Readers are leaders. The world’s most successful CEOs say reading is the key to their success. Successful people are smart enough to know that books are the best education and they don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make great changes.
In an interview with ‘The New York Times’ in 2016, Bill Gates shared that he read around 50 books per year. Reading, he said, is “the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
Here are some books you should read to get ahead in life.
1. ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers’ by Ben Horowitz
This is the only entrepreneurship book I have come across that talks honestly about the incredible challenges that entrepreneurs face when running a business, and not just about facing the difficult decisions, but about the way running a company affects you mentally.
Things like handling the roller coaster of emotions, from incredible excitement to waking up in the middle of the night in a state of panic, and how an entrepreneur can learn to deal with those emotions. I also found the stories around team building, from recruiting, organizing and motivating teams to having to let people go very enlightening.
One of the main lessons I learned from this book that I apply at Sensel is the importance of culture fit when hiring and looking for individuals that are not necessarily the best at everything but have at least one area where they are superstars, or hiring for strengths rather than the absence of weaknesses.
2. ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu
This book is about the different aspects of warfare. It was written by a military strategist whose approach and strategies influenced military thinking for centuries. Sun Tzu’s teachings can easily be applied to the modern world, in both one’s personal or professional life.
‘War’ is an interesting term. It doesn’t have to be simply about the military, it can be a metaphor for conflict (whether internal or external). For me, this book has been less about military strategies, as it has been how to adapt, overcome, and lead an honourable life.
3. ‘Focal Point’ by Brian Tracy
No doubt, of course, you've got a lot on your plate. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a singular task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one. Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice.
‘Focal Point’ by Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more things done.
4. ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book that helped to launch a personal growth empire should be required reading for everyone who wants to learn how to build and nurture relationships for a lifetime.
Read this book and you’ll learn some simple advice that can help you build popularity points within your current network, and just as important, expand it to others.
5. ‘Trillion Dollar Coach’ by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle
Being a CEO is a lonely job and many of the top leaders in Silicon Valley got coaching from Bill Campbell, including Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, Sheryl Sandberg and just about everyone else.
In this book, they break down Bill's approach to humanizing leadership, how to keep positive tension among leaders to generate breakthrough outcomes. Bill uses his background from playing and coaching football to rewrite the playbook for how leaders should be coaches for their people to driving outstanding performance.
In an age of data and KPIs, this book is a must-read to incorporate the human element in real, tangible methods.
6. ‘The Monk and the Riddle’ by Randy Komisar
The story Randy Komisar shares in ‘The Monk and the Riddle’ offers advice on not just how you need to think when starting a new business, but also about how to build a life you’re passionate about.
Understanding the technical aspects of launching a start-up is great, but if you don’t have the staying power to stick with it when the going gets tough then it’s not likely to work.
This book can help you understand this lesson before you spend blood, sweat and tears on a project that your heart isn’t into.
7. ‘Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ by Michael Moss
This book delves into the science of taste preferences and human behavioural elements. It gave me a great understanding of how present-day food - something we take for granted - came to be.
It also offered me an even more comprehensive understanding of what affects our behaviour and gave me a deeper perspective on the importance of understanding the science of why we act the way we do.
8. ‘The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You’ by Lydia Fenet
For any person who feels like they’re trying to balance it all - work, family, passion projects - Lydia Fenet can help. Her debut book chronicles her career journey as managing director and global head of strategic partnerships at Christie’s Auction House and explains how she achieved success in her role while also raising more than half a billion dollars for non-profits around the world.
Fenet shares tangible examples and lessons learned with the heartfelt authenticity you would expect from your best friend, coupled with laugh-out-loud experiences (spoiler alert: Matt Damon anyone?), to genuinely help women succeed in their careers.
Sage advice from female leaders, like Barbara Corcoran, Martha Stewart, Nina Garcia, and Deborah Roberts is sprinkled throughout the book, with topics ranging from the power of storytelling, work ethics, harnessing community, negotiation, learning through failure, and modeling leadership principles to inspire others. Above all, Fenet understands the importance of connecting on a human level with anyone you encounter.
People from all walks of life, such as Emma Watson, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama, find solace in books. Why? Because they know that every single problem they encounter has been faced before by someone else.