quit. Get through the Dip…and you become the expert.
His most recent book (as I type this), The Practice is a powerful reminder about how we get better at anything. If you want to build a career, a business, your fitness, content, or a life…creating a Practice will help you do it.
Ultimate Selling Machine
If you are an entrepreneur or are in sales (and we are all in sales), this book is powerful. There are strategies for everything from creating a sales process to building real relationships. Love this one.
High Trust Selling
I read this one a long time ago, and it was one of the first books that changed my business. Duncan’s observation is that 80% of our results in sales come from 20% of activities. But as salespeople, we tend to focus on the wrong part of the business. We need to hire out the 80% that does not make us money.
The 5 Second Rule
File this under “simple but powerful.” Mel Robbins gives you a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 solution for procrastination. Along the way, she gives powerful insights into performance and life. Oh…and this is a great audiobook if you enjoy those.
Jon Acuff is a great writer and speaker. His sense of humor helps me get lessons I might otherwise miss. While I love his book Start (Punch Fear in the Face), the book Finish was more powerful for me. I have never had problems starting things…but finishing? Squirrel! He gives some great tips on getting your project to the finish line.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
I got this book recently at the recommendation from a friend. It’s a great look at how to improve a bottleneck and flies in the face of traditional manufacturing policy.
Want to build your personal brand? I really enjoyed this book from Mark Schaeffer on how to make it happen. In this book, he outlines the 5 steps you need to take to build your brand and become Known.
Building Your Storybrand
Donald Miller wrote this gem that outlines why most companies get their marketing wrong. It was a real “a-ha” moment for me and shined a light on why sometimes messages work and sometimes they don’t. Who is your marketing making “the hero of the story?” Most of us make ourselves the hero. The customer needs to be the hero. Miller explains why in this wonderful book.
Marketing Made Simple
Now that you understand that the customer needs to be the hero of your marketing story, Marketing Made Simple digs into the tactics of how to make that happen. This book outlines a step-by-step process to create a marketing machine that works for your business.
Dare To Lead
Most of us are afraid to put ourselves out there. We don’t want to be completely authentic because it doesn’t feel like “what a strong leader would do.” Brene Brown breaks down those myths and challenges us to lean into them. I feel like this book made me a better leader by making me a better person.
And speaking of leadership, it’s hard to learn from better teachers than Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. These two team up to give amazing lessons in leadership combined with stories from leading teams in combat. Oh…and if something is going wrong in your company, or division, or family…you should take extreme ownership. Good one here.
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
Everywhere I looked, I saw people telling me I needed to meditate. But I didn’t know how. I felt like I was doing it wrong. It felt strange and weird. This book breaks down some of those myths and gives you permission to get started with “just one minute” if that’s what you need to do. This is a good introduction for someone that feels they might need meditation in your life…but does not know where to start.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
If you are offended by strong language, this book is not for you. However, if you can get past that, there is a zen-like quality to much of this book that really connected with me. One of my favorite lessons, which I talk about here, is the idea that successful people are willing to “suffer through” things to get to what they want. Not everything will be easy. If you want to reach your goal, you need to decide what you are willing to suffer through.
This book is sort of the bible for Agile productivity. We read it as a team. If you want to get more done as a team, this book is a must-read. Can you break down tasks into small enough pieces so that every member of the team can help? You probably can…and SCRUM lines up how.
4 Disciplines of Execution
Let me see if you have been there. We come back from a conference (or read a book) and want to implement a great idea. We start strong, but then the “whirlwind” of business and life gets in the way. The 4 Disciplines breaks down how to identify the Wildly Important Goal, and create a process to make improvements with your team.
Epic Content Marketing
If you want to do content marketing “right,” this is your manual. Joe Pulizzi talks about the start of his company and how creating compelling content (for the customer) works. He shows you how to create an audience and story-tell in a way that will build your brand. Loved this one.
Hug Your Haters
So you have created a social media following that is worth having. What do you do when “the haters” show up? Jay Baer says you need to “Hug Your Haters” in this book about dealing with tough comments on social. Jay gives the playbook on what to do when complaints happen (and they will). Most of us want to ignore the comments so they go away. Jay explains why that is the wrong play…and how doing it right can change haters into fans!
Never Split the Difference
Life is a negotiation. If you are in business, you already know this. In this powerful book, Chris Voss takes us inside some amazing stories from a hostage negotiator…and how many of them can apply to you.
Living With a Seal
And I wanted to end with a fun one. Jesse Itzler tells the story of how he invited the “toughest man on the planet” David Goggins to live with him for a month and train him. When I listened to this, no one knew who David Goggins was…but it all makes sense now. While there are some sincere lessons here about how far we (as humans) can go, this one was fun.
So there you go. Here are 29 game-changing books for business and personal development. These are books that have helped me level up in business and life.
If you enjoy reading and looking for ways to grow and level up, you might want to learn more about our new Better Business University. We are creating an affordable online learning platform that can help you take your career to the next level.