35 Must-read Powerful Business Books For CEO/ Entrepreneurs

A large chunk of what and who we are is a reflection of what we read and see. If you are going to build a successful business, a good place to start is to have the right mindset. Reading good business books helps you stretch your mind and puts you ahead of the curve, based on experiences of people and places contained in the written text. If you want to build the right mindset to create a successful startup, these books come highly recommended:

1. The Hard Thing About Hard by Ben Horowitz: Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced entrepreneurs. The hard things about hard things is a comprehensive summary of his experiences. The book contains practical, straight to point wisdom for managing the toughest startup problems.

2. Leading at the Speed of Growth by Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews: In this book, Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews guide you through the three stages of entrepreneurial growth: initial growth, rapid growth, and continuous growth using stories of over 500 successful entrepreneurs.

3. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Kerry Patterson and Al Switzler: This short book gives you the tools you need to step up to life’s difficult conversations. It teaches entrepreneurs how to communicate when it matters most. Although the book is not an easy read, it is worth the trouble because of the many pearls of wisdom contained.

4. Crucial Accountability by Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Kerry Patterson and Al Switzler: This book, a follow-on from Crucial Conversations, teaches how to hold people accountable, master performance discussion and get results.

5. Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders by David Marquet: David Marquet proposes a contrarian idea about leadership in this book. “Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers,” he said. David Marquet who was an experienced Navy officer told a story of how he used this philosophy to turn things around on ship dogged by poor morale, poor performance, and the worst retention in the fleet.

6. Good to Great by James C. Collins: This book is a business classic. It contains time-tested nuggets. Specifically, the idea that you shouldn’t focus so much on strategy but the team. If you find the right people and bring them on board, the right strategy will develop, he says.

7. High Output Management by Andrew Grove: Andy Grove was the former Chairman and CEO of Intel and he dives into what he has learned about management techniques over the years. The book integrates both the production (factory) and management (people) models essential to any business activity, no matter how “ethereal”.

8. Getting Things Done by David Allen: In this book, David Allen teaches a method to model your task system and get much done without the stress that comes along with having that much to do. The key is to build a system that captures every task. Such that you don’t have to worry about loose ends.

9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: One of the most read books of 2015. This book helps you understand what goes into creating the habits that we build. Developing a better understanding of human psychology is crucial to building good products, leading and managing a team, and improving yourself to your full potential.

10. Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler: Sales is a core part of any business. Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler of Salesforce.com teaches how to use the outbound sales process that, in just a few years, helped add $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce.com.

11. The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon: The Challenger Sale is a counter-intuitive exploration of how the best salespeople close deals. It turns out that according to the data, the best salespeople aren’t relationship-driven, but challengers. They learn to push back and challenge the beliefs of the people they’re selling to, and end up with much higher deals and loyalty because of it.

12. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: There’s more to telling people the facts if you want them to remember you and your idea. The key is storytelling. Get better at storytelling. It’ll be useful when you pitch investors, journalists, new hires, and continue to communicate the vision to current employees.

13. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris: So many entrepreneurs read this book and then started their companies. Tim Ferriss argues sagely for starting your own business and taking control over your own life. His tips on outsourcing and validating ideas are crucial for any entrepreneur.

14. Who: The ‘A’ Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street: ‘Who’ lays out a simple, easy -to-follow formula for finding, interviewing, and hiring great talent. Every entrepreneur should be the #1 recruiter at their company until you’re at least 150 employees. This book teaches how to do recruiting right.

15. Just Listen by Mark Goulston: The one critical function of the CEO is to be the chief psychologist of your employees, says Mark Suster, and active listening gets you most of the way there. Just Listen is a great book on active listening. Techniques in this book help entrepreneurs identify and deal with conflict.

16. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: One of the all-time best business books. Dale Carnegie’s advice is timeless and the stories are memorable.

17. Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun: Good, practical, and entertaining advice about public speaking. As an entrepreneur whose job is to sell ideas, life becomes a lot difficult without public speaking comfortably in you skill set. Tips and stories from this book set you off on ways to master the art of public speaking.

18. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds: Between investors, the press, new employees, there is a numbing amount of idea pitches and presentations an entrepreneur would give. Slides are an important way for entrepreneurs make their presentations. This gorgeous read teaches how to do it the right way.

19. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy: A candid book from one of the legendary advertising mastermind. The book gives classic examples of famous advertisements. Great to get a sense of how marketing has evolved over the last few decades and lays out what would become the basic principles of modern advertising.

20. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh: Tony Hsieh lays out the basic philosophy and culture that made Zappos one of the most successful online retailers of all time. Zappos started as an online shoe store, one of literally hundreds, and grew by providing an unmatched customer experience. This book teaches how to stand out in a crowd.

21. Writing That Works by Joel Raphaelson and Kenneth Roman: Good, clear communication is important. Even more so when the future of a company is involved. This book teaches tips on sending better emails, delivering better updates, and getting more done with a team.

22. Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson: Venture Deals is one of the most comprehensive books teaching everything entrepreneurs need to know on how to work with investors and lawyers during the fundraising process. Read this when considering a round.

23. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen: n this classic business book, Clayton Christensen explains why small startups are able to disrupt huge industries despite not having the resources. This book underlines what makes big companies weak and how startups can win.

24. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries: Eric Ries’ book is one of the holy grails of entrepreneurship. The book popularised such ideas as lean, MVP, product-market fit, and validated learning. This book teaches entrepreneurs to save time and energy while building a product. The book draws heavily on Eric’s personal experiences.

25. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro: Robert Moses packed an incredible amount of achievement into his lifetime more than anyone else. Though he was never elected to public office, he built 13 bridges, 416 miles of parkways, 658 playgrounds, and 150,000 housing units in New York. The Power Broker is a story of resourcefulness and a good read for anyone interested in creating significant change, especially in contexts that are resistant to change.

26. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: This Ayn Rand’s masterpiece has influenced people to do amazing things. It’s one of Travis Kalanick’s (CEO of Uber) favourite books. This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world and did.

27. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger: Letter from a stoic is a collection of letters from Seneca written over 2,000 years ago. A lot of its thinking is becoming popular again today around the areas of minimalism, mindfulness, and intentionality. If you’re looking for meaning in your life, this is a great place to start.

28. Essentialism by Greg McKeown: A great book about doing more with less. In this book, Greg McKeown helps marry the philosophy of minimalism with the demands of contemporary life. Highly recommended if you constantly find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or a persistent fear of missing out.

29. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin: This book catalogs Ben Franklin’s story from him hopping on a boat and heading to the US with barely enough money for three loaves of bread. From that humble start, he went on to build dozens of businesses and invention. This account of his own life spotlights the rich enterprise and innovative side of a politician.

30. Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull: This book contains valuable insights about what creates, drives and sustains an innovative culture. Its content compels a company to attempt what no other company has done.

31. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough: This is an inspiring story of the brothers who invented the airplane and brought on the age of air travel. This book underlines the brothers’ incredible determination and willpower in the face of deficient education and financial backing.

32. Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy: To succeed as a business person, you have to know how to manage your time. To do more in the length of time. That’s what this book will teach you.

33. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: Great men and women are beneficiaries of specialization, collaboration, time, place, and culture, says Malcolm Gladwell. An outlier’s recipe for success is not personal mythos but the synthesis of opportunity and time on task. Malcolm shares ideas on how great leaders are made by their underlings and aligned forces of the universe.

34. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard: This book helps you completely rethink your management style, especially with remote workers. All the principles that the author describes are critical for successfully running a remote company: encouraging employees to think on their own, refraining from micromanaging, giving praise and quickly correcting problems.

35. Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras: This book is a product of a six-year research project that sought to understand what makes enduring great companies. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras shared their finding in this book with examples based on true-life stories and validated with research data.

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