Back to School in 2021: The 10 Best Books I Read This Past Year

Back to School in 2021: The 10 Best Books I Read This Past Year

“Read an hour every day in your chosen field. This works out to about one book per week, fifty books per year, and will guarantee your success.”  Brian Tracy, personal development guru

It’s September again, time to go back to school. My learning goal each year is to read at least 50 business-related books, so in my mind the “School of Success” never goes out of session. This is where I get the ideas to help my Financial Advisor clients grow their clientele. Rather than overwhelming you with all 50+ books, here are the 10 best books I read from September, 2020 through August, 2021.

Sales/Relationship Building

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade The man who literally wrote the book on Influence (a worthwhile read), Robert Cialdini presents his ideas on how you can effectively set the stage in advance to influence others.

Ask: How to Relate to Anyone If you want people to like you and want to have influence with them, all you have to do is ask for their story and let them tell you. (Could it be that simple? See my article about this book.)

Business Success

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs Here are “non-overnight success” stories, as told by Guy Raz, about dozens of founders who somehow made their business work, despite challenges, setbacks and financial pressure. May it inspire you to say, “Hey — if THEY made it through THAT, maybe I can too.” (You may like Guy’s How I Built This podcasts.)

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism This book by Hubert Joly, the former Best Buy CEO who led its turnaround when others thought it was doomed, makes a convincing case for unleashing the power of people. His evolution to become a purpose-driven leader is remarkable.


Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir — Soldier, Senator, Mother Tammy Duckworth has such an amazing life story it would make a great mini-series: Half-Asian immigrant, US Army helicopter pilot who got her legs blown off in Iraq, rehabbed, did 4 hand-cycling marathons, went on to the House of Representatives, then the Senate. And had two baby girls along the way. Read this and you’ll know she’s one of the best qualified people to ever serve in our government.

Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, With an Introduction by Walter Isaacson If you wonder why Amazon has been so wildly successful, read about the amazingly far-sighted Jeff Bezos in his own words.

Personal Development

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It You know those times where you have seemingly out-of-control negative conversations with yourself? (Relax — we ALL have ’em.) This book give specific tools to reign them in.


Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig’s Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend Siggi Wilzig‘s story would be hard to believe as a novel, except that he lived it. Losing 57 of his family members (including his parents) in The Holocaust, Siggi endured unbearable concentration camp conditions for two years, hustling his way through a variety of demeaning jobs to escape death. Coming here after World War II, he became the epitome of an American success story: President of an oil company, bank CEO and major philanthropist. “Unstoppable” is the perfect title for his life story.


The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo: The Transformation of Western Civilization The story of why Florence was the epicenter of the Renaissance from the 14th thru the 16th century. The city not only influenced art, architecture and science but also developed modern banking and commerce.

Money From Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve If you’re confused about how our government’s money supply actually works, this book will enlighten you about what really happens behind the curtain. (Hint: It’s a lot more like The Wizard of Oz than you think!)

My hope is that this list will inspire your own reading habit.  I’m not a super-speedy reader but I willingly plowed through these books because absorbing their ideas is a critical part of my coaching job. Audio versions are available on but you don’t even have to spend a dime if you have a library card. There’s no shelf room left for more books at my place so each one listed here was borrowed from my local library.

Why wait?  While it may seem daunting to begin your own reading habit, know that the journey of a thousand books starts with the first one. You can begin by reading one book a month, which is just ten pages a day – that wouldn’t be too hard, would it? Whatever reading goal you choose, go back to school TODAY so you can get to the top of your field.

Question: What are the best business books you read this past year?

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