In interviews I’m often asked, “what are your favorite business books?” It’s a difficult question for me to answer because I read at least 50 books a year (mostly in audio version), listen to podcasts, do online courses, and attend live learning events. With so much information, it’s hard to pick favorites.
Instead, I re-frame my answer to include one more of the following criteria:
To me, these criteria paint a clearer picture of the value I’ve gained from the books, and support the fact that the words within them fundamentally shaped or re-shaped the way I think.
With that, here are my top 8 books of all time (so far). I’ve listed them in the chronological order that I remember reading them, starting back in my early 20’s.
This is the first business book I remember reading. Back when I was a graphic designer at a local newspaper, I would listen to business radio while working. I heard an interview with the author, and became intrigued enough to buy the book.
My main takeaway was that, not only is it okay to be financially successful, it is spiritually the right thing to do. This was a major mental shift for me, because growing up in a strict Christian household, I was taught that having lots of money is evil. The Bible actually says that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” but I didn’t hear it that way, and I subconsciously thought having lots of money was bad. This explains why I was always broke.
Although this book did not receive much fanfare, The Spirituality of Success removed my feelings of guilt around pursuing success, and also introduced me to quantum physics, the foundation for The Law of Attraction.
I treat 48 Laws as a reference book and refer to it often. I own this book in hardback, paperback, and audio versions. Fundamentally, it is a book about persuasion. We all use persuasion every day. We all want others to follow us, buy from us, respect us, love us, etc.
This is not to be confused with manipulation, which is malicious and self-serving in nature. Persuasion is necessary and productive. Manipulation is destructive.
With that said, please be warned that this book can be dangerous if the lessons within it are used for malicious intent. For example, one chapter literally explains how to start a cult, step by step, reinforced with analyses of historical events. I believe the same knowledge can and should be used for good – to create a positive company culture, for example, where people believe in the company vision, do good deeds together, and actually want to come to work.
I also have also internalized the laws as a manner of self-defense, so that I am keenly aware when others are trying to manipulate me.
Through use of fables and historical lessons, 48 Laws also teaches war strategy, and how to deal with enemies.
Here’s a look at the table of contents:
This book taught me that making money doesn’t require hard work. Tim Ferris teaches how to create a “muse” – a business where the majority of the work is outsourced and automated – so that you can earn passive income and work from anywhere in the world.
Growing up, I was taught that money doesn’t come out of thin air, that time is exchanged for money, and that you have to work hard for every dollar. The 4-Hour Workweek dispelled these myths for me.
While 4-Hour Workweek is a best-seller, it also receives lots of criticism for promoting laziness, shortcuts, and exploiting the hard-working nature of people in poorer countries.
To be clear, I work much more than 4 hours during a typical week. Some weeks I work 60-80 hours, and some weeks I’ve worked practically zero hours. Either way, the principles in this book have taught me how to do more with less, and how to enjoy more free time and travel when I want.
The epiphany I learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad is that the goal is for your monthly passive income to exceed your monthly living expenses. The author does this primarily through real estate investments.
I’ve also heard it summed up nicely using the acronym P.I.L.E.: Passive Income (over) Living Expenses.
There are 4 quadrants of generating income:
The ultimate goal is to generate all of your income from the B and I quadrants, so that you aren’t trading your time for dollars.
I also purchased Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow 101 board game, and periodically play the game with one of my mastermind groups. The game helps condition your mind to think in the way that the book teaches.
In my next post, I will continue this list and discuss the last 4 books from my top 8 list.
What are some books that have (re)shaped your thinking?