As a firm, we believe you can never learn fast enough. And to prove that, our team reads a lot. Reading is the number one way to set yourself apart from your competition and level up your business. Seriously, as a business leader, you can’t afford to make excuses not to read- there is always time, even if you have to set it aside intentionally.
Here are some of our curated recommendations of every book business leaders need to read if they are going to get ahead in 2020:
Helpful hint: if you read one book about every two weeks, you can get through this entire list in 2020.
The Happiness Advantage
By Shawn Anchor
Anchor reveals why many of us aren’t as successful or as happy as we want to be: because we’re chasing them backward. This book repositions us to view happiness as the starting point on the road to success. From there, Anchor sketches seven actionable principles tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, that will allow us to increase our performance and recognize our full potential. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone ready to live a happier, more successful life.
By Bob Burg
This book is the real deal. A short read in parable form, this book is a best-seller that reaffirms the old proverb “give, and you shall receive.” Following a parable, Burg outlines five non-negotiable laws for Stratospheric Success. With over a decade of success, this book is the business world’s go-to model for finding fulfillment and greater success in business, in their personal lives, and in their communities.
The Culture Code
By Daniel Coyle
A powerful reminder that culture is not what we are but something we do. This book dissects how some of the world’s most prominent organizations, from IDEO to the San Antonio Spurs, built their culture. Coyle breaks down how these organizations tick, and what drives their success in a way that demystifies the culture-building process. This book identifies three skills that foster cohesion and cooperation and equips you with the secret to building your own organization’s culture.
By Peter Diamandis
I love challenging books like this that encourage you to think bigger. Diamandis recommends looking for opportunities to be disruptive and taking big, bold, and fearless action when you find them. This book is a guided journey to individual empowerment, industry disruption, changing the world, and creating an extraordinary impact. Saddle up. This book is a rocket ship.
By Angela Duckworkth
I seriously love this book. For anyone looking to succeed, Duckworth shares the secret to getting there, and shockingly it’s not talent. Instead, what she calls “grit,” a blend of passion and perseverance, is traced through some of the greatest success stories in history and various industries. There is nothing more motivating than being told that winners are those who dedicate the most of themselves to whatever they love. And as someone who gives my all to what I’m passionate about, I want to win. Every time.
No Hard Feelings
By Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien
Frankly, this book is great. There aren’t that many thinkers, especially in the business space, who are both incisive and winsome. Their thesis topples the idea that emotions don’t have a place in the workplace, and provides researched and desperately needed theory for how emotions actually help you excel in business.
By Carol Dweck
This is one of my favorite books of all time and one of the most influential books ever about motivation. With research to back it, Dweck explains how your mindset affects everything in your life, but especially how successful you are. With a powerful message, this book is a must-read for coaches, business leaders, parents, everyone.
By David Epstein
An indispensable and urgent read for business leaders and parents alike. This book takes an idea that has become anchored in our understanding—that the route to excellence is early and pronounced specialization—and challenges it. Of course, many writers do just that, but few do it as clearly, as well-supported, and as smoothly as Epstein. The book equips us with how we can still get ahead even when we seemingly start behind or run into unanticipated obstacles.
Never Eat Alone
By Keith Ferrazzi
This book is important. After reading, I used this book as an example and guide for fostering meaningful connections that lead to referrals. Ferrazzi, author and friend, provides practical examples of how authentic, long-term connections are formed.
Give and Take
By Adam Grant
This is the best book I have read about building a business model for selfless service. It separates people into three categories— Givers, Matchers, and Takers—and explains the strengths and weaknesses of each one. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to build a selfless-service business model.
By Seth Godin
This book is a perspective-changer. If you need to rally your team, customers, investors, or whoever around an idea, this book will demystify the process. In a three-step process, Godin tells you how you can build and connect with your own tribe. This book makes you think- really think- about the opportunities to mobilize an audience that is already at your fingertips, but it won’t do the heavy lifting for you. What Godin proposes is not easy, but it’s easier than you think.
By Tim S. Grover
I hate the word “relatable,” but I have never related so much to any approach in my life. This book focuses on the obsessive pursuit of excellence, pulling on success stories of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Duane Wade, and Charles Barkley. Never satisfied, Grover provides some sense of belonging to the people who will do whatever it takes to be the best and position themselves to win. This book will inspire you to strive harder, set higher goals, and motivate you to reach them.
Ego Is the Enemy
By Ryan Holiday
Setting literature, philosophy, and history in conversation with one another, this book argues forcefully that your ego is your biggest obstacle. Engagingly, the book highlights individuals who achieved success after suspending their egos and spotlights strategies that we can start implementing immediately. However, this book, although straightforward, is not an easy read in an age that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion. Of the books on this list, this is one of the hardest to swallow and most satiable.
By Steven Johnson
This is the best book I’ve read about how we process and problem solve complicated decisions. Through compelling stories and surprising insights, Johnson provides a strategy for effectively approaching choices that can chart the course of your life, organization, or community. This book helps you recognize all your potential futures and empowers you to take control of where you go while appreciating the subtle choices that got you where you are today.
The One Thing
By Gary Keller
My favorite part of the book is that it is actionable immediately. The book centers around a question that once you read it, sounds more obvious than it is: What is one thing I can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? This book provides simple changes that we can make in how we approach tasks, like saying no to the extra work, so we can eliminate distractions and focus on what matters.
By Tom Kelley and David Kelley
A compliment to Seelig’s InGenius (see below), this book reinforces the claim that creativity and innovation are not exclusive. The Kelley brothers, two of the leading experts in innovation and design, prove that everyone is creative. This book identifies the principles and strategies that allow us to tap into our creative potential and innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems. This is a book that will help each of us be more productive and reach our up-most potential.
You Don’t Have to be Ruthless to Win
By Jonathan Keyser
Confronting the misconception that you have to be dog-eat-dog to win business, Keyser proposes that you don’t have to sacrifice your values to get ahead. This book should be at the heart of every ethical business. It inspired Raine’s company values. However, more than just an example to aspire after, this book provides guidance for how business leaders can be less selfish and create long-term value for their team.
Think Like a Freak
By Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to create disruptive solutions and build a legacy. In the Freakonomics team’s trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, Levitt and Dubner reveal just how they do it all. The book breaks down how they think and provide us an entirely new way to problem solve. I love this book and cannot recommend it enough.
By Christopher Lochhead
This is the newest how-to guide for everyone ready to level up. Lochhead takes us back to our childhood idea that if you make the rules, you always win. This book is a well-balanced serving of inspiration and frame-work to help you re-imagine your business and disrupt your industry and disrupt your industry.
By Greg McKeown
A perfect compliment to Keller’s The One Thing (see above), this book outlines how to adopt a minimalistic approach to life and business. Minimalism means recognizing what is truly essential and doing only that. Even focusing our attention on that. For things like meditating or exercising, the book calls out all of us who say we are going to make time for these things, but never do. McKeown gets us over that hurdle, and takes time to explain why making this change is one of the most productive habits we can have. Minimalism, especially the idea of intentionally taking time for ourselves, is often the change that allows enough rest and space for you to succeed.
You Are Not So Smart
By David McRaney
Whether we are upgrading your phone or making we next big business decision, and no matter how we act through the decision-making process, we think we are the most rational person in the situation. While being insanely entertaining, this book challenges what we believe about personal biases, especially those in our own favor. One of the most impactful books I have ever read, if I could, I would require that everyone reads this. But warning, it is not for the faint of heart.
By John Ruhlin
This book is a practical guide to giving thoughtful and unexpected gifts, both in your personal and professional life. In simple steps, Ruhlin describes how you can leverage selfless giving as a tool for creating value in business, without breaking your budget. Packed with tips, this is a must-read for anyone looking for ways to build stronger relationships with their prospects, customers, and employees.
The Four Agreements
By Don Miguel Ruiz
This is better than any other book I have read on the subject of “words mean something,” especially when the words are your own. What Ruiz proposes is simple, yet it is also incredibly powerful, earning him a rightful spot on the best-sellers list for over a decade. This book will change how you think and act for the better.
Love Is the Killer App
By Tim Sanders
This is not an “easy” read, but it is an invaluable one. It’s practical, original, and fiercely applicable. Responding to many of our greatest fears, Sanders shares that to ensure we are always indispensable, we need to love people fully. Rich with practical strategies, if you follow this book, you will be an irreplaceable resource to help you finish first.
By Kim Scott
Whether you are in charge of just yourself or an entire organization, this book is for you.
Scott takes her experience leading teams at Google and Apple and provides an overdue framework for how to be a better boss and a better colleague. Addressing the inconsistency between the lessons we were taught in childhood- such as, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all- and our adult responsibilities- like hiring, firing, and sometimes saying what needs to be said. Scott teaches us how to communicate the latter in a constructive and caring way that will help you build, lead, and inspire your team to do more.
By Tina Seelig
Seelig is exposing the myths that some people aren’t creative and that you can’t increase your creativity. Like any other skill, creativity is something you need to work on to get better. This book provides revolutionary ideas for getting in touch with your creativity and boosting your capacity for innovation. I can attest first hand that this book extends beyond increasing your creativity. It is the book that helped me muster the courage and confidence to change career paths and start a new business.
Leaders Eat Last
By Simon Sineck
The title says it all—real leaders put their people first, care more about their success than their own. Written by one of the most influential figures in the business world, this is an extraordinary book outlining how being a selfless leader works in your best self-interest. Filled with success stories and actionable steps to get you started, Sinek reveals the secret to building a happy team and ensuring your success. This book is worth reading more than once.
By Jocko Willink
A deserved best-seller. Especially for those in a position of leadership, this book provides an underrated habit that will build trust in your relationships. Willink redefines what integrity means in business and to your success. Filtering his claims through the Navy Seals model, Willink asserts that there is nothing more effective long-term than taking responsibility for everything.
Taking the time to read any of these will level up your leadership.