“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. I’ll bet it’s been a long time since you went to college, where the school year started each fall. But for those of us who understand that in order to get to, and then stay at the top of our profession, the “School of Success” NEVER ends.
My learning goal each year is to read at least 40 business-related non-fiction books. (Fiction books are for people who can’t face reality …) So here is my 6th annual compilation of books I’ve read in the past year from September, 2017 through August, 2018. I’ve divided them into categories to make it easy to pick out ones that might appeal to you.
Best of the Year These three were so good I was moved to write articles about them:
The Miracle Morning The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) Former night-owl Hal Elrod believes you can become an early bird using his recipe of simple habits that will energize you all day long. If you know becoming a “morning person” is a good idea, this one’s for you. The article: Need a Miracle in Your Business? You’ll Find It in the Morning.
Tribe of Mentors Short Life Advice from the Best in the World Podcast interviewer extraordinaire Tim Ferriss asked the same 11 questions to 100+ accomplished individuals, some well known, some not. The variety of responses range from inspiring to thought-provoking to amusing. A must for Tim Ferriss fans.
The article: The “Interview Selfie.”
The Lost Art of Closing Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales Instead of “ABC” — Always Be Closing — gain these ten commitments to close the deal. The article: “ABC” – Always Be Committing.
Selling Boldly Applying the New Science of Positive Psychology to Dramatically Increase Your Confidence, Happiness, and Sales If you struggle to have enough positive conversations in your sales career or tend to overcomplicate your sales approach, Alex Goldfayn will help you get your sales mojo working.
21 Secrets of Million-Dollar Sellers America’s Top Earners Reveal the Keys to Sales Success If you sell for a living, wouldn’t you like to know what the the best sales pros are doing to get to the top?
The Power of Moments Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact Use Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection to create remarkable memories for the people in your life. For more ideas like this for your business, check out Uncopyable How To Create An Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition — make your clients feel like rock stars and they’ll never leave you.
The Introvert’s Edge How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone Think you aren’t good at sales because you don’t have the gift of gab? Matthew Pollard disagrees, and will tell you why in this book.
You Get What You Pitch For Control Any Situation, Create Fierce Agreement, and Get What You Want In Life Infomercial pitch king Anthony Sullivan shares his secrets about engaging people properly to get them to do what you want.
Perennial Seller The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts If you have a “build it and they will come” mentality, Ryan Holiday will set you straight: If you intend to make something built to last, keep your nose to the marketing grindstone. No one will care about your creation in the long run unless you do. (PS — If you think I read a lot, check out Ryan’s book list.)
Finding My Virginity The New Autobiography As noted above, Richard Branson has lived an extraordinary life indeed. He is the poster child for living large, and I suspect he ain’t done yet — in 15 more years I fully expect he’ll do his third one.
Am I Being Too Subtle? Straight Talk From a Business Rebel Ballsy Chicago billionaire Sam Zell shares his 50+ year entrepreneurial journey. It’s a roller coaster ride that shows how sharp he is at taking calculated risks along the way.
Burn the Business Plan What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do Carl Schramm debunks the myth of needing a written business plan– like Nike, just do it. It’s the only true way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Humble Consulting How to Provide Real Help Faster In any kind of helping role (leadership, consulting, coaching, etc.), it pays to be committed, caring and especially curious about your clients’ situation. This will lead to closer relationships that make positive changes possible.
The Icarus Deception How High Will You Fly? In the Greek myth, Icarus flies too close to the sun. Best selling author and blog meister Seth Godin doesn’t want you to fly too low.
Rise and Grind Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life Shark Tank celebrity Daymond John knows something about success, turning FUBU into a milti-billion dollar enterprise. In this book he picks the brains of other notable people to share how they rise and grind.
Stay Hungry Speaking of grinding, Sebastian Maniscalco has scratched and clawed his way to the top of the comedy heap but will never allow himself to get complacent. Here’s a sample of his schtick that has me in stitches.
Rule # 1 — Don’t Be # 2 You Get What You Work For, Not What You Wish For Need a shot of motivation? Daniel Milstein lets you know, among other gems, “Success is never owned. It is rented, and the rent is due every day.”
The Culture Code The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code Greatness is not Born, It’s Grown, will help you crack the code of group success by building safety, sharing vulnerability and establishing purpose. (This was the best leadership book I read this past year.)
Under the Hood Fire Up and Fine-Tune Your Employee Culture If you’re wondering why your employees misfire so much, let Stan “Slap” you around so they can start humming down the road to success.
Lead Yourself First Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude Spending uninterrupted time alone to meditate on problems can be the most productive use of your time. (I’ve got a flip phone, so I avoid non-stop emails & news feeds. If you’re addicted to your smart phone, maybe you need to follow my lead.
Extreme Ownership How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win Two Iraq war veterans, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin of Echelon Front show you how battlefield lessons apply to business success.
Fully Alive Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life You can learn a lot from Tyler Gage’s long, strange trip into the Ecuadorian jungle about starting up and running a “growing concern.” Which, at Runa, his energy-drink company, is literally true.
Beta Ball How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in History I hate to admit it, but the Golden State Warriors may overtake the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls as the greatest NBA team of all time. This is the story of how enlightened new owners took the team from a laughingstock to front runners in 5 short years.
Diversity and Inclusion The Submarine Way What Life Underwater Taught Me About Inclusion With so many people seemingly at odds these days, we can learn how to develop a true “crew-munity” via The Submarine Way that includes and holds accountable everyone on board.
Getting to Us How Great Coaches Make Great Teams Profiles of nine top notch coaches and how they use “PEAK” (persistence, empathy, authenticity and knowledge) to develop championship-caliber teams. Even though four were football coaches, this was the perfect read during March Madness.
Think and Grow Rich I re-read this personal achievement classic every December before I set my goals for the coming year. It always reminds me of many fundamental principles for success, even if one needs to take the words from author Napoleon Hill (who had many professional and personal failings) with a grain of salt.
How to Own Your Own Mind Success lessons from Napoleon Hill on Creative Vision, Organized Thinking and Controlled Attention.
Option B Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy For anyone going through a traumatic life event, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg shares some hard earned words of wisdom to help you heal.
Stealing Fire How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work This book cracks the code of STER: Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness and Richness to help you get in and then stay in the “flow.”
Relentless From Good to Great to Unstoppable Let Tim Grover, personal fitness trainer for Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant, share his training philosophy for becoming and then staying a champion.
Achieve with Accountability Ignite Engagement, Ownership, Perseverance, Alignment, and Change My clients know that I will be holding them accountable for doing what they need to do to grow their business. It’s the same at every level — individual or corporate — accountability gets results.
The Longevity Plan Seven Life-Transforming Lessons from Ancient China Wanna learn the “secrets” to living a happy, healthy 100+ years? You don’t have to go to China — it’s all here.
The Blue Zones of Happiness Lessons From the World’s Happiest People By leveraging pleasure, purpose and pride you can actually increase your happiness. That’s a worthy goal, no?
Bluefishing The Art of Making Things Happen Next time you think something is impossible, like getting on stage with your favorite rock band, turn to Steve Sims to see how he might get it done.
The 5 Second Rule Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage If you’ve been procrastinating on taking certain actions, count down 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – GO! to stop thinking and start doing.
Boost! How the Psychology of Sports Can Enhance your Performance in Management and Work Your business is your game — you can take much of what sports teaches about winning to the office everyday.
Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less If you find your workspace, your home, your relationships and especially your mind are cluttered it’s essential you read this book. (Thanks MW.)
Eyes Wide Open Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly Let a blind guy, the amazing Isaac Lidsky, help you look past the surface to live a better life.
Killing England The Brutal Struggle for American Independence There is so much here I had no idea about – the tense battles, the extreme hardships, the personalities, and especially, how close we came to losing. God Bless George Washington!!!
Alexander Hamilton’s Revolution His Vital Role as Washington’s Chief of Staff If Washington didn’t have Caribbean immigrant Alexander Hamilton, we’d still be sending our tax dollars to England.
Jefferson Architect of American Liberty Besides writing the Declaration of Independence, the cornerstone of our American democracy, and becoming our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson was a true renaissance man. He was interested in everything from art to architecture, farming, horticulture, fine wines, rare books — heck, he even played the violin! While not without flaws, he was a Virginia gentleman, savvy diplomat, devoted family man and above all else, a political visionary.
Darkest Hour How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink Finally, if The British Bulldog didn’t singlehandedly talk Parliament out of an ill-advised peace with Hitler in May of 1940, we’d all be speaking Deutsch now.
Sometimes Brilliant The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History The inspiring (and at times wild ‘n wacky) story of Larry Brilliant, who led the charge on eradicating the smallpox epidemic from the world back in the ’70’s.
Something Beautiful Happened A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil Learn the story of a heroic effort on a tiny Greek Island during World War II that saved the lives of a Jewish family.
Try Not to Suck The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of Joe Maddon Here’s an insightful bio about Joe Maddon, the Moses of the Cubs, who led them to the World Series promised land after wandering the baseball desert for 108 years. What comes across is a remarkable human touch that engages not just his players but the entire organization.
Teammate My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages “Grandpa” David Ross recounts his baseball career, capturing the magic of his last season with the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs. The perfect read during the baseball playoffs, at least until they got knocked out.
Everything’s Bigger in Texas The Life and Times of Kinky Friedman For those of you who don’t know him, Richard “Kinky” Friedman has been a rabble-rousing musician, author and politician for 40+ years. He’s kinda like a Texas-style Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie all rolled up in a Cuban cigar. For a taste of his unusual brand of musical concoctions, check him out on YouTube.
Play It Loud An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar For those of us who love the electric guitar, here’s how it all came about.
The Book of Joy Lasting Happiness in a Changing World Think you might learn how to live a more joyful life from this conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu? (Hint: It’s not about you.)
God A Human History An engaging, thought-provoking recap of how “God” has evolved over the millennia.
Uncommon People The Rise and Fall of The Rock Stars This is a year-by-year account (1955 to 1995) of the evolution of rock stars. You’ll be surprised how much you didn’t know about Little Richard, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones and the rest.
Norwich One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence It was refreshing to read about a place that embraces all their kids as champions, which makes it more likely they will become one.
Rogue Heroes The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War Here’s the story of the founding of the world’s first military special forces squad, forerunners of today’s Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Green Berets.
The Year of Living Biblically One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible An entertaining look at how you can just about drive yourself nuts trying to follow the hundreds of rules in the bible.
The Field of Blood The Battle for Aleppo and the Remaking of the Medieval Middle East This is a detailed recap of a supposed “holy war” which was really a land grab fueled by power-hungry leaders on all sides. (Not much has changed, huh?)
Skin in the Game Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life A rant by Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan, about people who don’t have skin in the game: Bureaucrats, corporate managers, reporters, politicians, etc. — anyone who makes a living without assuming risk. (Watch out — he might just be describing you.)
In Search of the Lost Chord 1967 and the Hippie Idea Set the “Way Back Machine” to 1967 and you’ll find the seeds of the Woodstock Nation germinating, with The Human Be-In, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, the Monterey Pop Festival and San Francisco’s Summer of Love among the happenings.
Quantum Success The Astounding Science of Wealth and Happiness If you need a shot of new-age positivity, get it here from Sandra Anne Taylor.
Al Franken Giant of the Senate Former SNL comedian Al Franken recounts his long, strange trip to becoming a senator. A must read if you wanna learn first hand how Congress functions, or should I say, dis-functions. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry — if you’re like me, you’ll probably do both.
My hope is that some of these titles 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. The good news is 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. And having a two-week due date makes it likely that I’ll finish them on time – I HATE paying overdue fines!
Why wait? If it seems daunting to begin your own reading habit, know that the journey of a thousand books starts with the first page. A good place to begin is to read one book a month, which you can accomplish by getting through 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.
PS – Please let me know what books have helped you learn and grow in the past year.