Entrepreneurship is a commitment—not only to your venture or business, but also to a unique learning process. Where others seek guidance through big universities and established companies, I know many entrepreneurs like myself who have a desire to go their own way and learning becomes a self-guided experience. As a result, I’ve gained a whole new dimension to my learning experience, having combined it with what I have chosen to read and what I have learned in the field.
Many entrepreneurs are avid readers—not just out of curiosity, but necessity. I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks because it’s something I can do while I’m on the go – whether that is traveling or exercising. Reading is one of the only ways you can learn from the world’s best and brightest, especially those who choose to share their thoughts on paper instead of through a weekly podcast.
Here is an entrepreneur’s reading list for 2017 that include ten books that I have been motivating, insightful, and humbling for me. I hope that they leave a positive impression and assist you on your journey toward building something impactful in the world.
1. “All In” by Bill Green
This is a must read for any first-time entrepreneur who thinks building a business is an easy process. Author Bill Green uses “All In” to both inspire entrepreneurs on their quest for greatness and put things in perspective. Starting in a flea market and ending with a publicly traded company, Green’s story demonstrates what it means to go “all in” on an idea—and not stop until the goal is achieved – something that stands out for me in terms of the perspective that has helped me in bringing my own business ideas to fruition.
Green’s company was Wilmar Industries, a corporation that ended up employing more than 2,300 people. When Wilmar went public in 1996, Fortune rated Wilmar as one of the best IPOs of the year. In 1999, Wilmar was named by Forbes as one of the top 200 Best Small Companies in America. “All In” describes Green’s humble beginnings, his “bootstrapping” mindset and, ultimately, his rise to building a company that today is owned by Home Depot, with revenues topping $1.8 billion.
2. “Top of Mind” by John Hall
In a noisy world of digital marketers, how do you stand out? CEO of Influence & Co. and business thought leader John Hall has some valuable insights. After all, his recipe for staying “top of mind” with your consumers is the same step-by-step process he used to build Influence & Co to one of Forbes’ “Most Promising Companies In America.”
“Top of Mind” is full of tactics, with insights into how consumer needs and expectations have changed over the past few years; how you can build a brand that serves both your ideal customers and your own employees; and ways to use digital content to build lasting trust with your readers, followers and subscribers. I have put many of these tactics to work already with great success in my own business.
3. “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs” by Hal Elrod and Cameron Herold
Consider this your wake-up call. Few books can change your daily habits as effectively as “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs.” Author Hal Elrod’s original “The Miracle Morning” was a self-development crash course. In this follow-up page-turner, wisdom is added from Cameron Herold, a bestselling author and widely respected business coach, using the Miracle Morning framework as a foundation.
The book has given me six daily practices to create and sustain positive change in my life—personally and professionally. I have found that one of the most difficult challenges is to maintain a balance between building a successful business and taking care of myself. It has taught me that if I’m off, then the whole picture is off. The principles in this book have put balance back in my life, which has benefitted my business, helped me feel better, and made my family a lot happier.
4. “Grit” by Angela Duckworth
Can success be reduced to a process? Pioneering psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Angela Duckworth thinks it can. She calls it “grit.” “Grit” does an incredible job of exploring what makes someone exceptional—and, as Duckworth has discovered, it certainly isn’t talent or inherent intelligence.
She argues that the most successful people discover their own “genius” through the daily habit of persistence while always remembering to lead with what they are most passionate about. I thoroughly enjoyed the personal stories as well as interviews with peak performers and industry leaders, ranging from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
5. “A Paperboy’s Fable” by Deep Patel
This book struck me for its title because it made me think about my first job and the other ventures I tried when I was younger.
Part story, part riveting interviews with professors, entrepreneurs, CEOs and more, “A Paperboy’s Fable” creatively shares some of the most tried and true lessons learned in business. Like the Arbinger Institute’s “Leadership and Self-Deception,” what makes “A Paperboy’s Fable” a worthwhile read is its ability to take high-level and timeless business lessons and make them both easy to understand for beginners and poignant reminders for us more seasoned entrepreneurs.
6. “Rich20Something” by Daniel DiPiazza
The brand, Rich20Something, was started by Daniel DiPiazza, a recognized digital marketer and influencer. A website, a massively popular Instagram page, and now a book packed with lessons, “Rich20Something” is DiPiazza’s story of being a typical twenty-something, unsure of what to do in life, and how he built a brand around the hustling mentality that can turn any young entrepreneur into a success.
Unlike the conventional corporate ladder path, “Rich20Something” is essentially a guide to hacking your way to wherever you want to go. DiPiazza shares his own advice from the trenches along with anecdotes from other successful entrepreneurs and mentors and step-by-step techniques for building businesses around my personal skill set. It’s helped me beyond the dream and make things happen.
7. “Managing the Mental Game” by Jeff Boss
Who better to learn mental fortitude from than a former Navy SEAL? In “Managing the Mental Game,” Boss reflects on his experiences as a SEAL and walks readers through techniques that build self-confidence, mental endurance and positive habits.
The book is comprised of over 23 mental exercises, covering topics such as how to deal with stress, how to avoid common mental traps, how to handle uncertainty and even the neuroscience behind change. I’ve used these in my daily work life to deal with those unexpected issues and barriers that seem to pop up with a startup, which has provided me with a much more measured and logical approach when these do happen.
8. “Disrupted” by Dan Lyons
What is Silicon Valley really like? After 25 years at Newsweek, journalist Dan Lyons lost his job to younger talent. Shortly thereafter, he found himself working for a famed Silicon Valley startup, Hubspot, which had over $100 million in venture capital. “Disrupted” is Lyons’ take on the idealized entrepreneurship scene in California. As a resident of Silicon Valley, this book hit home in terms of familiar situations and advice on how to navigate the territory here.
One part crash course on entrepreneurship, two parts humorous stories and unfortunate conclusions, this book shows that heavily funded startups aren’t all they seem to be from the outside. According to Lyons, “It’s a world where bad ideas are rewarded, where companies blow money on lavish perks, and where everyone is trying to hang on just long enough to reach an IPO and cash out.”
9. “Be Obsessed or Be Average” by Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone is a success story, to say the least. In addition to having one of the strongest personal brands, Cardone has made a name for himself by building five successful companies and turning himself into a multimillionaire. “Be Obsessed or Be Average” is like his other NYT bestseller,“The 10x Rule” — a humbling reminder of just how much you have to want success in order to e ventually have it. It reads just like Cardone sounds in his videos and on his podcast—full of energy and motivation. His quotes have stayed top of mind long after finishing the book, which have been inspirational when faced with some critical issues in my business.
From Cardone’s perspective, success ultimately comes down to three basic rules: first, be willing to set crazy goals, and aim to reach them, every single day; second, value your money and make it work for you; and, third, use your haters as fuel. These rules have worked for me and many colleagues, so they will work for you, too.
10. “The Fire Starter Sessions” by Danielle LaPorte
There’s a reason “The Fire Starter Sessions” has sold over a million copies. Author Danielle LaPorte explains that many of the things we believe about the “road to success” are actually wrong, and that we end up driving ourselves mad by searching for things that don’t actually exist.
Some of the controversial topics covered in this book include the fact that life balance is a myth, that our principles and beliefs might be the very things holding us back, and that happiness has far more to do with how we feel while we’re working and not necessarily the achievement of our goals. “The Fire Starter Sessions” offers helpful reminders for any entrepreneur who wants to build a meaningful future. It’s certainly given me a lot of food for thought on how I’ve looked at my own business and leadership style.
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