You are what you think.
A small line that explains accurately the development of any individual both emotionally and intellectually. We tend to surround ourselves with the things and do work that we love to do. But what Buddha does not explain in this one line is how our thinking is developed. Most of what we think and how we think is based on what we have learned in the past from our own experiences and from the experiences of others. And books are the key way for anyone to learn from other’s experiences.
No two persons ever read the same book.
This is the most intriguing and interesting quote about ‘book’, I have ever read. A book is not just a book but an insight into the experiences of its author. By reading a book, we can peek into its Author’s thoughts. While people spend thousands of dollars to meet and attend talks delivered by the experts, few know the secrets that a book can teach us far more than a single talk ever can.
What’s even more interesting about books is: while a book has the same content in every copy, how it’s perceived by each reader is different. An eager reader reflects what he reads based on his prior understanding. I might read the same book and draw an entirely different conclusion than you. And thus reading a lot of books develops diversity in our perception and helps us better understand different people and their perspectives.
Reading is particularly a very common among successful business people.
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In fact, three of the most prominent people in the business world, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey share one thing in common. They all read a lot. Warren Buffett estimates that 80% of his working day is dedicated to reading and reflecting. Here’s what these three giants have said about reading in their own words-
Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and there discovered was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.
― Oprah Winfrey
I just sit in my office and read all day.
I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.
― Bill Gates
As I was reading all this, I was really intrigued into thinking, that there must be something about reading that makes it so popular with almost all the successful entrepreneurs. And just as I was thinking this, I came across this name, Tai Lopez, Millionaire Entrepreneur and Investor who basically built the life of his dreams out of his reading habit. If you haven’t heard about him, there a link to his video at the end of this article and I am very sure his story will help you beyond your imagination.
So why exactly are books so helpful? After reading a lot of books and knowing what people have said about books, here’s why I think books are such important contributors to success, both individual and organizational.
1. Source of Information and Insight
In my experience of reading lots of books, what I have come to realize is, if a person decides to write a book and is honest about it. A lot of his experiences and his way of thinking are reflected in the book.
If you want to know what a person thinks like, just dig through the things he has said, the books he has read and the decisions he has made
2. Help us to Develop Understanding and Confidence
Once we start reading a lot of books, we develop a far wider understanding of things and out prospective broadens and the way we see things changes. And as we read more and more we understand how little we really know, we burst out of ‘I Know what’s right’ ego and then our over-confidence fades away. Ultimately with more and more knowledge, we start developing a confidence in our in our ability to learn and to explore for solutions which results in an enhanced ability to make mature and informed decisions.
3. Create a Desire to Emulate Success
With a better understanding of how things really work and why the successful people could reach to the heights that they have scaled, we become better equipped to achieve success both emotionally and intellectually. And while the intellectual benefits of reading are very widely discussed, emotional benefits of books are rather rarely talked about.
And as an entrepreneur, what’s even more important than being intellectually prepared is having the emotional strength and persistence to pick ourselves up each time we fall, even when everything seems to ‘Go down the hill’.
Here is the list of top 10 books that occupy the top of my study table. (Yes I am still a very big fan of printed books) that I think every entrepreneur must read and benefit from:
1. How to win friends and influence people – By Dale Carnegie
Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
It is one of the oldest self-help books and yet it’s very popular today. First Published in October 1936, this book contains the life’s work of the well-known writer, lecturer and the first known developer of self-improvement course. Dale Carnegie and his work became the basis of all the self-improvement courses developed by numerous coaches and used by millions of people around the globe to improve themselves at interacting with people around them. This book can be safely called the bible for human interaction. Not only because it remains almost entirely accurate even after 8 decades of being first published, but because it is the first point of reference available for self-improvement at interacting with people around you. This book has survived for almost 8 decades since it was first published and it still sells till date. That only goes to tell, how eternally useful the information in this book is.
In this book, Carnegie describes the 7 principles that you can apply to yourself to think more empathetically for others and be more compassionate and caring about people around him. How you can do little things that mean a lot to people around you.
As entrepreneurs we all know that we can achieve anything substantial entirely on our own. Thus collaboration is the key to success for every single entrepreneur. This means working with and being always surrounded by a bunch of smart people. And if we do not understand the people around us from ‘THEIR’ perspective, than we are definitely heading for trouble.
This book is a must read for every entrepreneur.
People aren’t interested in you. They are interested in themselves
– Dale Carnegie
2. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right –
Another book published as early as 1937. This is the ‘Go to’ book for anyone who wishes to prepare himself/herself emotionally for the roller coaster ride as an entrepreneur. In this book Hill shows how emotional persistence alone can help you achieve targets that logically seem impossible. And how as an entrepreneur chasing his dreams, you do not lose till you give up. Finally, if you have the persistence to rise with the same tenacity each time you fall, then and only then, ‘nothing in this world can defeat you’.
Don’t wait. The time will never be just right
– Napoleon Hill
3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.
In this book, published in 1989, Covey reviewed the work done by self-help coaches since the 1930s and said something that was completely different than the other self-help influencers that came before him. According to him, as he says in the book, most of the work since late 1930’s were about looking good rather than being good. According to Covey, the real character of a person must be built from within and that is what displays when he interacts with people. Covey condemned the idea of presenting yourself as something when you do not necessarily feel the same from the inside.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities
-Stephen R Covey
4. Influence, The Psychology of persuasion – Robert B. Cialdini
Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.
We all have to persuade people to get things done, entrepreneurs or not. Mind it persuasion does not mean manipulation, manipulation is an effort to fool but persuasion means convincing someone with the genuine intention of creating mutual benefits. There is nothing wrong with trying to create a win win situation but even that needs the ability to convince people about it. Which needs knowledge of how people think and make decisions. Robert B Cialdini is an award-winning professor of psychology who has spent a better part of his life doing research on ‘The Psychology of Persuasion’.
In the book, Cialdini explains very clearly, the emotional and cognitive factors that work to enable us to make decisions. And how the decision-making process really works. If you think that marketing is something that always leaves you confused or that you will never understand how marketing really works. Just pick up this book and give it a read, and I assure you that you will be able to connect all the dots by yourself.
We assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.
-Robert B. Cialdini
5. You call the shots – Cameron Johnson
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Written by the young and dynamic author who has amassed high success and yet is only 27 years old. Johnson started his business career at the very early age of 15. His life as a serial entrepreneur reflects his views that he has written about in this book.
This book as the name suggests, tells you about the difference that your attitude can create for you and your business. Johnson had started 12 internet businesses, each lasting a year before he was 21. And the book makes one good point in every chapter. It’s a refreshing read that can get you energized and boosted whenever you are down.
True prosperity isn’t something you take from the world: it’s something you share with the world.
6. Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Peter Drucker
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work
Peter Drucker has the most outrageous and yet accurate quotes by anyone in the business world and here’s what Wikipedia says about him:
‘Peter Drucker was an American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.’
His books really do question the older methods of management. This book can’t be described better than Wikipedia.
The first book to present innovation and entrepreneurship as purposeful and systematic discipline which explains and analyzes the challenges and opportunities of America’s new entrepreneurial economy.
This book is the first published systematic guide about taking an Idea and converting it into a business. An entrepreneur’s description of this book would be “Thoughts of a rebellious visionary manager who started expressing his views on startup management quite ahead of its time.”
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
7. The lean startup – Eric Ries
Remove from your MVP any feature that is not contributing to the learning process.
– Diane Tavenner
One of the most common problems with startup entrepreneurs is burning cash and going out of business before even launching. That is an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare and even worse when you have built something that people don’t really want to buy. In this book, Eric Ries gives a wonderful solution to that, Its MVP, Minimum Viable Product. An approach where you quickly create something put it out for a small group of beta users to test it, collect their feedback and then improve the product. Re-iterate this process a few times and you can eliminate a majority of the flaws.
Also, since it’s a product built around consumer feedback, there is no way that people wouldn’t want to buy it. Eric also gives a step by step method so that you can implement the lean ‘MVP’ approach to your business.
Start-up success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught . – Eric Ries
8. What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest – Denise Lee Yohn
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
Lee Yohn is amongst a handful of the top brand experts in the world. And with her experience of working with multiple ‘Fortune 500’ company she is out of the few people who truly understand what it takes for a brand to go from zero to hundreds of millions faithful customers, that are not only customers but also loyal fans and promoters who feel themselves attached to your brand.
In the book Lee Yohn describes the 7 principles that the biggest brands in the planet use to connect their brand values to establish a loyal relationship with their customers. She explains why and how the big guys differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. The principles described in the book are:
- Great brands start inside
- Great brands avoid selling products
- Great brands ignore trends
- Great brands don’t chase customers
- Great brands sweat the small stuff
- Great brands commit and stay committed
- Great brands never have to give back
Demystifying the brand building process in this book, Lee Yohn lays out clear steps for implementing each of these principles which are based on the her innovative ‘Brand as Business’ approach that puts the brand at the heart of every company decision.
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This is the ‘Go to’ book for anyone who wishes to understand the process of brand building.
A brand is a promise delivered
-Denise Lee Yohn
9. The innovator’s dilemma when new technologies cause great firms to fail – Clayton M. Christensen
The old must go, so the new can come.
Innovator’s dilemma is the most well-known work by the author Clayton M. Christensen who is also a Howard professor and a businessman.
In this book, Christensen points out how even the most successful companies that focus too much around customer’s present needs fail to innovate and think about their future needs and eventually fall behind. According to Christensen, the anticipation of future needs ‘disruptive Innovation’.
Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.
– Clayton M. Christensen
P.S. – This is also one of the favorite books of Steve Jobs as pointed out by Howard Business Review here. This book is supposedly the one which inspired Steve Jobs for the ‘Disruptive Innovation’ that led to the creation of iPhone. iPhone combined most of the functionalities of the Mac and the iPod. This was a definite cannibalization, but it resulted in the creation of the best-selling Smartphone ever, till then in 2007.
10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Written by a Silicon Valley pro-businessman, investor, blogger, technology entrepreneur and co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, this book gives a very unorthodox view of an entrepreneur as a Business Manager/CEO. Ben says, as a business owner you will almost always screw it and while most management books teach you how not to screw it up but none teach you what to do once you have already screwed up. While most of us know that quick fixes don’t really work, no one has explained very well what really works. In this book, Ben gives concrete points to handle failure both psychologically (emotionally) and as a business executive/decision maker.
Often any decision, even the wrong decision, is better than no decision
– Ben Horowitz
No entrepreneur’s reading can be complete without this book.
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Tai Lopez Video