13 Best Business Books That Could Change Your Life

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13 Best Business Books to Boost Business Acumen

Think you need an MBA from a top school to gain business smarts? What follows is a list of the 13 best business books, some old, some new, to have you thinking like a top business major in no time.

Even if your career isn’t focused on business or entrepreneurship every employee can use tips and advice from business experts and thought-leaders to be a better worker. Check out these titles to boost your business acumen and possibly improve your life.


1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

First published in 1990, this timeless book on personal and professional effectiveness has sold over 10 million copies. It’s not just a business book.

Covey explores everything from family life to productivity and positive thinking. Use his four-quadrant exercise to help you achieve maximum effectiveness and stop spinning your wheels with unproductive activities.

Once you’ve mastered these seven habits, pick up Covey’s follow-up, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness


2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Did you know that the way you think is a huge factor in your career and life success? If you want the mind of a millionaire, you don’t need an MBA from an Ivy League university (although it can’t hurt).

This timeless classic, first published in 1937, explains the principals of positive thinking. The back cover boasts, “There have been millionaires, and indeed, billionaires, who have made their fortunes as a result of reading this success classic than any other book ever printed.


3. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

First published in 2007 and then revised and expanded in 2009, The 4-Hour Work Week created quite a buzz among entrepreneurs and nine-to-fivers alike. The title alone provides enough motivation to dig into this book. After all, who wouldn’t want to become rich working only four hours per week?

If you don’t take the title too literally, there are some valuable tips and time management strategies for living more and working less, including eliminating time sucks like e-mail.


4. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

To succeed in business, you must know how to communicate. Whether at a staff meeting, networking event, trade conference, or just a casual conversation with a coworker, business relies on communication. Crucial Conversations, published in 2002, provides readers with the tools needed to master difficult conversations at work (and home).


5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 

You may spend a large portion of your days at work managing your relationships electronically through your iPhone, e-mail, and Facebook account, but great people skills are still as important in our technologically advanced society as they were in 1937 when this classic bookw as first published.

His is the definitive manual for gaining people’s trust and influencing them in favor of your ideas. Want more information on the power of persuasion? Pick up Jeffrey Gitomer’s 2007 book, Little Green Book of Getting Your Way: How to Speak, Write, Present, Persuade, Influence, and Sell Your Point of View to Others


6. The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

Ahh, to be a millionaire. The glitz, the glamour, the five-star restaurants and designer clothes. If you think that’s how most millionaires live in America, you must read The Millionaire Next Door (1996).

This book takes a groundbreaking look at the wealthy and reveals that most millionaires live quietly among non-millionaires. You won’t find any “lifestyles of the rich and famous” profiles in this book; just ordinary folks who rolled up their sleeves and worked and saved hard.


7. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Do you know what motivates you to succeed? Despite conventional wisdom that says people are primarily motivated by money and fear, Daniel Pink’s fully updated book, Drive, explores a new way of thinking about motivation.

With case studies from Google and Best Buy, two large corporations that have gone against the norm to give their employees freedom to work on projects of their choosing and on their own schedules, Pink argues that what really motivates us is the freedom to grow and succeed on our own terms.


8. We: How to Increase Performance and Profits through Full Engagement by Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse

It’s rare to find a business book that speaks to both employees and business managers/leaders. Published in 2010, We, by Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse, tackles the subject of employee engagement by dissecting what it means for both employers and business leaders alike.

Featuring stories, quizzes, and personality tests, readers learn the type of work they should be doing and where. And managers learn how to increase employee engagement in order to run profitable, successful businesses with happy employees.


9. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Are you a linchpin? Do you stand out at work or would you be easily replaceable? In 2010’sLinchpin, renowned business author Seth Godin helps readers learn how to make themselves truly indispensable in their careers by identifying what makes them unique and how to take the initiative to carve out their own path.

In our current economic climate, all workers, no matter what level they’re at, must find ways to make themselves indispensable. Godin provides the roadmap.


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

Many workers dream of escaping the cube and starting their own business. The allure of being your own boss is the fuel that motivates many entrepreneurs. Sadly, however, most small businesses ultimately fail.

If you’ve ever considered starting your own business, pick up a copy of Michael E. Gerber’s 1994 book, The E-Myth Revisited. It will help you grow your venture from infancy through to thriving enterprise while helping you avoid the costly mistakes that many business owners make.


11.  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink

Creative workers, such as designers, inventors, and teachers, have slowly been gaining notoriety over the past decade. Daniel Pink asserts in A Whole New Mind that left-brain dominance in the business world is a thing of the past.

Whether you fancy yourself a “creative” or not, this book offers all of us a guide to thinking with both sides of our brains.


12.  The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman

According to Forbes magazine, the average MBA education costs $100,000. On the other hand, Josh Kaufman’s book, The Personal MBA, will set you back roughly 15 bucks.

Kaufman, a former middle manager for Proctor and Gamble, advises readers to skip the expensive MBA price tag and create their own program to learn about marketing, finance, and other business principals. Obviously, the decision to advance your education shouldn’t be left up to one book, but this one does provide great food for thought.


13. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Small changes can result in big changes. It’s not a new theory, but one that many workers often overlook in the day-to-day business world.

Gladwell inspires us to think big about small changes in his 2002 book, The Tipping Point. He asserts that the tipping point is that magic moment when an “idea (or) trend … tips and spreads like wildfire.” You’ll learn how reaching a small group can ultimately influence the masses and how products and messages can spread like viruses.


Get savvy with your summer reading

Forget about that paperback novel you were planning to read. Get business savvy instead and grab one (or all) of these business books. Read these titles and you’ll be ready to face any challenges you encounter in your career.
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