101 Best Leadership Books You Should Read in 2019 and Beyond

There are two kinds of people: those who are led and those who lead them.

We’re guessing you’re here because you want to be one of the latter.

News flash:

It’s both a thorny path and a hell of responsibility once you get to the end!

So, just like Frodo, you better find a good fellowship before you embark on your journey.

To help you, we’ve rounded up the usual suspects.

The top leadership books are here – just for you!

The 101 Best Leadership Books List

(Click a title below to go to the respective shelf)

1. The Basics and Laws of Leadership
2. The History Doesn’t Create Leaders: Leaders Create History
3. The Different Types of Leaders and Leadership
4. The Leadership Strategies and Styles, Tactics and Theories
5. The Let the Ladies Lead
Wildcard

CONTENTS

1. The “Basics and Laws of Leadership” Shelf 

Becoming a leader is not the easiest thing in the world. These twenty books, however, certainly make it seem so. Consult them even when they inevitably lead you to the top: as a reminder and as a refresher of what good leadership entails.

1.1 Warren Bennis On Becoming a Leader

Best Leadership Books

About the Book: One of the ultimate leadership classics; maybe even the book to read if you want to learn what is a good leader. In fact, that’s the exact question Warren Bennis, “the dean of leadership gurus,” puts forward to hundreds of different people, from a wide array of professions (executives and entrepreneurs, but also philosophers, psychologists, scientists, and entertainers). Well-researched, broad, and thorough, On Becoming a Leader should be your Leadership 101. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The first step in becoming a leader, then, is to recognize the context for what it is—a breaker, not a maker; a trap, not a launching pad; an end, not a beginning—and declare your independence. Click To Tweet

1.2 Stephen R. Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Good Leadership Books

About the Book: The first non-fiction book to sell more than one million copies of its audio version, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People proved both a paradigm shifter and a timeless leadership manual. Engagingly and with a lot of bravado, Stephen R. Covey claims that good leaders are good people as well and that they all share seven characteristics. Namely, they are independent: proactive, with a mission statement, and a personal vision; but, also, interdependent: they value people, respect and understand their opinions, and are capable of combining their strengths; finally, they continually improve. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Stephen R. Covey | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. Click To Tweet The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  

1.3 John C. Maxwell – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

About the Book: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership lists 21 laws which, as its subtitle suggests, are all you need to follow if you want people to follow you. A brief preview: Maxwell’s law of influence explains why Abraham Lincoln was demoted from a captain to a private; also, if McNamara knew his law of solid ground, the Vietnam War might have been a different affair; additionally, the law of buy-in is the inspiration behind the passive resistance movement. Did we tickle your fancy? (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about John C. Maxwell | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion… The heart comes before the head. Click To Tweet

1.4 John C. Maxwell – Developing the Leader Within You

Developing the Leader Within You

About the Book: Published back in 1993, Developing the Leader Within You was John C. Maxwell’s first book on leadership and one of the three in his oeuvre to sell over a million copies. Well-structured and well-written (as are all of Maxwell’s books), Developing the Leader Within You will teach you everything you need to know about leadership, from the key to it (Priorities) through its most important ingredient (Integrity) to its most indispensable quality (Vision). (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about John C. Maxwell | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A leader is great not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others. Click To Tweet

1.5 John C. Maxwell – The Five Levels of Leadership

The Five Levels of Leadership

About the Book: In The Five Levels of Leadership, John C. Maxwell defines the five steps one should take before becoming a true leader, and leads you on your road from Position (Level 1), through Permission (Level 2), Production (Level 3), and People Development (Level 4), so that you can, finally, reach the Pinnacle (Level 5). The book also includes a portrait of a Level 5 Leader; almost expectedly, it’s our very dear old Wizard, John Wooden (see 2.17) (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about John C. Maxwell | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth. Click To Tweet

1.6 John C. Maxwell – Leadership Gold

Leadership Gold

About the Book: Consider us old-fashioned, but we firmly believe that no list of leadership books should ever be considered complete without at least a few John C. Maxwell entries. After all, they don’t consider the man “the No. 1 leadership and management expert in the world” for no reason. In Leadership Gold, the final John C. Maxwell book on this list (for now, that is: see 3.4), he shows why on every page. A vintage Maxwell, the book sums up everything he knows about leadership, offering “the best of the best, the tried-and-true lessons that no one but Maxwell can share.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about John C. Maxwell | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Good leaders don’t belittle people – they enlarge them. Click To Tweet

1.7 Ray Dalio – Principles

Principles

About the Book: John C. Maxwell says that Integrity is the most important ingredient of leadership; in the 123-page Principles (a booklet recommended by everyone from Jack Dorsey to Bill Gates), Ray Dalio breaks down integrity into its atomic components: Principles. “Principles had a profound positive impact on my leadership style – through living more honestly,” writes Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix. Over to you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be applied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals. Click To Tweet

1.8 Robert Greene – The 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power

About the Book: “Beguiling” and “fascinating” (People magazine), Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power is about all those people who believe in the myth of the strong leader – and want to reenact it (see 3.9). A hit among prison inmates and celebrities – the rap and hip-hop community, especially – The 48 Laws of Power sounds much more Machiavellian than one should like from a bestseller. But, according to Greene, just like Machiavelli (see 2.4), he’s merely stating the facts. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Robert Greene | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist. Click To Tweet The 48 Laws of Power  

1.9 Robert B. Cialdini – Influence

Influence

About the Book: Speaking of the cold hard facts of life and the ways one can use them to his benefit, Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence is the classic book on persuasion. A seminal expert in the field, Cialdini reveals in Influence why we say “yes” when we do and how one can turn a “no” into a “yes” if he/she likes to. As enlightening as dangerous in the wrong hands, Influence has illuminated the worlds of sales, marketing, leadership and psychology for the past thirty-five years – and it will undoubtedly go on doing the same for many decades to come. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor, we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Click To Tweet Influence  

1.10 Daniel H. Pink – Drive

Drive

About the Book: Leaders motivate and inspire. Daniel H. Pink’s exceptional book can teach you how. It explores the basics of motivation and compares the contemporary business practices with a few surprising scientific findings. The result? An entirely new theory about what motivation actually is and about how one should motivate others. Hint? It’s not about the money, money, money… (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Pay your son to take out the trash — and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free. Click To Tweet Drive  

1.11 Michael Maccoby – The Leaders We Need

The Leaders We Need

About the Book: Through ten chapters, in The Leaders We Need Michael Maccoby examines not only the definition of a leader and the reasons why other people need one but also the different types of leaders, whether for knowledge work, health care or learning; of course, there’s a chapter about “The President We Need” (now a bit outdated) and one about you: “Becoming a Leader We Need.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The leaders we want are not always the leaders we need. Click To Tweet

1.12 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner – The Leadership Challenge

The Leaders We Need

About the Book: One of the most trusted sources on becoming a great leader, The Leadership Challenge has sold more than 2 million copies since its first publication and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Continuously updated, this book can still teach you how to make extraordinary things happen in your organization! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Exemplary leaders know that if they want to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards, they must be models of the behavior they expect of others. Click To Tweet

1.13 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner – The Truth About Leadership

The Truth About Leadership

About the Book: The Truth About Leadership is Kouzes and Posner’s examination of the “no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts” you need to know about leadership. Based on more than 1 million responses to Kouzes and Posner’s leadership assessment and more than three decades of research, The Truth About Leadership reveals the ten time-tested (and sometimes, counterintuitive) truths about leadership, from the obvious “you make a difference” to the romantic “leadership is an affair of the heart.” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Conformity produces compliance, not commitment. Unity is essential, and unity is forged, not forced. Click To Tweet

1.14 Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel – The Leadership Pipeline

The Leadership Pipeline

About the Book: If you’re into soccer, you know that it often happens that most of the great coaches were players themselves once, and, quite frequently, for the very same team: Franz Beckenbauer, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola. Why should your company be any different? Read The Leadership Pipeline and learn how to recognize and develop the leaders within your organization. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Maturity is a result of learning from success and from mistakes—in other words, learning from experience. Click To Tweet

1.15 Robert Townsend – Up the Organization

Up the Organization

About the Book: In Warren Bennis’ opinion (see 1.1), Robert C. Townsend was “the management guru of the Sixties.” And in the 97 chapters of Up the Organization, you can see why. Iconoclastic and revolutionary, the book is essentially an encyclopedia of leadership, topping many lists of books every manager should read in his lifetime. Tom Peters suggests doing something more with his words: “Townsend shouldn’t just be read, he should be memorized.” You know what? We agree with him. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Don’t hire a master to paint you a masterpiece and then assign a roomful of schoolboy-artists to look over his shoulder and suggest improvements. Click To Tweet

1.16 Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman – First, Break All the Rules

First, Break All the Rules

About the Book: A first-rate management classic, First, Break All the Rules is widely considered one of the most important management books ever written. No wonder the editors of Time magazine decided to include it in their list of the “25 Most Influential Business Management Books” ever written. Based on Gallup’s in-depth interviews of over 80,000 managers in over 400 companies (the largest study of its kind), First, Break All the Rules reveals “what the world’s greatest managers do differently.”

Favorite Quote:

Great managers do share one thing: Before they do anything else, they first break all the rules of conventional wisdom. Click To Tweet

1.17 Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter – 12

12

About the Book: Based once again on the largest worldwide study of its kind (this time, Gallup’s ten million workplace interviews), Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter’s 12 is a sort of a follow-up to First, Break All the Rules, scrutinizing thoroughly the 12 elements of great management revealed in Buckingham and Coffman’s classic. You can’t go wrong with this one: it’s based on experience. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Incorporating employee ideas pays back twice. First, the idea itself often is a good one. Second, it makes it much more likely that employees will be committed to its execution. Click To Tweet

1.18 Charles Duhigg – Smarter Faster Better

Smarter Faster Better

About the Book: In Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg delves into the pros and cons of eight productivity concepts, each of them as vital to establishing the habits of a productive person as it is essential to kickstart the evolution of any great leader. The eight concepts in question are: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data. You may be even more interested in the theoretical discussion of the Appendix, aptly titled “A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Models help us choose where to direct our attention, so we can make decisions, rather than just react. Click To Tweet Smarter Faster Better  

1.19 Vince Poscente – The Ant and the Elephant

The Ant and the Elephant

About the Book: Subtitled “Leadership for the Self,” The Ant and the Elephant is “a different kind of book for a different kind of leader.” The main idea of this business fable is simple: you can’t lead others before you learn how to lead yourself. And when you do learn the latter, then leading others will come almost as naturally to you as breathing. Use this book as your guide. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Without conflict, there is no growth, and the most challenging conflict is within ourselves. Click To Tweet

1.20 Awdhesh Singh – The Secret Red Book of Leadership

The Secret Red Book of Leadership

About the Book: Many of the books on this list claim that modern leaders should be kind and vulnerable and inspiring. Awdhesh Singh begs to differ and minces no words in The Secret Red Book of Leadership:However noble your goal may be,” he writes, “it is impossible to achieve it unless you severely punish those who obstruct your way. In a game of power, you have to create fear in the hearts and minds of all opponents.” This one’s for Machiavellians and Gordon Gekko types of leaders. (Read a brief summary of the book)

Favorite Quote:

Treating everyone equal is the surest recipe for disaster. Click To Tweet

2. The “History Doesn’t Create Leaders: Leaders Create History” Shelf 

“Men make history and not the other way around,” wrote once Harry S. Truman. “In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Harry!

2.1 Sun Tzu – The Art of War

The Art of War

About the Book: Even though written by a Chinese military general over two and a half millennia ago, The Art of War is still widely read by CEOs worldwide and has influenced leaders as diverse as General MacArthur, Marc Benioff, and Bill Belichick! Each of the thirteen sections of Sun Tzu’s classic serves as a perennial reminder that the business world is a modern battlefield. And that you need to be prepared for everything to gain the advantage and win. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. Click To Tweet The Art Of War  

2.2 Laurie Beth Jones – Jesus, CEO

Jesus, CEO

About the Book: They say that if you want to be the best, you got to learn from the best. Well, if that applies to leadership, then there’s no one you should like to learn more than from Jesus – after all, he was the Leader of Men, or, as Erlich once said in the Silicon Valley, “the CEO of the world.” Laurie Beth Jones’ Jesus, CEO teaches you how you can use ancient wisdom for visionary leadership, through the story of an exceptional man who “built a disorganized ‘staff’ of twelve into a thriving enterprise.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leaders must have not only vision and communication skills, but also tremendous personal resolve. Click To Tweet

2.3 Partha Bose – Alexander the Great’s Art of Strategy

Alexander the Great’s Art of Strategy

About the Book: By the age of 30, Alexander the Great managed to create one of the largest empires of the ancient world. Partha Bose’s Alexander the Great’s Art of Strategy reveals how his innovative tactics and military strategies can be applied in the business world of today to “create a winning philosophy, motivate others, prepare for the unexpected, leave a legacy of lasting value, establish a visionary leadership, build a successful organization, and more.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Too often the legacy of a strong leader is an organization without sufficient leadership capacity to fill the void left behind by the departing leader. Click To Tweet

2.4 Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince

The Prince

About the Book: Let us introduce this book which needs no introduction with two quotes by Michael Scott. The first one: “Would I rather be feared or loved? Um. Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” The second one: “The end justifies the mean.” No, that’s not a spelling mistake. And yes, both of these quotes have their origin in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, the classic and rational guide on how to acquire and maintain political (or any kind of) power. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are. Click To Tweet

2.5 Donald Phillips – Lincoln on Leadership

Lincoln on Leadership

About the Book: Abraham Lincoln is nowadays routinely ranked by both scholars and the public as one of the greatest – and usually the greatest – US presidents. And this even though he had the unfortunate trouble of leading the country through its bloodiest war and its greatest political crisis. All in four years! Donald T. Phillips’ book goes through the skills and talents which made Lincoln such a capable leader. And it doesn’t only examine what Lincoln did to overcome the insurmountable obstacles he faced. It also explains how his actions are relevant today, as well. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The best leaders never stop learning. Click To Tweet

2.6 Doris Kearns Goodwin – Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals

About the Book: Team of Rivals is another book examining and evaluating the leadership capabilities of Abraham Lincoln. Written by Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, it focuses on Lincoln’s extraordinarily successful attempts to reconcile conflicting and diverging personalities and political blocs during the American Civil War on the path to abolition and victory. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country - bigger than all the Presidents together. (Via Leo Tolstoy) Click To Tweet

2.7 Richard Brookhiser – George Washington on Leadership

George Washington on Leadership

About the Book: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” wrote politician Henry Lee in 1799, upon the death of founding father George Washington, one of the three greatest American presidents in history. Richard Brookhiser adds: “first in leadership as well!” “There is an inspiration here for all of us,” says a Wall Street Journal review, “CEO or not.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

No leader ever knows exactly what is coming, or all the things he should prepare for. He can, however, know that he doesn't know, and prepare mentally for that. Be light on your feet, because you will be moving a lot. Click To Tweet

2.8 Eliot A. Cohen – Supreme Command

Supreme Command

About the Book: “War is too important to leave it to the generals,” said once Georges Clemenceau, France’s Prime Minister during the First World War. In Supreme Command, Eliot A. Cohen reveals that the great political leaders of the past always adhered to this rule, challenging and confronting their military officers to great effect and with great results. The leaders Cohen is most interested in are Abraham Lincoln (yet again!), Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and David Ben-Gurion. See what you can learn from each of them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The difficulty is that the great war statesman do… improper things – and, what is more, it is because they do so that they succeed. Click To Tweet

2.9 Alan Axelrod – Patton on Leadership

Patton on Leadership

About the Book: Sometimes controversial but always colorful, General George S. Patton was turned into an American folk hero after he was played by George C. Scott in the Academy Award-winning 1970 biographical movie, Patton. Here, Alan Axelrod scrutinizes his combat tactics, integrity, and inspirational speeches – the same which won the Allies a victory over Hitler – and tries to pinpoint what a modern leader can learn from them and use in the corporate battlefield. Turns out: a lot! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leadership is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Click To Tweet

2.10 Walter Isaacson – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

About the Book: Steve Jobs is a man who needs no introduction, his name being almost synonymous with the phrase “modern leader.” This is the story of his life, written at his own request by one of the most talented biographers of today’s world Walter Isaacson. Based on unprecedented access to Steve Jobs’ life and hundreds of interviews with his relatives, Steve Jobs was adapted in 2015 by Danny Boyle for the big screen. But we highly recommend that you read the book first, from which you can learn just as much about how to become a good leader as about how good leaders, behind the stage, are sometimes nothing more than ruthless people. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles. Click To Tweet Steve Jobs  

2.11 Ashlee Vance – Elon Musk

Elon Musk

About the Book: One of the best books of 2015 according to just about every respectable institution (The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Audible and Amazon), Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk is “a tremendous look into arguably the world’s most important entrepreneur. Vance paints an unforgettable picture of Musk’s unique personality, insatiable drive and ability to thrive through hardship.” (The Washington Post) (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not. Click To Tweet Elon Musk  

2.12 Porter Erisman – Alibaba’s World

Alibaba’s World

About the Book: Founded in 1999, Alibaba “is no longer a David… it’s a Goliath.” In fact, since the beginning of 2018, it’s one of the top 10 most valuable brands in the world. Moreover, according to projections, by 2020, it may become one of the three most valuable, eclipsing both Facebook and Amazon. In Alibaba’s World, Porter Erisman reveals how Jack Ma built such a great company; and what you can learn from him. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Learn from competitors but never copy them. Copy them and you will die. Click To Tweet

2.13 Phil Knight – Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

About the Book: The co-founder of Nike Inc., Phil Hampson Knight – better known as Buck – is one of the 30 wealthiest people in the world and “one of the best business leaders of all time.” And he didn’t get to become what he is by following some rules. In fact, he not only broke the conventional ones, but he also wrote new ones, his own. In Shoe Dog, he tells how he managed to do this. And the book is as inspiring and fascinating as any Hollywood movie. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Let everyone else call your idea crazy... just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop. Click To Tweet Shoe Dog  

2.14 Robert Slater – Get Better or Get Beaten

Get Better or Get Beaten

About the Book: Robert Slater may be a renowned American author and journalist, but it should be only obvious that his 1994 book, Get Better or Get Beaten, earns its sport here because of who it is about: Jack Welch, the legendary chairman of General Electric, “perhaps the most admired CEO of his generation.” Well, Get Better or Get Beaten is as close as you’ll ever get to his philosophical worldview, revealing his 29 leadership secrets. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The most important thing a leader has to do is to absolutely search and treasure and nourish the voice and dignity of every person. Click To Tweet

2.15 Robert P. Miles – The Warren Buffett CEO

The Warren Buffett CEO

About the Book: “Everyone knows Warren is the greatest investor of our time,” writes none other than Jack Welch (see above) reviewing The Warren Buffett CEO.This book for the first time captures his genius as a manager.” And, really, it’s a pity that there are so many books about Buffett the investor, and so little about Buffett the leader. Not that it’s a surprise, but he seems to be a Wizard in both fields. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Combine a great idea with a great manager, you’re certain to obtain a great result. Click To Tweet

2.16 Joseph A. Maciariello – A Year with Peter Drucker

A Year with Peter Drucker

About the Book: Peter Drucker is widely considered “the founder of modern management.” He firmly believed that “in modern society, there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will.” Compiled by his longtime collaborator Joseph A. Maciarello, A Year with Peter Drucker is a step-by-step guide to perfecting your leadership skills, week after week; or, as the subtitle suggests, it is a 52-week coaching program for leadership effectiveness. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. Click To Tweet

2.17 John Wooden – Wooden on Leadership

Wooden on Leadership

About the Book: If you’re not a sportsperson, you may have never heard of John Wooden. Which is a pity, because he was so successful and revered as a coach, that they nicknamed him “The Wizard”! In Wooden on Leadership – one of the seven books on leadership he authored – you can easily see why. Everything is so magical. Neatly structured and organized, and, yet – inspirational as hell! After all, he was a basketball coach, so no lack of inspirational leadership messages here, folks! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes. Click To Tweet

2.18 Bill Walsh – The Score Takes Care of Itself

The Score Takes Care of Itself

About the Book: Staying with sports leaders and moving on to Bill Walsh, one of NFL’s greatest coaches. In The Score Takes Care of Itself, you’ll learn how he managed to take the 49ers from being the worst thing in the league to Super Bowl contenders in less than three years. The keyword: Standards, in a way, Walsh’s translation of Dalio’s Principles (see 1.7). “Even if you’ve never watched a down of football,” notes Ryan Holiday, “you’ll get something out of this book.” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Unless you’re a guard on a chain gang, others follow you based on the quality of your actions rather than the magnitude of your declarations. Click To Tweet

2.19 Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

About the Book: Just as Lincoln can teach you something about leadership because he had to lead the US through the Civil War, Frankl can teach you even more because he survived through Auschwitz. His main observation: the people who survived the Holocaust were the ones who didn’t give up. And they never gave up, because they had some purpose in life. A goal, which gave them the right mindset to understand that even suffering may be a teacher. Possibly, the best one. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Click To Tweet Man’s Search for Meaning  

2.20 Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

Long Walk to Freedom

About the Book: Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography, should undoubtedly be considered one of the books of our times, regardless of the category. Chronicling his rise from an anti-apartheid activist to a leader of the ANC and an international icon, Long Walk to Freedom is the only memoir of Mandela written by him and published during his lifetime. If you want a leader to look up to – Mandela is one we’d warmly recommend. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it's lowest ones. Click To Tweet

3. The “Different Types of Leaders and Leadership” Shelf 

You can be an inspirational or a heart-led leader; you can practice servant or primal leadership; see which one of these different types of leaders you are and which type of leadership best suits your needs.

3.1 John Adair – The Inspirational Leader

The Inspirational Leader

About the Book: John Adair is the leading authority on leadership-related matters in Europe; and in The Inspirational Leader, he shares almost everything he knows on how to motivate, encourage and achieve success. Written in the form of a series of discussions between a young executive and the author, The Inspirational Leader argues that leaders are made, not born. And that you can learn to become one. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Put a person in one situation, and they will be accepted as a leader; change the situation and they won't. Click To Tweet

3.2 Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer (Eds.) – How to Be a Positive Leader

How to Be a Positive Leader

About the Book: Authored by no less than 16 authors, How to Be a Positive Leader is a collection of 13 essays, all of which aim to teach you how you can become a positive leader. The essays—written by leading thinkers such as Adam Grant (see 4.6), Kim Cameron, and Robert Quinn—show how you can build a positive organization, by fostering positive relationships, unlocking resources from within, tapping into the good, and creating resourceful change. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your behavior matters, and the more positively you lead, the more successful and happy your organization, family, and community will become. Click To Tweet

3.3 Sudhir Venkatesh – Gang Leader for a Day

Gang Leader for a Day

About the Book: You will only understand why we include this book on our list once you read it. While a graduate student at the University of Chicago, “rogue sociologist” Sudhir Venkatesh decided to take to the street and hang out with the Black Kings, a crack-selling gang operating around Chicago’s notorious Robert Taylor Homes. Let’s just say: there are many things you should learn and unlearn from the practices of gang leaders; and this is the best book to do it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The skill, ingenuity, and resilience of those taking an ‘alternate economic path’ in life cannot be boiled down to the laws they transgress. Click To Tweet

3.4 John C. Maxwell – The 360o Leader

The 360o Leader

About the Book: Who says that in order to be a leader, you need to be at the top of the pyramid? In The 360o Leader, John C. Maxwell argues that it is even better that you are in the middle of your organization because from there, you can be a 360o Leader. Meaning: you can lead both down, across, and up. And this book can teach you how – in no less than 23 principles! (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about John C. Maxwell | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit. Click To Tweet

3.5 Tommy Spaulding – The Heart-Led Leader

The Heart-Led Leader

About the Book: “Success is about building hearts,” writes Tommy Spaulding in The Heart-Led Leader, “not resumes.” Authentic leaders, he goes on, lead from the heart, according to whose laws they also live their lives. Being a leader means understanding the values of transparency, vulnerability, humility, empathy, and, yes, love! As it is stated in the blurb, Tommy Spaulding’s vision is “a vision of leadership that has the power to transform everything we do and the lives of everyone we touch.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Heart-led leaders are always looking for that something more. Click To Tweet

3.6 Peter Drucker – The Effective Executive

The Effective Executive

About the Book: Subtitled “the definitive guide to getting the right things done,” The Effective Executive is yet another classic from management guru Peter Drucker (see 2.16). Here, he identifies five practices you must learn and master if you want to be a good leader: time-management; deciding how you will contribute to your organization; understanding where and how you should mobilize strength to maximize the effect; setting the right priorities; and, finally, making the right and most effective decisions. Needless to add, each of the priorities is analyzed in detail – with all its why’s and how’s. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Effective executives know that their subordinates are paid to perform and not to please their superiors. Click To Tweet

3.7 Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson – The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager

About the Book: The One Minute Manager takes the form of a fable, telling the story of a young man who’s looking for a mentor to lead him to greatness. The eponymous “One Minute Manager” turns out to be a three-minute manager, in the end. He’s someone who spends a minute on setting the three most important priorities for his employees, a minute to praise the ones who’ll meet them, and a minute to politely scold those who won’t. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The One Minute Manager’s symbol is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources. Click To Tweet The One Minute Manager  

3.8 Matthew Kelly – The Dream Manager

The Dream Manager

About the Book: If your employees hate you, says Matthew Kelly in The Dream Manager, they hate you for a reason. It’s not that you’re a bad person; but, simply put, you get one third of their lives in exchange for money. The only way you can atone for this: institute a new position, the Dream Manager, a combination of a financial consultant and a life coach, The Dream Manager is someone capable of turning your employees’ dreams into reality, and, consequently, their hate for you into genuine love and admiration. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Once we stop dreaming, we start to lead lives of quiet desperation, and little by little passion and energy begin to disappear from our lives. Click To Tweet

3.9 Archie Brown – The Myth of the Strong Leader

The Myth of the Strong Leader

About the Book: Archie Brown is an Oxford-based political scientist and historian and The Myth of the Strong Leader is a book like no other on this list. “A magisterial study of political leadership around the world from the advent of parliamentary democracy to the age of Obama,” it shatters one of the most persisting myths in history: that of the strong leader. We’ll let Bill Gates tell you the rest: “Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be ‘strong leaders.’ Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers.”(Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

There are many qualities desirable in a political leader that should matter more than the criterion of strength, one better suited to judging weightlifters or long-distance runners. Click To Tweet

3.10 Randy Grieser – The Ordinary Leader

The Ordinary Leader

About the Book: An ordinary leader is someone who leads a small company or a team to triumph – and that’s it. He is not someone you’ll find on the cover of a book, nor one who spends his summers in his magnificent villa on the coast of Spain. And yet – he matters and makes the world a better place. Randy Grieser’s The Ordinary Leader is a book about all those people who don’t want to become a Steve Jobs or an Elon Musk (see 2.10 and 2.11) but want to lead. “Finally, a leadership book that I can relate to: this book is full of practical and accessible strategies,” exclaims Dave Llyod. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

While personality traits and talents can make leading easier for some people, I believe great leadership is developed through a continuous process of self-reflection, education, and experience. Click To Tweet

3.11 Daniel Goleman – Primal Leadership

Primal Leadership

About the Book: If you think that vulnerability is something good leaders should stay away from – think again! Primal Leadership further reinforces Good to Great’s (see 4.1) conclusion that the most successful companies are led by humble leaders! Moreover, Daniel Goleman, the author who popularized the concept of “emotional intelligence,” claims that great leaders possess something even more special: a quality called “resonance.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Daniel Goleman | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

They craft a vision with heartfelt passion, they foster an inspiring organizational mission that is deeply woven into the organizational fabric, and they know how to give people a sense that their work is meaningful. Click To Tweet

3.12 Alexandre Havard – Virtuous Leadership

Virtuous Leadership

About the Book: “If you lead people to hell,” says Alexandre Havard, “you are not a leader. The Devil is not a leader – he’s a manipulator.” Learned and eruditely written, Virtuoso Leadership rummages through history books to teach modern leaders what the Ancient Greek and Medieval Christian philosophers already knew. Namely, that leadership and virtue not only go together well but are all but synonymous. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leaders, no matter what their religious or philosophical convictions are, feel the promptings of the natural moral law, compelling them to do good and avoid evil. Click To Tweet

3.13 Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp – The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership

About the Book: According to the authors of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, there are two types of leaders, and you don’t want to be an unconscious one. Because, in that case, you are reactive and you follow your instincts; studies have shown that only when you are active and think rationally, you can lead your company to success. Follow these 15 steps and you will. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

At any particular time, leaders are operating from either fear or love. Click To Tweet

3.14 Stephen R. Covey – Principle-Centered Leadership

Principle-Centered Leadership

About the Book: Coercive leadership is based on fear: a leader is followed because his followers fear him. Utility leadership is based on usefulness: the followers agree to be led only because of the benefits they expect to receive from their leaders. Finally, principle-centered leadership is based on willingness: followers follow because they believe in the values of their leaders. Do we really need to tell you which one of the three is the best one? (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Stephen R. Covey | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

When you are living in harmony with your core values and principles, you can be straightforward, honest, and up-front. Click To Tweet

3.15 Robert K. Greenleaf – The Power of Servant Leadership

The Power of Servant Leadership

About the Book: If you don’t know what servant leadership is, this is the book from which you should learn all about it. Conceptualized by AT&T’s Robert K. Greenleaf over four decades ago, like all great ideas, servant leadership is counterintuitive. It says that the duty of a great leader is not to lead his/her company to success, but his/her employees to greatness. Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last (see 4.3) owes a lot to this concept – just as much as Greenleaf’s idea owes to Jesus’ washing the feet of his followers on the Last Supper. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

As the ancient Taoist proclaimed, when the leader leads well, the people will say, ‘We did it ourselves. Click To Tweet

3.16 Drew Dudley – Everyday Leadership

Everyday Leadership

About the Book: Chosen by Times as one of the “7 TED Talks That Will Make You a Better Leader,” Drew Dudley’s Everyday Leadership is generally considered “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time.” The main lesson? Leaders are ordinary people who casually change other people’s worlds – and that makes you a leader too. Don’t believe us? Hear Dudley and learn all about the magic of lollipop moments! (Read a brief summary of the TED Talk | Watch the TED Talk)

Favorite Quote:

As long as we make leadership something bigger than us… we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day, from ourselves and from each other. Click To Tweet

3.17 Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright – Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership

About the Book: No matter where you work and how your company is organized, there’s a big chance that, within it, there are already quite a few tribes. Tribal Leadership is not only an analysis of how these tribes develop and evolve but also a handy manual about how to deal with them and use their very tribal nature to maximize the productivity of your company. In other words, instead of bothering with creating cohesive unity, why don’t you save yourself a lot of time and just leverage the groups which naturally form? (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Change the language in the tribe, and you have changed the tribe itself. Click To Tweet

3.18 Dave Ramsey – EntreLeadership

EntreLeadership

About the Book: According to USA’s favorite financial guru Dave Ramsey, a company is only as strong as its leaders. You can’t expect from a student to grow if he/she has a bad teacher, can’t you? Then why would you expect from your team to get the results if you are not courageous and decisive, inspiring and valued? In EntreLeadership, Ramsey offers a practical, step-by-step manual on how you can become such a leader. And he has 20 years of practical business wisdom to vouch for the applicability of his lessons. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very things you want from a leader are the very things the people you are leading expect from you. Click To Tweet

3.19 Cy Wakeman – Reality-Based Leadership

Reality-Based Leadership

About the Book: Do you know that 7 out of 10 workers think about quitting their jobs on a daily basis? What kind of a leader would ever allow that? In Reality-Based Leadership, Fast Company’s Cy Wakeman teaches you how to “ditch the drama, restore sanity to the workplace and turn excuses into results.” And it all starts with bursting bubbles and facing facts such as the one pointed above. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Drama is ultimately the result of a lack of clear leadership. Click To Tweet

3.20 David Cottrell – Monday Morning Leadership

Monday Morning Leadership

About the Book: Who doesn’t like a good leadership fable? David Cottrell’s Monday Morning Leadership is one such story – about a manager and his wise mentor. As its subtitle suggests, it includes 8 mentoring sessions you can’t afford to miss: 1. making tough decisions; 2. keep the main thing the main thing; 3. keep your stars shining; 4. the ‘do right’ rule; 5. hire tough; 6. do less or work faster; 7. buckets and dippers; and 8. enter the learning zone. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You learn more by reading more. I'm living proof that the more you learn, the more you earn. Click To Tweet

4. The “Leadership Strategies and Styles, Tactics and Theories” Shelf 

Leadership is not a science; it’s an art. Consequently, there’s no one way to do it; there are many different strategies and styles, different leadership tactics and theories. The following twenty books reveal some of the best-known and most effective ones.

4.1 Jim Collins – Good to Great

Good to Great

About the Book: Based on a 5-year study which included an in-depth analysis and contrast/compare study of the strategies and practice of 28 different companies, Good to Great is Jim Collins’ attempt to get to the bottom of the causes which separate the great companies from the good ones. And his findings are both surprising and enlightening! Want to become a Level 5 leader – the humble guru who always does what’s best for his company? Read this book and find out how. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. Click To Tweet Good to Great

4.2 Simon Sinek – Start with Why

Start with Why

About the Book: As Sun Tzu enlighteningly taught us in The Art of War all the preparation works only if it’s put into practice. In Start with Why, our favorite optimist Simon Sinek shows how it’s not only about the actions of the great leaders themselves, but it’s also about the actions they inspire in the people around. And where does inspiration come from? Well, it’s not in the how – it’s in the why. Because only when you know why you want to be the CEO of a certain company, you’ll know how to run that company. And what to tell those around you to inspire them to act in the right way. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Simon Sinek | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Click To Tweet

4.3 Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last

About the Book: If Start with Why is about the why, then Leaders Eat Last is about the how. And, just like many of the books on this list, it’s once again about the how’s of being a good leader; not a Machiavellian one. The latter one is obsolete nowadays, says Sinek here. The good one eats last, and, thus, creates a Circle of Safety, i.e., a group of loyal co-workers and employees who love him and follow him blindly – because they believe his vision. You know: a fellowship. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Simon Sinek | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Click To Tweet Leaders Eat Last  

4.4 Simon Sinek – Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

About the Book: It’s Simon Sinek once again – but, if you know anything about him, you know that it’s once again more than deservedly. This time we’ve opted for a TED Talk of his, in which he redefines leaders as people who make their employees feel safe and comfortable, and, thus, provide them with an environment in which they can develop and flourish and, in time, pay back the trust put in them manifold. (Read a brief summary of the TED Talk | Read more about Simon Sinek | Watch the TED Talk)

Favorite Quote:

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears. Click To Tweet

4.5 Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

About the Book: According to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People – one of the most influential books ever – people are egotistical and think they know everything when they actually know little. His advice: use this your benefit. A combination of charm and the right number of compliments can turn self-dubbed lions into hand-eating sparrows. And the best part: they’ll think they lead you whilst you’re pulling the strings! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it. Click To Tweet How to Win Friends and Influence People

4.6 Adam Grant – Originals

Originals

About the Book: If you want to be the leader of the pack, you have to be someone who doesn’t belong in the pack. And in Originals, Adam Grant teaches you how – and why – you must be different. For the sake of humanity. The conformists believe in the holiness of the status quo. The originals try to disrupt it. In which group do you think the good leaders belong (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better. Click To Tweet

4.7 L. David Marquet – Turn the Ship Around

Turn the Ship Around

About the Book: L. David Marquet takes Simon Sinek’s advice and raises it by one! Why not, he says, instead of creating a nice little camaraderie of colleagues/friends who follow you for the right reasons, turning your subordinates into leaders just like you! Bearing in mind the fact that Marquet is a former U.S. Navy captain, this may not seem like such a wise idea. However, as he explicates in Turn the Ship Around, it more than works! In fact, it’s what transformed the crew of the USS Santa Fe submarine from “worst to best.” Think operating your company is harder than captaining a submarine? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

My definition of leadership is this: Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves. Click To Tweet

4.8 Patrick Lencioni – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

About the Book: Subtitled “a leadership fable,” The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is, arguably, Patrick Lencioni’s best and, justly, most celebrated book. By listing the five main problems a team can face – absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results – the story teaches leaders how to tackle them and how to turn the I’s of their employees into a collective “We.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal. Click To Tweet

4.9 Patrick Lencioni – The Ideal Team Player

The Ideal Team Player

About the Book: More or less, a sequel to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Ideal Team Player is yet another leadership fable by Patrick Lencioni. In it, the author attempts not only to teach how leaders can recognize the three essential virtues of team players but also how they can cultivate them. In case you’re wondering, these are humility, hunger, and people smarts. Of course, that’s merely the beginning of the book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Click To Tweet

4.10 Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – Extreme Ownership

Extreme Ownership

About the Book: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are decorated Navy SEAL officers and commanders of the SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit bruisers during the bloody Second Battle of Ramadi. In Extreme Ownership, they share their war experiences and explain how you should apply them in the real world. If Navy SEAL tactics worked for them in such exceptional circumstances, then probably they should work for you twice as good in ordinary conditions. Learn how to cover and move or how to prioritize and execute. It already sounds exciting! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The most fundamental and important truths at the heart of Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders… Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame. Click To Tweet

4.11 John Adair – Not Bosses But Leaders

Not Bosses But Leaders

About the Book: Presented once again in the form of a dialogue with a young executive (see 3.1), John Adair’s Not Bosses But Leaders shows that there’s a big difference between being an executive and being a leader. Accessible and straightforward, Not Bosses But Leaders will teach you, in an almost epigrammatic manner, that “leadership is action, not position,” and that “authority flows from the one who knows.” Not only memorable but also highly useful and practical. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Great necessities call forth great leaders. Click To Tweet

4.12 The Arbinger Institute – Leadership and Self-Deception

Leadership and Self-Deception

About the Book: Just like Blanchard and Johnson’s One Minute Manager (see 3.7) and Patrick Lencioni’s books (see 4.8 and 4.9), Leadership and Self-Deception is a business fable which reveals how the world of Tom Callum, a newly appointed senior manager at the fictional Zagrum Company, is rocked after a meeting with the company’s executive VP, Bud Jefferson, and a discussion about self-deception. This is not a book merely about leaders; it’s also a book about everyone who feels as if stuck in a box. Interestingly, that’s the first step of getting out of it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

In the box, I’m blind to the truth about myself and others. I’m even blind to my own motivations. Click To Tweet

4.13 Ronald A. Heifetz – Leadership Without Easy Answers

Leadership Without Easy Answers

About the Book: It’s easy to lead when everything’s going perfect, but kind of difficult in times of crises. Yet, the real leader is the one who leads well when everything is against him, the one who steers the ship in the right direction, against the grain, and against all the odds. Heifetz’s Leadership Without Easy Answers offers fireproof strategies for leaders in extraordinary and critical times – and they can also be used by activists, managers and workers. Just in case. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Instead of looking for saviors, we should be calling for leadership that will challenge us to face problems for which there are no simple, painless solutions – problems that require us to learn new ways. Click To Tweet

4.14 Scott Berkun – The Year Without Pants

The Year Without Pants

About the Book: Scott Berkun worked for Microsoft for a decade, before leaving the company in 2003 so as to focus on writing or, in his words, to fill his bookshelf with books written by him. Fast forward a decade, and he got a job as a manager at WordPress.com, leading one of its most important teams for a year as part of an investigative assignment he set for himself. What he was able to experience during this year was “the future of work.” It’s a strange one: you can work without pants, and you can be a leader – no matter what your position. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Bureaucracies form when people’s jobs are tied strictly to rules and procedures, rather than the effect those things are supposed to have on the world. Click To Tweet

4.15 Samuel B. Bacharach – Get Them on Your Side

Get Them on Your Side

About the Book: “An acknowledged expert in the field of management and organizational behavior,” says the Amazon blurb, “offers advice on building political capital, in a guide for managers searching for ways to gain support and allies for their ideas and initiatives.” The description does this book little justice: Get Them on Your Side is a must-read for anyone who wants to become a leader, especially a political one. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

As a politically competent leader, you need to be sensitive to the language that others understand and use. Click To Tweet

4.16 David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo, and Stephen Rhinesmith – Head, Heart & Guts

Head, Heart & Guts

About the Book: “Leadership development,” write Dotlich, Cairo, and Rhinesmith in Head, Heart & Guts, “often doesn’t work because the development process replicates the culture and reinforces prevailing views.” And, as it should be more than expected, leaders are the ones who go against the grain when that is necessary. Head, Heart & Guts reveals how paradoxical the role of a leader is, because, in addition to being able to work within the confines of conventional strategies, he also needs to empathize with his workers and be daring enough to take risks – all at the same time! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Complex times require complex leaders. Click To Tweet

4.17 David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo, and Stephen Rhinesmith – Leading in Times of Crisis

Leading in Times of Crisis

 sAbout the Book: “Building on the solid base of their book Head, Heart, and Guts,” notes John Naisbitt, “Dotlich, Cairo, and Rhinesmith lay out the ways to become the kind of leader needed to navigate through today’s complexities and uncertainties. Leading in Times of Crisis is a necessary guidebook to survive and thrive in the global perfect storm.” We have nothing to add.(Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Whole leaders handle complexity well because they use a framework or filter to sort through existing data and are not paralyzed by having less information than they need or want. Click To Tweet

4.18 David L. Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo – Why CEOs Fail

Why CEOs Fail

About the Book: There are so many books which aim to teach you what you should do to become a good leader; David L. Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo’s third and final entry on our list, Why CEOs Fail, is one which teaches you what you shouldn’t do. The great part is that this book doesn’t only list the “11 behaviors that can derail your climb to the top” (arrogance, melodrama, volatility, excessive caution, habitual distrust, aloofness, mischievousness, eccentricity, passive resistance, perfectionism, and eagerness to please), but also offers advice on how to manage each of them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One of the toughest balancing acts in the leadership business is between confidence and too much confidence. Click To Tweet

4.19 Tim Irwin – Derailed

Derailed

About the Book: Yet another book about the don’ts of leadership: Tim Irwin’s magnificent Derailed is an analysis of the collapse of six high-profile CEOs (Robert Nardelli, Carly Fiorina, Durk Jager, Steven Heyer, Frank Raines, and Dick Fuld) and an elucidation of the five lessons you can learn from these catastrophic failures of leadership. “This is not just a book for CEOs,” writes Michael Hyatt, a CEO himself. “It is for anyone who serves in a leadership capacity―pastors, teachers, government officials, and even mid-level managers in corporations. Not only is this a book you should read; in my opinion, it’s a book you can’t afford not to read. There is simply too much at stake.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leaders must set direction, gain alignment among diverse constituencies, risk change, build high-performing teams, achieve results, go the extra mile and endure ungodly stress. Click To Tweet

4.20 Ram Charan – Know-How

Know-How

About the Book: Ram Charan, one of the authors of The Leadership Pipeline (see 1.14) is back again with Know-How, a “brilliant, immensely practical, and comprehensive” book (Stephen R. Covey, see 1.2) which identifies and examines the 8 skills that separate people who perform from those who don’t. “Leadership is a messy phenomenon,” writes Charan, but the good news is that “leaders are made, not born.” Here’s a book which can teach you how. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Goals are set at 50,000 feet. Priorities are set at ground level. Click To Tweet

5. The “Let the Ladies Lead” Shelf 

Who says that it’s a man’s world? Despite all the discrimination and the ever-widening gender pay gap, these ladies made it to the top! And all of them want to share what they’ve learned so that other women could follow.

5.1 Sheryl Sandberg – Lean In

Lean In

About the Book: Sheryl Sandberg was a vice president for online sales at Google and the first woman to serve in Facebook’s board of directors; currently, she is Facebook’s COO. Also, she is a billionaire, a Time 100 person, and the founder of Leanin.org, an organization dedicated “to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.” Now, if she can’t tell you a thing or two about gender equality – who can? Ladies of the world – unite! And take back what you’ve been unjustly deprived of for millennia! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. Click To Tweet Lean In  

5.2 Sophia Amoruso – #GIRLBOSS

#GIRLBOSS

About the Book: In less than a decade, Sophia Amoruso went from being a petty thief and a high-school dropout to founding Nasty Gal, a woman’s fashion retailer. In #GIRLBOSS Amoruso tells her story, which was interesting enough to inspire Netflix to turn it into a TV show. Since #GIRLBOSS was published, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, but Amoruso has since founded Girlboss Media, a successful company which creates podcast and videos aimed at a female audience. Great leaders know how to fail. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Click To Tweet

5.3 Brené Brown – Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead

About the Book: A TED superstar, Brené Brown is widely considered one of the foremost experts on understudied subjects such as vulnerability and humility. In Dare to Lead she repackages her findings in a business edition, teaching all the leaders out there to be brave to be vulnerable and to build a culture of trust in their companies through BRAVING. Yup, that’s an acronym. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential. Click To Tweet

5.4 Liz Wiseman – Rookie Smarts

Rookie Smarts

About the Book: Liz Wiseman is – we just can’t get enough of this pun! – a very wise woman. The president of the Wiseman Group, you can often find her name on the Thinkers50 list of leading management and leadership thinkers of the world (#35 on the last one). And you don’t get to be on that list if you are a conventional thinker. Wiseman is not: in Rookie Smarts, she shows why “learning beats knowing in the new game of work” and why leaders must, paradoxically, go back to basics and their rookie smarts if they want to thrive and succeed. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Wise leaders leverage the rookie smarts on their team… because of the value rookies bring to the table: new practices, expert networks, agility, tireless improvisation, and a greater sense of ownership. Click To Tweet

5.5 Blythe J. McGarvie – Fit In, Stand Out

Fit In, Stand Out

About the Book: You may think the title – usually abbreviated to FISO – is a sort of a paradox, but, according to Blythe J. McGarvie, it is precisely what all successful leaders are capable of doing. They, she writes “must both fit in and stand out, and they must understand how to anticipate and control the interplay between the two forces.” If you want to become a great FISO leader – then this is undoubtedly the best book on the subject. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The best leadership decisions have the clarity of white light, but if you could view them through a prism, you would see that many of them are actually composed of a range of perspectives. Click To Tweet

5.6 Judith Humphrey – Taking the Stage

Taking the Stage

About the Book: According to Judith Humphrey, founder of the first Canadian leadership communication firm, 9 out of 10 women who seek leadership advice from her suffer from the Impostor Syndrome, i.e., they feel as if they’re not worthy of their careers. Taking the Stage aims to change that, educating women how to speak up, stand out, and succeed. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Taking the Stage is a metaphor for all the ways you can be your own best champion by finding compelling ways to express yourself. Click To Tweet

5.7 Herminia Ibarra – Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

About the Book: Enough with the insights: Herminia Ibarra is here to share with you some unconventional ‘outsights’ about leadership! “In this terrific book,” writes Daniel H. Pink (see 1.10), “Herminia Ibarra… reframes the leader’s quest as a process of looking outward, rather than inward, for direction, development and opportunity. Her conclusions – her ‘outsights’ – come from careful observation and current research and include smart, practical suggestions for expanding your leadership opportunities.” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The paradox of change is that the only way to alter the way we think is by doing the very things our habitual thinking keeps us from doing. Click To Tweet

5.8 Laura Empson – Leading Professionals

Leading Professionals

About the Book: Based on Laura Empson’s scholarly research and interviews with over 500 leaders, Leading Professionals examines “the complex power dynamics and interpersonal politics that lie at the heart of leadership in professional organizations.” In addition to offering you a peek behind the curtains of notoriously private organizations (banks, law firms, consulting corporations), Leading Professionals also identifies how and why some of their leaders succeed, and others fail. A landmark study. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

In a professional organization, the so-called greater good is simply the interests of the collective as defined by its leaders at a particular point in time. Click To Tweet

5.9 Joelle K. Jay – The Inner Edge

The Inner Edge

About the Book: “You don’t become a leader because someone else says you are,” writes Joelle K. Jay in The Inner Edge. “You become a leader because you embrace leadership for yourself.” This book teaches you the 10 practices of personal leadership: get clarity; find focus; take action; tap into your brilliance; feel fulfillment; maximize your time; build your team; keep learning; see possibility; and do all of that – at once! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Be a first-rate version of yourself, not a second-rate version of someone else. Click To Tweet

5.10 Mary Beth O’Neill – Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart

Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart

About the Book: According to its subtitle, Executive Coaching with a Backbone and Heart offers “A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders and Their Challenges.” According to an early review, it more than succeeds, since it “brings form and structure to the art of executive coaching.” Whether you want to learn the basics of executive coaching, or you are interested in the three core principles or its four phases, this is where you’ll find them, defined, outlined, and analyzed in detail. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The essence of executive coaching is helping leaders get unstuck from their dilemmas and assisting them to transfer their learning into results for the organization. Click To Tweet

5.11 Blaire Palmer – What’s Wrong with Work

What’s Wrong with Work

About the Book: Blaire Palmer is one of the most sought-after leadership experts and executive coaches in the UK; and there’s a reason for that: to quote Michael Scott, “she knows the dealio.” In What’s Wrong with Work, she pinpoints the five frustrations of work and teaches you, the would-be leader, how you can fix them for good. And the frustrations? Waste-of-time meetings, mis-leadership, blurred vision, silo mentality, and unfairness. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Leadership (and management) isn’t a science. It is an art. Click To Tweet

5.12 Debra A. Benton – How to Think Like a CEO

How to Think Like a CEO

About the Book: According to Edward D. Shonsey (CEO, Northrup King Co.), Debra A. Benton’s How to Think Like a CEO is “a lot like having the other team’s playbook a week before the Super Bowl.” “Every step, every leadership skill, every strategic alliance, every insight, every nuance is here,” adds Harvey Mackay in a glowing review. At almost 500 pages, Debra A. Benton’s How to Think Like a CEO is an exceptional book, both identifying the 22 vital traits that make for a successful leader and advising you on how to acquire them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Keep going until something stops you, then keep going. Click To Tweet

5.13 Suzanne Bates – Speak Like a CEO

Speak Like a CEO

About the Book: Once you’ve learned from Debra Benton to think like a CEO, you’re ready to move on to Suzanne Bates advise on how to speak like one. It’s no secret that great communication skills are what separates leaders from the rest of the bunch, but it is one that rather than being something you have, they are something you can learn. And that’s where Speak Like a CEO comes in handy. As its subtitle suggests, this book will teach you “the secrets for commanding attention and getting results.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Speaking is a lot like horse racing – you have to get off to a good start. Click To Tweet

5.14 Judith E. Glaser – Conversational Intelligence

Conversational Intelligence

About the Book: Based on neuroscientific research, Judith E. Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence examines “how great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results.” In the book, Glaser reveals that even though there are three levels of conversations – transactional (exchanging data), positional (advocating or inquiring) and transformational (inspiring) – most of us are capable of discussing only on the first two levels. The words of the great leaders, however, are transformational. Use Glaser’s findings to master this art and become one. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The quality of the conversation drives the nature of the impact. At the moment of contact, conversations have the power to transform our lives. Click To Tweet

5.15 Diane Dreher – The Tao of Womanhood

The Tao of Womanhood

About the Book: Diane Dreher has also written may have written another book with a title more appropriate for a list such as this – The Tao of Personal Leadership – but we firmly believe that this one’s better suited for our “Let the Ladies Lead” shelf. “A spiritual resource that combines the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching with straightforward advice and illuminating anecdotes,” The Tao of Womanhood aims to teach women all over the world how to lead a balanced and fulfilling life, regardless of whether they are stay-at-home moms or CEOs. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Women have always told each other stories… There are so many stories, so many ways to be a woman today. Click To Tweet

5.16 Linda Austin – What’s Holding You Back?

What’s Holding You Back?

About the Book: Unfortunately, even after thirty years of feminism, there are still very few Angela Merkels and Mary Barras in the world (see 5.19 and 5.20). Why is that? Because, Linda Austin argues, women still suffer from self-imposed psychological barriers. In What’s Holding You Back? she has a look at the 8 critical choices for women’s success: motivation, investing energy, focusing intelligence, shaping work life, competition, tar babies, losing, and brokering power. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Great artistic works are often based on solving several psychological problems simultaneously. Click To Tweet

5.17 Lynn Harris – Unwritten Rules

Unwritten Rules

About the Book: The subtitle of Lynn Harris’ 2009 book says it all: “What Women Need to Know About Leading in Today’s Organizations.” Wittily written and smartly structured, Unwritten Rules spends only thirty or so pages to examine the problem of the lack of women at leadership positions, and the next one hundred pages to give a satisfying answer to the question “what does a woman need to do to get around here?” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A lack of understanding of the organizational environment and its unwritten rules is ignorance that you simply can’t afford. It’s like having a snake in the room with the lights turned off – you never know when you might trip over it or… Click To Tweet

5.18 Hillary Clinton – Hard Choices

Hard Choices

About the Book: To the alleged dismay of Leslie Knope, Hillary Clinton never got the chance to become the leader of the American people; but as a former Secretary of State and a presidential candidate, she had to make quite a few hard choices; her memoir chronicles most of them, documenting the rise of one of the most prominent female leaders today. Love her or hate her, you’ve got to agree that that sentence is not inaccurate. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Sometimes the best way to achieve real change, in diplomacy and in life, is by building relationships and understanding how and when to use them. Click To Tweet

5.19 Matthew Qvortrup – Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

About the Book: While this is not the official biography of Angela Merkel – if you’re looking for something like that, have a look at Stefan Kornelius’ same-titled book – it is a newer, and, arguably, a more balanced look at the reign of (as the book’s subtitle explicitly states) “Europe’s Most Influential Leader.” Merkel is so much more than that: via her Wikipedia page, she “has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and the leader of the Free World.” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Merkel’s deeds shaped the future, creating a new set of political circumstances in politics and economics that everybody had to accept, whether they lived in Berlin, Brussels, Moscow, Athens or the refugee camps across Europe and the… Click To Tweet

5.20 Laura Colby – Road to Power

Road to Power

About the Book: You may not know her name, but Mary Barra is, according to the most recent list of “Power Women” by Forbes, the fourth most powerful woman in the world, just behind Merkel, Theresa May and IMF’s Christine Lagarde. Why? Because four years ago, Mary Barra, an electrical engineer by trade, became the first female CEO of a major automaker. Which one? Well, the largest in America, and the second largest in the world, General Motors. It’s even better that her “personal character, choices, and leadership style” is here relayed to the public by another exceptional woman, Bloomberg News’ Laura Colby. (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It took GM more than 100 years to produce a Mary Barra. Click To Tweet

The Wildcard 

101. Frank Herbert – Dune

Dune

About the Book: You wouldn’t have guessed our wildcard not in a million years, now would you? And yet, we had no doubt whatsoever that we’ll end our list with Frank Herbert’s science fiction saga. Don’t believe us that it can teach you how to be a better leader? It’s time for a quote, then. “Besides giving us an incredibly rich and varied view of an interstellar empire,” writes Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, “Herbert has a lot to say about leadership, heroism and strategy in crisis.” Still hesitant? Well, allow Tim Ferriss to ease your doubts: “All you need to know about leadership is contained in Dune.” (Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. Click To Tweet

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Best Motivational Books

Down on your luck? Need some motivation to get out of bed? How about grabbing a book? Let us guess: you would, but you’re out of ideas regarding its author or title.

Worry not: we’re here to help!

Just bookmark this article, and you’re covered for the whole of 2019; even if need less than three days to read a 300-page book! Whether it is self-improvement you’re interested in or books about personal growth, whether you want the best motivational books for women or the best motivational books of all time – they are all here.

And we’ve provided a brief, unique summary/review for each of them, and categorized them on ten different self-explanatory shelves.

So, seriously, bookmark this article: it’s that useful

Without further ado – let’s roll.

The 101 Best Motivational Books List

(Click a title below to go to the respective shelf)

1. Basics of Motivation
2. Rules for Life
3. Power of Positive Thinking
4. You Are a Badass
5. Great Lecture
6. Why Would You Give a Damn
7. Fables and Fiction
8. Inspirational Biographies
9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
10. Show Me the Money
Wildcard

1. The “Basics of Motivation” Shelf

You can’t motivate yourself without learning what motivation is. Want to do that? Well, these 10 books offer a great philosophical and theoretical framework!

The Motivation Manifesto1.1 Brendon Burchard – The Motivation Manifesto

About the Book: What better way to start a list of the 101 best motivational books you should read in 2019 than with a motivation manifesto? And Brendon Burchard’s really lives up to its name! His “9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” will energize you to your very core! This is one you should keep on your bedside table. Or even under your pillow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Without making the actual attempt, without trial and strife, there can be no true knowledge, no progress, no high achievement, and no legend.

Find Your Why1.2 Simon Sinek – Find Your Why

About the Book: In Start with Why, Simon Sinek proposed to the world – in his very own words – “the world’s simplest idea.” Namely, that why you are doing what you’re doing is more important than how you’re doing it or even what it is that you’re doing. In Find Your Why Sinek teams up with Peter Docker and David Mead and gives us the book we’ve all been waiting for: a practical guide to discovering that why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

Drive1.3 Daniel H. Pink – Drive

About the Book: The subtitle of Daniel H. Pink’s thought-provoking 2011 bestseller, Drive – “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” – tells you everything you need to know about this book. First of all, it explores the roots of motivation; and secondly, it reaches unexpected conclusions. In a nutshell, that money doesn’t motivate us; what does is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Drive
Favorite Quote:

Pay your son to take out the trash — and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.

The Power of Habit1.4 Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit

About the Book: We are creatures of habit, and Duhigg knows that the real power of this insight lies in the fact that “your habits are what you choose them to be.” However, as you know full well, it’s not easy to choose them: you are intrinsically motivated to do some things much more than some others. And though it’s not easy to change them as well, you can actually do it: just replace the routine but keep the initial cue and the final reward. Apparently, this works 100% of the time! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Habit
Favorite Quote:

The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.

Switch1.5 Chip and Dan Heath – Switch

About the Book: Speaking of habits and how to change them – here’s another classic in the field: Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch. According to the Heath Brothers, all successful changes follow the same pattern. Namely, people who change all have a clear direction, plenty of motivation, and a supportive environment. Or to use the Jonathan Haidt analogy they use: you need to direct the rider; motivate the elephant, and shape the path. You’ll know what we mean: just see 9.7 below. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Switch
Favorite Quote:

Change is hard because people wear themselves out.

Thinking, Fast and Slow1.6 Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow

About the Book: Daniel Kahneman is a world-renowned psychologist with – get this – a Nobel Prize in Economics. So, basically, he already knows about you more than you’ll ever know about yourself. Thinking, Fast and Slow is a summary of his life-long research, exploring the dichotomy between fast and slow thinking. We don’t think that you’ll place that much value in your own judgment after reading this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Favorite Quote:

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

David and Goliath1.7 Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath

About the Book: Even in his forties, Malcolm Gladwell was already one of the most influential thinkers of our times. Now at 55, he is nothing less than an icon. Even though – like all of his books – a New York Times bestseller, David and Goliath may be his least famous book. But, in our opinion, it may be his most motivating one. Because it can show you why – and how – you can win, even when all odds are against you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

David and Goliath
Favorite Quote:

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times, and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The Power of Myth1.8 Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers – The Power of Myth

About the Book: People have found different ways to motivate themselves to endure and succeed ever since the beginning of times. In The Power of Myth – a book based on the six one-hour conversations taken between journalist Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell in the last year of Campbell’s life – you can see why (and how) these most ancient strategies still work. “Follow your bliss,” says Campbell, “and doors will open where there were no doors before.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.

How Will You Measure Your Life?1.9 Clayton Christensen – How Will You Measure Your Life?

About the Book: Clayton Christensen is a Harvard-based scholar most famous for his theory of “disruptive innovation.” However, in How Will You Measure Your Life? – co-authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon – rather than giving us another analysis of Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, he gives us a book more in the tradition of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (see 5.10). And we should be grateful for it! Because How Will You Measure Your Life? introduces the “hygiene-motivation theory,” according to which, it is not money, but work conditions and job security, combined with recognition, personal growth, and sense of responsibility that are the true motivating factors of existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does1.10 Susan Fowler – Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does

About the Book: Motivation, according to Susan Fowler, is a skill. Meaning, like all other skills, it can be taught and acquired. However, misunderstanding what motivation is leads to a “misapplication of techniques to make it happen.” For this reason, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does sets before itself an objective to dispel all myths about motivation. Here you’ll learn how external undermine internal motivators and how, in order to be motivated, you need to live under an ARC of Freedom. We’ll let you find out what ARC stands for. But we’ll tell you that “people who experience ARC are thriving. They do not need something or someone else doing the driving.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere.

2. The “Rules for Life” Shelf

There are some people who can tell you how you should live your life. And usually, they are smart enough to pack their lifetime of knowledge in several rules. Your job: to merely follow them!

12 Rules for Life2.1 Jordan Peterson – 12 Rules for Life

About the Book:  By all accounts, Jordan Peterson is “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.” His 12 Rules for Life are both humorous and revelatory. And they cover everything – from standing up straight with your shoulders back and putting your house in order to be precise with your speech and – yes! – petting a cat when you encounter one on the street. It’s Peterson, so of course there’s more to it; and of course, it’s as motivating as hell! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.

The Four Agreements2.2 Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

About the Book: In his “practical guide to personal freedom,” Mexican neo-shaman Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the four tenets of true joy and happiness. Though fairly simple – as all wisdom is – the four agreements will probably affect you in a life-changing, world-shattering kind of way. Want to immediately find out what are they? Read here. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The world is very beautiful and very wonderful.  Life can be very easy when love is your way of life.  You can be loving all the time. This is your choice.

Just Shut Up and Do It2.3 Brian Tracy – Just Shut Up and Do It

About the Book: You already know that Brian Tracy is a no-excuses kind of guy. Hence the title. In Just Shut Up and Do It he presents his 7 steps to conquer your goals. So, you can learn how to: surmount the biggest obstacle to success; take charge of your life; dare to go forward; decide what you really want; overcome procrastination; become a lifelong learner; and never give up. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Brian Tracy | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Top people build learning into each day. They read thirty to sixty minutes each morning—approximately one book per week.

Emotional Habits2.4 Akash Karia – Emotional Habits

About the Book: Akash Karia is a peak performance coach and a celebrated NLP trainer; and in Emotional Habits, he shows how Subtitled “7 Things Resilient People Do Differently and How They Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life,” this book is “a quick read that can have immediate and long-term benefits.” (Phil Barth) Not the least because it includes spot-on practical executrices. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The goal of building emotional strength is not to somehow make every situation in life happy and rosy.

Simple Rules2.5 Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt – Simple Rules

About the Book: Life is difficult as it is to make it even more unbearable by adhering to complex rules. If you are – then this book is for you. Drawing on hundreds of studies and more than a decade of research, in Simple Rules Sull and Eisenhardt show how simple rules are the deal and how, armed with just a few of them, “you can tackle even the most complex of problems.” And thrive. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Simple Rules
Favorite Quote:

Investing the time up front to clarify what will move the needles dramatically increases the odds that simple rules will be applied where they can have the greatest impact.

The Daily Stoic2.6 Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman – The Daily Stoic

About the Book: Another obligatory bedside-table – or even under-the-pillow – book. Compiled by one of the leaders “for the charge of stoicism,” Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic contains “366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living” – one for each day of the year, for the rest of your life. And they are all commented upon by Holiday who has a knack for illustrating how relevant this ancient school of philosophy is for our modern world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgment, not your environment.

Ignore Everybody2.7 Hugh MacLeod – Ignore Everybody

About the Book: Hugh Macleod (of gapingvoid.com) is a pretty creative guy; so, when he publishes a book sharing a list of his 40 keys to creativity, it is bound to make a splash. A paean to originality and nonconformity, Ignore Everybody is both a humorous and engaging read; not to mention inspirational. By the end of the book, you’ll definitely want to take your kindergarten crayons back. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.

The Art of Nonconformity2.8 Chris Guillebeau – The Art of Nonconformity

About the Book: Chris Guillebeau has lived a pretty unconventional life, volunteering with Mercy Ships, founding a $100 startup, and visiting all 193 countries of the world by the age of 35. So, in a way, he has mastered the art of nonconformity. Based on his popular online manifesto, “A Brief Guide to World Domination,” this book shares what he learned throughout the process. And can help you learn not only how to set your own rules and live the life you want, but also how to change the world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Unreasonable, unrealistic, and impractical are all words used to marginalize a person or idea that fails to conform with conventionally expected standards.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success2.9 Deepak Chopra – The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

About the Book: In the eyes of most people – yes, we’re looking at you, mums and dads – dreams are an antonym of reality. However, in the eyes of Deepak Chopra, reality and dreams are interconnected, and “the same laws that nature uses to create a forest, a star, or a human body can also bring about the fulfillment of our deepest desires.” A pocket-sized practical guide to the fulfillment of dreams, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, shares the whys and the hows; and it’s both motivating and enlightening. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Favorite Quote:

The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present.

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind2.10 Vishen Lakhiani – The Code of the Extraordinary Mind

About the Book: True, many books can claim to contain “10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” but Vishen Lakhiani’s bestseller actually does. There’s a high chance that you’ve encountered upon none of them (at least in the form they are shared here) in any other book you’ve ever read. And yet, from law #1 (“transcend the culturescape”) through law #7 (“live in blissipline”) to law #9 (“be unf*ckwithable”) – they all make sense and are helpful! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

3. The “Power of Positive Thinking” Shelf

Science has repeatedly shown that glass-half-full people live longer and happier lives than the rest of, well, us. These books show why. And how you can become one of them.

As a Man Thinketh3.1 James Allen – As a Man Thinketh

About the Book: Published more than a century ago, As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay by James Allen, one of the first which deals “with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues.” Described by Allen himself as “a book that will help you to help yourself,” As a Man Thinketh is one of the earliest self-help books; and it is still one of the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

The Power of Positive Thinking3.2 Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking

About the Book: Even though published fifty years after James Allen’s masterpiece, The Power of Positive Thinking is usually credited as the book which started the “positive thinking” revolution. Justly so, bearing in mind the fact that it’s written in a simple, yet engaging, style, and that it compiles an extensive list of case histories to go with the practical instructions. A classic. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture.

The Secret3.3 Rhonda Byrne – The Secret

About the Book: Rhonda Byrne doesn’t hide the fact that The Secret is directly inspired by the ideas of Norman Vincent Peale – or those by Wallace Wattles (10.1), Napoleon Hill (3.8 & 10.2) or Helena Blavatsky. And, indeed, The Secret doesn’t offer any new insights. But it does explain the law of attraction in the simplest manner possible – which is why the book sold over 30 million copies and was translated into 50 world languages. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Secret
Favorite Quote:

The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.

Ask, Believe, Receive

3.4 David Hooper – Ask, Believe, Receive

About the Book: Byrne’s The Secret may be inspired by Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, but Ask, Believe, Receive is a direct sequel to The Secret. Inspired by the fact that “The Secret exposed the world to the Law of Attraction in ways James Allen, Earl Nightingale, and others hadn’t,” David Hopper wrote this book to complement it with a practical guide. It is a “step-by-step formula, actually five of them, to help you achieve what you want in specific areas of your life – money, relationships, health, employment, and business.” In seven days. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The Law of Attraction won’t enclose you in a cushy cocoon, so you never have to deal with problems again – but it can give you greater control over how many of those problems you experience.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life3.5 Brian Tracy – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

About the Book: A list of 101 best motivational books is bound to include quite a few Brian Tracy entries; after all, he is a powerhouse – if not the powerhouse – in the world of motivational speakers. In Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, Tracy provides a step-by-step blueprint on how to transform your ways of thinking about yourself and your potential and, thus, change your life for the better. If not – for the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best way to predict the future is to create it.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind3.6 Joseph Murphy – The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

About the Book: “I have endeavored to explain the great fundamental truths of your mind in the simplest language possible,” writes Joseph Murphy in the introduction to his ultra-popular The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. And he does. The result? The best book on the “miracle-working power of your subconscious mind” and its ability to “heal you of your sickness” and “make you vital and strong again. “ (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.

You Can Heal Your Life3.7 Louise L. Hay – You Can Heal Your Life

About the Book: Just like is the case with most of the books in this category, the premise of You Can Heal Your Life is quite simple: everything is connected, and you can use this to your own benefit. However, if the other books explore the links between your mind and the universe, Louisa L. Hay’s perennial bestseller is mainly focused on the interconnections between your mind and your body. The main takeaway: most diseases are actually mental diseases; and they can be cured via your mind. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude3.8 Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone – Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

About the Book: After the Second World War, the godfather of self-help books and New Thought guru, Napoleon Hill, teamed up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude is the final result of their collaboration. “These two men,” commented upon it none other than Norman Vincent Peale, “have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people… In fact, I owe them both a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received from their writings.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude
Favorite Quote:

Whatever your mind can conceive and can believe, it can achieve.

The Road Less Traveled3.9 M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled

About the Book: It’s been half a century since The Road Less Traveled was first published, so it may be a bit difficult today to understand the spiritual impact this book exerted upon publication. Read it, and you’ll instantly see why it sold almost 10 million copies long before books of its kind became mainstays of the bestseller lists. Exploring the topics of discipline, love, religion, and grace, Peck’s book will etch in your mind such truisms as “laziness is the ultimate sin” and “love is not a feeling, but an action.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

The Power of Now3.10 Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

About the Book: Translated into more than 30 languages and recommended by Oprah Winfrey on numerous occasions, The Power of Now is one of the best manuals you’ll ever find on how to conquer your ego and let go of your worries. A mixture of Buddhism, mysticism and New Age, Eckart Tolle’s masterpiece suggests that about nine-tenths of your anxieties come not from things which are happening, but of things which have happened or might happen. And this is something you can – and should – change. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Now
Favorite Quote:

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle to dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.

Best Motivational Books

4. The “You Are a Badass” Shelf

As the story itself demonstrates, there’s a Goliath in every David; in other words: it’s all in the state of mind. The biblical David had God as his guide; we are positive that these ten great motivators can serve the same purpose in your transformation from a David to a Goliath.

Rising Strong4.1 Brené Brown – Rising Strong

About the Book: In the world of motivational thinkers, Brené Brown is all but a legend. And Rising Strong is her call for “a critical mass of badasses who are willing to dare, fall, feel their way through tough emotion, and rise again.” And the rising process she suggests is a simple 3R procedure. First, you reckon with your emotions; then you rumble with your stories; and, finally, you revolutionize your existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.

You Are a Badass4.2 Jen Sincero – You Are a Badass

About the Book: Hilarious and inspiring, You Are a Badass is the debut book of Jen Sincero, a motivational coach who has helped numerous people worldwide transform their lives and finally experience happiness. It is a 250-page tour-de-force of inspiration, shared out in 5 parts and 27 chapters. Through quite a few inspiring stories, wise advices, and simple exercises, Sincero goes on a mission to teach you “how you got this way,” “how to embrace your inner badass,” “how to tap into the motherlode,” and “how to get over your b.s. already.” You know, the lot which will help you learn “how to kick some ass.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.

Grit4.3 Angela Duckworth – Grit

About the Book: Angela Duckworth is University of Pennsylvania’s Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology and a 2013 MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee. So, it’s safe to say she knows some things about human nature. In her debut, Grit, she claims that talent is only one part of the equation for success. Moreover, that it may even be the least important part. As she repeatedly shows in this great book, the ones who succeed are rarely the ones who are the best. It’s the ones who are the grittiest. Or, to clarify that a bit, the ones with the passion and the perseverance to succeed. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Grit
Favorite Quote:

With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.

The Power of Self-Confidence4.4 Brian Tracy – The Power of Self-Confidence

About the Book: Oftentimes, average players can become great overnight; the only thing that’s changed in the meantime: their confidence. Brian Tracy’s book shows the extent to which self-confidence is the secret ingredient to success; and teaches you how you can attain it so that you can become unstoppable, irresistible, and unafraid in every area of your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

Girl, Wash Your Face

4.5 Rachel Hollis – Girl, Wash Your Face

About the Book: It’s not you: nobody has life figured out. Rachel Hollis, for example, has four children, owns an ultra-popular blog, and is the CCO of a company she has founded. How does she do it? Well, actually, she doesn’t: she has merely let the chaos of her life spur her onwards. In Girl, Wash Your Face she shares the tips and tricks. Oh, yes: if the title wasn’t a giveaway, guys, turn away – this one’s for the girls only. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.

Year of Yes4.6 Shonda Rhimes – Year of Yes

About the Book: Among other things, Shonda Rhimes was the creative force behind one of the most popular TV shows ever: Grey’s Anatomy. She was also a workaholic with barely a minute to spare on her three children or dearest friends. That all changed in 2015, her “Year of Yes.” This book chronicles her experiences of that year; and can certainly inspire you to do something and start creating some of your own. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

Choose Yourself4.7 James Altucher – Choose Yourself

About the Book: Rife with insightful interviews and astute life lessons, Choose Yourself is one of the best self-improvement and motivational books you’ll ever read. The basic premise is (once again) quite simple (just see the title), but the way it’s related and the sheer force of the arguments is compelling. Because, as Altucher says, if there ever was a time in history when you could choose yourself – that time is today. Make the most of it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.

Awaken the Giant Within4.8 Tony Robbins – Awaken the Giant Within

About the Book: Tony Robbins is a motivational powerhouse. In fact, just seeing him or hearing him talk is enough for one to realize that he’s all kinds of a powerhouse. Awaken the Giant Within, a massive 600-page book, is perhaps his still best-known and best-loved work. As you’ll find out in it, getting rid of your old limiting belief systems is a painful process; but if there’s someone who can inspire you to endure the pain necessary to develop an empowering belief system, well, Robbins is your guy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Awaken the Giant Within
Favorite Quote:

I truly believe we all have a sleeping giant within us.

Now, Discover Your Strengths4.9 Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton – Now, Discover Your Strengths

About the Book: As its title suggests, Now, Discover Your Strengths is a sequel to Buckingham’s debut, First, Break All the Rules, with the sole aim to help you – and we do mean you – realize your innate potential. It does this via the Internet-based StrengthsFinder Profile, based on a multimillion-dollar 25-year-long study. Once you buy the book, you’ll discover your unique number to use the program. And after going through the internet analysis and discovering your strengths, you are advised to come back to the book and find the best way to use them. Very unique, Now, Discover Your Strengths is not only groundbreaking but also an extremely useful book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you stop investigating yourself for fear of how little you might find, you miss the wonder of your strengths.

Finding Your Element4.10 Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica – Finding Your Element

About the Book: If you don’t know who Ken Robinson is, then there’s a high chance that you don’t know what TED is either; because Robinson’s 2006 speech, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is by far the most viewed TED Talk of all time. Finding Your Element builds upon that speech and its prequel-book (The Element), which taught us that the Element is the point at which “natural aptitude meets personal passion.” Here you’ll learn how to discover it and transform your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Finding your Element is vital to understanding who you are and what you’re capable of being and doing with your life.

5. The “Great Lecture” Shelf

Regardless of who you are or who you’ll become, a large part of it (for better or for worse) will always be the aftereffect of your professors’ lectures. We can only wish that some of them looked like these ten.

5.1 Elbert Hubbard – A Message to Garcia

About the Book: On February 22, 1899, Elbert Hubbard, an American philosopher and publisher, was irked by a lazy worker. That very night, he wrote this 32-page essay in an attempt to expose “the imbecility of the average man” and his “inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.” His starting point for comparison: a certain soldier named Andrew S. Rowan, who, just prior to the Spanish–American War, was tasked with carrying a message from President William McKinley to the Cuban insurgents’ leader, Gen. Calixto García, “somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba—no one knew where.” Hubbard’s main point: Rowan asked no questions; he just took the message and delivered it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The hero is the man who does the work.

This Is Water5.2 David Foster Wallace – This Is Water

About the Book: Due to his problems with depression and anxiety, David Foster Wallace lived a famously secluded life. In fact – and unfortunately – the only public speech he ever gave in his life was the commencement speech delivered on May 21, 2005 to the graduating class at Kenyon College. An unforgettable lecture on awareness and empathy, the speech was published in a slightly extended version as this book in 2009, a year after Wallace decided to end his life. Regardless of whether you’ll listen to the speech or read the book, Wallace’s messages will most certainly remain with you for many years to come. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Listen to the speech)

Favorite Quote:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Harvard Commencement Speech5.3 J.K. Rowling – Harvard Commencement Speech

About the Book: Back in 1994, J. K. Rowling was a single mother of one, diagnosed with clinical depression and as “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” A year later, 12 publishing houses rejected her manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Today, she is one of the bestselling authors in history. In her 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech Rowling looks back at it all and shares the two lectures she wishes she had been taught at university: the importance of imagination and the usefulness of failure. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.

Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach5.4 Atul Gawande – Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach

About the Book: Atul Gawande is an exceptional American surgeon and public health professor. In this TED2017 speech, he explains that, regardless of his level of expertise, he still needs a coach to get better – or at least not to regress. Athletes have been aware of this fact ever since the beginnings of sport. Even a Michael Jordan or a Garry Kasparov needs a coach. Doesn’t that mean, by implication, that we all do? (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Great coaches…are your external eyes and ears, providing a more accurate picture of your reality.

The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage5.5 Susan David – The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

About the Book: There are objective facts and events; and, then, there are also our emotional reactions to them. It is the latter which actually shape our lives, everything from our health through our relationships and careers to the genuineness of our happiness and contentment. That’s why it’s exceptionally important to develop emotional flexibility; and Susan David’s speech will tell you how you can achieve that. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Diversity isn’t just people; it’s also what’s inside people, including diversity of emotion.

Make Your Bed5.6 William H. McRaven – Make Your Bed

About the Book: The title of this book is the first of Admiral William H. McRaven’s ten life lessons. It’s a different way of saying “start your day with a task completed.” The other nine are the following ones: you can’t go it alone; only the size of your heart matters; life’s not fair – drive on; failure can make you stronger; you must dare greatly; stand up to the bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope; and never, ever quit. Funny and inspiring, McRaven has a host of personal anecdotes to illuminate each of these suggestions; and to inspire you to dare greatly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems5.7 Tapiwa Chiwewe – You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems

About the Book: “Even if you’re not an expert in a particular domain,” says Tapiwa Chiwewe in this endlessly unassuming and infinitely inspiring speech, “your outside expertise may hold the key to solving big problems within that domain.” In his case, it was his background in computer engineering that helped him solve an ecological problem. What will the combination be in your case? The combinations are endless. And that’s the point. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Sometimes just one fresh perspective, one new skill set, can make the conditions right for something remarkable to happen.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are5.8 Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

About the Book: The second most watched TED Talk in history, Amy Cuddy’s Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are can be summed up in a single sentence: strike a “power pose” (think Wonder Woman) and your body will start releasing hormones to boost your feelings of confidence. In other words, regardless of whether you’re actually confident or not – you can trick your body to trick your mind that you are. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Read some Amy Cuddy quotes | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it…Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize it.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.9 Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie

About the Book: Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor, was Mitch Albom’s favorite teacher at Brandeis. However, even though he had promised him the opposite at his graduation day in 1979, Mitch (now a nation-famous sportswriter) had not corresponded with Morrie for the next 16 years. And then he learned from an interview with Schwartz on the TV show Nightline that his university professor is dying from ALS. He called him immediately and for the next fourteen weeks, Mitch Albom spent every Tuesday with Morrie Schwartz. This book describes their discussions, covering everything from family to religion to the meaning of life. And it’s everything you’d expect it to be: poignant, heartbreaking, life-changing. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.10 Randy Pausch – The Last Lecture

About the Book: What if you suddenly find out that you have barely a few months left to live on this planet? We know what you’re thinking: there are so many things I’d do, so many dreams I have yet to achieve. Well, what’s stopping you now? In a nutshell, that’s the question Randy Pausch thinks is the most important one you can ask yourself. And the question he tried to answer in a poignant and inspiring one-hour talk, which he gave before a packed audience, merely 8 months before he passed away. This book grew out of that talk. And it’s so wonderful that we can honestly say to you this: if Pausch can’t motivate you to start achieving your dreams today, well, we don’t know who can. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand.

6. The “Why Would You Give a Damn” Shelf

You know what? You worry about too many trivial things in your life. And that’s what stopping you from being happy. Here are ten books which can teach you how to give less damn about, well, almost everything.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living6.1 Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

About the Book: Published in 1948, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – the godfather of self-improvement – is widely considered a self-help classic and one of the best books on the topic ever written. Carnegie wrote it because, in his own words, he “was one of the unhappiest lads in New York.” And these are the time-tested methods which helped him recognize and overcome his worries. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck6.2 Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: Mark Manson is not a guy who’ll ever try to sugarcoat his words or his messages. And, albeit The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck cites quite a few academic studies, very early on you get the feel that this book is the best (unsubtle) proponent of the message he’s trying to relate to his readers. Namely, that life is unfair and that no matter how much you try to make it right, it will certainly find a way to hit you with a hammer at the least convenient moment. Your job is to find a way to absorb the blow. And not giving a damn about 99% of the things you are – is the best way to do it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Favorite Quote:

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.

Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff6.3 Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff

About the Book: Profoundly believing that “stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness,” Richard Carlson — a renowned psychotherapist and motivational speaker — spent almost all of his (unfortunately short) life studying the ways to overcome it. And the trademark-titled Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff is his best-known book on the subject. It shows marvelously how important is to simply calm down and chill out in life. True, the idea is simple, but so is Carlson’s style. Which makes both for an enjoyable and an inspiring read. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We deny the parts of ourselves that we deem unacceptable rather than accepting the fact that we’re all less than perfect.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck6.4 Sarah Knight – The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: “The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck,” writes Sarah Knight in this “practical parody” of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “is all about prioritizing. Joy over annoy. Choice over obligation. Opinions vs. feelings.” Hilarious and stimulating, Sarah Knight’s profane language, coupled with her blunt honesty, will teach you “how to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do.” Don’t like it? Well, Knight couldn’t care less about it. It’s there on the first page: this is “a no f*cks given guide.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I call it the NotSorry Method. It has two steps: 1. Deciding what you don’t give a f*ck about; and 2. Not giving a f*ck about those things.

Ego Is the Enemy6.5 Ryan Holiday – Ego Is the Enemy

About the Book: At first glance, the title of this book says it all. What it doesn’t say, however, is that Ryan Holiday is a modern-day Stoic (see 2.6) and that, for him, ego is not merely a clinical term in Freudian theory, but a word to describe “an unhealthy belief in your own importance.” And this belief is something you must get rid of, Holiday says, going over a host of killing-the-ego-related positive anecdotes – as well as cautionary tales – to make his point. Some of the great historical and contemporary figures mentioned in his book are George Marshall, Christopher McCandless, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Larry Page, Paul Graham, and Steve Jobs. See why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Ego Is the Enemy
Favorite Quote:

Be lesser, do more. Imagine if, for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you.

The 4-Hour Workweek6.6 Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Workweek

About the Book: Before he became the world-famous entrepreneur that he is today, Timothy Ferriss was not much different from you; in other words: he worked about two-thirds of the day – and slept away the last one. There must be more to life – he thought to himself one day while on a 3-week sabbatical to Europe. And that’s when he stopped checking email and started outsourcing assignments. The result? Well, see the title. If that seems like a stretch, we guarantee you at least this: stick to Ferriss’ advice and you will at least undoubtedly escape the boring 9-5 lifestyle that’s draining all of your energy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The 4 Hour Workweek
Favorite Quote:

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness.

Why Men Love Bitches6.7 Sherry Argov – Why Men Love Bitches

About the Book: A practical “from doormat to dreamgirl” guide for women, Why Men Love Bitches answers the rhetorical question from the title in an example-rich and emphatic fashion. We’ll let Argov’s definition of what being a bitch actually means give you a taste of what to expect from this brilliant New York Times bestseller: “A woman who won’t bang her head against the wall obsessing over someone else’s opinion – be it a man or anyone else in her life. She understands that if someone does not approve of her, it’s just one person’s opinion; therefore, it’s of no real importance. She doesn’t try to live up to anyone else’s standards – only her own. Because of this, she relates to a man very differently.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Be an independent thinker at all times, and ignore anyone who attempts to define you in a limiting way.

What If It Does Work Out?6.8 Susie Moore – What If It Does Work Out?

About the Book: If you’re anything like us, the first question you ask yourself every time you come up with an idea for something big is “what if it doesn’t work out?” Well, it’s time for a why-worries paradigm shift: in What If It Does Work Out? Susie Moore takes you on a step-by-step journey of how to transform your side hustle into cash; and, by way of proxy, your mediocre present of whys and what-ifs into a bright future of passion and fulfillment. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You are not your job. You are much bigger than and not restricted by whatever your job title says you are – even if you love your current career.

Braving the Wilderness6.9 Brené Brown – Braving the Wilderness

About the Book: In the words of Joseph Campbell (see 1.8): “if you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” So, “stop walking through the world looking for a confirmation that you don’t belong,” Brené Brown joins in (see 4.1). “The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” And no one can teach you to stop worrying about the world and brave the wilderness inside you better than Brown. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I have started to believe that crying with strangers in person could save the world.

When Things Fall Apart6.10 Pema Chödrön – When Things Fall Apart

About the Book: Almost any book illuminating the principles of Tibetan Buddhism can teach you to worry less and accept more. This one – one of our favorites – is written by a Berkeley-educated disciple of that crazy sage, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche; and abounds with piercingly beautiful pieces of counterintuitive “heart advice for difficult times.” The bottom line: you can overcome any pain by embracing it; and Pema Chödrön has a knack for choosing the right words in teaching you how. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.

top motivational books

7. The “Fables and Fiction” Shelf

“I give you the truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” informs us Tom Wingfield at the beginning of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. And that’s what great fiction always does; and that’s why you can learn more about real life from these ten fictional stories than you can from, well, real life itself.

Allegory of the Cave7.1 Plato – Allegory of the Cave

About the Book: Imagine a group of prisoners incarcerated in a cave and chained in such a manner that they are merely facing a blank wall; and on the wall: nothing but shadowy projections of people and things passing in front of a fire burning behind them. And yet, since they can perceive nothing else, the shadows are what constitutes reality for these prisoners. According to Plato, in this unforgettable excerpt from The Republic, it is the job of the philosopher to break away from the chains and inspire others to see that there’s more to reality than mere projections; and it is a job he did flawlessly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light.

The Alchemist7.2 Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

About the Book: Inspired by an old folktale (search for the Peddler of Swaffham), Paulo Coelho’s most-celebrated book, The Alchemist, follows the journey of a young shepherd named Santiago, from the pastures of Andalusia to the pyramids of Egypt – and back again. The reason for this journey: a recurring dream which promises the poor boy treasure. In the end, he finds it; but it’s not where he expected it to be; and, moreover, it’s not what he expected it to be. Oh, just when will they finally release that Idris Elba-starring movie adaptation? (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The Greatest Salesman in the World7.3 Og Mandino – The Greatest Salesman in the World

About the Book: According to Norman Vincent Peale (see 3.2), The Greatest Salesman in the World is “one of the most inspiring, uplifting, and motivating books” in existence; and, according to Matthew McConaughey, it profoundly changed his life. A parable set in the last years of the first century before Christ, this tiny booklet weaves mythology and practical tips in a way which makes life much more graspable and the act of selling (in the words of Daniel H. Pink) an inherently human – and humane – endeavor. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.

TheMonk Who Sold His Ferrari7.4 Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

About the Book: In a novelistic fashion, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari retells the story of Robin Sharma’s actual real-life transformation. A motivational fable, it is presented in the form of a conversation between two friends, Julian and John, during which the first one, a successful trial lawyer, recounts to the second one how he sold his Ferrari and his holiday home after suffering a heart attack. And how that decision was the best in his life, because it funded a Himalayan journey which, ultimately, changed his whole perception about himself – and life itself. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Life has bigger plans for you than you can possibly know.

Who Moved My Cheese?7.5 Spencer Johnson – Who Moved My Cheese?

About the Book: A very short 32-page barely illustrated story, Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw). They live in a maze and are in a constant pursuit for cheese. After they find a whole bunch of it, the little people seem quite content with the discovery, while the mice are already thinking about the day they’ll have none. Sure enough, that day comes. And the little people have no choice but to learn how to deal with the scarcity of food. One of them deals with it better. And tries to motivate the other. And, much more importantly, by way of proxy, you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you do not change, you can become extinct.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull7.6 Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

About the Book: What can a story about an outcast seagull who prefers mastering the art of flying to, well, eating, tell you about how you should live your life? Surprisingly: a lot. It is not for nothing that the book is dedicated to “the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.” Critically acclaimed Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury once wrote that Richard Bach “does two things: he gives me Flight. He makes me Young. For both, I am deeply grateful.” We are too, Ray, we are too. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.

Siddhartha7.7 Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha

About the Book: Profoundly influenced by Western (Jungian) psychoanalysis and Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy and written in the simplest and most lyrical of styles, Siddhartha is one of the all-time classic novels of self-discovery and enlightenment. Siddhartha, a contemporary of the Buddha, experiences everything from the silence of asceticism through the pleasures of sex to the emptiness of loss – only to ultimately realize that life is actually what happens deep within ourselves. Let Hermann Hesse guide you on this very same path through the pages of this absolutely mesmerizing book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.

Walden7.8 Henry David Thoreau – Walden

About the Book: Remember how John Keating motivated his students in Dead Poets Society? Well, this is the book he used to do that. And if you want to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” – it is certainly the book you should read as soon as possible! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

The Old Man and the Sea

7.9 Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

About the Book: Ernest Hemingway had written quite a few immense novels adored by literary critics before he penned The Old Man and the Sea in 1951 in Cuba, but it seems that both the Nobel Prize Committee and the general public of the world really made note of him as a writer because of this novella. A story about a Cuban fisherman and his exhausting fight with a 5.5-meter-long marlin and quite a few hungry sharks, The Old Man and the Sea reads as something even more than an unforgettable allegory: a modern myth. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Man is not made for defeat… A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven7.10 Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet in Heaven

About the Book: Killed in an amusement park accident while trying to save a little girl from a falling cart, 83-year-old Eddie awakes uninjured in heaven. He is afterward taken on a journey through all five levels of it, meeting, at each step, a person whose life had been interrelated with his own while on earth. A timeless tale, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is as profound and as moving read as Tuesdays with Morrie (see 5.9); and at least as life-altering. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.

8. The “Inspirational Biographies” Shelf

Some lives can be just as inspiring as any book or movie; the least they deserve is to be put on paper or adapted for the big screen. Here are our ten choices.

Man’s Search for Meaning8.1 Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

About the Book: Voted one of the ten most influential books in the United States, Man’s Search for Meaning is a once-in-a-lifetime life-changing book. Written by Viktor Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor, the book is not merely a haunting memoir of his soul-crushing experiences in the concentration camp (something which would have been enough to earn this book a place on this list in itself), but it also introduces a psychotherapeutic method which has helped numerous people around the world to overcome any kind of difficulty in their own lives. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Man’s Search for Meaning
Favorite Quote:

So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!

The Diary of a Young Girl8.2 Anna Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

About the Book: Here’s another memoir straight from the depths of despair and the abysses of human evil. Arguably the most famous among many written against the background of the horrors of the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s Diary chronicles the last two years of her prematurely ended life. However, what has really made this book “one of the most enduring documents” of the 20th century is Anne Frank’s “triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

What Is the What8.3 Dave Eggers – What Is the What

About the Book: What is the What is subtitled “The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng” which may even sound a bit strange if you don’t know Dave Eggers’ aptitude for combining fiction and non-fiction to create unforgettably imaginative novels firmly rooted in reality. Yes, that means that Valentino Achak Deng is a real person and that Dave Eggers is essentially writing his story in his place. And what a story it is! One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, battling being orphaned, starvation, soldiers and lions (yes, lions!) only to finally be offered a new life in the United States and end up discriminated. Remind us, Primo Levi: what does it mean to be a human? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Humans are divided between those who can still look through the eyes of youth and those who cannot.”

When Breath Becomes Air8.4 Paul Kalanithi – When Breath Becomes Air

About the Book: Paul Kalanithi was an Indian-American neurosurgeon with an MA in Literature and a bright future ahead of him when he was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV lung cancer. He passed away two years later, a month shy of his 38th birthday. Behind him he left a loving wife, a newborn daughter and a thought-provoking book which will undoubtedly enthuse you with a new-found love for life; whilst, expectedly, bringing quite a few tears to your eyes. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.

Unbroken8.5 Laura Hillenbrand – Unbroken

About the Book: Adapted in a 2014 Angelina Jolie-directed movie, Unbroken tells the story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, the youngest US Olympian in history and a World War II hero. After suffering a plane crash, Zamperini survived 46 days drifting in the ocean before landing on the occupied Marshall Islands and ending up a Japanese prisoner of war. And he overcame everything to die peacefully in the 97th year of his life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.

The Glass House8.6 Jeannette Walls – The Glass House

About the Book: Back in 1963, Jeannette Walls set herself on fire while trying to cook herself some hot dogs on the stovetop because her mother was too busy painting to bother making her lunch. The most frightening part of that story: she was merely three years old. Still under the impression that you had a bad childhood? Walls’ remarkable memoir, The Glass House, is here to shatter for you that impression, all the while redefining the meaning of some words such as “family” and “love.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Things usually work out in the end.’ ‘What if they don’t?’ ‘That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.

Long Walk to Freedom8.7 Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

About the Book: “Do not judge me by my success,” said Nelson Mandela once. “Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Long Walk to Freedom, his autobiography which served as the basis of the similarly titled 2013 movie adaptation, documents all of his pre-1994 falls and, more importantly, ascends. History has already judged them; by taking a bow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior8.8 Dan Millman – Way of the Peaceful Warrior

About the Book: Based upon the author’s early life, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior tells the story of the life-changing meeting between a hurt world champion gymnast and a powerful old warrior/gas station attendant nicknamed Socrates. It may sound stranger than fiction, and yet, it’s all but. The 2007 movie adaptation was dubbed “Rocky for the soul,” and Eckhart Tolle (see 3.10) praised it with the words: “Watch it and be transformed.” Let us paraphrase him: read the book and change your outlook on life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Shoe Dog8.9 Phil Knight – Shoe Dog

About the Book: Phil Knight is currently worth more than $30 billion; and yet, just fifty years ago, he was basically a penniless entrepreneur with a risky idea. Namely, to strike an exclusive deal for the US distribution rights of the Tiger shoes with the Japanese Onitsuka company by presenting himself as a representative of Blue Ribbon Sports. The trick is: Onitsuka is a giant, and Blue Ribbon Sports is located in Knight’s parents’ house and has only him as the sole employee. Shoe Dog tells the rest of the story. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Shoe Dog
Favorite Quote:

Let everyone else call your idea crazy… just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.

Losing My Virginity8.10 Richard Branson – Losing My Virginity

About the Book: If not the favorite, Richard Branson is certainly the most colorful and least boring of all great entrepreneurs (Elon Musk comes close second). Judging by the quote below, you can easily guess why. Losing My Virginity is the first part of his autobiography – and it’s as outrageous and inspiring as you would expect! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.

9. The “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Shelf

According to most philosophers, happiness is the ultimate goal of human life; in fact, according to Aristotle, it is the only thing human beings desire for its own sake. But should it be? Find out with some of the most motivational books on the subject of happiness ever written.

Stumbling on Happiness9.1 Daniel Gilbert – Stumbling on Happiness

About the Book: “If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition,” writes Malcolm Gladwell (see 1.7), “you ought to read this book.” And you really should! Written by a Harvard psychologist, it is witty and engaging, wide-ranging and thoroughly researched. Not to mention it answers some of the most troublesome questions of your life! Like, for example, why does the grocery store line slow down the very moment you join it? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.

The Happiness Project9.2 Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project

About the Book: If there’s one thing that Gretchen Rubin is famous for – other than long, long subtitles – is her interest in all topics happiness-related. In this case, she explains why she spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean her closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. And how that all worked out. By the way, the project had a sequel in Happier at Home which was all about kissing more, jumping more, abandoning a project, reading Samuel Johnson – and some other experiments in the practice of everyday life. So be sure to check that one as well! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

The Art of Happiness9.3 Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler – The Art of Happiness

About the Book: Who better to tell you how you should live a happy and worry-free life than the man a large part of the world population considers the most enlightened human being currently treading the earth? In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, shares his simple philosophy on the art of happiness – all the while providing you with a multipurpose handbook for living. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

The How of Happiness9.4 Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness

About the Book: It’s easy to experience a moment of happiness; what’s difficult is sustaining it for the long run. The How of Happiness by Russian-born American psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky – justly advertised as “a scientific approach to getting the life you want” – is focused on this letter part of the equation. And for a reason: according to studies, 40% of your happiness depends on your intentional activities and only 10% on the circumstances. True, the other half is genetically determined, but look at it this way: even in the worst-case scenario, you’re responsible for at least half of your own happiness. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

People have a remarkable capacity to become inured to any positive changes in their lives.

Happiness9.5 Richard Layard – Happiness

About the Book: One of the preeminent economists of happiness today, Richard Layard has been fascinated for most of his life with something called the Easterlin paradox. Namely, it seems that people’s happiness depends on their income only until a certain point – after which, money has no effect whatsoever on their wellbeing. The interesting thing: the paradox is as factual as Napoleon’s date of birth. Richer societies? Oh, no – says Layard in Happiness. We need to strive for happier societies. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The more television people watch, the more they overestimate the affluence of other people. And the lower they rate their own relative income. The result is that they are less happy.

The Happiness Equation9.6 Neil Pasricha – The Happiness Equation

About the Book: In the words of Susan Cain, author of Quiet, Dale Carnegie (see 6.1) was last century, Stephen Covey was last decade, but Neil Pasricha is what’s now. And after earning himself a name with The Book of Awesome series and giving one of the most inspiring TED Talks ever (“The 3 A’s of Awesome”), Pasricha is back again with the simplest of all happiness equations: want nothing + do anything = have everything. Believe it or not – it is not a contradiction in terms. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation doesn’t cause action. An action causes motivation.

The Happiness Hypothesis9.7 Jonathan Haidt – The Happiness Hypothesis

About the Book: In The Happiness Hypothesis, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines – in as many chapters (not counting the conclusion) – ten ancient ideas about what it means to be happy; and he extracts the most applicable parts of them all. The main metaphor he uses – that of the dichotomy between the rider (the conscious mind) and the elephant (the unconscious mind) – has been reused by many authors during the last decade – the finest evidence in favor of the popularity and significance of this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.

The Happiness Advantage9.8 Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage

About the Book: An advocate of positive psychology, Shawn Achor is a Harvard-educated researcher in happiness and the presenter of one of the most popular TED Talks on the platform, “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” And someone whose books would fit just as nicely on our third shelf. Because his main thesis is that it isn’t success which brings happiness, but, the other way around: it’s happiness which brings success. His seven principles of positive psychology are as thought-provoking as funny-named. And we bet you want to immediately find out what does “Tetris effect” and “Zorro Circle” stand for. Please do. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We tend to miss what we’re not looking for.

The Little Book of Hygge9.9 Meik Wiking – The Little Book of Hygge

About the Book: According to almost every study ever conducted, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. According to Meik Wiking – who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and is, of course, Danish – this is because the Danish have mastered the art of hygge. Wikipedia defines it as a “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment;” Wiking has the details. And a bunch of practical tips. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happens but seldom.”

Feeling Good9.10 David D. Burns – Feeling Good

About the Book: As we told you in 9.4 above, about half of happiness is genetically determined; which means that there are numerous people on this planet who are, simply put, almost incapable of being happy. Most of them suffer from depression. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good is specifically written for them. Drawing on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism (see 2.6), Burns provides readers with a problem-focused and action-oriented mood treatment which actually and undoubtedly helps. It is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and it is widely believed to be as effective as psychoactive medications. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your thoughts create your emotions; therefore, your emotions cannot prove that your thoughts are accurate.

10. The “Show Me the Money” Shelf

As hinted in 9.5 above, money can’t buy you happiness; but, as Clare Boothe Luce, once quipped, “it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable.” Need some motivation to start earning? Then have a look at these ten books!

The Science of Getting Rich10.1 Wallace D. Wattles – The Science of Getting Rich

About the Book: The book which directly inspired Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (see 3.3), The Science of Getting Rich is a century-old classic on the subject of wealth attraction. “There is no reason for worry about financial affairs,” claims Wattles. “Every person who wills to do so may rise above his want, have all he needs, and become rich.” Just follow Wattles’ rules, and you will become rich; with – and this is a direct quote – “mathematical certainty.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Think and Grow Rich10.2 Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich

About the Book: Written in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is the ultimate classic in the genre. Inspired by a suggestion from none other than Andrew Carnegie – at the time the richest man in the world – the book lays out the 13 principles of the Philosophy of Achievement: desire, faith, autosuggestion; specialized knowledge; imagination; organized planning; decision; persistence; power of the mastermind; the mystery of sex transmutation; the subconscious mind; the brain; the sixth sense. It’s difficult to argue with any of them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Think and Grow Rich
Favorite Quote:

One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average person’s familiarity with the word ‘impossible.

The Richest Man in Babylon10.3 George S. Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon

About the Book: Advertised as “the most inspiring book on wealth ever written,” The Richest Man in Babylon is yet another of the undisputable all-time self-help classics. Just like Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, George Samuel Clason imparts his wisdom and knowledge through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend.

Rich Dad Poor Dad10.4 Robert T. Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad

About the Book: Just like Clason’s classic, Robert T. Kiyosaki’s bestseller – according to many lists, the #1 personal finance book of all times – is also written in a simple style abounding in immediately comprehensible parables. Its wisdom boils down to something that should be a truism: you can’t become rich without a proper education; and your school doesn’t provide it; neither your proper-education-bereaved poor or middle-class family. Let Kiyosaki. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Rich Dad Poor Dad
Favorite Quote:

Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.

MONEY Master the Game10.5 Tony Robbins – MONEY Master the Game

About the Book: After publishing Awaken the Giant Within in 1991 (see 4.8), Tony Robbins published just one book in the next 23 years: the incremental-changes guide Giant Steps in 1994. And then, two decades later, inspired by the financial crisis, he came up with this exceptional “7-step blueprint for securing financial freedom.” “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for investment books,” noted at the time a review in Forbes magazine,  “this one would win, hands down.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

MONEY Master the Game
Favorite Quote:

Money can have the power to create or the power to destroy. It can fund a dream or start a war.

The Total Money Makeover10.6 Dave Ramsey – The Total Money Makeover

About the Book: Dave Ramsey is the common-sense financial guru of millions of Americans. And most of them will tell you that The Total Money Makeover is essentially their Money Bible. Time to make it yours. Why? Because it will help you create a plan for paying off all of your debt; because it will dispel for you the most dangerous money myths out there; and, finally, because it will inspire you to take control of your financial freedom. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Retire Inspired10.7 Chris Hogan – Retire Inspired

About the Book: Chris Hogan is Dave Ramsey-approved (“In my opinion, Chris Hogan is the voice of retirement in America today.”) And that should tell you enough. In Retire Inspired, he teaches that retirement isn’t an age, but a financial number. Which means that if you follow his advice – based on the amount of money you need to start living out your dreams – you can retire at any age you like; all you need to be is reasonable. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s hard to live your dream in your golden years when you’re trying to make it on an income that’s actually below the poverty line.

The Millionaire Next Door10.8 Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko – The Millionaire Next Door

About the Book: If you are like most people, you don’t become rich by suddenly obtaining lots of money; you become rich by consistently spending less than you earn. It’s that simple. And Stanley and Danko’s comparison of UAWs (under accumulators of wealth) and PAWs (prodigious accumulators of wealth) is ample evidence in favor of this. The bottom line: the rich are your neighbors, and status items are for showoffs. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Whatever your income, always live below your means.

The Power of Broke10.9 Daymond John – The Power of Broke

About the Book: From time to time, it’s good to have someone turn things on their head. If the power of money won’t do the trick for you – says Daymond John – The Power of Broke undoubtedly will. Published only recently, John’s manual for start-up entrepreneurs gives all the details on “how empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The easiest thing to sell is the truth.

Tools of Titans10.10 Tim Ferriss – Tools of Titans

About the Book: Once he successfully limited his workweek to four hours (see 6.6), Tim Ferriss started The Tim Ferriss show, “the first business/interview podcast to pass 100,000,000 downloads” and “generally the #1 business podcast on all of Apple Podcasts.” For it, he had the privilege and honor to interview over 200 world-class performers. Tools of Titans reveals their secrets, in a structured, easy-to-read and easier-to-apply manner. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Tools of Titans
Favorite Quote:

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

The Wildcard

The Little Prince101. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – The Little Prince

About the Book: Some books manage to sell 2 million copies overall, and are considered exceptional successes; The Little Prince sells as much on a yearly basis for the past 70 years! Translated into more than 300 – yes, 300! – languages, this is one of the best-selling books ever published. Also: one of the very best. Fortunately, it just entered the public domain, so now everybody can read it. And everybody should. Because just like Ancient Greek myths or Jesus’ parables, it is timeless; and just like them – you can enjoy it – and understand it differently – regardless of your age. (Read the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.

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Do the Right Things in the Right Order with Our Top Productivity Books

Top Productivity BooksYou’ll probably agree that we’re not very wide off the mark in proposing a fairly simple definition for productivity: “doing more in less.”

However, it seems that no matter how much we do in no matter how little time, there’s always something left on our to-do list.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, most of the people would tell you that you have to find a better technique. Some others – as the ones we’ve included on our list – will tell you something else.

Namely, that there’s more than one secret to productivity, and that productivity should not be about doing everything on your to-do list.

Maybe it’s should be about doing the right things in the right order.

So, without further ado –

Our Top Productivity Books

#1. “The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” by Brendon Burchard

The Motivation Manifesto SummaryIf you’ve ever watched “Oprah”, you probably already know that Brendon Burchard is one of the “most influential leaders in the field of personal growth.” And he’s probably the most successful and highest-paid motivation trainer in history.

Why?

Well, not because he says something original. But, because everything that he says, he says it in such a manner that makes you jump out of your bed and start doing something. Well, not just something – exactly those things that he asks you to do.

The Motivation Manifesto” is one of the best productivity prerequisites. Keep it under your pillow. And learn its 9 declarations by heart – and start putting them into practice right away:

We shall meet life with full presence and power! We shall reclaim our agendas! We shall defeat our demons! We shall advance with abandon! We shall practice joy and gratitude! We shall not break integrity! We shall amplify love! We shall inspire greatness! And we shall slow time!

#2. “Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog SummaryIn the introduction to one of his numerous bestsellers, “Eat That Frog,” Brian Tracy explains the curious title straight away. He writes: “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”

For what it’s worth, it may not have been Twain – but Nicholas Chamfort. But, either way – the point stands. The great thing about it is that it’s only 1 of the 21 Brian Tracy is trying to make.

The other include “plan every day in advance” and “prepare thoroughly before you begin,” as well as “consider the consequences” and even “practice creative procrastination.” Nothing especially new or not known, but everything worth repeating and remembering – and inspiring throughout.

Especially great as an introduction!

#3. “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

Smarter Faster Better SummaryBefore you say anything – we didn’t know which of Charles Duhigg’s books to choose either. And the only reason why both of them aren’t here (of course we have “The Power of Habit” in mind) is our dedication to the “one author/one book” ideal.

And, after all, we did include “Smarter Faster Better” among our top entrepreneurship books. So, we were kind of obliged to include it here as well!

In “Smarter Faster Better,” Duhigg thoroughly explores eight productivity concepts. Each of them essential to establishing the habits of a productive person. The eight concepts are: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data.

But what may interest you more than the theoretical discussion is the Appendix: “A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas.”

No peaking!

#4. “StrengthsFinder 2.0: Discover Your Strengths” by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder 2.0 SummaryNow, this is an interesting case.

Now, Discover Your Strengths” was such a great book that it found place both among our top management and top motivational books.

Well, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” is its update!

Written by Tom Rath, the book builds upon the work of the Don Clifton, the father of Strengths Psychology. The main idea behind it: there are 34 strengths and each individual is a unique combination of at least two of them!

How does this help you in terms of productivity?

In at least two ways! First of all, the book is linked to an online assessment tool which we’ll help you find your key strengths. Secondly, once you find them, it will help you realize how you can use them.

Because productivity is not about spending countless hours to develop strengths you don’t own. It’s about perfecting those you already have.

After all, you won’t try and teach a fish to fly, would you?

#5. “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity” by David Allen

Getting Things Done SummaryCarola Endicott, director of “Quality Resources,” says that David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” should come with a warning sign.

Its content:

“Reading ‘Getting Things Done’ can be hazardous to your old habits of procrastination. David Allen’s approach is refreshingly simple and intuitive. He provides the systems, tools, and tips to achieve profound results.”

OK – Endicott may have gone a little overboard with the “simple” part. We warn you that “Getting Things Done” is “jargony” enough that it includes its own “Glossary of Terms.”

But, there’s a reason why “Lifehack” calls it “the modern Bible of productivity books” and why its philosophy has as many followers as a small religion. (Really: they are called GTDers!)

And the reason is simple: it works!

#6. “Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More” by Jason W. Womack

Your Best Just Got Better SummaryYour Best Just Got Better” is a book which can help you become exactly what its title claims to be. And the path is there – in its very subtitle.

So, Jason W. Womack’s philosophy is as simple as 1-2-3!

1: Work Smarter!

“Duh?!”, you say. “But how?”

It’s simple as having an IDEA and a MIT. Or, in other words, as simple as remembering these acronyms and doing what they say you should do: identify, develop, experiment, and assess. While never forgetting your Most Important Things.

2: Think Bigger!

No more than four mantras should do the trick: “I did it before,” “They were able to do it,” “They think I can do it,” and “I know I can do it!” (Read our great summary to see how.)

And 3: Make More!

What you need so as you can make more is a feedback. In all of these areas: results, experience, contribution, measurement, service, and habits.

That’s it: your best just got better!

#7. “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms” by Vishen Lakhiani

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind SummaryMost of the books about changing your life and productivity habits are few-step manuals. And, naturally, the inclusion of “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” on our list begs the question: why is this book so different than the rest?

Well, Vishen Lakhiani’s style – just like his laws – is unconventional. Down-to-earth, inspiring, well-structured. And – memorable!

Really!

Like it or not, you’ll catch yourself using its neologisms over and over again. You’ll understand them, however, only if you read the book. And, soon after – believe us – you’ll start using them.

First, you’ll want to transcend your culturescape – and, while doing that, you’ll see that you’ve been raised on brules. But, by the time you reach the seventh law – living in a blissipline – you would have already bended reality so much that you’ll be a king or a queen of a world of your own – a sort of a yourscape.

#8. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People SummaryThe ones who read – know: Stephen R. Covey is a frequent guest on lists such as this one. And “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – the first non-fiction book to sell 1 million copies of its audio version – is practically a mainstay in many different categories.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve listed it among our top leadership and top self-help books.

So, what’s so special about it?

Well, almost everything!

It’s well-researched and well-planned, simply written and is perennially applicable. Covey deduces that effective people are different than the rest because they share seven habits. Namely, they are proactive, they begin with the end in mind, and they put first things first; also, they have a win-win mentality, they seek first to understand, then to be understood, and they synergize; finally, they sharpen the saw.

The first three habits are related to their independence; the second three to their interdependence. The final – self-improvement – is the bridge.

But, wait – there’s one more!

#9. “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Algorithms to Live By SummaryIf you feed your computer with enough information about a certain topic, you’re guaranteed that you’ll get the right answer, right?

But, if so – why aren’t we doing the same with our lives? Surely, there has to be some way to scientifically figure out whether it’s better for the tired me to do some more work tonight, or just relax and watch something on Netflix!

Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths are right there with you! There is, they say – and more than one, in fact! So, they have prepared for you a unique cheat-book, “Algorithms to Live By.”

What you’ll find out inside may amaze you. True, life may be a complex category, but some of our habits are actually simple. For example, there seem to be three simple algorithms to perfectly manage your time.

And one to find your perfect love!

#10. “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Deep Work SummaryThe world is full of distractions. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to think what is distraction anymore? Namely, are Facebook and Twitter distracting us from work – or is work distracting us from Facebook and Twitter?

That will not do, says Cal Newport!

Leisure is leisure, but work is work! And when it is real work, it needs to be “Deep Work.”

And, according to Newport, deep work begins with embracing boredom and quitting social media. You think that Beethoven wrote the “9th Symphony” in a night, or that Michelangelo drew the Sistine Chapel before lunchtime?

No – they worked deeply for a long period of time! And they valued deeply deliberate practice and distraction-free environments.

Don’t believe us?

Then ask yourself this: why do so many writers go to the library to write?

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Final Notes

If productivity is doing the right things in the right order, then the books which will help you discover which are the right things for you and which is the best order to do them – are the top productivity books you can find on the market.

And we believe that these 10 fit the description better than any others.

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Top Entrepreneurship Books

Want to become the next Elon Musk? Why don’t you first spend some time learning about how the one we’ve grown to adore came to be.

Because entrepreneurship is not as easy as you would think. And it doesn’t take only a good idea and a lot of courage to turn it into a functioning business. You’ll also need a lot of hard work, and even more knowhow.

But, why would you listen to us?

Here are few people you should. These are the best entrepreneurship books on the market!

#1. “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy” by Joseph A. Schumpeter

Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy SummaryLet’s start with a bit of theory. And what better way other than with a book by the original entrepreneurship theoretician.

Joseph Schumpeter was a colorful character. He once promised to become the most influential economist in the world, the best horseman in Austria, and the greatest lover in Vienna. At the end of his life, he regrettably sighed that he failed at one: there were just too many good riders in Austria.

Jokes aside, Schumpeter was a genius thinker. He thought that economy is moved forward by innovation and change which create temporary monopolies which are creatively destructed afterward by another great entrepreneurship idea.

He also believed that capitalism will one day fall apart because of the success of these entrepreneurs. And because of the intellectual elite advocating a more humane society. He explained this in-depth in “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy,” probably his most popular book.

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

The 4-Hour Workweek SummaryLike it or not, you’re living in a capitalist society. And the chances are, you’ll live in one as long as you live. (That is, unless you want to move to Cuba or North Korea – which, let’s face it, is one of the worst ideas you may have in your life).

And in a capitalist society, you can choose; you’ll either work 8 hours a day, or be the one who gives orders to others to work for him. The latter kind is the one Timothy Ferriss talks about.

In his opinion – and he knows this from personal experience – working for (more than) a third of your life is even worse than moving to North Korea. So, he advises you to stop working so much. And work for only 4 hours. A week.

Yes, you’ve heard it right!

It’s not a fantasy. And “The 4-Hour Workweek” is a 50+ tips and tricks cheat sheet. So, what are you waiting for?

#3. “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss

Timothy FerrisTools of Titans Summary is a regular guest on these entrepreneurship booklists. And there’s a reason for that! An entrepreneur himself, he has built an empire around his patented 4-hour learning techniques.

“Tools of the Titans” might be an even better book than our previous entry. It’s as groundbreaking, but much more diverse and multifunctional. This may sound a bit strange, when you realize that most of Ferriss’ words inside this book are questions.

The mystery unravels when you hear that the answers are given by top actors, athletes, and scientists.

Yes, you’re right: “Tools of the Titans” is Tim Ferriss’s podcast in the form of a book!

And if you don’t know anything about “The Tim Ferris Show,” it would suffice here to say that it is the first business/entrepreneurship/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads.

#4. “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

Zero to One SummaryIf you don’t know him by now, Peter Thiel is the 3-billion-worth co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook.

So, safe to say, that whenever he’s trying to relate a message, it must be worthwhile to pay attention.

And in “Zero to One” he has quite the interesting idea. Namely, that most innovators are moving from 1 to 1.1, 1.2 etc. when the greatest entrepreneurs strive to make that coveted leap from 0 to 1.

In laymen’s terms, this means that if you’re planning to build the next multi-billion-dollar business, it would be a good idea to stop thinking in terms of new operating systems or different types of tablets. Because, the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs out there is currently working in a totally different industry.

If you focus enough, that someone may be even you.

#5. “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries

Eric RiesThe Lean Startup Summary has had his own fair share of startups behind him; some of them were successful, others spectacularly failed. He learned how to take lessons from the latter and implement them in the former. In fact, that’s why he’s currently where he is.

And that’s why “The Lean Startup” is one of the best books – if not the best – for every young entrepreneur out there. Its main idea is that startups don’t need to be such dangerous endeavors. And that efficiency can be acquired in a much faster manner than it is usually believed.

This is the background for his own patented lean startup methodology, which encourages regulated experimentation, validated learning, and iterative releases.

It worked for him. It should work for you as well.

#6. “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future” by Chris Guillebeau

The $100 Startup SummaryIf someone came to you now and told you that you can change your life with merely $100, you’ll probably won’t believe him.

Yet, if that someone has identified and closely studied 1,500 individuals who built large businesses on a $100 original investment, you’ll probably think again.

Well, Chris Guillebeau Is the eccentric we’re talking about, and “The $100 Startup” is the book we gladly recommend. It is an in-depth study of the 50 most interesting $100 to $100,000 cases, coupled with a lot of practical advice and an almost manic enthusiasm.

The most valuable lesson?

You can earn money from your passion. You just need to find its most lucrative aspect.

#7. “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog SummaryFor most of human history, knowledge was imparted only from one generation to the next. And, consequently (like “The Greatest Salesman in the World” taught us) the secrets of success were kept safe in small groups of elected people.

But in the 20th century, the world of money turned on its head. And, suddenly, some of the richest people alive started sharing their secrets with the world.

And when that happens, expect Phil Knight, the founder of “Nike,” to be the one who’ll keep the lest things to himself. Because, he’s not only one of the richest people in the world; he’s also one of the most generous philanthropists.

And “Shoe Dog” explains how he got to there. The beginning? A young man in a Japanese shoe factory, acting as a representative of a large American, when in fact he is its only employee and his father its only investor.

Already interesting? It only gets better.

#8. “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk SummaryElon Musk needs neither introduction nor hyperlinks.

One of the most unique entrepreneurs at the moment, he is described by Ashlee Vance, the author of “Elon Musk” as an amalgam of people as brilliant and as innovative as Thomas Edison and Howard, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.

And he is fully dedicated to building the future of mankind – arguably, more than any other person alive.

Thorough researched and splendidly written, “Elon Musk” by Ashlee Vance is a book which transcends the world of entrepreneurship.

Much like Elon Musk himself, in fact.

#9. “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur” by Derek Sivers

Derek SiversAnything You Want Summary originally wanted to become a musician. However, he ended up being an entrepreneur in the music industry. You may already know the company he founded and subsequently sold, CD Baby.

The lesson?

Whatever you want to do, this is an age of entrepreneurs. And the sooner you realize this, the better for your future. However, it doesn’t hurt to work what your passionate about the most.

“Anything You Want” is Sivers’ very sincere, very concise (it’s less than a hundred pages) entrepreneurship manifesto. It compresses 10 years of experience in a one-hour read.

And yes – it’s a must read.

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#10. “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators” by Chris Brogan

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth SummaryNo, we didn’t choose this book because of it’s catchy title! (Although, this would be a good place to say that we do love the title!) We chose it because its author is Chris Brogan, #1 social media power influencer in the world.

And because we’re down for whatever he’d say!

And in “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth” he says that it’s not only true that non-conformists make the world go round; it’s also even truer that the more unusual and more eccentric these non-conformists are – the better it is for the progress of humanity.

The book is a wonderful rallying call to these guys. And if we are allowed to paraphrase it, it sounds something like this: “Misfits of the world – unite! You have created the world of today, you’ll shape the world of tomorrow as well!”

#11. “The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms” by Beth Buelow

The Introvert Entrepreneur SummaryIn more than one way, “The Introvert Entrepreneur” may be read as a companion piece to Brogan’s “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.”

Much like Brogan, Beth Buelow is aware that the people who change the world are rarely conventional. However, she chooses to focus on those who are not merely misfits, but who are introverts as well.

And, at first sight, it’s a tough world for introverts out there! Business is a war, and it seems as if it’s a place where only loud and aggressive dominators can prosper.

However, Buelow shows that this doesn’t need to be the case. After interviewing many introverts who have flourished as entrepreneurs, she shows that you don’t need to lose your personality to be part of a success story.

And she explains how introverts can use their weakness to their benefit. So, what if the world is loud and chaotic!

#12. “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future” by Steve Case

The Third Wave SummaryLet’s put it this way: if you’ve ever used dial-up internet, you should be thankful to Steve Case, the author of “The Third Wave.” Because, he is also the co-founder and one-time CEO of AOL.

And as Case convincingly argues, he was merely one of the many entrepreneurs who rode the first wave of the technological revolution. They were the pioneers, the people who paved the way for the internet by building the infrastructure.

The second wave came with Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest. They used the existing infrastructure and exploited its possibilities. And brought to many people on the planet a new, virtual way to live their lives.

Steve Case’s book wouldn’t have been called “The Third Wave” if he hadn’t written a word or two about what follows next. Entrepreneurs of the world, lend us your ears: the Internet of Things. Enough with the virtual world. It’s time you transform the real one.

#13. “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Mastering the Inner World of Business” by Nanci K. Raphael

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Mastering the Inner World of Business Summary“The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Mastering the Inner World of Business” is not your regular entrepreneurship book. Most of them are interested in the value of your ideas and the process which might transform an idea into a startup, or a startup into a million-dollar business.

Nanci Raphael writes about something all of these authors tend to forget. The barriers. The obstacles. The emotional challenges.

Unfortunately, they are both real and numerous. And without a proper guidebook may obliterate even the best idea and even the most promising startup.

That’s why, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Mastering the Inner World of Business” dedicates each of its chapters on a separate problem, ranging from doubt and loneliness to stress and tiredness.

You know – the things you can’t plan. But, which will inevitably happen.

#14. “The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs” by Kevin D. Johnson

The Entrepreneur Mind SummaryBecoming an entrepreneur is not an easy task. It may have to do something with your DNA, but, much more, it has everything with how much dedication and effort you’re planning to offer.

In “The Entrepreneur Mind,” Kevin Johnson, a serial entrepreneur, shares his experiences and knowledge, structuring them into one hundred lessons, divided in seven different areas.

So, prepare to learn 35 new things about strategy, everything from thinking big to having an exit strategy. Then, discover why there’s no point to rush for an MBA, before delving into 13 lessons about the importance of people.

The fourth area is finance (14 lessons), followed by 13 lessons about marketing and sales. You can’t be an entrepreneur without picking up 7 leadership tips. Johnson ends the book with 17 short instructions about motivation.

His final lesson: “you’re an entrepreneur forever.”

#15. “Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity” by Charles Duhigg

Charles DuhiggSmarter Faster Better Summary is a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter for “The New York Times” and an author of two books on productivity.

Duhigg’s first book, “The Power of Habit,” is probably the more celebrated one. However, “Smarter Faster Better” may be the better choice for entrepreneurs who like to think big. Because, while Duhigg’s debut book concentrates on why we do what we do, this one explores how we can do it better.

Well-researched and brilliantly written, “Smarter Faster Better” explores in-depth eight productivity concepts. In order, these are: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data.

Even at first glance, many overlap with Johnson’s lessons. As the perfect evidence how essential they are.

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Smarter Faster Better PDF Summary

Smarter Faster Better SummaryMicroSummary: Producing more and better is a fairly common goal. Who does not want to be more productive, waste less time and learn to cross their limits? That is precisely what the author of this book wants to teach you to do. In the book, author Charles Duhigg presents some key concepts for achieving high productivity – from motivation to creativity and innovation. Using real case examples, the author explains how to encourage and use these key concepts in your company, as well as the importance of each of them to achieve good results. And believe me, you can improve your way of doing things you already do! Learn to cope with less stress and increase your productivity! Become smarter, faster and better at everything you do!

The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

Fasten your seatbelts, we are ready to take off!!

Smarter Faster Better Summary”

Where Motivation Comes From

A study of the brain was conducted with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to find out where the motivation comes from.

The methodology was simple: a dull game was played, which required participants to guess a result.

In this way, the researchers would see which areas of the brain were active during the feelings of enthusiasm and expectations.

They realized that there was a striatal activity, regardless of the outcome of the game.

With workplace changes, understanding motivations is very important, especially in business.

The way people work has changed, now that many people are freelancers or self-employed.

The people who are successful in this new economy are those who make efficient decisions about how they spend their time and energy.

It requires the ability to set goals, priorities, and make choices.

To be self-motivated, a person must believe that he has authority over his actions and his environment.

People who believe they have control usually work hard and are more confident.

Therefore, people must have opportunities that allow them to make choices, giving them a sense of autonomy. We can create motivation by making choices that allow us to feel in control of situations.

For example, the Marines needed people with strong “internal control,” that is, people who believed they were able to influence fate through their choices.

Internal control has many advantages, such as academic success, high motivation, less stress and depression, and a long life.

On the other hand, external control is associated with high levels of stress and individuals who believe that most situations are out of control.

Training is a useful way of letting people practice control to awaken their internal controls.

The training regime of the Marines was adapted to allow recruits to make choices and feel good about taking control. Give people the opportunity to feel in control, allowing them to practice decision making, and they will learn to exercise willpower.

To get better self-motivation, people need to see their choices as affirmations of their values and goals.

The most important decisions to generate motivation are those that convince us that we are in control, but also give meaning to our attitudes.

That is a mental habit of turning tasks into meaningful choices, giving us authority over our own lives. To do that, it is important to ask “why.”

That makes the smaller tasks turn into bigger pieces that are more meaningful and put us in control.

Learning With Teamwork

One girl realized that she needed to change her life and decided to take an MBA at Yale. During the MBA, students were divided into predetermined study groups, from people who allegedly had different backgrounds.

This girl was excited about her study group until she discovered that all the members of the group had a similar background.

That generated a passive power struggle, as each member tried to take control. And so the group members became stressed and insecure, rather than learning from group work and making friends.

Since she was not getting the experience she hoped for, she joined another group that worked with case studies.

These individuals were all from completely different backgrounds, but somehow they got along and worked very well together.

They met whenever possible sharing ideas. And they worked so well together that their ideas were implemented in Yale and across the country.

She wondered why two teams were so different, and how one of them could be so stressful and competitive while the other was supportive and enthusiastic.

After she graduated, she went to work at Google with people’s reviews. Her focus was specifically research on group norms.

Group rules are specific traditions and behaviors that determine how members should work.

They watched the data, looking for group norms that produced efficient results for a team. They found that group norms play an important role in shaping the emotional experience of a particular group.

Research conducted by teams has determined that a team works well together if each person has an equal opportunity to speak.

Another factor was the members’ ability to intuitively feel how others are feeling. In other words, empathy is very important in group work.

Teams that have successful individuals may not be successful when working in groups.

Automation And Focus

Automation has taken control of many aspects of our lives today. It is through the use of technology that we can now predict results and anticipate our actions.

However, we also have the cognitive automation, which does not need the technology. Heuristics enable us to perform multitasking and subconsciously give us the ability to choose what we will pay attention to and ignore.

Automatic technologies have made our lives more efficient, productive and safer, but in return have increased the risks caused by failures in human attention.

And this is especially true when we need to switch between automation and focus in high-risk situations, such as in airplanes or cars.

A psychological consulting firm began researching how people make decisions in certain situations, and how some people remain calm in the midst of chaos.

They interviewed people who have high-risk jobs, such as firefighters and soldiers, and then studied intensive care units and nurses who monitor numerous stimuli at a time in a chaotic environment.

The goal was to determine how these nurses decide what to pay attention to and why some nurses are more focused than others.

Some nurses could stay calm during emergencies while the others were desperate.

These nurses are very good at managing their attention and were able to create ideas formed in their minds.

Some people can create mental models that are more specific and detailed than others, allowing them to better choose their focus.

Maintaining focus has always been difficult, but automation has made this task even more complicated.

A flight left Singapore to Sydney. The pilot had strong mental models, and he taught his team before each flight to create their models, going through every possible emergency and discussing what they should do in each situation.

He believed that even an automated plane needed human pilots to think about what might happen, rather than waiting to react when something happened.

The plane took off, and he activated the autopilot.

Before activating autopilot, there was a loud noise on the plane. It was a fire, which caused an explosion, and the shrapnel made a hole in one of the wings, also cutting off one of the fuel lines.

Almost all systems and engines were failing, and the pilot asked to return to the airport.

The plane emergency system gave instructions, but since there were too many problems, it was difficult to follow them.

With all this chaos, the pilot felt drawn into a cognitive tunnel despite his attempts to imagine the airplane’s mental models and its options.

By changing his mental model and imagining the current situation and what he should do, he was able to safely land the plane.

Smarter Faster Better pdfEstablishing Goals

There is a personality questionnaire, similar to a personal, organizational test, that was developed to measure a characteristic known as “the need for cognitive closure.”

This characteristic is a desire for a confident judgment about confusion and ambiguity.

Most people have a mix of answers, but there is a percentage of people who need to have a lot of order in their lives.

Most of the time, a cognitive closure is a good thing, it allows a sense of progress and is a requirement for success.

However, this desire has its risks and can make some people yearn for it and make hasty decisions without consideration.

These people are usually closed, authoritarian, impulsive, impatient and prefer cooperation conflicts.

General Electrics has done a bit of everything from product manufacturing to TV shows.

They believed that success was a result of their ability to choose goals wisely, and they used a procedure called SMART to define them.

That ensured that each employee had a specific goal, realistic and achievable.

However, two divisions were not doing well, so GE sent a specialist to interview employees and find out what could be improved.

These employees were so focused on creating efficient and smart goals that productivity was affected.

A lot of time was spent on trivial short-term goals, and no one was thinking in the long term or in innovations.

Employees seemed to love the system, reaching small goals made them feel good. They brought in a professional to help with the problem and to lead meetings, which encouraged employees to come up with ideas.

Years later, while GE’s CEO was in Japan, he told an inspiring story of an experiment and innovation at the end of World War II.

It led to the creation of the first bullet train. The Japanese economy has grown, and their success has spread worldwide.

Smarter Faster Better
The CEO was inspired and came home to implement the notion of ambitious goals. So along with all SMART goals, each division needed to think of an ambitious goal.

Encouraging Your Employees

One man went to a job interview at a General Motors factory. He had worked there before, but that factory had been shut down two years earlier because it was considered a bad vehicle factory.

Only in that now had she been renewed. GM was now working with Japanese Toyota to reopen the factory and improve production, but they had to rehire at least 80% of the former employees.

The man’s first interview was short, but before leaving, the Japanese interviewer asked him what he did not like about working for GM.

He said he did not like working on cars with bugs that needed to be remounted and repaired. He also could never give his opinion, and when he had a good idea to improve the production, was ignored.

He received a job offer soon, but he needed to go to Japan for training. When he got there, he found the factory very similar to the one he used to work with, and he did not think he would learn much.

And it was so until an error occurred. Instead of repairing the error later, the line stopped so that a worker could correct the error under the supervision of his superiors, and then the production continued.

When he returned from Japan, the clerk told everyone about what he learned and how the company worked.

Everyone was skeptical that these things could be deployed at the factory.

The company assured them that there would be no layoffs unless the enterprise failed and that all employees could come up with ideas to implement.

From the beginning, they could see that things were different.

Officials did not cause any more problems as before, but the problem was that no one stopped the production line or made suggestions because they were afraid of being fired.

And this happened until the Toyota boss paid a visit to the factory and noticed that the men had difficulty putting the taillights in the cars.

He asked them to stop the line. The Toyota chief apologized because he had not received instructions from his managers, and said that this would not happen again.

After that day, the line was cut off whenever they needed it, and the staff made suggestions. Eventually, this plant became one of the most productive units.

Two researchers knew that an atmosphere of trust in a company generated an increase in productivity. And they needed to collect data to prove that idea.

They started collecting data from Silicon Valley technology startups – by this time the internet was new, and companies like Google had not yet come up.

They conducted surveys in many companies, collecting as much information as possible to get a general idea of each culture.

They were able to gather a lot of information, and with them, they concluded that most companies had cultures that fit into five different categories.

  • The first culture was the “Star Model.” In this model, employees were hired from famous universities and other successful businesses and received a lot of autonomy.
  • The second culture was Engineering Model. This culture was focused on groups that solved technical problems and on people who could be successful, but they still had to prove it.
  • The third culture was “Bureaucratic Model.” These companies had strict rules and hierarchies that needed to be followed.
  • The fourth culture was “Autocratic Model.” Similar to the previous culture, but all the rules and responsibilities revolve around the wishes and needs of the CEO.
  • The final culture was the “Commitment Model”. These companies had the more traditional culture that prioritized slow but steady growth and encouraged employee loyalty.

The researchers studied these companies to determine which type of crop was best.

At first, it seemed that the model Star Model was better, but it can fail because of competitions and rivalries. In the long run, it is the Commitment Model culture that works best.

Creativity, Innovation, And How To Achieve Them

A famous choreographer got in touch with other people in the business to create a show that was a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. He was very creative, and most people accepted his invitations.

His idea was bold and unlike the other plays on Broadway. They decided to add the element of the race, in a play called West Side Story.

It took them years to create the script and the choreography, since they were always trying new things, so they decided to use some conventional elements as well.

Finally, they finished production, but they had to find financing; most people did not want to finance it – except someone in Washington who was a long way from New York.

Before the rehearsal began, the choreographer told his colleagues that he was not happy with the first act.

The opening scene gave a lot of information very quickly. This man was known to be brutal, but he was also capable of detecting creativity and forcing others to think of new and better things.

The first audience did not know how to react to this piece since it was performed in a completely different way. And this happened because he mixed original and conventional ideas to create a new thing.

This idea of encouraging the creative process by taking traditional ideas from various places and combining them to form something new is a very efficient method.

Researchers have done studies on creativity, focusing on what was familiar to them – the academic articles.

They analyzed many articles using an algorithm to determine how many of them had new ideas or original concepts.

They found that there are several different methods for writing a creative study, but all articles revolved around earlier ideas that had been combined to create new and different ideas.

This process is not new and can be seen in historical inventions, just as in any scientific field. The important thing is to transfer knowledge between areas and adapt correctly.

There is no formula for creativity. It is derived from novelty, surprise, and many other elements. The right environment and conditions can be created to encourage creativity.

Absorbing And Working With Data

The amount of information we have received has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. We can monitor and quantify almost all of our daily activities. That does not mean, however, that we know how to best use this information.

Having so much information on hand does not make it easier to choose between what is best or what is not. The term “informational blindness” refers to the inability of the mind to absorb the data.

Studies show that in many contexts, the more information people receive, the better decisions are made.

However, if there is too much information, an overload, the brain seeks to reach a point where it stops making sound decisions or completely ignores the information.

It happens by the way the human brain uses it to learn.

We can absorb data very well because we break down large amounts of data into smaller pieces.

A person can overcome this by forcing them to interact and manipulate information into questions that can be answered.

It takes work, but the effort is rewarded since you will be able to absorb lots of information and force the process that makes understanding easier.

Absorb the data around you, absorb information from past experiences, and take advantage of them. Do this to create influence so that you can interact and use information more efficiently.

You can only learn something new by manipulating the information. A study was done to see if students learned best by writing notes in class or by entering notes.

Those who wrote made fewer notes, but as they had to work harder, the results of those students were better.

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“Smarter Faster Better” Quotes

The choices that are most powerful in generating motivation, in other words, are decisions that do two things: They convince us we’re in control and they endow our actions with larger meaning. Click To Tweet

A sense of control can fuel motivation, but for that drive to produce insights and innovations, people need to know their suggestions won’t be ignored, that their mistakes won’t be held against them. And they need to know that everyone… Click To Tweet

Determined and focused people tend to work harder and get tasks done more promptly. They stay married longer and have deeper networks of friends. They often have higher-paying jobs. But this questionnaire is not intended to test personal… Click To Tweet

Narrate your life, as you are living it, and you’ll encode those experiences deeper in your brain. Click To Tweet

Models help us choose where to direct our attention, so we can make decisions, rather than just react. Click To Tweet

Final Notes:

The focus here was on some important concepts, from ideas such as motivation, goal setting, and focus.

All of these concepts were used to explain why some companies or people do very well and are productive.

Findings from neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics were used, not to mention the experiences of CEOs, educators, generals, FBI agents, pilots or Broadway writers.

This book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations not only act differently. Productivity and success are the results of a worldview and different choices.

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The Power of Habit PDF Summary

The Power of Habit: lessons about how to read the human mind and to play the power of thought- by Charles Duhigg

Why do habits exist? How could these be changed in order to transform our personal lives? How do habits interact with our businesses’ and communities’ lives?

The Power of Habit, written by award-winning New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg, takes us through the latest scientific discoveries and gives us answers to questions like these.

These nuggets (visual quotes from books) and the summary of the book will help you find out more about Charles Duhigg’s approach.

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