I’ve found that one of the great ways to learn is to learn from other people’s success and mistakes. That’s why I love to read a good business book. Some of the best get very specific about business problems and the approaches used to solve them. Others provide great, personal stories about business adventure and how the author navigated through some issue that they faced.
There are thousands of great business books, and I feel like I have read most of them. Cutting the list down to my five greatest hits is challenging, but I set a few criteria to help me with my evaluation:
- Innovative: The author has something new to say about a business topic. Or, the approach to the topic is of great value.
- Practical: After reading the book I felt like I gained valuable insight that can be applied to what I am working on.
- Entrepreneurial: The author writes about how taking risk affected them in someway.
- Great Stories: The book is engaging and full of personal stories, humor, excitement, and advice.
Here are my top five business books I highly recommend you read. They aren’t in any particular order.
1. The Art Of The Start by Guy Kawasaki
Most of the people who read my Blog are self-employed or work for an entrepreneur. If you want to get a sense of what an entrepreneur goes through both personally and professionally, this is the book for you. Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple executive, takes his readers on an insightful and impactful journey on how to start a business. The take-away is specific, practical advice that you can use to help raise capital, implement a marketing campaign, generate sales, and manage your new business.
2. The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver
Nate Silver, the former New York Times blogger and presidential election forecaster, has written an outstanding book about the power of big data and predictive modeling. Silver, who now works for ESPN, started his forecasting career designing predictive models for baseball. After the firm he started was sold, he joined the New York Times. His blog focused on politics, and his statistical models helped predict the outcome of various congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections. If you are interested in learning how to use past behavior to predict future behavior in politics, business, and sports (three of my personal favorite subjects!), you will love this book.
3. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
Sometimes called the “father of modern advertising,” David Ogilvy’s book is a must read for anyone interested in the advertising business. Written 30 years ago, Ogilvy’s “rules” are still quite relevant today. His approach to successful advertising, based on research, testing, and data, is the basis for today’s marketing campaigns.
Ogilvy is a master storyteller, and you’ll love his hilarious experiences working with some of the largest clients in the world.
4. MoneyBall by Michael Lewis
For years I’ve blogged and spoken about the “MoneyBall” approach to business. The approach, using historical (baseball) stats to predict future performance, is told brilliantly by Michael Lewis. His book, released as a motion picture a few years ago starting Brad Pitt (I strongly recommend seeing that too), tells the story of how an under capitalized Oakland A’s used predictive modeling to put a winning baseball team on the field. Can this formula also be used to predict winning marketing and lead generation programs? Read the book and let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Ciadini, Phd.
Did you ever wonder why infomercials are so successful? Or how about home shopping channels, direct response catalogs, seminars, and websites? If you are interested in learning more about how persuasion techniques can help close more sales, you’ll want to read Dr. Robert Ciadini’s The Psychology of Persuasion. I’ve read and re-read this book numerous times (it’s a good idea to try to read it once a year) to freshen and improve content, calls-to-action, and offers for my clients. This book is a classic on how to get people to the “yes” and the specific techniques necessary to do so.
Happy reading! Let me know if you read any of these and what you thought. Also, if you have any books you recommend, let me know.