Let’s explore 50 of the very best business books of all time. This list includes influential classics and personal favorites that have guided my entrepreneurial journey over the last 22 years. Each one covers unique and valuable insights that can help you achieve your goals in business and beyond.

The list is organized into eight categories: startups, business strategy, marketing, product development, leadership, management, productivity, and self-help.

NOTE: It was difficult to categorize many of the books into just one topic. Plus, many of the themes apply to multiple audiences. So, with that in mind, I recommend that you go through the entire list at least once to identify the books that are most interesting and relevant to you.

STARTUP BOOKS

The Best Startup Books

Startups are notoriously difficult to operate. Many fail outright, and those that survive often fall short of their potential. However, there are steps you can take to increase your odds for success. So, let’s explore advice from five of the best startup books.

1. The Start-Up J Curve by Howard Love

The Startup J Curve Book Cover
The Start-Up J Curve by Howard Love

It’s no secret that many startups fail. But what is less understood is that the path to success often involves making dramatic changes to the original idea. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are not prepared for this possibility. As a result, they can feel lost and even consider giving up when facing predictable setbacks. 

The Start-Up J Curve can help you put common challenges into context. It explains how the startup journey unfolds in a predictable six-step pattern. By understanding each stage of the journey, you increase your odds for success. Instead of feeling lost when you face setbacks, you’ll have a clear sense of how to move your idea forward.

The Start-Up J Curve is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you want to learn more before picking up a copy, check out my Start-Up J Curve book summary.

2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup Book Cover
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Many startup founders make the mistake of focusing their early time and energy on building a predefined product or service. Then, after months of hard work, they’re often surprised to find that the final result fails to attract customers. People do not want to buy it, and the only chance to save the startup is to make expensive changes.

The Lean Startup can help you figure out the right thing to build, the product that customers want and are willing to pay for, as quickly as possible. The book stresses the value of identifying key assumptions early on, so you can test those assumptions quickly and inexpensively. When done right, this approach can help you turn your idea into a sustainable business faster and with far less waste along the way.

The Lean Startup is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

3. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test Book Cover
The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

One of the fastest ways to validate a startup idea is by discussing it with potential customers. Unfortunately, many of these conversations backfire because most people want to be supportive and socially polite rather than blunt and honest. As a result, it’s easy to misinterpret their encouragement as a genuine interest in your idea.

The Mom Test explains how to properly talk with people to get honest and useful feedback. It can help you ask the right questions in the right way to gather the information you need to validate or improve your idea. And it can help you avoid misleading feedback that could send your startup in the wrong direction.

The Mom Test is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things By Ben Horowitz Book Cover
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Startup life is hard. No matter how much planning or research you do, there will be unexpected surprises along the way. Unfortunately, there is no recipe or formula for dealing with the most difficult challenges that founders face. Not to mention the emotional struggles that come along with them.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a collection of advice, practical wisdom, and humbling experiences that can help founders prepare for difficult challenges. It tackles tough topics like firing friends when they’re no longer a fit, poaching employees from competitors, and dealing with the potential of bankruptcy. It’s a must-read for founders who face tough challenges or want to be better prepared to do so.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

5. Zero To One by Peter Thiel

Zero To One Book Cover
Zero To One by Peter Thiel

The goal of a startup is to create and capture new value. Unfortunately, generating value for customers doesn’t always translate into business success. A startup can fail to capture enough value, in the form of revenue and profits, to fund the operation. As a result, they can struggle to survive even as customers benefit from their work.

Zero To One is about how to turn a startup idea into a valuable business. While much of the advice is geared towards wildly ambitious startups, many of the insights can be applied to smaller, niche-based startups or even small businesses. The book is an inspirational read for anyone interested in building a more valuable company.

Zero To One is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you want to learn more before picking up a copy, check out my Zero To One book summary.

BUSINESS STRATEGY BOOKS

The Best Business Strategy Books

Business strategy is often ignored until there is a problem. For example, a loss in product sales, declining profit margins, or a new competitor shows up. Until then, we often rely on strategy substitutes like having a compelling vision or ambitious goals.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with creating a vision for the future or establishing goals. However, it’s a mistake to treat these things as strategies because doing so can prevent us from pursuing the real thing. So, let’s explore six of the best business strategy books that you can read when building an effective plan for success.

6. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy Book Cover
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Many businesses fall into the trap of obsessing about their competition. As a result, they try to win over the same customers with a similar product and an undifferentiated strategy. Unfortunately, this approach leads to cutthroat competition that destroys profit margins and limits future business growth.

Blue Ocean Strategy can help you avoid this fate by making the competition irrelevant. It explains how to create and capture new demand, break the value/cost trade-off, and redefine market boundaries to create a leap in value for buyers. It’s a must-read for business leaders that want to create or sustain healthy profit margins.

Blue Ocean Strategy is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Blue Ocean Strategy book summary.

7. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

The Innovators Dilemma Book Cover
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

It’s no secret that businesses often fail in the face of disruptive innovation. However, what’s surprising is that this outcome is not necessarily due to bureaucracy, arrogance, poor planning, or short-term investments like many may suspect. Instead, it’s often the strengths of well-managed, customer-driven businesses that cause them to fail.

The Innovator’s Dilemma explains how a relentless focus on serving customer needs can cause a great business to be overtaken by an innovative startup. Most important of all, it explores practical strategies for avoiding disruption. So, it’s a must-read for the leaders of well-established businesses as well as founders of disruptive startups.

The Innovator’s Dilemma is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

8. Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta

Understanding Michael Porter Book Cover
Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta

The goal of a great company is to earn profits, not to take business away from rivals. Yet, even if you’re focused on creating value and profit, you will inevitably face competitors that try to emulate your success and eat into your margins. So, it’s critical to understand how to deal with competitors so you can maintain healthy profits.

Understanding Michael Porter is a practical guide to Michael Porter’s best business strategy advice. It explores how to create a competitive advantage, sustain healthy profit margins, and ultimately deal with competition. The book can help you create a strategy for building and sustaining profitability in a competitive market.

Understanding Michael Porter is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

9. Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

Crossing The Chasm Book Cover
Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

Many innovative businesses fail to attract a mainstream audience to their product or service. They build initial momentum with enthusiastic early adopters but are unable to win over the broader, more lucrative mainstream market. As a result, they severely limit future business growth and fail to capture the full profit potential of what they’ve built.

Crossing The Chasm explains how to market disruptive products to a mainstream audience. The insights apply to any product or service that requires customers to change their habits or behaviors to use it. So, if your solution breaks with industry norms or challenges the status quo, this is a must-read book for you.

Crossing The Chasm is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

10. Good Strategy / Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Good Strategy Bad Strategy Book Cover
Good Strategy / Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Many business leaders fail to establish an effective plan for their organization. They mistake the process of defining a bold vision or setting ambitious goals with creating a business strategy. As a result, they never identify the true challenges they face and have no concrete plans for dealing with them.

Good Strategy / Bad Strategy can help you craft an effective plan. One that takes advantage of your organization’s strengths and your rival’s weaknesses to create a competitive edge. And, by demonstrating the difference between good and bad strategies, the book makes it easier to avoid common mistakes along the way.

Good Strategy / Bad Strategy is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

11. Good To Great by Jim Collins

Good To Great Book Cover
Good To Great by Jim Collins

Every once and a while, a relatively average company makes the leap from good results to great results. In some cases, they do so independently of industry trends or other factors that might help explain their sudden success. So, this phenomenon begs the question, “How can a good company become a great company?” 

Good To Great explains why some companies make the leap and others do not. It explores six powerful concepts identified during a comprehensive study of companies that had made a good-to-great transformation. And the book makes each of the insights accessible for others looking to achieve similar results.

Good To Great is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you want to learn more before picking up a copy, check out my Good To Great book summary.

MARKETING BOOKS

The Best Marketing Books

Marketing is the lifeblood of a business. It’s the key to attracting a steady and reliable stream of new customers to your products or services. So, let’s explore nine of the best marketing books that you can read to become a better marketer.

12. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

Traction Book Cover
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

The most common reason why businesses fail is due to a lack of customers. Many are able to bring a product or service to market, but of course, that alone doesn’t guarantee success. So, even before you establish a new business, it’s critical to think about how you plan to attract customers in a predictable and reliable way.

Traction covers 19 proven marketing channels, including organic, paid, and social strategies. It also explains how to select and execute the best marketing opportunities for your business. So, whether you’re starting something new or you just want more customers for an existing business, the advice in this book can help.

Traction is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Traction book summary.

13. Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Marketing Made Simple Book Cover
Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Many businesses fail to communicate a simple and attractive offer. Their websites use industry jargon or flowery language that just confuses people. As a result, any effort to drive attention to their product or service falls flat because no amount of awareness can make up for a weak or confusing sales message.

Marketing Made Simple can help you create an effective sales funnel. One that makes it easy for people to understand what you do and why they need your product or service. The book explains how to build five essential marketing tools, including a great website, so you can convert more prospects into paying customers.

Marketing Made Simple is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Marketing Made Simple book summary

14. Contagious by Jonah Berger

Contagious Book Cover
Contagious by Jonah Berger

Word-of-mouth referral is arguably the most powerful marketing opportunity in business. When customers actively recommend your product or service to other people, sales can explode with minimal effort. Unfortunately, few marketers understand how to increase organic referrals, so they mistakenly assume it just comes down to luck or having a better product.

Contagious explores the science of word-of-mouth referral. It covers six principles of contagiousness; six factors that can cause a product, service, or idea to be more likely to spread. The insights can help you engineer virality to increase the rate at which people remember and recommend your brand to other people.

Contagious is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my Contagious book summary.

15. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout

The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing Book Cover
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Many businesses struggle to gain traction with their target audience. Meanwhile, one or two brands consistently dominate the market and take the lion’s share of revenue and profit, leaving very little for everyone else. So, this begs the question, “what causes some brands to be so much more successful than others?”

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is about the power of positioning. It explains how customers think when selecting brands and what you can do to have your brand stand out in the marketplace. It’s a short and powerful read that I strongly recommend to anyone interested in business, branding, or marketing.

The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more from my summary of The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing.

16. This Is Marketing by Seth Godin

This Is Marketing Book Cover
This Is Marketing by Seth Godin

One of the great challenges with launching something new is getting enough people to care about what you’re offering. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone right from the start. As a result, they spread their marketing efforts too thin and are unable to build meaningful momentum.

This Is Marketing is about how to create a movement. It explains that a better strategy is to start by targeting a small audience that will benefit most from your work. That way, you can attract brand evangelists, generate word-of-mouth referrals, and build the momentum you need to reach a much larger audience.

This Is Marketing is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

17. They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

They Ask You Answer Book Cover
They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

Advertising can be a great way to attract new customers. However, many businesses make the mistake of becoming overly reliant on ad platforms that can change their policies or pricing at any time. So, as your business grows, it’s wise to invest in alternative marketing channels that offer greater freedom and control.

They Ask You Answer is about how to use content marketing to attract loyal customers to your business. It explains how to create articles, videos, podcasts, and other content that builds trust and authority in your market. When done right, this approach results in a reliable and predictable source of new leads for your business.

They Ask You Answer is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

18. Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Building A Storybrand Book Cover
Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Businesses often fail to communicate clearly about what they do and how they create value for customers. Many seem to assume that people already understand what they do or be willing to go out of their way to figure it out. Yet, the only thing that people genuinely care about is how your business can solve a problem for them.

Building A StoryBrand can help you better communicate the value that your business provides. It explains how to use the universal elements of storytelling to clarify your message so that it resonates with customers. It’s a simple yet powerful way to make it easy for people to understand how your business can help them.

Building A StoryBrand is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Building A StoryBrand book summary.

19. Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Influence Book Cover
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

It’s a mistake for marketers to abuse manipulative persuasion techniques for personal gain. Not only is it ethically wrong, but it can also damage brand reputation and harm internal culture. With that said, it’s also a mistake to remain ignorant of psychology and the many implications within marketing, social media, and other aspects of business.

Influence covers six powerful principles of persuasion. Each one plays a role in the way that we are influenced throughout everyday life. So, if you want to better understand the sometimes invisible factors that guide our choices, this is widely considered one of the best books on the subject.

Influence is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

20. The Language Of Trust by Michael Maslansky

The Language Of Trust Book Cover
The Language of Trust by Michael Maslansky

Today, people are more skeptical than ever before. Many have been burned by businesses, institutions, and even their government. As a result, they often assume the worst when engaging with brands or public figures, and they’re quick to share their assumptions with others on social media.

The Language of Trust is about how to overcome skepticism by communicating with people on their own terms. The insights apply to any situation where you need to build trust with customers, critics, or even the general public. The book is a must-read for leaders, marketers, and almost anyone active on social media.

The Language Of Trust is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my book summary of The Language Of Trust.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT BOOKS

The Best Product Development Books

Everything in business is more difficult when you’re selling a weak or inferior product. Conversely, everything is so much easier when you have a great product that receives positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and repeat purchases. So, let’s explore six of the best product development books for creating better products and services.

21. Sprint by Jake Knapp

Sprint Book Cover
Sprint by Jake Knapp

The development of a new product or service is often unpredictable. Random issues can crop up, the scope of the project can grow out of control, or the team can simply lose focus on the original vision. Regardless of the cause, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut that kills momentum and, in some cases, threatens the future of the project.

Sprint details Google Ventures’ unique five-day process for overcoming difficult challenges. It covers practical strategies for rapid prototyping and testing ideas with customers. The insights can help you build a minimum viable product, solve a complex issue, or gather much-needed feedback to keep your project moving forward.

Sprint is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my Sprint book summary.

22. Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Hacking Growth Book Cover
Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Many businesses are slow to react to the evolving needs of their customers. They may have talented people, but teams are often isolated based on professional roles or departments. As a result, diversely skilled people rarely have a chance to share information and collaborate towards addressing emerging customer needs.

Hacking Growth is about how to accelerate business growth by building a culture of continuous experimentation. It explains the value of creating small, cross-functional teams that can gather insights, generate ideas, and run experiments. Plus, the book provides detailed tactics for acquiring, activating, retaining, and monetizing customers.

Hacking Growth is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Hacking Growth book summary.

23. Start At The End by Matt Wallaert

Start At The End Book Cover
Start At The End by Matt Wallaert

Many products fail to create real value for customers. Even those that are selling very well can end up buried in a desk drawer or stuffed into a closet, rather than being used as intended.  As a result, the people buying them are unlikely to provide positive reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, or repeat business in the future.

Start At The End is about how to create products and services that people will actually use. It explains that the goal with any new solution is to change customer behavior, and it provides detailed advice on how to make that happen. So, if you want to build something that creates real value in the world, this book can help.

Start At The End is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

24. Hooked by Nir Eyal

Hooked Book Cover
Hooked by Nir Eyal

Customer engagement is key to the success of many businesses—especially those offering subscription services or consumable products. Unfortunately, the dream of predictable recurring revenue often requires expensive marketing campaigns and other ongoing efforts to promote product usage, and those costs can quickly eat into profits.

Hooked introduces a different approach for increasing engagement. It explains how to help people establish a habit around using your product or service. The goal is to have customers automatically re-engage with your solution without the need for ongoing marketing campaigns or other external triggers.

Hooked is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more before picking up a copy, check out my Hooked book summary.

25. Friction by Roger Dooley

Friction Book Cover
Friction by Roger Dooley

Many products and services are needlessly complicated. The amount of time and effort required to pay for them, get everything set up, and start benefiting from them is often very inconvenient. As a result, people are less likely to use them or recommend them to others.

Friction is about finding ways to eliminate steps, reduce confusion, and address uncertainty for customers. This is important because when something is easy, people do more of it. And when something is difficult or time-consuming, people do less of it. So, if you want to attract and retain loyal customers, look for opportunities to reduce or eliminate friction wherever possible.

Friction is available from Amazon and Apple Books.

26. Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Perennial Seller Book Cover
Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Many new products make an initial splash, achieve limited success, and then quickly fade in popularity. This is so common today that it’s tempting to blame it on the rapid pace of change or our shortening attention spans. Either way, some businesses are reacting to this by chasing fads or pursuing other short-sighted opportunities.

Perennial Seller is about how to create timeless products. It explains why some solutions like Adobe Photoshop, Fender’s Stratocaster guitar, and even movies like The Shawshank Redemption remain relevant and perform better over time. The book is a practical guide for building products that stand the test of time.

Perennial Seller is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

LEADERSHIP BOOKS

The Best Leadership Books

There’s a big difference between being in a position of leadership and being an effective leader. Great leaders don’t just tell other people what to do. Instead, they focus on inspiring action and creating the right conditions for the achievement of important goals. So, let’s explore five of the best leadership books that can help.

27. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start With Why Book Cover
Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Leaders often rely on subtle manipulations to get people to take action. For example, they might provide special bonuses to motivate employees, or they might offer deep discounts to entice people to buy their products. In either case, this approach can quickly turn into an expectation, resulting in it becoming less effective over time.

Start With Why is about how to inspire action by sharing the deeper purpose behind your organization. This approach is a powerful way to unlock the passion, persistence, and creativity of your team. And, by sharing the same message with like-minded customers, you can transform them into loyal brand advocates.

Start With Why is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

28. The Dichotomy Of Leadership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

The Dichotomy Of Leadership Book Cover
The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Leadership often involves striking a balance between two extremes. Some examples include confidence vs. humility, working hard vs. working smart, discipline vs. creativity, and in some cases leading vs. following. So, it can be challenging to identify the best course of action when either option has its pros and cons.

The Dichotomy Of Leadership is about how to strike the right balance in difficult situations.  It covers 12 principles divided into three categories: balancing your people, balancing the mission, and balancing yourself. Plus, it provides practical examples of how each principle can be applied in the real world.

The Dichotomy Of Leadership is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

29. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last Book Cover
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

There are two kinds of threats or dangers that people face when working within an organization.  First, there are outside dangers, including direct competition, alternative solutions, and market conditions.  Then, there are inside dangers, including things like personal conflict, intimidation, or even humiliation.

Leaders Eat Last is about how great leaders build a strong culture by establishing a circle of safety within their organization. The goal is to minimize internal dangers so that individuals and teams can direct more of their energy towards external dangers. When done right, the organization is both more united and more effective.

Leaders Eat Last is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

30. Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Measure What Matters Book Cover
Measure What Matters by John Doerr

As an organization grows, it can become challenging for leaders to establish and communicate strategic goals. Unfortunately, increased size often leads to increased bureaucracy. As a result, progress can slow to a crawl as teams struggle to identify and act on the most important tasks or opportunities.

Measure What Matters is about how to use “Objectives and Key Results,” or OKRs, to set and communicate goals more effectively. It’s a proven approach used by Google, Slack, Disney, Spotify, and others. It can help your organization become more effective by boosting transparency, accountability, and collaboration.

Measure What Matters is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. You can learn more by reviewing my Measure What Matters book summary.

31. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

The Infinite Game Book 01 Web
The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

Some leaders approach business as if it’s a finite game that can be definitively won or lost. They identify other brands as their adversaries, select common metrics on which to compete, and then set out to “beat the competition.” But of course, unlike a game of baseball or football, competition in business does not have a set beginning or end.

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek is about how to build a stronger business by focusing on the big picture. It explains that leaders who maintain an infinite mindset are less prone to aiming for short-term wins that can weaken their organization. Instead, they’re more likely to make long-term decisions that strengthen their position over time.

The Infinite Game is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

MANAGEMENT BOOKS

The Best Management Books

Some people believe that being a manager means not having to do the real work. Others see the position as a chance for a pay raise. But of course, great managers are highly skilled at what they do, and they improve the performance of everyone around them. So, let’s explore five of the best management books that can help.

32. The Making Of A Manager by Julie Zhuo

The Making Of A Manager Book Cover
The Making Of A Manager by Julie Zhuo

Many new managers are surprised to find themselves in a leadership role. They didn’t set out to manage people and instead were promoted into the position as their team grew. So, one of the key challenges they face is getting clear on their new responsibilities and figuring out how to be effective in their role.

The Making Of A Manager is a practical guide to getting up and running as a new manager. It covers essential topics, including how to build trust within a team, what to focus on in the first few months, how to get better results from other people, and how to cope with increased responsibility. It’s a must-read for any new manager.

The Making Of A Manager is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

33. The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit Book Cover
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

As a manager, when a team member is facing a difficult challenge, it’s often tempting to jump in and offer our expertise or advice. In some cases, we may even want to take direct action to resolve the issue on our own. But of course, this approach almost always limits their growth and creates a reliance on us to solve future problems.

The Coaching Habit is about how to help people develop and grow by using a coaching mindset. It covers seven powerful questions that you can use to support others as they take on greater responsibility. And, it provides tips for how you can build a habit around using this approach on a consistent basis.

The Coaching Habit is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

34. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham

First Break All The Rules Book Cover
First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

It can be challenging to identify the best management practices. Many highly effective managers have their own unique approach, and of course, every team is different, and every organization has its own difficulties. So this begs the question, “are there proven methods or practices that can benefit all managers?”

First, Break All The Rules uncovers what the best managers have in common. It’s based on a massive study of over 80,000 managers across many types of organizations, and it included both top-level leaders and front-line supervisors. The insights from the study can help any manager become more effective in their role.

First, Break All The Rules is available from Amazon and Audible.

35. Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

Multipliers Book Cover
Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

At a high level, there are two distinct approaches to managing a team. The first is to focus on being the genius that everyone else turns to when they’re in a bind. And the second is to focus on unlocking the genius that can be found in others.

‘Multipliers’ is about how great managers help everyone around them become smarter, more capable, and more effective as a team. The book provides actionable tips for getting more done with fewer resources, developing and attracting talented people, and achieving superior results through a multiplier mindset.

Multipliers is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

36. Who by Geoff Smart & Randy Street

Who Book Cover
Who: The A Method For Hiring by Geoff Smart & Randy Street

The right hire can take your business to the next level, but the wrong hire can set it back months or even years. Unfortunately, many managers have weak or non-existent hiring methods. They may look up an article regarding good interview questions, but they lack a consistent and reliable process for hiring great people.

‘Who’ introduces “The A Method For Hiring.” It’s a practical and actionable approach that covers how to define the outcomes you want, generate a flow of talented people, and ask the right questions to identify the best candidate for the role. It’s a must-read for anyone making critical hiring decisions.

Who is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

PRODUCTIVITY BOOKS

The Best Productivity Books

It often feels like there isn’t enough time to get everything done. No matter how many tasks we complete, there’s always more to do. So, let’s explore the best productivity books that can help you get more accomplished while freeing up valuable time.

37. The One Thing by Gary Keller

The One Thing Book Cover
The One Thing by Gary Keller

It’s easy to make the mistake of measuring productivity based on how much time we spend working. But, real productivity should be measured by the results we produce, not just the time or energy we invest. Otherwise, we can fall into the trap of working long hours with relatively little to show for it.

The One Thing is about how to increase your results through focus and prioritization. It can help you identify the one thing that you must do on a given day to make everything else in your life easier. So, if your time and energy are being pulled in a million directions and you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is a must-read book for you.

The One Thing is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

38. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Digital Minimalism Book Cover
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Today, we are more distracted than at any other time in human history. Between mobile app notifications, email alerts, and social media updates, it’s getting much harder to make productive use of our time. And, of course, things may get even worse as more and more technology is being designed to be addictive.

Digital Minimalism is about how to be more intentional when using technology. It’s packed with actionable advice for reclaiming time and improving focus. So, if you ever find yourself mindlessly browsing social media, endlessly checking email, or just being disrupted by random notifications, this book can help you take back control.

Digital Minimalism is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

39. Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi

Flow Book Cover
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The issues caused by digital distractions go beyond the time we spend refreshing social media or endlessly checking email. That’s because these quick interactions shorten our attention span and hurt our ability to focus for extended periods. As a result, it’s rarer for us to experience the unique satisfaction that comes from deep, meaningful work.

‘Flow’ popularized the concept of a flow-state, a mental state in which we’re fully immersed in a single challenging activity. The book explains how flow works, how to get into flow, and how flow relates to happiness and productivity.  So, if you want to fight back against the impact of digital distractions and regain the joy of deep and meaningful work, this book can help.

Flow is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

40. Your Brain At Work by David Rock

Your Brain At Work Book Cover
Your Brain At Work by David Rock

Two of the most valuable skills in business today include being able to do creative work and having the ability to collaborate effectively with other people. Unfortunately, many of us are experiencing increasingly high levels of stress. As a result, we’re less creative and are more likely to experience conflict when working with others.

Your Brain At Work explains how to boost creativity, collaboration, and productivity by understanding how the brain works. It’s a very approachable guide to understanding both the strengths and limitations of how our minds operate. And, it provides practical examples of how to adjust the way we work to perform at our best.

Your Brain At Work is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my Your Brain At Work book summary.

41. Who Not How by Dan Sullivan & Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Who Not How Book Cover
Who Not How by Dan Sullivan & Dr. Benjamin Hardy

As entrepreneurs, we often have a limited view of how to improve our productivity. We learn new skills and try to get more done in less time, but we get stuck on the idea that we have to do everything or most things on our own. As a result, every time we pursue a new opportunity, our workload increases, or we have to let something go.

Who Not How is about how to achieve better results through collaboration with others. Rather than always asking, “How can I solve this?” when a new challenge or opportunity arises, this approach is about asking, “Who can help me solve this?” The goal is to tap into the skills, capabilities, and experience of other talented people to achieve more through effective teamwork.

Who Not How is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

SELF-HELP BOOKS

The Best Selfhelp Books

It’s easy to become so immersed in running a business that we neglect personal growth. And yet, developing our abilities is one of the best ways to unlock new opportunities for the future. So, let’s explore 9 of the best self-help books.

42. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits Book Cover
Atomic Habits by James Clear

A common misconception is that setting goals is the key to achieving success in life. But unfortunately, there is a big difference between having ambitious dreams and putting in the time and effort required to make them happen. As a result, many people have goals that are completely disconnected from the reality of their daily routines.

Atomic Habits is about how to create habits that support and contribute to the achievement of your goals. It explains how small changes in your daily routine can help you make consistent progress on even the most ambitious goals. And, while changing a habit isn’t easy, the book provides practical and actionable advice that can help.

Atomic Habits is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

43. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

Mindset Book Cover Web
Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

We often set artificial limitations on our skills and abilities. For example, deep down, we may believe that we will never be good at creative writing, public speaking, or leading other people. In some cases, we reach these conclusions based on one or two attempts that didn’t go as planned and ended in a negative experience.

‘Mindset’ is about how to unlock our full potential by maintaining a growth mindset. Rather than assuming our abilities are static or unalterable, this mindset recognizes that new skills can be developed over time. So, by switching from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, we unlock new options for ourselves and others.

Mindset is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

44. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

So Good They Cant Ignore You Book Cover
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

Many people have the mistaken belief that the key to success and happiness at work is to “follow your passion.” Unfortunately, it’s rare to have an existing passion that relates to a valuable career or business opportunity. And, while many successful people are indeed passionate about what they do, it’s a mistake to assume they started that way. 

So Good They Can’t Ignore You explains that passion is often the result of first mastering a rare and valuable skill. That’s because mastery unlocks opportunities for greater autonomy, competence, and social connections. So, by starting with a rare and valuable skill, you can create the foundation for passion and happiness at work.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

45. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism Book Cover
Essentialism by Greg McKeown

We live in a time of incredible abundance, yet never before have we had our attention pulled in so many different directions. We’re constantly trying to do too much in our personal lives, work lives, and even our social lives. As a result, we can feel both overwhelmed and unsatisfied at the same time.

‘Essentialism’ is about how to gain satisfaction through the disciplined pursuit of less. It’s not about being more efficient or more productive. Instead, it’s about being more intentional about the few things that matter most while eliminating everything else. In short, it’s about doing fewer things better.

Essentialism is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

46. Futureproof by Kevin Roose

Futureproof Book Web
Futureproof by Kevin Roose

Many people understand that artificial intelligence and automation are set to transform the economy. But, few realize that the process is already well underway. Not only are workers being replaced, but less visible is the fact that far fewer are being hired into many roles, compared with in the past. So, it’s essential today to identify the career & business opportunities that are likely to remain relevant.

‘Futureproof’ is about how to thrive in a world that is increasingly dominated by machines. It makes the case that the key to a happy, rewarding life in the age of automation is not competing with machines but rather strengthening our uniquely human skills. In other words, ensuring that we’re equipped to do things machines can’t.

Futureproof is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

47. Ultralearning by Scott H. Young

Ultralearning Book Cover
Ultralearning by Scott H. Young.

Many of the best and most rewarding opportunities in life require that we master new skills. But of course, developing an entirely new skill from scratch is very difficult and time-consuming. As a result, few people make the effort, even if it means staying locked in a dead-end job or sticking with hobbies that have outlived their passion.

‘Ultralearning’ is about how to rapidly acquire new skills, abilities, and knowledge. It covers nine powerful principles that you can use to learn almost anything faster and more effectively. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, start a new hobby, or even unlock new career or business opportunities, this book can help.

Ultralearning is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

48. Chatter by Ethan Kross

Chatter Book Web
Chatter by Ethan Kross

We all have an inner voice that we can use to evaluate our actions, learn from past mistakes, and better prepare for the future. Unfortunately, all too often, this voice turns into a steady stream of negative thoughts and emotions. And, rather than help us improve, it can hold us back by causing rumination, anxiety, and even self-sabotage.

‘Chatter’ is about how to tame and properly harness your inner voice. It covers practical tips for enjoying the many benefits of self-reflection and introspection, while greatly reducing unproductive and negative self-talk. So, if you have a harsh inner critic that is stifling your growth or holding you back in life, this book can help.

Chatter is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

49. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast And Slow Book Web
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Few people appreciate just how often their choices and behaviors are influenced by factors that are invisible to them. We like to believe that we are in control or, at the very least, that we understand the key ingredients that make up our many choices in life. Yet, the truth is that we can easily be influenced or manipulated in many different ways.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is about how we process information and make decisions in everyday life. It explains the two distinct systems that we use while thinking and the many surprising factors and biases that influence our choices. So, if you want to dive deep into the details of how your mind works, this is the book for you.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

50. Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss

Never Split The Difference Book Cover
Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss.

There are many times in life where we want something from somebody else and the only way to get it is to negotiate a deal.  For example, when buying a home, asking for a raise, or doing a business deal. Unfortunately, many people either don’t know how to negotiate or are just very uncomfortable with the process.

Never Split The Difference explains how to properly negotiate for the things you want in life. It covers nine proven principles that can help you be more persuasive in both personal and professional situations. And, contrary to what you might expect, many of the tools can be used without burning bridges or hurting relationships.

Never Split The Difference is available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books.

Beyond The 50 Best Business Books

The 50 Best Business Books

Naturally, many great business books didn’t make it onto this list. If you want to discover other great reads that relate to business or entrepreneurship, bookmark RickKettner.com. That’s where I publish new book summaries and reading lists.

You can also subscribe to The Rick Kettner YouTube Channel or The Rick Kettner Podcast to get updates about future book summaries and reading lists.

Rick Kettner

Rick is an avid reader and lifelong entrepreneur. He co-founded popular online music education platforms including Drumeo, Pianote, and Guitareo. He now spends much of his time sharing tips on business strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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