There are a million business and self-help books on the shelves, so why these?
Because these are all written for – and about – YOU.
I read an average of 2-3 business books a week on topics ranging from management and leadership to teamwork and innovation. But the books on this list are designed and dedicated to help you become the best “you” you can be. They will help you find your passion, figure out what makes you tick, conquer your fears, and spur you to action. They’ll help you to get focused, become committed, and devise some powerful and innovative ways to help you maximize your Performance, Productivity, and Potential (what I call the “Three Ps”).
Yes, I know you’re busy working. Or looking for work. And you’re exhausted. And it’s so much easier and probably more fun to just settle in on the couch with Netflix, but if you’re really serious about making a change, and taking your career – and your life – to a whole new level, think about the potential ROI (Return on Investment) that any one of these $15 books and a few hours of your time could potentially bring.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey)
When people ask, “What’s the ONE book I should read to become more effective and productive?” this timeless classic is the one. At the very least, even if you don’t choose to read the whole book cover-to-cover, everyone should at least know what those seven habits are. (Tip: For your convenience, here they are.)
- 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done (Peter Bregman)
If time management, prioritization, and personal productivity are a challenge, this new book by my friend, and master storyteller, Peter Bregman, will help you get your life on track and start producing results. (Tip 1: See the Bregman Box on page 118; Tip 2: Watch his TED talks).
- Art of Possibility, The: Transforming Professional and Personal Life (Rosamund & Benjamin Zander)
Indescribably brilliant and inspirational storytelling by this husband and wife team. (Tip: Watch his famous TED Talks.)
- Element, The: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Dr. Ken Robinson)
When who you are and What you do are in alignment and harmony, you are “in your Element.” This book will help you get there. (Tip: This RSA animated video is a true classic.)
- How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
This, the first-ever “self-help” book, is the one that started it all. Written in 1936, this book has, literally, changed millions of lives worldwide. Now it’s your turn. The title says it all.
- Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway (Susan Jeffers)
In many instances, we are our own worst enemy. If you can use a confidence boost, this bestselling book will do the trick.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen)
If you are simply looking for a straight-forward, no-frills, systems-based approach to get yourself organized, get yourself moving, and start getting things done, this is the number one book out there on the subject. (Tip: Tons of tools on his GTD website.)
- Power of Habit, The: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business (Charles Duhigg)
Whether trying to break an old habit or start a new one, this book will help you transform yourself into the person you would like to be through gaining a better understanding of how habits work…and what it takes to change them.
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable (Seth Godin)
I absolutely LOVE this book by one of my all-time favorite thought-leaders. In today’s working world, we need to consistently find ways to add value and stand out in a crowd. This brilliant book will inspire you to overcome your “lizard brain” and create your own path to success. (Tip: You MUST subscribe to his daily blog today. I guarantee it will quickly and radically change the way you see the world.)
- One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (Mike Figliuolo)
What if you could capture, on a single sheet of paper, your own personal guide to leading yourself, leading the thinking, leading others, and leading a balanced life? This creative and interactive book will help you do just that! (Tip: Subscribe to his excellent Thought Leaders blog. Full/proud disclosure: My “leadership self-awareness” guest post made their 2012 top 10 list!)
- ReWork (Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson)
Like Godin’s “Linchpin,” this book cuts through the crap and tells it like it is. Written with humor, attitude, and artistry, these guys really tell it like it is and get you to look at the working world in fresh new ways.
- Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead (Nancy Ancowitz)
With introverts making up half the population (including myself), this practical and inspirational guidebook by a friend and fellow NYU professor helps and encourages introverts to leverage their strengths and achieve success.
- You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference (Mark Sanborn)
This quick-and-easy-to-read, 100-page book will encourage and inspire you to step up to leadership – regardless of your role, position, or title. I love this powerful little book and re-read it all the time.
So that’s it. Again, there are a lot of other great resources out there, but this list of personal favorites will give you a running start. So just pick ONE and dive right in. Maybe you even have some of these books already piled up on your nightstand gathering dust, or sitting on your bookshelf like a trophy. But BUYING the book with the best of intentions – as so many people do – is not enough. You need to actually READ it. And don’t just skim through it: DEVOUR it! Interact with it. Absorb it. Make it your own. Here are a just a few ways how:
- Highlight things you find interesting with a neon highlighter
- Underline things you find interesting with a red pen
- Make notes in the margins when you’re reminded of something
- Use post-it notes to mark the pages you want to go back to later
Find a blank page in the front or back and write down a list of Action Items – things you are actually going to DO! As I have people do at the end of every one of my workshops, think in terms of “Insights, Actions, & Outcomes”: What did you take away (Insights); What are you going to do (Actions); and what results do you expect to achieve (Outcomes), if you actually make the commitment and follow through.
I hope that you will pick up just one of these books, and let it be the spark that ignites your passion, and helps you to light the world on fire.