One of the most powerful weapons at any person’s disposal is the written word.  In my opinion, there is no better tool to accentuate the written word than a strong collection of books.  To be able to learn from other leaders in a space you are in, or to get motivated by celebrities or thought leaders you look up to, or even to ignite your imagination through those non-fiction works is extremely powerful. No matter the read, we all, at one time or another, have used a book to either solve a problem, research a topic, or to escape a certain reality.  For me, in 2016, I turned to reading more intensely than I had ever before as I began to launch my podcast called the Power Of Great and as I begin building a more personal branding presence online.

At the same time, I found that books were helping me better understand processes in my sales and marketing business. They were also opening up opportunities for me to learn more from thought leaders, business experts, and influencers.  While I have read many books during the 2016 calendar year, there are five books in particular that meant a great deal to my growth, helped to expand my network, and offered instantaneously applicable practicum for my personal and professional ventures.

Not only have these five books brought tremendous value, but they are books that I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their business, increase their mindset, and open up new opportunities for themselves as they transition into 2017.

Start Me Up: The No-Business-Plan Business Plan

Start Me Up

This book is written by CPA and small business consultant Ebong Eka. It reached the best seller’s list on Amazon and can be purchased there still today.  Throughout this read, Ebong does an exceptional job of breaking down the nuances of starting a business, and offers great information that can be extracted very easily and applied immediately to those who are either looking to start a business or feel stuck in their current business structure.

One of the most important aspects comes in chapter seven where Ebong describes why choosing your niche is imperative.  This was an extremely important chapter for me as every business, entrepreneur, or brand at one point in time or another was a niche prior to growing into a larger corporation.  According to Ebong, defining your niche will allow you to do the following:

  • Dominate your market
  • Provide the best services to your customers as a result of focusing on a few
  • Become an expert in your particular area of profession or study
  • Acquire your first customer and generate money to fund future operations

The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People 

With well over 25 million copies sold, Stephen Covey became a household name and even bigger star with the release of his book called The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.  In all honesty, this was the most important book for me in 2016 as it encapsulates everything that I was looking for in mindset shift, personal development, and overall foundation structure in my professional and personal lives.

What stood out to me most during this read Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind.  Covey is quoted in this part of the book saying, “People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are, and what you value.”

This particular statement had a profound impact on me and my peers, colleagues, and online community that has read the book felt the same type of impact. This is more than a timeless best-seller it is a must-have for any and all people that are looking to improve all aspects of their lives and is a total transformation read.

Be Obsessed Or Be Average 

Grant Cardone is not just a New York Times best-seller, he’s truly the godfather of sales.  This book was something that opened my eyes to just how important your obsession with anything can be turned into a positive if you look at the activities of your obsession, the purpose of that obsession, and the value that your obsession will bring to others.

In this book, Grant talks about why he has been so obsessed his entire life with sales, success, and being the very best.  He does an excellent job of offering key takeaways that business people and individuals alike can use immediately to enhance their current situation.

One of my favorite quotes in the book is, “Do great things, and those who want to do great things will find you and want to #BeObsessed”.  A chapter in this book that I recommend everyone reading, re-reading, or researching is Chapter 5: Starve The Doubt.  In this chapter, Grant breaks down why doubt is the true killer of dreams, of your business, and your activity level.

By starving the doubt, simply believing in yourself and getting obsessed with having the confidence needed to succeed, you will understand just how to use your obsession to your advantage and reach a pinnacle of success you’ve never thought possible.

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take On Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness

What I like the most about this book from Gary Vaynerchuk is how he not only sharpened his point of view on particular topics, but he leveraged one of the most important business practices that companies should be using today, and that’s consumer engagement.  The title of this book says it all, Ask Gary Vee.

Gary took questions and interactions that he had through his meetings of people, social media interactions, etc., and used them in this book as content and learning opportunities for all—a simple yet brilliant tactic that I applaud him for.

Gary is on record saying that one of his most important strengths is his strong self-awareness of who is at his core.  Chapter 17: Self- Awareness tackles this topic in great detail from Gary’s point of view.  Gary goes on to say in this chapter that you should get yourself a thick skin.  “If you’re aggressive about getting the feedback, and man or woman enough to “eat it,” you can make changes in your life interactions with people and your approach to business that can pay off in big ways.” (pages 280-281)  According to Gary, if there was a chapter of this book to read twice, than this is the chapter to do so.

The School Of Greatness

Lewis Howes is one of the most popular and impressive lifestyle brand owners and thought leaders in the world.  Speaking on large stages, hosting one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, and being a New York Times best selling author is just a small list of accomplishments from this very intriguing public figure.

What I found most rewarding about this is the attention to detail in which it was written and the simplicity of the delivery.  With only eight chapters—a relatively small chapter count for major books—it certainly packs a punch. This book introduces major breakthrough moments and key takeaways for all to use. Chapter 8: Be Of Service To Others, stood out to me and offered clarity on a topic that many use, but very few actually understand.

In today’s marketplace, more people are concerned with the impact they are getting from products and information alike than ever before.  Lewis does an outstanding job of detailing how helping others get to their desired outcome first will ultimately lead you to your destination.  By taking an unselfish approach, you are truly allowing yourself to achieve the greatness you desire.

You need to start reading and adding books to your library right now.  Finding those authors or experts you resonate with is vitally important to your mental health, personal development, and overall leadership skills in your life and your business.  These five books are not only a great start to building your library, they truly are those books that cover basic needs, sophisticated wants, and total development that will improve your life, your business, and your income.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Matt Crane

Matt Crane is a former NCAA athlete turned entrepreneur. Matt founded the Power Of Great Podcast in which he interviews individuals from all walks of life that recognize that their current situation is not their defining moment and now look to help others do the very same. Download the podcast –> (bit.ly/powerofgreat).

Matt Crane is the Co-Founder and Co-Author of Master Your Limits a Self-Help & Consulting Brand as well as being the Chief Marketing Officer for Smartr Marketing & The Smartr App Company.

Matt currently resides in TN with his wife Tammy and their two boys Dalton & Riley and is also a published contributor for Huffington Post and Prsuit online publication.