15 Inspiring Books That Will Improve Your Career and Life

Literature inspires. Writers use their experiences to create fictional worlds, move emotions and weave stories that change how people see one another, and themselves.
Books also guide. Writers’ experiences can include trials or failures, moments when things didn’t go right or warnings were unheeded. Sharing these stories, along with what came afterward, offers authors a chance to turn something personal or tragic into something that advises others on how to avoid pitfalls, or gain greater success.

There are a lot of books that can help small business owners adapt or plan strategies. But which ones can inspire someone for an entire career? We asked 15 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council what book has been most influential in their career and why.  

Their best answers are below:

‘The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything,’ by Guy Kawasaki

The Art Of The Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide For Anyone Starting Anything,” by Guy Kawasaki, has taught me invaluable lessons in launching a new business. In particular, Guy’s lessons on “don’t worry, be crappy” helped me understand that it is more important to get to the market with an imperfect product, than not launching at all. The book is a simple guide in easy terms on tried and tested methodologies on the pitfalls of starting a new business. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors


‘The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies’ by Chet Holmes

The book “The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies,” by Chet Holmes has been incredibly helpful with sales, marketing and hiring. It is also helpful with productivity and day-to-day management of people. The book goes over doing an elevator pitch of your product to a large group of people. It emphasizes how to focus on benefits and not features. It even provides proven scripts to hire A-players. – Ryan ShankPhoneWagon


‘How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It,’ by Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban’s book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It” is highly approachable for any level of reader and jam packed with actionable advice. The book is relatively short, but will motivate and prepare your mindset for your own entrepreneurial adventure. While you won’t find all the answers here, it’s a great primer to get you excited to continue learning and trying new things. – Nicholas HaaseStartup Drugz


‘10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — a True Story,’ by Dan Harris

Dan Harris’ book “10% Happier,” about his on-air panic attack and how he took control of his life is one that stands out to me.  We all can become overwhelmed with life and this book is a reminder that sometimes we have a choice to be a little bit happier, that it’s important in life to have work-life balance. I think it’s essential to remember that there is a life outside of work. – Abhilash PatelRecovery Brands


‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ by Dale Carnegie

The book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie, taught me that the best way to develop strong business relationships is to proactively think of ways to help others. Instead of asking for this or that, first ask “How can I help you?” You’ll be amazed by how much you help yourself by constantly thinking of ways to help others. – Doug BendBend Law Group, PC


‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,’ by Dr. Lois Frankel

I read “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,’ by Dr. Lois Frankel, while I was in college. It heavily impacted how I carried myself at work. The title can be a little misleading as the book doesn’t condone being mean to the people you work for and with. However, it helped me realize how many situations there were where I would go out of my way to be nice to others, to the point of being cruel and unfair to myself. – Cassie PetreyCrowd Surf


‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,’ by Sean Covey

When I was 15 years old, my dad gave me a copy of “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” That book, an adapted version of the popular Sean Covey title, changed my life. It introduced me to principles such as “begin with the end in mind” and “be proactive;” principles which I believe have played a critical role in my success as an entrepreneur. Learning them at a young age made a huge difference. – Jesse LearV.I.P. Waste Services, LLC


‘The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do,’ by Jeff Goins

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do,’ by Jeff Goins, is a great career-related book. It talks about how to find your career purpose, how to reinvent it if necessary, and the importance of using the help and advice of others to achieve what you want in life. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance


‘Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,’ by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,’ by Brian Tracy, really changed my life. The frog refers to the worst thing you have to do on your to-do list. The kind of thing that you keep putting off or procrastinating on because it frustrates or intimidates you more than the other items. The book teaches you how to hack your psychology to deal with the worst first, so that you can end procrastination and achieve your goals. – Adam SteeleThe Magistrate


‘The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,’ by Michael E. Gerber

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” by Michael E. Gerber, is a must-read for any business owner. No matter the industry or the size of your company, you’re guaranteed to relate to many of the scenarios described by the author. In a nutshell, this book focuses on teaching you to work “on” your business and not “in” it — allowing you to scale from solopreneur or start-up to a self-sufficient business with opportunities for growth. – Kyle GoguenPawstruck LLC


‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,’ by Charles Duhigg

I read “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,’ by Charles Duhigg, a few years back and implemented some of its teachings into my life. I think success can be tied to habits and this illustrates how to set yourself up on a path of good habits while ridding your life of the bad ones. I applied this to how I operate in the business setting, and it really elevated how I worked. – Renato LibricBouxtie Inc


‘The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Gary Keller, a real estate mogul, breaks down how to attack your career simply and easily. I’ve read “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” a few times and refer back to it whenever I get stuck on a work-related problem or even if I’m looking for motivation. I love that it’s a book anyone, from any walk of life, can pick up and have it change their lives. – Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media


‘The Consolations of Philosophy,’ by Alain De Botton

Alain De Botton devotes an entire section of his book, “The Consolations of Philosophy,” to exploring the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, who proposed that we must look at leadership and life as gardeners. Plants can be ugly and unwieldy at their roots, but someone with knowledge of their potential can cultivate them to bear beautiful flowers and fruits. To be a true leader is to see the potential in someone and help them reach it. – Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc.


‘Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature,’ by Ayn Rand

The “Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature,” by Ayn Rand, is a detailed analysis of firstly how to define art and then analyzing it in an objective manor. As an engineer, I have always viewed projects and problems with its purpose in mind. As I became a designer, I saw the differences between designs with and without purpose. The “Romantic Manifesto” explains the meanings behind those differences, and gave me direction with my projects. – Peter BonacBonac Innovation Corp.


‘Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki

The book “Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!‘ by Robert T. Kiyosaki, changed everything for me. I read it at 22, and once I finished, I knew my corporate life would never be enough. It showed me that there was a completely different mindset out there, and that your mindset could be tweaked. It was humbling to realize how much I didn’t know about a game that existed. It served as a guide for me to evaluate the power of money and entrepreneurship. – Krish ChopraUnited Medical Rotations


The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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