Books I have read...

I was not much into reading growing up. As a teenager I started getting into reading science fiction, but mostly I liked to watch TV (especially when it went from 3 channels to dozens, to hundreds – yes, I know that tells you how old I am).

It wasn’t until I got into sales, and then business for myself in 2004 that I hung around others who read as a way to learn and grow. 

This sparked something in me and ever since I have read a lot of books, across so many disciplines.

I get asked all the time (especially as a guest on podcasts) what book(s) I recommend for people to read. The challenge with that request is that, just like my sales style, the answer is “It depends.”

Because it does depend…on who you are, what you already know, what your job is, where you want to learn/grow, what interests you, etc. So many factors go into a book recommendation (for same reason that just because someone LOVED Game of Thrones doesn’t mean that everyone will love it.)

So here is my list…and I will keep adding to it…of what I have read and why I recommend it.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It

Author: Michael Gerber

Why I recommend it:

Most small businesses fail for some simple reasons that Gerber lists out. If you are in business for yourself – especially if you are starting out or still small/growing – then read this and others in this series to ensure you don’t fail like most do (or at least struggle less!).  And if you are in sales, and your prospects are small business owners – I recommend reading this to understand their struggles better, which will help you solve their actual problems.

The Road Less Stupid: Advice From The Chairman Of The Board

Author: Keith J. Cunningham

Why I recommend it:

We all make mistakes, as a result of poor choices. Why do they happen? How can we minimize them? (We can’t ever know everything or keep from making any mistakes) This book helped me realize where the mistakes were coming from, and then a powerful tool to use for avoiding as many of them as possible. The biggest take away I got from it was: Start Less Things, Finish More Things (which, if you are like me…you like to or want to start tons of things, but rarely finish them)

Puke & Rally: It’s Not About the Setback, It’s About The Comeback

Author: Dr. Rob Bell

Why I recommend it:

A great story and lesson about that moment where you feel like you want to quit. Where you want to…or actually do…stop and throw up from the pressure/stress/anxiety/exertion. But will you let that be the point you quit moving forward? Or the moment where you stop…puke…get it out…then pick yourself back up and finish the race?

Connected To Goodness: Manifest Everything You Desire In Business And In Life

Author: David Meltzer

Why I recommend it:

What are you afraid of? What are you resisting? Why are you not getting what you say you want? What could you do instead, and what steps might help you get there? David writes out a great guide as a result of his journey of having it “all” then losing $100m and going back to square one (as a result of his ego blocking him), and then how he is manifesting something totally different in his life. And I love his motto: Help a lot of people, Make a lot of money, Have a lot fun! Want to hear more – Dave and I had an amazing conversation about this topic on my podcast.

The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities To Transform Your Life

Author: Todd Herman

Why I recommend it:

If you played a sport or acted in a play then you know the feeling of putting on a ‘uniform’ (or costume), getting into game mode or character and doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Like Superman and Clark Kent, this book helps you understand how valuable an Alter Ego is and how to leverage one to achieve your goals. The cool part for me was how he helped define which one was the Alter Ego – Superman or Clark Kent? (Most people get it wrong)

The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trial Into Triumph

Author: Ryan Holiday

Why I recommend it:

Sometimes it feels like the obstacles are in the way of success…of achieving what you want…of becoming who you want to become. But it turns out, according to Ryan Holiday, that the obstacle is actually what makes you better, stronger, more capable. And even more than that, the point IS the obstacle – that is what you should be looking for, in a ‘no pain, no gain’ kind of way.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice Of The Learning Organization

Author: Peter M. Senge

Why I recommend it:

In this book, he outlines what a great organization focuses on (evolving/maturing into a ‘learning’ organization). It is one where the operation and org members all realize that learning and growing are the most important thing, and the best way to support each to success is through that type of growth. And this is the key to winning versus competition who are focused no stability or domination – not learning and growing.

The Gap And The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide To Happiness, Confidence, and Success

Author: Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Why I recommend it:

Does your mind (and your words) focus on the gap or the gain? On what is missing? On what is not there? Our primal minds want to focus on lack, scarcity. It is what has kept us alive for so long. But what if you focused on the gain? What if you really saw how far you have come? What if there is more than the glass-half-empty-half-full?

WHO NOT HOW: The Formula To Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork

Author: Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Why I recommend it:

If you have ever felt like you can never get enough done, or that you keep hitting a ceiling on your income, it might be because you are trying to do it all yourself. After reading this I realized that mode which I am usually in and the power of finding there people to help. Its not jut about outsourcing, or being lazy, its about who else out there actually enjoys doing what you dont (or aren’t good at doing)? Also, they make a really strong case for procrastination actually being a sign of (internal) wisdom.

The Future You: Break Through The Fear and Build The Life You Want

Author: Brian David Johnson

Why I recommend it:

I have always struggled with the ‘Where do you want to be in 5 years?’ question. My mind doesn’t like to think that far ahead. Sometimes it isn’t even thinking further out than this week. But if you want to make big things happen in your life (meaning – true success for you…not what you think you need to have, do, buy, etc.), then it’s about looking out to the future, then working backward and making it happen. To get there definitely takes a plan – especially one to counteract when we all historically give into fear and stop trying to grow.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

Author: Gary Chapman & Paul White

Why I recommend it:

My most recommended ‘leadership’ book is The Five Love Languages, which usually gets some funny looks/comments. Nice thing is that they came out with a ‘work place appropriate’ one (this will make HR happier). Ultimately, which ever version you read, the reason I recommend it so highly is that its about understanding that everyone wants something different (that shows them love/appreciation), and if you want to be a great manager/leader – stop treating everyone like you like to be treated. Maybe everyone else doesn’t love your happy hour events.

Ask!: The Bridge from Your Dreams to Your Destiny

Author: Mark Victor Hansen & Crystal Dwyer Hansen

Why I recommend it:

From the master of creating your future and success, MVH and his wife put together an amazing road map for how to get what you want. Yes…the key is to ASK. But of course, if it was that easy – everyone would do it…so there is a formula that the two of them have perfected and tough others to use. This book is great to help refine how and why you ask for things you want. Oh, and MHV made for an amazing podcast guest on my show.

Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought PossibleAsk!: The Bridge from Your Dreams to Your Destiny

Author: Brian Tracy

Why I recommend it:

Truly, the book title says it all. For me, the biggest value was in understanding what gets in the way of setting, and then moving towards achieving the goals we say we want. Yes – this book has been around a while. But I read it as part of Sean Croxton’s QOD Book Club, and it was great to revisit it around a bunch of other motivated people.

Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded

Author: Maxwell Maltz

Why I recommend it:

Another recommendation from Sean Croxton. This was a bit deep – lots of diving into the psychology of why we want things, why we stop ourselves, and how to shift from it. Definitely a classic in this realm – if you haven’t read it, it is worth going through it.

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

Author: Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile

Why I recommend it:

I generally feel like a ‘late bloomer’…the last to know about things/trends/etc. I found out about the enneagram in 2020 and thought I had discovered some amazing secret (turns out, a lot of people know about it). If you don’t know – like me – then get this book and start the journey of seeing personality from a totally different perspective. The key with the enneagram isn’t about it being another personality/behavior matrix…but that it is truly about how we respond when stressed/unhappy…and then what you can do about it internally.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Author: Ben Horowitz

Why I recommend it:

If you are in any kind of leadership position, then you know that tough conversations come up that need to be had (but a lot of people shy away from them). Well…let’s be honest…life is full of relationships (romantic, family, work-related)…and at some point, a hard conversation will need to be had. Most of us hold back because we don’t like confrontation or hurting the other person. This is why this book is so powerful…because it helps you get through the hard things about hard things.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Why I recommend it:

I am not a history person – more of a science, math, business guy. And, if I am continuing to be honest – I have yet to finish this book (despite having started it 4 years ago). But I still highly recommend it. I actually found it very useful in helping me understand why we act like we do – where we have been as a species, why we have succeeded, and what matters to us most. This, in turn, has become the basis of a lot of my success in sales/training/leadership – because I understand at a deeper level what people are truly afraid of and what we all want most. And yes, someday I will finish it.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Author: Nassim Nicholas Nicholas Taleb

Why I recommend it:

Some think the key to success (and life) is to be unstoppable, unflappable, unoffendable, un-whatever else you want to fill in. But in this book, he outlines the reasoning behind success coming from being antifragile. Resilience is key to handling any change that comes your way. When you are antifragile, you aren’t worried about what might happen down the road – because you know you can handle it.

Reality-Based Leadership

Author: Cy Wakeman

Why I recommend it:

I first read Cy’s book No Ego – which I thought was amazing and eye-opening. Then I read this one, and my mind was blown even further. If you lead a team of any kind – get both of these books. The key takeaway is that the ego is what gets in the way of your team being all that you want, and the goal is to lead them in a different way. I will tell you from experience – using free office lunches, giveaways, constant bonuses, and other tactics to get compliance and performance is a terrible way to go and will actually make things worse. Please avoid creating entitled, enabled employees.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Author: Gino Wickman

Why I recommend it:

I know for me I have felt out of control many times in business (and life). This book, when I read it years ago, was a great reminder (and yes…I have said it many times on here…roadmap) of what to focus on. If you do not have a vision, mission, and core values for your business (or your familiy, or your life) then you will just be floating around hoping to get it right. If you want to create traction on moving towards your goals/plans/future – check out this book.