Books on MBA’s Required Reading List

The written word—be it in the form of a paperback, a hardbound book or E-book—can leave a lasting imprint on a person’s development.

If you’re looking to better yourself as a professional, needing some business inspiration, or just want to dive into a good read during your commute to work—have a look at our top picks for 2016’s must-read business books, and enjoy the personal development.

To help you narrow down your search for the best business books out there, we combed through a plethora of online syllabi from Harvard Business School. Much to my surprise, most of the books centered around leadership rather than economics, marketing, or general business best practices. It really does take a fearless leader to build a truly remarkable organization.


There’s no shortage of books for entrepreneurs. How to make something from nothing, how to motivate your team, unleash your inner leader, blah, blah, blah. When you’re embarking on a new venture, why not find out what books some of the world’s most innovative and successful people found inspiring on their journey. Let’s take a peek at what’s on their night stands.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

Famous reader: Elon Musk. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder, PayPal co-founder and Internet tycoon looks to one of America’s founding fathers for good business sense.

Inventor, business owner, diplomat, writer, and revolutionary – Benjamin Franklin did it all, and then he wrote about it. In his autobiography, he shares amazing ideas about organization, talking to people, generating trust and building an audience.

Who better to learn about organization than from a man who helped America organize before and during the Revolutionary War, founded the Post Office and invented dozens of gadgets we still use today? Ben was truly ahead of his time.


Life by Keith Richards

Famous reader: John Gerzema. New York Times Best Selling author, social strategist and leadership consultant learned a lot about getting by in business from rock legend Keith Richards, including tapping into creativity and perseverance.

Imagine Keith Richards speaking at your corporate retreat. Well, if you filter out the drugs, groupies and trashed hotel rooms, Richard’s autobiography, Life, has some very valuable business lessons—from dealing with longstanding partner conflict (e.g. Mick Jagger), how to create the right conditions for creativity (recording Exile on Main Street the basement of his house rather than a studio) and how to innovate around an existing product (Keith discovered open G tuning using only 5 strings, which gives the Stones their unique sound).

True, the book has more discussion about roadies than revenue forecasting, but it’s a remarkable story of endurance in the pursuit of creativity, which isn’t easy in any business.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Famous reader: Evan Williams. Co-founder of two of the internet’s top ten websites, Twitter and Odeo, picks up the second, lesser-know book by Ayn Rand is a true testimony to tenancity.

Ayn Rand is better known for her impressive tome, Atlas Shrugged, but readers may find this shorter novel to be an easier introduction into the author’s controversial blend of individualism and capitalism.

This story of Howard Roark the architect and his battle against the conformist powers of society could be seen as autobiographical. In the same way that Roark struggles against rejection to maintain his individual outlook on architecture, Rand struggled to publish the book after no less than 12 publisher rejections. In 2010, Business Insider added it to their top 15 reading list for entrepreneurs.

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh

Famous reader: Jack Dorsey. The CEO of Twitter and Square, looks to football legend Bill Walsh for inspiration.

Bill Walsh is a towering figure in the history of the NFL. His advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise in sports to a legendary dynasty. In the process, he changed the way football is played.

Prior to his death, Walsh granted a series of exclusive interviews to bestselling author Steve Jamison. These became his ultimate lecture on leadership. Additional insights and perspective are provided by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and others.

Bill Walsh taught that the requirements of successful leadership are the same whether you run an NFL franchise, a fortune 500 company, or a hardware store with 12 employees. These final words of ‘wisdom by Walsh’ will inspire, inform, and enlighten leaders in all professions.

I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss

Famous reader: Tony Hsieh. The Zappos CEO and founder recommends this book as one of his favorites.

Since the book‘s forward was written by former Southwest Airlines President Colleen Barrett, it’s not surprising that the focus centers around customer service without excluding either money or fun.

Company examples include AAA, Costco, and Symantec, former author workplaces. The first chapter begins with a Connecticut store that allows test rides on its $6,000 bikes, and the last chapter ends with a Netflix apology. The book’s placement on 800CeoRead may have to do with the message of rallying a tribe of impassioned and influential fans, or it may be due to Harley-Davidson and Zappos examples of outstanding customer centricity and loyalty. Either way, it’s readable and thought-provoking.


The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz

Famous reader: Guy Kawasaki. Apple evangelist and social media legend recommends this book that celebrates ordinary people building extraordianary businesses.

Michalowicz, also known for his other best-seller The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, approaches business with the eye of a pumpkin farmer in The Pumpkin Plan. To get beyond the ‘sell it – do it’ cycle of frustration, entrepreneurs can move beyond long pointless hours with a few methods: plant, weed, nurture.

Focusing on the good pumpkins, and casting out the bad, allows business owners to harness the true strength of their business: the best customers. Pass over quantity for quality, and find the business’s sweet spot.

Wishcraft by Barbara Sher with Annie Gottlieb

Famous reader: Jen Smith of Millionaire Mommy Next Door cites this book as life changing in her pursuit of success.

Jen Smith first read this book after dropping out of college in the mid-1980s. She was serving coffee to homeless customers, working the graveyard shift at Dunkin Donuts, and freaking out over the realization that she was one paycheck away from being homeless.

Wishcraft was her ticket out of hell and into an inspired life. Now in her mid-40s, she’s bootstrapped six small businesses, enjoys a net worth of over a million dollars, and is living the life of her dreams. Her yellowed, copyright 1979 paperback of Wishcraft sits readily available on her bookcase to this day, ready to help her visualize her next dream and craft a plan.

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World (An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Childen) by John Wood

Famous reader: Tim Ferriss. The start-up angel investor (Twitter, Posterous, RescueTime), blogger and entrepreneur, applauds the follow-your-heart mantra of this read.

Wood has been compared to two influential Carnegie’s – Dale and Andrew – in two different categories. The author clearly shows the influence of Dale Carnegie’s class (author of classic business book list addition How to Win Friends and Influence People) in his approach to people. At the same time, his deep business insights have led to the San Francisco Chronicle’s assessment of John Wood as the spirit of Andrew Carnegie let loose in third world countries, according to

This is the story of Wood’s rejection of the corporate for the developing world, via the startup of a non-profit designed to inspire the love of reading in children.

Whether you download, check out, or hit the bookstore, add a couple of these reads to your night table, and let sweet dreams fuel your venture.

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

This book explains how and why becoming a genuine leader is possible for anyone and everyone. True North is based on research and first-person interviews with 125 of today’s top leaders. In this book, former Medtronic CEO Bill George shares the wisdom for being an authentic leader by outlining five key steps: 1) knowing your authentic self; 2) defining your values and leadership principles; 3) understanding your motivations; 4) building your support team; and 5) staying grounded by integrating all aspects of your life.

Talent on Demand

Peter Cappelli wrote this book to examine common talent management issues. It includes a slew of supply chain company examples and reveals four management principles for ensuring that your employees have the skills they need, exactly when they need them. After reading this book, you’ll know how to balance developing talent in-house with hiring external employees, improve the accuracy of your talent-need forecasts, maximize productivity of your employees, and replicate an external job board by creating an internal one for current employees.

The Money of Invention: How Venture Capital Creates New Wealth

This practical guide is written by two industry experts (Paul A. Gompers and Josh Lerner) about the problems entrepreneurs encounter when securing financing, and how the venture capital model can help businesspeople to resolve those issues. It also includes details on how corporations, government institutions and non-profits can (and should) harness the power of the venture capital model when applying it in their own industries. Whether your industry is riding the way of massive growth or holding on during an economic slowdown, this book is a tactical guide for leveraging venture captial to begin or grow your business.

 Many Unhappy Returns: One Man’s Quest To Turn Around The Most Unpopular Organization In America

In 1997, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had the largest customer base in America — but also the lowest approval rating of any government agency. At the time, congressional hearings revealed that IRS agents were being pressured to meet quotas for back taxes and penalties. Some agents admitted anonymously that, in order to hit these quotas, tax collectors would squeeze taxpayers for money they didn’t really owe. Charles O. Rossotti became commissioner of the IRS in 1997 and was tasked with rebuilding the organization. He was the first businessperson to head the IRS, and in this book, he tells the remarkable story of leadership and transformation of this organization.

 The Arc of Ambition: Defining the Leadership Journey

Can you guess what separates the average from from the hugely successful? Two internationally renowned management experts (Jim Champy and Nitin Nohria) say the key ingredient is ambition. Their book The Arc of Ambition is a practical guide to harnessing your personal and professional ambition and leaving a legacy of accomplishment. It details examples from dozens of modern and also historical successful people from a multitude of industries.

Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

I’ve gotta come clean and reveal this book wasn’t actually on any of the syllabi I researched. But case studies about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz were basically plastered all over them, which is why I’m including this in here. Schultz an exceptional and highly respected leader, and his book details one of the most triumphant business stories in decades. Starbucks started as a single coffee shop in Seattle and has grown into a worldwide corporation. In the book, Schultz illustratres the founding principles that defined Starbucks and shares the wisdom he’s learned along the way.

 Unleasing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry

Unleashing Innovation tells the inside story of one of the most successful innovation turnarounds in American history, including reducing margins while also expanding internationally. Nancy Tennant Snyder is VP of innovation and margin realization at Whirlpool and the author of this book. In it, she reveals how Whirlpool undertook one of the largest change efforts in the company’s history. It demonstrates how transformation and innovation became a core component of the organization, which ultimately lead to bottom-line results.

 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Why do some ideas thrive while others seem like they never even had a chance to survive? And how the heck can we boost ideas to give them a fighting chance? In this book, written by accomplished educators and brothers Chip and Dan Heath, they tackle head-on perplexing questions related to how ideas take off. Research is revealed to explain ways to make ideas stickier.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

This book is based on a study of more than 150 strategic moves, including companies that have spanned more than a hundred years and thirty industries. Authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne attempt to persuade readers that building a true successful business comes from creating “blue oceans,” i.e. untapped new markets that are hyper-ripe from growth. More than one million copies of this business book have sold world wide, and it’s a “must-read” for business readers.

 Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

In Scaling Up Excellence, bestselling author Robert Sutton and Stanford colleague Huggy Rao tackle a challenge every growing organization faces at one time of another: scaling. It’s about building your company larger,  faster, and more efficiently than ever before.  Sutton and Rao devoted nearly ten years of researching to uncovering what it takes to build employees for exemplary performance and keep recharging organizations with ever better workplaces. This book features both case studies and academic research from a wealth of industries, including startups, pharmaceuticals, retail, financial services, high-tech, education, non-profits, government, and healthcare.

Data Science for Business

Written by two world-renowned data science experts Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett, this book explains the foundational principles of data science. Step-by-step, it walks readers through the “data-analytic thinking” necessary for extracting real business value from the any data an organization collects. You can use it as a guide to understand the many data-mining techniques in use today. It’s based on an MBA course one of the authors taught at New York University for over a decade, and is chock-full of real-world business problems.


Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robort Sutton and Huggy Rao

“A great read that provides read, practical advice whether you’re a team of five or fifty thousand.”
–– Lazlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations, Google

In Scaling Up Excellence, bestselling author, Robert Sutton and Stanford colleague, Huggy Rao Sutton offer a comprehensive guide to management in a package of enticing stories, subtly supported by references to high-end research.

Their personal history in the Silicon Valley and their global access to interesting organizations provides a relevant backdrop.

The main theme is that, while many good practices exist in organizations, they either get lost or there are difficulties when attempts are made to spread them (scale them) across the organization.

The breadth of this theme means that this book will provide value to anyone who would like to see organizations improve. The benefits are not limited by industry, functional area or organizational size.


What books do alumni from the Stanford Graduate School of Business recommend? Here’s one:

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie

“It was written by a guy who made Hallmark cards. It’s about maintaining creativity in a corporate structure.”
–– Tristan Walker, founder of Walker & Company

Any business can morph into a giant hairball, a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions, and systems based on what worked in the past that can plunge it into mediocrity.

Gordon MacKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years. Much at that time he worked hard to get his collegues to go into “orbit”, to a mode of dreaming, daring and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set.

In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full color, he shares the story of his own professional evolution, together with lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius.

Originally self-published and already a business “cult classic”, this personally empowering and entertaining book explores the intersection between human creativity and the bottom line.

A must-read for any manager looking for new ways to invigorate employees, and any professional who wants to achieve his or her best, most self-expressive, most creative and fulfilling work.

Related Article: Inspiration Awaits: 5 Influential Business Books You Need to Read


The syllabus for Managerial Decision Making at the Tuck School for Business at Dartmouth includes this unexpected yet captivating read:

Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

“One of the best baseball, and management, books out…. Deserves a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.” ― Forbes

Discover the compelling story of the low-budget Oakland A’s and their unorthodox general manager, Billy Beane as they use statistics and the scientific method to succeed against teams with much larger payrolls.

This is a book that can be appreciated from so many different angles.

For fans of baseball the allure is obvious. For fans of statistics, this book offers amazing insight into how numbers can be employed in real life with very powerful and very real results.

For fans of human nature, this book offers a great look at how mistakes can be repeated and then perpetuated until someone with a strong mind and a stronger will comes along to break the cycle.

And for fans of character-driven stories, Moneyball hits it out of the park.

Related Article: The Most Inspiring Books for Small Business Owners


What’s on tap at the Samuel Curtis Johnson
 Graduate School of Management at Cornell

When Genius Failed:  The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstien

The story of The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management is a compelling one not only for people interested in finance, but for anyone fascinated by the spectacle of very smart people losing enormous sums of money.

Lowenstein’s book makes this story accessible by glossing over some of the technical details, a tradeoff of readability for depth, but still provides insight into the causes of LTCM’s collapse.

In this business classic, now with a new afterword in which the author draws parallels to the recent financial crisis, Lowenstein captures the gripping roller-coaster ride of Long-Term Capital Management.

Drawing on confidential internal memos and interviews with dozens of key players, Lowenstein explains not just how the fund made and lost its money but also how the personalities of Long-Term’s partners, the arrogance of their mathematical certainties, and the culture of Wall Street itself contributed to both their rise and their fall.

Related Article: A Gift Worth Opening: The 10 Best Business Books for 2016


In the course, Mastering Influence and Persuasion at Yale School of Management this read was on the syllabus.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Influence should be required reading for all business majors.”  –– Journal of Retailing

Influence has established itself as the most important book on persuasion ever published. This book explains the psychology of why people say, yes and how to apply these findings to others and your own life.

Distinguished psychologist, Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D., explains why some people are remarkably persuasive and how you can beat them at their own game.

This indispensable book guarantees you’ll never again say, yes when you really mean, no, and how to make yourself into your most influential self.

Most books of applied psychology fall prey to one of two weaknesses: Either they lack scientific content (or over-simplify) or they present solid information in an academic manner that readers find difficult to absorb and apply.

Robert Cialdini’s book stands out brilliantly from these books.


Throughout 2014, we asked Stanford GSB alumni to share the best business books they have read. Check out their selections:

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

By Gay Hendricks

“It’s great if you are thinking of starting a business but you are scared.”

Vanessa Loder (MBA ’07), cofounder of Mindfulness Based Achievement

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“People frequently misunderstand data and patterns. You may not be able to control the outcome of a decision but you can control the decision. What matters is the integrity of the process.”

Eric Baker (MBA ’01), founder of Viagogo

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

By Susan Cain

“I have strong extrovert tendencies. My cofounder Jennifer is a strong introvert. The book helped me appreciate the way she needs to take time to think and turn things over in her mind.”

Christine Su (MBA ’15), cofounder and CEO of Summer Technologies

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

By Gordon MacKenzie

“It was written by a guy who made Hallmark cards. It’s about maintaining creativity in a corporate structure.”

Tristan Walker (MBA ’10), founder of Walker & Company

War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

“The most profound business education moment I had was as a senior at Stanford undergrad in Organizational Leadership. We read Don Quixote and War and Peace. I was so grateful for that class. The professor tied business and leadership to life. What I remember about War and Peace 20 years later is that characters who seem important can disappear at a drop of a hat. Likewise, someone who seems unimportant sticks around for 700 pages. Life is that way.”

Gina Bianchini (MBA ’00), founder of Mightybell

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

By Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius

“I read it during an internship I took on a hazelnut farm in Bhutan. It explains the neuroscience of meditation, how it expands the workspace of consciousness of the mind. Basically, it develops the neurons in the frontal cortex, which allows it to control and overrun the lizard part of your brain, which is the id, or ‘monkey brain.’”

Christine Su (MBA ’15), cofounder and CEO of Summer Technologies

First Nights: Five Musical Premiers

By Thomas Forrest Kelly

“The book tells of the first performances of important pieces of music; for instance, Handel’s Messiah. It provides a context to help you understand the genius of each of the composers. How does that relate to business? Because it demonstrates that genius should be seen through the context of time and place. The question is, if those people had been born in a different era, what would they have achieved? How can you do something special in your life right now, with your personal dynamics at play?”

Jeff Barnett (MBA ’95), cofounding partner of Dorsal Capital

 Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

If you’re interested in how the mind of a revolutionary genius works, then pick up this book. Technology writer Ashlee Vance depicts the life and inner workings of Elon Musk- founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX- and in the process, speaks to the idea of innovation in the modern era. Musk, the subject of a true “rags to riches” story, will arguably have one of the biggest impacts on the future of this planet. You’d be wise to learn a thing or two from this man.


You may know Sophia Amoruso as the CEO of a $250-million+ fashion retailer site called Nasty Gal. But before she built her online empire, Amoruso spent her young-adult life hitchhiking, hungry, and shoplifting. Obviously much has changed since then, and she wrote a book for everyone who can identify with being an outsider or who marches to beat of their own drum. Throughout the book, Amoruso talks about trusting your gut and following the rules only when need be.

Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything

No man is an island right? This book, written by Lior Zoref, explores the idea of collective intelligence and how tapping into your network can yield more positive results than relying on your own limited knowledge and abilities. According to Zoref, the power of mind sharing can progress both our personal and professional lives.

The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun, It’s Not Worth Doing

Y’all know that if Branson wrote the book, it’s bound to be a good read. The Virgin Group leader, who dropped out of school at the age of 16, shares with us how he has built a global empire over the span of forty years, and how his peculiar style of leadership and business relationships has got him there.

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

The title of this book alone should draw every entrepreneur to its pages. Kevin Ashton, the man who first coined the term “The Internet of Things” demystifies the act of innovation and reveals the who, the why, and the how behind some of the greatest creations of this century. Ashton provides hope and insight to the reader, showing that creating something new in the modern era is still possible.

The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change

For those of you who believe that only way to truly have a sustainable business is to build one that is centered on social improvement, then check out this novel. Adam Braun, the founder of the Pencils of Promise, walks the reader through his professional journey and explains how he turned $25 into 200 schools across the globe. Braun had a fledgling Wall-Street career in his early 20s, but his life was forever altered by an interaction he had while traveling in India and he left that realm to truly change the world around him. All proceeds from this publication will support his organization.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants  

The number #1 bestselling author and innovative thinker is back. Like his other books, David and Goliath is a combination of psychology, history, and beautiful prose that wonderfully challenges the way we think. This time Malcolm Gladwell argues a new interpretation of what it means to deal with obstacles and suffering- and, of course, offers a new way to perceive our environment.

Coined: The Rich Life of Money and How Its History Has Shaped Us

Want a book that’s already been praised by business mogul Richard Branson and former president Bill Clinton? You’re in luck. In this literary piece, author Kabir Sehgal walks the reader through a historical and economical journey and reveals the relationship between money and humankind in the process.

Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Laszlo Bock, the head of the Google’s “People Operations”, draws on the latest research in behavioral economics to teach all business owners and managers the importance of hiring the right talent, relying on data, and leading a group of employees to success. Bock contrasts stories of terrible working environments with insights into the inner workings of Silicon’s most successful companies. If you think your company culture and overall moral both need a serious boost, pick up Bock’s instruction manual.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

In this book, General Stanley McChrystal writes about the skills he used to lead his machine of men and women, The Task Force, to fight Al Queda. Instead of following conventional wisdom, McChrystal changed the nature and interaction of his team: implanting transparent communication, decentralizing decision making, and flattening the hierarchy. His “new rules” resulted in a small organization that was able to triumph. General McChrystal translates these guidelines to the business world and argues that the key to a successful organization is to give groups the freedom to experiment alongside good communication pathways between every level.


Let’s Get Started

I hope you’re pumped to start reading. Here are 10 books I believe are must-reads for entrepreneurs.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937) by Dale Carnegie

This book may be old (and the oldest book on this list by nearly 50 years), but many of its ideas are timeless. Carnegie’s book was one of the first best-selling self-help books and has sold over 15 million copies today.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is broken into different sections based on subject and offers advice on human relations. While some of his lessons may appear obvious, this book provides relevant insights on how to make people like you more and how to convince people to change their habits or thinking to be more in line with yours.

The 4-Hour Workweek (2007) by Tim Ferriss

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t offer advice on how to work only four hours a week and make a living. Without a lot of initial capital or extraordinary circumstances, you’re going to have to work more regular hours like the rest of the population.

What The 4-Hour Workweek does offer, however, is sound advice for the modern era. Some of Ferriss’ most important lessons are cutting back information intake to better focus on your work, a concrete example that Ferriss offers is checking email only twice a day, and how conquering fear can be beneficial to efficiency in the workplace.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (1995) by Michael E. Gerber

The E-Myth was first published in 1985 before being revisited a decade later, and it is regularly included in many best business books lists, including this one. Gerber primarily investigates the entrepreneurial (“E”) myth: that entrepreneurs use technical expertise to build their business.

Gerber instead suggests that successful businesses come from entrepreneurial techniques unrelated to technical skill. Regardless of whether he is right on that point, The E-Myth Revisited offers sound advice on the mentality an entrepreneur needs in order to create a successful business and details the steps a businesses should take to flourish.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers (2014) by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of the most experienced entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, shares his experience and advice in his business book The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

Using anecdotes from his own career, Horowitz talks about how to do everything from demoting a friend to how to handle promotions or bad employees. Taking a straightforward tone laced with humor, Horowitz’s book is an enjoyable read that also gives great insight to aspiring entrepreneurs and veterans alike.

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) by Stephen Covey

A best-selling self-help and business book that has been translated into 34 languages, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People details the, you guessed it, seven elements that make a successful individual.

The steps are broken into three sections: dependence, independence, and interdependence, and the lessons range from how to be proactive and take steps one at a time to how to engage other people by finding win/win situations and understanding others first.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future (2012) by Chris Guillebeau

This book is a great read for anyone looking to start a small business. For The $100 Startup, Guillebeau created a list of 1,500 individuals with self-built businesses that started on a modest budget and later turned at least $50,000 in annual profits, and from that pool, Guillebeau focused on 50 for the book itself.

He details their trials and errors as they grew their business from the ground up, and through these anecdotes reveals what it takes to build a startup in different countries all over the world.

 Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever (2010) by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Hansson and Fried challenge the way businesses can be successful in their book Rework. The two are the founders of 37signals, a successful software company that has defied conventional business models for over 15 years.

Their book shares the secrets behind their own success and details why long-term plans are harmful, why businesses don’t need outside investors and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. While initially sounding counterintuitive, the more you read the more these two make a strange kind of sense.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (2014) by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal and Palantir, shares his entrepreneurial experience in his book Zero to One, which is based on notes taken by Blake Masters during Peter Thiel’s lectures at Stanford.

While the book does show some of Thiel’s libertarian mentalities including praise of monopolies, he nonetheless makes insightful points about how to start a business, focusing on small markets, technological superiority, scalability and network potential. Thiel’s main point is that the most successful businesses do something new, not something better.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t (2001) by Jim Collins

In Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses the results of a huge management study that he did in the 90’s with a team of researchers. In the study, Collins picked a set of companies that, on average, had stock returns seven times larger than the general stock market for 15 years.

He then compared those businesses to companies poised on the brink of success that never bridged the gap. In the book, Collins discusses why some companies make it when others don’t, mentioning factors like “Level 5 Leaders, ” the now classic “Hedgehog Concept,” and the “Flywheel” and “Doom Loop.”

 The Lean Startup (2011) by Eric Ries

Ries began a lean startup movement with the release of his book in 2011, which made waves among entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The Lean Startup details a business model in which small businesses can effectively grow and scale.

Ries’ model involves iterative product releases of minimum viable products, shortened release cycles, a focus on pleasing early customers, and a process that he terms “validated learning.” In a model based around trimming excess, Ries provides lessons on how to shore up the essential components of a company.


Every entrepreneur, business owner and CEO should read business books. They’re an excellent source of information, and they offer useful startup and leadership advice. Managing a business can be nerve-wrecking, especially if you’re just getting started. As a result, reading motivational books can help you stay engaged. Here are 5 business books that are a must-read this 2015.

“Good Leaders Ask Great Questions” by John C. Maxwell

Many leaders want to excel at their jobs but they can’t because of their lack of expertise. In John C. Maxwell’s “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions“, readers will find answers to questions they’ve always wanted to ask. “What do I need to become a great leader?”, “How do I motivate someone who’s unmotivated?”, “How can I work with people who don’t have vision?” are just a few questions you’ll find answers to in the book.

Published in 2014, “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions” is an insightful book about learning how to solve the most challenging problems related to the world of venture capitalism. The business environment is a demanding work environment, and it’s important for leaders to find the determination to move on, no matter how complicated things might get along the way.

 “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely

CEOs and business owners in general, are accountable for everything that happens with their business. They must negotiate on a daily basis, make important decisions and sometimes, mess up and learn from their mistakes. Entrepreneurs must take responsibility, and they can’t afford to get cold feet when things don’t turn out as planned.

In “Predictably Irrational“, MIT professor Dan Ariely, talks about why people behave so foolishly; he tries to make readers understand that they can predict such behavior from materializing. There’s always a good reason why people get mad and act like crazy. His book is extremely therapeutic and thus will compel leaders that a Zen attitude is everything they need to succeed in business.

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz, the author of “The Hard Thing about Hard Things“, is a business guru. In his latest book, he emphasizes that it’s essential for investors and entrepreneurs to understand they all have a specific level of experience, and that there’s always room for improvement. Not every business individual excels at his job, but that doesn’t mean he can’t strive to do more. Horowitz is a savvy entrepreneur that also provides useful advice on running a startup. His principles are focused on things that are not taught in school, so if you’re a recent graduate with a keen interest in entrepreneurship and the business domain, make sure to read “The Hard Thing about Hard Things”.

 “Confidence” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at the Harvard School of Business. In her latest book “Confidence“, she clarifies that success and failure are self-fulfilling prophecies, and that self-assurance is everything one needs to succeed. When you pursue a goal, and you do everything in your power to achieve it, success will be right there waiting to happen. “Confidence” is a business book about winning and losing; the author explores new theories about success, and she offers guidelines on how to turn things in your favor without having to make unnecessary concessions.

 “Zero to One”, by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One” is a true masterpiece. Avid entrepreneurs with a dying wish to turn their brilliant ideas into a million dollar business should read this book. Thiel talks about failure in business in the most honest way. People fail to thrive because their only goal is to overcome their competition. Very few focus on making their companies productive. Why bother compete with an enterprise that already has a good reputation? You won’t win. Instead, you should focus on smart ways to make your business stand above the crowd and gain recognition, because that’s the key to success.

Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Then you’ll have to work for what you believe in. Reading business books will give you a boost of confidence; it will keep you motivated and focused on your goals.



We spend hours a week commuting to and from work can be put to good use if we utilize them well. One way of combining the necessity of getting to our workplace with success is to spend the time listening to books on CD or MP3, but what to listen to? Here are suggestions for my recent 14 best business books to listen to during your commute.

1. The E-Myth – Michael Greber. This is an excellent book about the myths surrounding starting your own business and demonstrates prevalent misconceptions about running a business.

2. Good to Great Jim Collins. Based on research obtained from US companies, this book shows why some companies make the leap from good to great, and other don’t.

3. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert. The “big magic” of the title is “inspiration”; how does it come about, and how do we find the hidden jewels of inspiration within us.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleStephen R. Covey. The classic and inspirational book that has transformed lives all over the world for 25 years.

5. Start with Why – Simon Sinek. A brilliantly insightful must-read about the qualities of good leadership.

6. Originals Adam Grant. An entertaining look at how we all can become more innovative.

7. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Charles Stransky. For anyone in a team, and especially for team leaders, this book will give you concrete steps to improve your team’s results.

8. The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone. A game-changing book for entrepreneurs, showing how to achieve success in any market.

9. First, Break All The RulesMarcus Buckingham. A well-researched book that explains concepts in a clear and intelligible way, including the 4 keys of great managers.

10. Raving FansKenneth Blanchard. A guide to transforming your customers from just satisfied to “raving fans”.

11. Presence – Amy Cuddy. Not only a business book, the lessons here are also applicable to students and teachers, employees and bosses, and everyone in between.

12. Rising Strong Audible – Brené Brown. An uplifting book for anyone who has ever fallen and a textbook on how to rise again.

13. Crucial Conversations – Kerry Patterson. A guide to those hard-to-have conversations, personal or professional, and how to handle them.

14. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. This book details the mind-set of  hard-hitting Navy SEALs and how this can be translated into great business and life lessons.

If you have some recommendations make a comment and share.

Related Posts

  • 92
    Tags: books, business, book
  • 83
    Tech CEOs are some of the smartest people in the world. And a lot of them want to share their ideas with anybody who will listen. We’ve put together 15 of the best books written by current and former tech CEOs that will give you a peek inside their fabulous…
    Tags: business, books, people, book
  • 81
    As we shake off the summer malaise and head into fall, it's the perfect time to read some motivational and insightful business books. And there's no shortage of good material. Coming out in the next two months are memoirs packed with advice, like Virgin Group founder Richard Branson's "The Virgin…
    Tags: books, business, book
  • 79
    Business is full of dry, boring material that needs your attention. Here, Inc. columnists share ways to get through the drudgery. There is no shortage of material that needs to be read in business, including marketing copy, business plans, contracts, legal documents, and, of course, business books. I love to read,…
    Tags: business, books, book
  • 78
    In 1969, John Brooks published “Business Adventures,” his collection of New Yorkerbusiness stories—“Twelve classic tales from the worlds of Wall Street and the modern American corporation.” Now, forty-five years later, Bill Gates, in the Wall Street Journal, is calling it his “favorite business book.” (He says it’s Warren Buffett’s favorite business book,…
    Tags: business, book