By Firas Kittaneh, Entrepreneur
To expand my knowledge and skills, I read. To source inspiration for innovative ideas and to develop a better understanding of the ever-changing world that we live in, I carefully absorb information from books. Over the years, I’ve read dozens of amazing works but for busy entrepreneurs, here are 12 leadership, marketing and technology books that I would highly recommend. As a whole, they offer valuable life guidance, contemporary approaches to work and unconventional world views that will motivate you to approach things in a new, refreshing way.
1. “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success” by Shane Snow
Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently and journalist for WIRED, The New Yorker and Fast Company, investigates the fast rise of successful individuals and companies to pinpoint the habits and strategies that led to their achievements. In doing so, he debunks the conventional wisdom of reaping success from hard work and instead promotes the use of ‘smartcuts’—smart shortcuts—to reach goals quickly.
2. “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
Using real-life examples, sociologist Malcolm Gladwell examines the tipping point at which little known ideas turn into social epidemics. What he discovers are three major factors that converge to generate rapid, dramatic changes in society: people with unique and powerful social talents, the stickiness of ideas and contextual circumstances.
3. “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal
Educator and entrepreneur Nir Eyal delivers the ‘Hook Model,’ a practical framework for fostering user engagement and building customer habits. This book is a must read for anyone looking to start a company or develop a product because it provides four actionable steps to attract users and to ensure that they continue to come back.
4. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Drawing from his own personal experiences with his dad and a second father figure, businessman Robert Kiyosaki imparts his philosophy on money management. In particular, he advocates the idea that money should work for people and not the other way around, and offers practical guidance on investing in assets that generate income.
5. “Trust Me, I’m Lying” by Ryan Holiday
Media strategist Ryan Holiday reveals how people like him manipulate the media to meet their purposes. He does this by explaining how blogs drive mainstream news and effectively control what kinds of information are presented to the public. At the same time, he also provides useful tactics on how to run a marketing campaign on a budget.
6. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
If you are looking for a better work-life balance, lifestyle design expert Tim Ferriss shares a number of personal strategies to work less and live more while also increasing your wealth. His approach includes defining what you want in life, eliminating habits that waste time and outsourcing many tasks to virtual assistants. He also provides guidelines on how to generate a sustainable source of income.
7. “Freakanomics” by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner apply economic theory to uncover the fundamental causes and motivations for a diverse number of topics that are not typically studied in economics. Case studies include crime, parenting, cheating, and information control. What they find are results that counter established credence and paint a more complicated picture of reality.
8. “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras
Comparing 18 ‘visionary’ companies with their top competitors, business consultant Jim Collins and Stanford professor Jerry Porras reveal the characteristics that produce today’s leading corporations. Their research results also refute a number of commonly held business principles, including the notion that it takes a great idea to start a company. Instead, extraordinary companies are flexible and they experiment with new ideas to figure out what works.
9. “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
TalentSmart co-founders Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves divulge the company’s step-by-step program for increasing your emotional intelligence and improving your life. It measures your emotional intelligence skills in four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Then, strategies are provided for improving your skills.
10. “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr
Author Nicholas Carr explores how the Internet has stunted our intellectual development, specifically how the Internet does not lead to greater knowledge nor deeper thinking despite providing greater access to information. Drawing on historical and scientific evidence, he finds that the Internet encourages skimming, altering how we read and process information.
11. “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg
This book discloses how the authors helped build Google (GOOG) when they were recruited over a decade ago as CEO (Eric Schmidt) and Senior Vice President of Products (Jonathan Rosenberg). They take on many topics, including innovation, corporate culture and strategy. The lessons they learned along the way are pertinent to any business.
12. “The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story” by Michael Lewis
Writer Michael Lewis narrates the life of Jim Clark, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who launched three billion-dollar businesses. In doing so, the book provides insights into the process of turning an idea into a reality as well as a window into the people and culture of Silicon Valley.
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