What do successful business people Bill Gates, Arthur Blank and David Rubenstein all have in common? Well, besides billions of dollars and a legacy of being pivotal leaders in their fields, they read — and they read a lot. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, Blank, spends two hours a day reading, and billionaire entrepreneur Rubenstein reportedly finishes six books a week — that’s over three hundred a year. Entrepreneurs need to be intellectually curious and always learning to inspire their stakeholders.
To finish over a hundred books in a year is both optimistic and ambitious. However, if you’re able to finish even five or fifteen, reading books can be an essential component to growing as a businessperson, leader and individual. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t like reading long form content as much as these successful business people. We recommend you spend your time reading long form articles in addition to books to activate new perspectives. You can learn new skills and find inspiration from the people you admire. So, don’t be afraid to open up a book and lean in. Here we recommend 5 timeless books for successful business people and entrepreneurs!
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
A great companion for the just-starting entrepreneur, Newport’s Deep Work helps cultivate the eponymous skill of delving with intense focus into a particular task. Advice about implementation and a training regimen are fused with entertaining narratives and an argument about how being overly, superficially connected stands in the way of our best work. Newport is a Georgetown professor and the founder of Study Hacks.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve most likely heard of it — Covey’s book has become a classic, similar to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People. The book details actionable ways to develop the principles that help us better adapt to change, take advantage of opportunities and cultivate better personal and professional lives. Since it was published in 1989, the book has sold over 20 million copies and has been published in 38 languages.
The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
Difficulties, Ryan Holiday argues, are what you want out of life. Adapting the Greek philosophy of stoicism, or the idea that adversity must be endured in order to persevere and come out stronger the other side, The Obstacle is the Way seeks to inspire readers with stories of everyone from Amelia Earhart to Steve Jobs, showcasing how they turned impossible situations into unrestrained success.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Normal Vincent Peale
This is another one of those foundational texts that shaped entrepreneurs, creatives and CEOs across all manner of industries. Motivational speaker Peale argues one of the classic views you’ll find in all of these books — think big and visualize your goals. However, he emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude. While this might be a common perspective now, you’d be well-served to read the text that started the movement. It sounds simple however it will energize your entrepreneurial spirit with practical tips to drive your start up forward!
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The title alone is pretty ambitious, but Hill, commissioned to write the book by Andrew Carnegie, has done his research. Yes, it was written in 1937, but the author interviewed over 500 of the 20th century’s biggest names. The Carnegie inspired self help book’s advice still resonates today. Think insight from Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller and Charles M. Schwab, describing not just the philosophies, business acumen and steps that brought them success, but how these ideas can be implemented within your own life.
This list doesn’t come close to sharing all the influential, sometimes, ground-breaking books that should make your to-read list.
Here are a few runners-up for the best books for entrepreneurs:
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
Lucky or Smart? by Bo Peabody.
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