The best business books for entrepreneurs and leaders (updated 2020)
I love making book recommendation to my clients, so I decided to throw together a list of the best business books I’ve read. I’m including a few personal growth books, as well, because if they help you be a better you then they’ll help you be a better leader. After all, I define leadership as “Personal growth, performed in public.” This list will grow and change over time as I read new books or remember books I’ve forgotten. In fact, if you see one missing, please drop me a note and let me know what book I need put on my reading list! I find these books almost impossible to compare, so for the most part they are in no particular order. I won’t say I have a favorite, but I did put “The Seven Habits” first. You know, if you Google “best business books”, the first book you see is that one! I agree with Google. Some people have said to me, “but I’m not a reader!” when I’ve recommended business books. A few of the authors featured below have given Ted Talks, and I’ve linked to them where applicable. Most of the best business books come as audiobooks, too, if that’s more your bag. That being said, if you’re not a reader in the past, now is a great time to start!
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If I had to recommend only one book for personal and professional growth it would be this one. This may be the most important book every written on how to succeed.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
A bit dense but with lots of important concepts regarding product management and agile development. I think the biggest takeaway from this book is that one should seek to reduce risk, create the bare minimum, and listen to the market to adjust when starting a company. You’re never smarter than the market’s feedback; the goal is to show enough to get feedback and then simply give the market what it wants.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
This is a great book for motivational purposes; it’s more about the theories of automation and hiring the right help than actually working 4 hours a week. I particularly like the section on branding yourself as a subject matter expert.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This book had the largest spiritual impact on me of any I’ve read. It taught me the benefit of presence and that I can interrupt my brain’s constant processing to be in the now. I believe this is one of the biggest keys to happiness.
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
A great book to help ensure you’re making conscious decisions as you choose the behaviors which will guide you through life.
Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
Sinek’s first book on leadership and marketing was “Start With Why”. It’s a fantastic leadership book, but this book may be more important: it makes the finding of “why” more personal and helps you find your purpose. He’s also given some inspiring Ted Talks.
The One Thing by Gary Keller
There are a lot of productivity books on the market. This is one of my favorites because it teaches about focus. It’s better to choose one thing, focus, and finish it than be working on twenty things and never getting any of them finished.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to lead a team. Willink’s no-nonsense approach teaches some incontrovertible, battle-tested rules of leadership. Well thought through and practical, “Extreme Leadership” is no grunt-style book. It’s a surprisingly fast read, too, due to its many engaging stories from the Iraq war.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements are the easiest culture-starter for a company culture I’ve ever come across. Not to mention great rules for simply being a good human.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
If you want to be a leader who creates meaningful relationships with your team, Brown’s book on vulnerability gives you a roadmap. It’s also an exploration of why personal growth and leadership are so closely tied together. She’s also done a pair of fabulous Ted Talks.
Mindset by Carol Dweck
If you’ve ever met someone who just doesn’t know how to handle feedback, buy them this book. Conversely, if you find yourself defensive and/or hurt when getting feedback from others, this is the book for you. Dweck has also given a great Ted Talk.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Which one characteristic makes the difference between people who succeed and people who don’t? It’s entirely possible it’s grit. I keep this book in mind every time I interview a candidate and ask questions to see if I can figure out how gritty they really are. I’ll take a team of gritty people over a team of pedigreed people any time.