It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if you want to become a leader then you have to learn from those who came before you.
You have to study. You have to read.
In the world of entrepreneurship, there are a few staples on every person’s bookshelf—and for good measure. These are the books that have shaped industry leaders for decades, and have been passed along as helpful resources for those next in line. If you haven’t read these, you need to grab a copy immediately. And if you have, well, you’re probably overdue for a re-read.
1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Arguably the most famous business book on the planet, Think and Grow Rich is the business bible. It is an in-depth guide into the minds of some of the greatest inventors and thought leaders, their process and the common themes between them. Covering everything from daily habits, to the importance of writing down what Hill refers to as your “Chief Aim,” this is a step-by-step guide on how to take that idea that lives in your head and nurture it until it comes to life.
2. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Right up there with Think and Grow Rich, How To Win Friends and Influence People is a much tamer read than the name suggests. This is not a book about manipulation or sales techniques. This is a book about how to be genuine in the way you conduct business, and goes to great lengths to show how honesty can be your greatest business asset. This book is crucial for young people to read because it shows the importance of conducting yourself in a professional manner within each and every opportunity. You never know who knows who, and how quickly word can travel.
3. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack
A fun read, and much lighter than the first two suggestions on this list, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School uses true stories from the author’s life to reveal some of business’s most brutal truths. McCormack’s overwhelming lesson here is that while the classroom can certainly teach you a lot, there is a whole world of unwritten rules awaiting your professional arrival. As soon as you step into that first meeting, interact with that client, get down into the trenches of business, you realize just how little the classroom can teach you about guts, and persistence, and trust.
4. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei
Probably an unconventional choice for this list, but has been a huge help in my own journey, Manage Your Day-to-Day is a book with wisdom shared by seasoned thought leaders and creatives—from Seth Godin and beyond. It shows how there is not “one size fits all” secret to productivity, and how, especially if you are pursuing a career as a creative you need to be even more in tune with your own habits. This is a book about how to produce your best work—and how it all stems from your daily routine.
5. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
And finally, Leadership and Self-Deception is one of the most effective reads I’ve encountered in regards to leading and managing other people. Using storytelling techniques and fictional elements, this book reveals the challenges we as humans run into when working together—and how the majority of conflict stems from poor communication. This is a book entire organizations read together, and discuss at length the principles it explores. A must-read for any aspiring business leader.