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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Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF Summary

Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

Have you discovered your strengths?

Well, then, Marcus Buckingham says:

Go, Put Your Strengths to Work!”

Who Should Read “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”? And Why?

Best-case scenario:

Those who have done their homework and are already familiar with “First, Break All the Rules” and “Now, Discover Your Strengths.”

But, even as a standalone, “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” could be helpful for anyone.

Marcus BuckinghamAbout Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham is a motivational speaker and consultant, best known as one of the founders of the strengths movement.

Founder of the Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), he has made numerous TV appearances and has made a name as one of the top management trainers in the world.

He is most famous as the co-author of “First, Break All the Rules” (with Curt Coffman) and “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (with Donald O. Clifton).

“Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF Summary”

If you know Marcus Buckingham, you certainly know the drill so far:

First, break all the rules!

Now, discover your strengths.

And finally, go put your strengths to work!

In six simple, but powerful steps, each one an answer to some of the most dreaded questions you’ve ever had to answer.

Step 1: Bust the Myths
So, what’s stopping you?

There are many myths which may hinder your growth to greatness.

However, three of them are especially dangerous:

Myth 1: As you grow, your personality changes.

The truth is – it doesn’t: growth comes from you investing your energy to build on what you already have.

A cat will never become a lion no matter how much it trains to roar.

Just as well: you will never become an expert in someone else’s field.

To quote William Blake:

The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

Myth 2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness.

Even though it may seem like it – after all, there’s more room for maneuver in an empty area – the truth is that you can only grow effectively in an area of strength.

Myth 3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.

Sometimes this may be true, but most often it is not.

Simply put, if you’re not giving your best, you’re not doing the best for your team either.

Just ask yourself:

How much would Michael Jordan have helped the Chicago Bulls win a title if he had been forced to play in the position of a center?

Step 2: Get Clear
Do you know what your strengths are?

People usually know much more about their weaknesses than about their strengths:

Our strengths are the very qualities that could make us look our best, and yet when asked to detail them we lack, well, detail.

Well, it’s time to change that!

Because capturing, clarifying and confirming your strengths is a prerequisite to living the life of your dreams.

How can you do that?

By making an analysis of yourself and checking your supposed skills and talents against Buckingham’s four SIGNs of strengths:

Success: Which activities do you do most successfully?
Instinct: Which do you feel like doing most intuitively?
Growth: Are you continually getting better in these activities, in an almost natural way?
Needs: Do these activities matter to you, making you feel fulfilled and content?

Step 3: Free Your Strengths
How can you make the most of what strengthens you?

Now that you’ve discovered your strengths, it’s time to FREE them and put them to work. This is a process which – as the acronym gives away – consists of four strategies:

Focus: first, you need to understand which of your strengths you actually employ while at work; understand when you need it, how much you need it, and how often you use it;
Release: start doing the things which may bring the most of your skillset, even if that means doing someone else’s job;
Educate: bring your knowledge up to date and become even more skillful in what you’re already best.
Expand: redefine your job in terms of your newfound and updated strengths; your team needs the best of you.

Step 4: Stop Your Weaknesses
How can you cut out what weakens you?

Just like your strengths, you should clear, capture and clarify your weaknesses as well.

Obviously, the objective now is different.

Namely, to STOP them from reaching your full potential:

Stop: this is selfexplanatory: cease doing anything you dislike; sometimes this may be something so irrelevant that nobody will notice; other times, explain your rationale;
Team up: now that you’ve stopped doing some activity you dislike, team up with the person who actually likes doing it;
Offer up: time for a swap – in exchange for helping you with your least favorite activity, offer your partner to help him with the one you’re best at;
Perceive: now, look at your weakness anew; does it matter that you have it?

Step 5: Speak Up
How can you create strong teams?

Now, that you know there may be a way to make yourself more essential to the team while getting rid of those activities you don’t like to do – a win-win of the highest order – it’s time for a talk with your boss.

Conversation 1: To prepare, have a strengths chat with your colleagues, rummaging for work examples to back up your talk, and devising a plan what to say to your boss once he invites you to his office;

Conversation 2: Time for the discussion. It will go well if you manage to answer the “how I can help you” question. Try putting your presented plan into practice.

Conversation 3: The weakness chat (same as 1 – but different objective).

Conversation 4: This should be the pinnacle of your efforts: the “how you can help me” chat with your boss.

Step 6: Build Strong Habits
How can you make this last forever?

Michael Jordan didn’t remain Michael Jordan because he relied on his strengths but because he continually used them and built upon them.

Do the same.

First, introduce a daily routine to identify the three strengths you are/like to be using and the three weakness you like to get rid of.

Then, start a weekly routine to identify two actions which may help you strengthen your strengths and shut down your weaknesses.

Finally, do a personal quarterly review to see how things are going.

Key Lessons from “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”

1.      Strengths Before Weaknesses
2.      The 6 Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance
3.      Stand Out

Strengths Before Weaknesses

Less than half of surveyed Americans think that they should build on their strengths, preferring to overcome their weaknesses instead.

However, this may be one of the worst things you can do if you want to be successful.

Because life is just too short to focus on your weaknesses.

No matter what, you will always have a few of those.

Hell, even Richard Feynman sucked at art history and music!

The point is to spend as much of your time as you can to strengthen your strengths.

And shut down your weaknesses altogether.

The 6 Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

To put your strengths to work, you need to follow these 6 steps:

#1: Bust the myths which hinder your growth.
#2: Get clear, i.e., capture, clarify, and confirm your strengths by checking them against the four SIGNs (success, instinct, growth, and needs).
#3: FREE your strengths, by focusing and releasing them, and then by educating yourself in the field and expanding upon them.
#4: STOP your weaknesses. Literally: first stop doing them, and then team up with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses, and whose weaknesses are your strengths; once you do that, offer up to swap the tasks and finally, start perceiving your weakness with some fresh eyes.
#5: Speak up. Arrange a meeting with your boss and inform him of your strengths.
#6: Build strong habits. You’re in this for the long run. Constantly repeat this process.

Stand Out

Now, that you’ve mastered your strengths, it’s time to make the next step.

Discover your strength role and start excelling.

Time to stand out!

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“Go Put Your Strengths to Work Quotes”

The strengths movement says that all we learn from mistakes are the characteristics of mistakes. If we want to learn about our successes, we must study successes. Click To Tweet

The radical idea at the core of the strengths movement is that excellence is not the opposite of failure, and that, as such, you will learn little about excellence from studying failure. Click To Tweet

Your strengths are defined by your actual activities. They are things you do, and more specifically, things you do near perfectly. Click To Tweet

Start with your own life, and to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, be the change you want to see in your team. Click To Tweet

Your teammates need to know where they can rely on you the most. The most responsible thing you can do is tell them. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Go Put Your Strengths to Work” is Marcus Buckingham’s attempt to complete his tentative strength’s trilogy, but he doesn’t do a fairly good job.

True, the first two books set a very high standard – we, for one, featured them both in our list of top 15 management books in history – but this one feels just too repetitive and simplified.

And, in our opinion, it refers too often to the book’s website (http://simplystrengths.com/), on whose SET tests (now, supposedly, outdated) it relies just too much for its own benefit.

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Now, Discover Your Strengths Summary

Now Discover Your Strengths SummaryNow, Discover Your Strengths” is an insightful book that encourages out-of-box thinking, and increases the sense of awareness in tough situations.

About Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Marcus BuckinghamMarcus Buckingham co-authored First, Break All the Rules, and The One Thing You Need to Know.

Donald O. Clifton was a renowned American psychologist and he wrote several books.

“Now Discover Your Strengths Summary”

There are several equally practical techniques for enhancing the organizational performance. You can either address the weaknesses or place special attention on finding the strengths. Most companies acknowledge that there has been a slight cost overrun due to activity-allocating inefficiencies.  

Strategic thinking can further inflame the situation mostly because leaders tend to guide their efforts based on misleading ideas and predictions:

  • Anybody can receive the technical know-how with the right amount of training.
  • People improve their performance when they “assault” their vulnerabilities.

In general, many experienced managers have a habit of following a different route. Instead of emphasizing the weaknesses, they outline a field of satisfactory capabilities and zoom in on the details to fully exploit the strengths.

  • Efficient organizations are not only focusing on the positive assets, but also on ways to further enhance their impact.
  • Don’t skip the idea of utilizing the skills of your employees and discuss to see whether your strategy fits their extensive know-how.
  • Praise talented and hard-working individuals for displaying your devotion towards the company.  

The main recipe to success can be either cut to pieces or explained as one entity: “Regardless of your approach, taking advantage of the strong points, and bring under one’s control all the weak spots – is all that separates prosperity from failure.”

The ability to assess the situation and anticipate the effects of your decisions is regarded as a key element to reach another maturity level. Underestimating the impact of external factors can be fatal. The workplace atmosphere that forms or destroys the group cohesion can strike the companies at the very core.

Warren Buffett needs no introduction, and his tips come as a blessing to many. He associates success with the ability to accommodate professional obligations that put in the spotlight one’s strengths. Others describe Buffer, as an intelligent and calm person.  

In the same fashion, your yearnings describe whether you are a goal-oriented person or a delayer. If the task matches the employer’s area of expertise, the job will be done quicker and better.

Three tightly related, and yet unique aspects:

  • Talent” – The hidden incentive developed under the guidance of various feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
  • Knowledge” – Everything that you acquired through formal education.
  • Skills” – The unique know-how that distinguishes you from the rest.

Key Lessons from “Now, Discover Your Strengths

1.      Don’t neglect the significance of acquiring valuable information
2.      Balance in the company
3.      Create a supporting-work environment

Don’t neglect the significance of acquiring valuable information

Knowledge, unlike other elements, can be highlighted as a critical factor and information deriving from reliable sources.

This type of expansion is dependent upon studying techniques and learning processes. Knowing how and what you need to perform, will put you in a great position and reduce the human-error.

Balance in the company

Find the perfect ratio between talent and weakness. The synergy between these two defines all the other links that may hinder or stimulate the company’s progress.  

However, staying on track requires a bit more on your part. Make sure that the main focus is still positioned at the possibilities, rather than on the fragile elements.

Create a supporting-work environment

Delegating comes secondary due to the fact that to perform at your very best, you need support. This aid can arrive in different forms.

One of them is the ability to create a positive working atmosphere.

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“Now, Discover Your Strengths” Quotes

No matter how proud we are of our strengths and no matter how powerful these strengths can sometimes appear, we suspect that our weaknesses are lurking, dragon like, in the depths of our personality. Click To Tweet

Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time. Click To Tweet

Most organizations remain startling inefficient at capitalizing on the strengths of their people. Click To Tweet

Skills determine if you can do something, whereas talents reveal something more important: how well and how often you do it. Click To Tweet

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

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StandOut Summary

StandOut SummaryThe Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution

As Sun Tzu said thousands of years ago, the best way to be ahead of your competition is to know your strengths and use your competitions’ weaknesses. “StandOut” by Marcus Buckingham is one of the best books out there about mastering the former.

About Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham is a Cambridge-educated motivational speaker and consultant. Recruited by Donald O. Clifton to work for Gallup, he was in charge of few wide-ranging surveys, which laid the foundation of his worldview.

He has written few extremely influential business management books, such as “First, Break All the Rules” and “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” both featured in top 15 management booklist.

StandOut Summary

Marcus Buckingham is an all-star in the world of management. Widely regarded as one of the best business authors of all time, his books are regularly featured on lists such as Time Magazine’s “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books.”

However, since managing people also means knowing people, Buckingham is often considered a motivational expert as well. Consequently, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” earned itself a spot among our top 15 motivational books in history.

StandOut” – updated as “StandOut 2.0” in the meantime – is, in many ways, its companion volume. Once again, it’s attached to an online assessment tool which may help you discover your two top “strength roles” and use them to your benefit.

And there are nine of them. We’ll describe them and – who knows? – maybe you’ll be able for a quick self-assessment. Even though, Buckingham thinks it’s unlikely.

The first strength role is the role of the “Adviser.” They are the ones who are happy when someone comes to them for help. And are confident that they can help them. They can use this strength to earn money by being professional consultants.

You’re a “connector” if you are capable of inspiring other people. You can be a good leader and a team builder. And you can earn even more trust by remembering other people’s names and using them in day-to-day conversations.

“Creators” like concepts and love ideas. They analyze things carefully and thoroughly. However, if you’re one of them, you have to stop being a nitpicker and keep your expectations in check. Not everybody is like you. Which is why – you can make yourself indispensable.

Then, there are the “equalizers.” They seek balance and are always transparent. That’s why they’ll probably excel as mediators.

Influencers” are a rare type. They lead – and they leave a lasting impression. However, they often make mistakes, but fail to recognize that fact. This impedes their progress.

Next, we have the “pioneers.” They are innovators, always in pursuit of something new and original. However, exactly because of this, they often jump from one idea to another, and are disappointed when some don’t work. They need to be more persistent: the next Steve Jobs is among them.

The seventh strength role is the role of the “provider.” They care for other people and give them voice. They are the connective tissue of a company. However, they are also politically naïve, and would defend anyone at face value. Consequently, many people – especially influencers – tend to use them.

Second to last – the “stimulator.” He is the “yes-man” or the “yes-woman” of the company. Even when the going gets tough, they have the energy to stimulate others. Unfortunately, it’s not always a good idea to say “yes.” To progress, if you’re a stimulator, you need to learn when and how to say “no” as well.

Finally, the last strength role is the role of the “teacher”. These are the people who get their authority from their knowledge. Even though they may be lacking the capacity of self-initiative, they are excellent as tutors.

Key Lessons from “StandOut”

1.      Now, Discover Your Strengths to StandOut
2.      There Are Nine Strength Roles
3.      Remember the Three Strength Principles

Now, Discover Your Strengths to StandOut

This is the basic idea of most books authored or co-authored by Marcus Buckingham. Namely, you can’t be best at anything you like. You can only be best at what you’re already good at. And in order to discover that, you’ll probably need some help. Knowing thyself is the starting point on the road to self-mastery.

There Are Nine Strength Roles

During the many wide-ranging surveys he has thoroughly analyzed, Marcus Buckingham realized that there are nine strength roles. These are: “adviser,” “connector,” “creator,” “equalizer,” “influencer,” “pioneer,” “provider,” “stimulator,” and “teacher.” Each of the roles comes with its own fortes and flaws. You have to spend some time to improve the former and eliminate the latter.

Remember the Three Strength Principles

Each individual has a unique strengths combination. However, learning how to use them is a process founded in three principles.

First of all, you have to remember that “your genius is precise.” In other words, genius doesn’t transfer even if you’re Einstein. Secondly, “you can’t respect what you can’t remember.” So, learn your strengths and never forget them. Finally, “you must reach beyond your roles.” Or: try to be more than you are.

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“StandOut” Quotes

They say that burnout happens the same way that bankruptcy does: gradually, gradually, then suddenly. Click To Tweet

The most dominant – the most frequently recurring patterns – are the source of your strengths. Click To Tweet

What is effective and authentic in the hands of one person looks forced, fake and foolish in the hands of another. Click To Tweet

Your real-world performance for any given day is the sum of all the moment-by moment choices you make. Click To Tweet

These two strength roles are... your edge – where you will have a natural advantage. Click To Tweet

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First, Break All the Rules PDF Summary

First Break All the Rules PDFWhat the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

When you want to learn something, it’s always a good idea to learn from the most thorough. In the world of management, that title belongs to Marcus Buckingham. Co-authored with Curt Coffman, “First, Break All the Rules” is a first-rate management classic.

Let’s find out why.

About Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Marcus BuckinghamMarcus Buckingham is a British Cambridge-educated business consultant and motivational speaker. He was recruited by Donald O. Clifton to work for Gallup, where he was in charge of few large-scale surveys on which his books are based. He is also the founder of the Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), a management training program.

Curt CoffmanCurt Coffman worked for Gallup for more than two decades before becoming a Chief Science Officer and a Senior Partner of The Coffman Organization. He is a consultant to many Fortune 500 organizations.

“First Break All the Rules Summary”

When “Time Magazine” includes a book in its list of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books” – you take notice. And when GetNugget.co decides that it is also good for its top 15 management picks, you can be sure that the book is a perennial classic.

We’re talking about “First, Break All the Rules,” Marcus Buckingham’s and Curt Coffman’s attempt to discover what the great managers do differently than the average ones.

But, they show no interest in theoretical discussions. Oh, no!

Published by Gallup, “First, Break All the Rules”  – just like its companion-piece, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” – is, in fact, an in-depth report of the largest management surveys ever undertaken. And if you’re wondering how big are we talking about, let’s crunch the numbers.

The first one is a survey of almost 2 million employees! The main finding of this one was that “talented employees need great managers;” the other ones, however, were used much more extensively in “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” the book this survey is the sole basis of.

The second one encompasses 80,000 12-question interviews conducted over a quarter of a century, with as many managers working for over 400 successful companies! And it’s the one which made “First, Break All the Rules” possible.

The title is not a coincidence – it is the common denominator of the managers in question. Or, to be more exact, it is what makes great managers – great.

Simply put: they are unconventional. Even if that means being, simply, much more realistic. First of all, they don’t believe that anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be. So, they hire talented people with the right attitude; and teach them the necessary skills afterwards.

However, they don’t really care about their weaknesses. To them, it’s pointless to try and help your employees overcome them. You need to focus on their strengths and use them to their full potential.

And since they are result-oriented and are aware of the fact that they deal with a very colorful group of people, they have customized four levels of management support. Each of them is directed towards a different type of employee in order to maximize its potential.

The Base Camp is the first level. Its intended for people who are still in the what’s-expected-of-me and do-I -have-what-you-need phase. Obviously, they ask and need nothing more but a clarification of their manager’s expectations and some resources to meet them.

Camp 1 is all about job satisfaction and encouragement. It should be directed towards the employees who have met the initial expectations. Their question is what they will get if they exceed them. Explain this to them. But don’t make the mistake of giving titles as rewards. Be more creative.

Camp 2 is about personal fulfillment. There’s no point in expecting more than a Camp 1 performance from someone who’s not really into the job he’s working and hasn’t found at least one friend among his colleagues. (OK, unless he’s a lone wolf – those are notoriously difficult to manage). Camp 2 employees are aiming for the top. See if they understand how they can get there.

At Camp 3, managing is almost unnecessary. These are the employees already enthusiastic about their personal growth and work progress. The only thing they need is stability.

And they deserve that reward.

Key Lessons from “First Break All the Rules PDF”

1.      Use Your Employees’ Strengths and Don’t Upgrade Their Weaknesses
2.      Break the Golden Rule and Play Favorites
3.      These Are the Four Key Management Skills

Use Your Employees’ Strengths and Don’t Upgrade Their Weaknesses

Most people think that a good manager is the one who’ll transform his employees’ weaknesses into strengths. Two enormous Gallup studies have proven otherwise: great managers never care about individuals, they care about teams. So, they disregard their employees’ weaknesses and learn how to achieve more with what they have.

It’s like managing a basketball team! It’s pointless to teach your center to shoot 3s: it’s much more sensible to be aware of the strengths of each member of your roster.

Break the Golden Rule and Play Favorites

Speaking of which – the golden rule of management is “try to disregard the golden rule.” Some may say differently, but it seems that treating your employees as equals does nobody any favors. Playing favorites is much more reasonable.

To apply the basketball analogy once again: if you don’t favor LeBron James over your other players, both in logistical and financial terms, you’ll probably lose him.

These Are the Four Key Management Skills

If you want to be a great manager, you need to be able to do at least four different things. First of all, you need to know how to hire the right people. Then, it’s essential to know how to set expectations, specific to each of them.

Thirdly, you must know how to motivate all members of your team. And finally, you have to be able to properly develop the career of each employee, based on his strengths and dedication, but also in view of the vision and the needs of your company.

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“First, Break All the Rules” Quotes

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

The best managers consistently disregard the Golden Rule. And yes, they even play favorites. Click To Tweet

Talented employees need great managers. Click To Tweet

Today more than ever before, if a company is bleeding people, it is bleeding value. Click To Tweet

People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough. Click To Tweet

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Top Management Books

The discipline of management is “one of the greatest social innovations of modern times”. In fact, the idea of managing processes is so ubiquitous and pervasive, that Peter Drucker, “the founder of modern management,” considers managers nothing short of the present and future torchbearers of ethics and morality.

You can read why he thinks that in our review of one of the two books we included in our top management books list. We believe that the other thirteen are as important and famous, as influential and eye-opening.

And we don’t want to lose you another second of your time before we introduce our picks for the 15 best management books in history.

#1. “The Principles of Scientific Management” by Frederick Winslow Taylor

The Principles of Scientific Management SummaryIn 1913, V. I. Lenin, the man who would go on to start a bloody revolution four years later, wrote in “Pravda” that “the most widely discussed topic today in Europe, and to some extent in Russia, is the ‘system’ of the American engineer, Frederick Taylor.”

What Lenin was referring to was a 1911 monograph titled “The Principles of Scientific Management,” a highly influential work during the period of the Progressive Era (1890-1920), written by a man whose life mission was improving industrial efficiency, Frederic Winslow Taylor.

Even though the essay expounds theories which would grow obsolete in the meantime, generally the book’s influence is highly regarded even in the 21st century. In fact, in 2001, the 137 Fellows of the Academy of Management voted it the most influential management book ever written.

And some of its main ideas are still hotly and commonly debated. Such as the suggestion that shorter workdays may still increase productivity. What do you think?

#2. “The Functions of the Executive” by Chester Barnard

The Functions of the Executive SummaryDuring the same Academy of Management survey which voted “The Principles of Scientific Management” the most influential management work in history, Chester Irving Barnard’s 1938 classic “The Functions of the Executive” came in second.

Considered “the first paradigmatic statement of the management discipline,” “The Functions of the Executive” presents “a theory of organization and cooperation,” much in the same manner as Taylor. However, the big difference between them is that Barnard didn’t want to merely prescribe principles; he wanted to study those already practiced and compare them to each other to discover the best practice.

Divided into four parts and eighteen chapters, Barnard’s book is a somewhat difficult read. Just looking at the titles of the parts is enough. The first one, for example, is called “Preliminary Considerations Concerning Cooperative Systems”; the last one: “The Functions of Organizations in Cooperative Systems.”

However, have no doubts whatsoever that, in this case, looking past the “atrocious” style is more than worth it.

#3. “The Essential Drucker” by Peter Drucker

The Essential Drucker SummaryBorn in the Austro-Hungarian Empire few years before it dissolved, Peter Drucker, “the most influential and widely read authority on modern organizations,” had the invaluable privilege to be raised in a household where intellectuals, scientists, and leaders regularly met to discuss their views and ideas.

If you’re wondering about their names and reputations, just have a look at our top economics booklist: any Austrian you’ll find there (and there are few), Peter Drucker personally knew even as a child.

In the final Academy of Management list of most influential books, Drucker’s 1954 “The Practice of Management” was listed third and called a “seminal contribution” to the field. However, for our list, we opted for two different books, even though, really, Drucker is so omnipresent that we’ll always stand by our recent estimation that he is “as important to companies, as oxygen is crucial for our survival.”

The Essential Drucker” is a carefully compiled collection of the 26 most important writings by Drucker, and, as such, is an essential read for every manager.

#4. “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” by Peter Drucker

Management SummaryIf you’ve studied management at almost any university, the chances are this was one of the first – if not the first – book you were assigned as a compulsory read.

Originally published in 1973, “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” is still the best management manual almost half a century later. And it’s so all-encompassing and diligently organized that it’s difficult to see how any other book can take its place.

Developed and written during a period of over three decades, “Management” draws heavily on Peter Drucker’s experience as a management professor and consultant to government agencies, and large and small businesses. In fact, you can consider this book a distillate of his life. There’s everything here! From basic management tasks to best management practices.

But, don’t ignore Drucker’s pleas for business ethics either. “In modern society,” he writes, “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.”

#5. “What Management Is: How It Works and Why It Is Everyone’s Business” By Joan Magretta

What Management Is SummaryThe blurb to “What Management Is” may sound a bit pretentious, but, trust us, it exaggerates nothing. “Not since Peter Drucker’s great work of the 1950s and 1960s,” it says at one point, “has there been a comparable effort to present the work of management as a coherent whole, to take stock of the current state of play, and to write about it thoughtfully for readers of all backgrounds.”

And when it says “all backgrounds” – trust us yet again – it really means so! At no more than 256 pages, Joan Magretta has managed to achieve a rare feat. Namely, to write a book which may attract the interest of both novices and experienced managers; teaching the former the basics and providing the latter with encyclopedically organized body of knowledge.

The beginners will additionally love the simplicity with which Magretta explains complex management ideas; and, even more, the clear, concise, and straight-to-the-point style. As “The Econimist” review put it best: “a rare animal: a management book that is lucid, interesting and honest.”

#6. “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

First, Break All the Rules SummaryIn 2011, “Time Magazine” made a list of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books.” We bet few would have been surprised to see there Marcus Buckingham’s and Curt Coffman’s brilliant “First, Break All the Rules.”

Published by Gallup, the book is based on the largest management survey ever undertaken, encompassing 80,000 interviewed managers from over 400 successful companies. Buckingham and Coffman asked each of the managers 12 simple questions; then they thoroughly studied the answers. The results are staggering: almost none of the old management techniques actually work in practice.

What does work?

Well, first of all, treating employees like individuals capable of doing seriously difficult work; and focusing on their strengths rather than their weakness; however, all the while not believing that with training everyone can do what he or she sets his or her mind to.

It seems that setting specific outcomes works; but – believe it or not – refraining from setting specific processes does as well. Disregarding the golden rule – is the golden rule.

And much, much more.

#7. “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Now, Discover Your Strengths SummarySo much more, in fact, that Marcus Buckingham went on to write another work, a companion-piece to “First, Break All the Rules”. This time with a new co-author – American psychologist Donald O. Clifton, – but using the very same methodology. And, based on the titles, we have a feeling that this one’s was in preparation even before the first one was published.

We already featured “Now, Discover Your Strengths” in our top motivational books, but we think it belongs here as well. Based on a gargantuan survey by The Gallup Organization, the book quantifies the answers 1.7 million interviewees gave to several questions, and deduces the 34 distinct “talent themes” (or traits), the combinations of which can best describe an individual’s uniqueness.

And after helping each reader to find his specific strengths – via Gallup’s strengthfinder.com online resource – “Now, Discover Your Strengths” offers many practical advices on how to advance and employ them.

Updated as “Strengths Finder 2.0” in the meantime, this book can teach managers to get the best out of their employees, and employees get the best out of themselves.

#8. “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” by James C. Collins

Good to Great SummaryIn our microsummary, we described “Good to Great” as “one of the best management books to ever see the light of day. So, obviously enough, we include it in our list of top management books in history.

Published in 2001, “Good to Great” tries to answer the question why some good companies succeed in becoming great, while others simply fail making the leap mentioned in the title. And, just like our two previous books on this list, “Good to Great” is not merely a theoretical exposé, but is based on an expansive 5-year study.

But, then again, if you know anything about its author, Jim Collins, you would have known that from the start.

Ultra-successful book and selling more the 4 million copies, “Good to Great” compares eleven great companies to their merely good counterparts (e.g. Philip Morris             vs. R. J. Reynolds) and discovers seven characteristics which the former had and the latter didn’t.

And let’s face it: who wouldn’t want to know them?

#9. “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras

Built to Last Summary“Good to Great” was published in 2011 and, as we wrote above, received enormous amounts of attention. However, it wasn’t without a precedent: by that time, in fact, Jim Collins would have already made his name as one of the leaders in the field with “Built to Last.”

Originally published in 1994, “Built to Last” is, once again, based on a wide-ranging six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Its two main goals – in its authors’ words – were ““to identify underlying characteristics are common to highly visionary companies” and “to effectively communicate findings so they can influence management.”

And “Built to Last” lives up to both of these high expectations.

By carefully studying the ideas and the practice of 18 widely admired companies founded before 1950, “Built to Last” provides valuable insights into the management habits of these great companies and deduces what made them so exceptional by comparing them to their top competitors.

Defining and seminal, “Built to Last” lives up to its title.

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#10. “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies” by Thomas Peters and Robert H. Waterman

In Search of Excellence SummaryPublished in 1982, “In Search of Excellence,” brought Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. so much attention that even though it was their debut book they quickly got nation-wide coverage and some flattering epithets of the “business guru” kind.

Three decades later, it’s obvious that the initial evaluations were correct. “In Search of Excellence” is still considered a management manual.

Started as a study of 62 businesses, it ended up as a thorough analysis of the management practices in the 43 best-run companies in the United States. By carefully examining the available data, Peters and Waterman discovered that the companies which succeed share eight common characteristics.

And “In Search of Excellence,” they dedicate a chapter to each. Unsurprisingly, in the meantime, these eight traits have become basic principles of management.

Dubbed the “Greatest Business Book of All Time” by “Bloomsbury UK,” “In Search of Excellence” is the fourth best-selling management book in history, trailing only Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and the books at #4 and #8 on this list.

#11. “Competing for the Future” by Gary Hamel, C. K. Prahalad

Competing for the Future SummarySoon after its publication, in a review for “Washington Post,” Steven Pearlstein wrote that “if there is room for only one management book on your reading shelf each year”, “Competing for the Future” is his 1996 choice. “Business Week” backed Pearlstein’s decision, claiming that it’s “one of the year’s best management books.”

Exciting and profoundly valuable, “Competing for the Future” is written by two renowned thinkers on strategy, Gary Hamel and Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad. And it strives to give “would-be revolutionaries” the tools to challenge “the protectors of the past.

As any book written for rebels, it challenges many of the notions about management prevalent at the day; if you think that most of them are commonsensical now – well, you owe it to Hamel’s and Prahalad’s expertise.

And you certainly do think that strategic planning is a continuous process and that it is something that has to encompass the whole organization, and not just some sectors, right?

#12. “Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management” by Edward De Bono

Six Thinking Hats SummaryYou can really argue that Edward de Bono is one of the most famous exports from the tiny island nation of Malta. Psychologist, philosopher, physician, and inventor, he is the man who invented the concept of lateral thinking, i.e. solving problems creatively.

And “Six Thinking Hats” is the book where he first proposed the idea.

Published in 1985, “Six Thinking Hats” devised a thinking system which strives to eradicate the most serious problem of thinking: confusion. De Bono demonstrates that confusion stems from the fact that we’re never thinking clearly, or, rather, that we’re always using many aspects of our being to think.

So, he suggests a role-playing method which clarifies how thinking works, by splitting the process into its six comprising elements.

The red hat is the emotional one, while the white one shows interest in facts only; the black one is the devil’s advocate, while the yellow is the optimistic hat; finally, the green hat is the hat of creativity, and the blue one – the hat of the manager.

Employed by many companies even today, de Bono’s three-decades-old tool has proved a lasting success!

#13. “The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company” by Jack Stack

The Great Game of Business SummaryThis is a book about an inspirational story.

Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation was founded in 1983 by 13 employees of International Harvester. In an attempt to save 119 jobs, they decided to buy the part of the company which rebuilt truck engines. How? With $100,000 of their own money. And about $8.9 million in loans!

Led by Jack Stack, the employees turned the things around, and the initial stock price of $0.10 in 1983 had increased by almost 2,000 times and was worth over $199 per share in 2015.

And we still haven’t gotten to the most interesting part of the story! You see, Jack Stack had neither experience nor an idea how to manage a company!

So, how did he do it?

The Great Game of Business” explains what he did in detail, introducing to the world the fairly new concept of “open-book management.” Its main premise, especially in view of capitalistic doctrines, is staggeringly innovative.

Namely, Springfield Remanufacturing is not managed by one person, but by everybody. In other words, everyone has his or her say on each financial decision and all company matters.

And – well – somehow it works brilliantly!

#14. “Out of the Crisis” by W. Edwards Deming

Out of the Crisis SummaryOriginally published by MIT Center for Advanced Engineering in 1982 as “Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position,” this W. Edwards Deming’s classic was republished in 1986 under its much more friendly current title, “Out of Crisis.”

The book, included in both “Time Magazine’s” “and Academy of Management’s” lists of top 25 most influential management books in history, is widely credited with introducing the concept of Total quality management, even though Deming never actually uses the term in the book.

However, he does offer 14 key principles to managers which articulate TQM in both simple and still operational manner.

Ranging from ideas about the necessity of improving constantly and forever to suggestions that breaking down barriers between departments is a must, from calls to put an end to inspections to requests to drive out fear from the workplace, “Out of the Crisis” has transformed many companies in the past four decades.

And will certainly transform you once you find the time to read it.

#15. “The One Minute Manager: The Quickest Way to Increase Your Own Prosperity” by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The One Minute Manager SummaryThe subtitle of this book – “the quickest way to increase your own prosperity” – seems like an understatement when compared to the title – “The One Minute Manager.”

Of course, those who expect to become good managers in one minute expect a bit much. But, even they might be absolutely flabbergasted by the fact that Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson need no more than a hundred pages to expound upon a simple management concept which ended up influencing thousands of companies.

And especially by the main premise of the book: one minute to a manager may be an exaggeration, but three minutes is just about right!

A sleeper hit in the 1980s, “The One Minute Manager” is, in fact, a fable explicating a management-by-objectives type of managing which is based around the idea an effective manager sets one-minute goals, and sets aside one minute for praising and one minute for reprimanding his employees.

A business bestseller ever since its publication, “The One Minute Manager” is, both literally and metaphorically, a small wonder.

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