I get asked quite often what books I’m reading, read or recommend reading. In fact, one of my most popular blog posts is my Top Reads from 2015.
So I decided to put together a list of the top 15 books that have helped shape my thinking. These aren’t all the best books, but it’s a pretty good list. Each one has helped me see something in a different light or new perspective than I had considered before.
I know if you consume these books as I have, you will learn many new and insightful ideas.
I’d love your feedback as to what’s missing from my list? Make sure you comment in the comments section at the bottom.
These are in no particular order, other than the first one, and I tell you why below.
Click on any image and you can order it on Amazon. It’s so easy…I love Amazon.
I also bolded my top takeaways from each book for a quick skim if that is all your time allows
I’m sure my Sunday School teacher and preacher would be proud…but that’s not why this is number 1.
The Bible is a book that in my mind compares to no other. I try my best to read it each day. Sometimes just one verse, sometimes entire books. I learn something new each time, and each time I’m challenged in some way by something going on in my life.
It is the greatest book ever written and I always encourage everyone to read it on a regular basis. I’d be happy to discuss how I read it and what I read in more detail offline – as that is also a question I get asked frequently.
But here is a link to an easy to read daily break down of the Bible.
Getting Things Done – David Allen
This book changed the way I approach productivity. After reading this book I did a massive clean out of my office. Created a few systems that I still use to this day. And changed the way I approach my tasks each day.
This book can be a bit dry at times, but overall gives some great systems on organizing your tasks and your life. I highly recommend reading this if you ever struggle with Getting Things Done and how to approach this fast paced world.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
This is probably one of the most famous business books. It’s always on the best seller list. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was one of the first business books I read once I finally realized that I didn’t know it all and I should be reading on a regular basis.
It’s a great read with some real strategies. Even though it’s old, the concepts are timeless. You will come away with some great ideas. I love his matrix and deciding what to work on when. Important Not Urgent is the quadrant I try to be in the most.
The Automatic Millionaire – David Bach
Automatic Millionaire was one of the first money books I read. I loved the idea of having money automatically go out of my account and consistently build a savings account. I’ve used this strategy for years and now teach it in my latest book (see the bottom of this post or click here). There is nothing quite like always having a little something extra that you don’t touch.
Granted, I’ve touched my ‘safe’ accounts before, but keep filling it back up and it’s awesome to have this instead of having to take on more debt. He covers a lot more, but that was the main takeaway for me!
So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
I wasn’t sure if I would like or appreciate this book at first. Then Cal hooked me. This book is filled with great stories and how they achieved success. It’s not the traditional “do what you love and you’ll make money” story. In fact, he flat out calls that a lie. I love the way he proves his point and shares great stories to reflect that.
It shaped my thinking that I can love doing something, be good at it, and still be broke. I have to be GREAT at it, and be sure it’s monetizable and profitable.
The Traveler’s Gift – Andy Andrews
I love Andy Andrew’s books. They are told as a story, and they hook you from page 1. This is his flagship book and probably my favorite as well. It’s inspiring, thought provoking, and historical. He uses several historical figures to prove 7 essential decisions we all must make.
This book doesn’t fail to re-motivate me time and time again. I even purchased his DVD of a live performance. He is a skillful story teller and has an amazing story to tell! See how his 7 Decisions can change and shape your life – business or personal. Taking Action and Taking Responsibility are the two decisions that impacted me the most.
12 Week Year – Brian Moran
The 12 Week Year offers a very powerful strategy that every person in business should consider. No it’s not quarterly planning, that would still imply a yearly goal Brian argues the traditional thinking of annual goals because there is just too much that can change in one year. His plan for doing this is simple, realistic and easy to put in to practice.
I have been using this method for the past year or so and have been amazed at how much more effective it is. One word of caution, be conservative. Don’t create 6 goals as I did once…you only get a few done if any. Keep it simple, choose 2. Then make them happen. You still get to work on the rest of your business too, but you at least see 2 happen quicker than you might otherwise have accomplished them.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
This is a business must read. While it’s sad to see that a few of the companies he highlighted in this book are now not in existence, it’s clear that the reasons why they are no longer here is because they did NOT hold fast to the principles he teaches in his book He focuses on several key areas of success for great companies. I particularly latch onto the Hedgehog Concept and also love his Stockdale Paradox. These two ideas have shaped the way I approach business in many ways.
The Carpenter – Jon Gordon
This book was referred to me by two good friends. It’s another story, so it’s easy to read and be pulled into. I love the life applications from this book and the overall action plan of “Love, Serve, Care.”
The way Jon uses the story to make his points is fantastic. It uses just the right amount of emotion, strategy and business application to make it a book that teaches things you can use in business or in life.
The One Thing – Gary Keller
This books helps keep me focused at times. The concept is simple – what is the one thing you can focus on right now that will make everything else cease to exist or become easier. The book goes into more detail on how to keep asking that over and over until you get to the next thing you can work on right now.
He takes what seems obvious to many and makes it easy to apply. Most business owners don’t do a good job at following his concept and get pulled in too many directions. His easy to implement system can help keep you on track and focused on your “one thing.”
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – Verne Harnish
The newest edition of this book is called Scaling Up. I have read most of that book as well, but this was the original. I loved the way it was broken down into areas of focus. He uses his study of John D. Rockefeller to teach how to scale a growing company.
Many times the hardest part of building a company is growth. As business owners we all want growth, but when it occurs we are seldom prepared. He does a great job of providing resources, plans and ways to make scaling a business easier. I love his gazelle planning tool. An easy to use resource to plan out your company goals
Take The Stairs – Rory Vaden
This book is all about discipline. That painful word we hate to say, yet know we do it and that is why we are successful. Rory uses great stories, easy to use strategies and real world advice to show how you can be more disciplined in your work and life.
He also has a cool goal of climbing the ten highest buildings in the world using the stairs. He has already done several. This is a great read and can be quickly skim read over and over again.
Best quote from the book: success is never owned, it is only rented–and the rent is due every day–the only question now is am I willing to pay a price that is greater than everyone else?”
Who – Geoff Smart
This book saved me HOURS of time when it comes to interviewing. It’s geared more towards high level executives, but I took his method, tweaked it to my business, and have used it to recruit designers, sales team members and production staff. This books strategies combined with a few other qualifying steps I created have made my hiring process unique, self qualifying and time saving. I no longer have to muddle through hundreds of resumes.
This book teaches the interviewing and steps they recommend. I filled in the gaps for me to make my life easier. I use the scorecard for each position and I definitely use several of his recommended questions to ask.
No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs – Dan Kennedy
This book and series of books completely transformed by business. I was given a copy of this book at a time when I was about ready to just declare bankruptcy and walk away! I studied this book, implemented the ideas and suddenly achieved more than I imagined. I have read all of Dan Kennedy’s books and they never disappoint. Scripting out my day is definitely the number one concept I swiped from Dan.
His newest addition is co-authored by my good friend and business accountability partner – Kim Walsh-Phillips. She is a genius when it comes to social media marketing. You can get that book HERE.
Pick up a copy of any of Dan’s books. He’s direct and to the point, thus No B.S. He says what you are thinking whether you admit it or not.
Thinkertoys – Michael Michalko
This is a great book for creative thinking exercises. The entire book is dedicated to giving you actual brainstorming exercises you can work through. Not a quick read because it’s basically how to chapters on different ways to come up with ideas. I have used several different chapters to prepare for presentations, brainstorm new products, work with a team and come up with new ideas.
If you have ever been “stuck” when it comes to creativity…this book is for you.
Geared for Growth – Jon Toy
Well of course I had to include my own book!
This book has been shaped by the 15 books you see above and over 15 years of business experience. I wrote it as a story so you can easily consume the information, yet feel as though you relate to the business owner in the story.
I use my Unique 5 Gear System that I teach to my clients and coaching members and lay out real examples of how you could use them in your business. Some of them are a review of the basics. Some of them are completely new to many. Regardless of your exposure to these 5 Powerful Strategies, you will walk away with at least 1 new idea by reading this book.
So pick up your copy today and let me know what you think!
So, did I miss any great books that you have read? Please leave a comment below and let me know. what I need to add or what I need to read!