21 Books That Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2021

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21 Books That Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2021

It’s 2021. Time for fresh starts, New Year’s Resolutions, and hopefully a year that isn’t trying to resemble Jumanji.

And it’s the perfect time to start a new habit.

According to Fast Company, Bill Gates reads an hour before bed every evening, Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading, and other CEOs are averaging 50 books a year.

So, what better habit to start than reading?

It can offer you a fresh perspective on your entrepreneurial ventures, make your leadership skills even more badass, and challenge you in ways you never imagined.

And while you may not hit 50 books, here are 21 of the best books for entrepreneurs to get you started.

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1. Grit by Angela Duckworth

GRit

Goodreads Book Description

In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, students, and business people both seasoned and new that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called grit.

Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments.

Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently bemoaned her lack of smarts, Duckworth describes her winding path through teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not genius, but a special blend of passion and long-term perseverance. As a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth created her own character lab and set out to test her theory.

Favorite Quote

“…there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine….you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people….Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”

― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Tippingpoint

Goodreads Book Description

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children’s television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world’s greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.

Favorite Quote

“There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

3. Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David

next5

Goodreads Book Description

From the creator of Valuetainment, the #1 YouTube channel for entrepreneurs, comes a practical and effective guide for thinking more clearly and achieving your most audacious business goals.

Both successful entrepreneurs and chess grandmasters have the vision to look at the pieces in front of them and anticipate their next five moves. In this book, Patrick Bet-David translates this skill into a valuable methodology that applies to high performers at all levels of business. Whether you feel like you’ve hit a wall, lost your fire, or are looking for innovative strategies to take your business to the next level, Your Next Five Moves has the answers.

Favorite Quote

“Most people don’t think more than one or two moves ahead. Those people are amateurs and flame out quickly in business. Effective strategy is about making a move and being prepared to launch another series of moves based on how the market or your competition reacts. You must think beyond your first strike to execute an effective strategy. When you start to get really good, you anticipate how others will react and can deploy a series of moves that are nearly impossible to counteract.”

― Patrick Bet-David, Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy

4. Fix This Next by Mike Michalowicz

Fixnext

Goodreads Book Description

From Mike Michalowicz, the author of PROFIT FIRST, CLOCKWORK, and THE PUMPKIN PLAN, comes the ultimate diagnostic tool for every entrepreneur.

The biggest problem facing entrepreneurs is that they don’t know what their biggest problem is. If you find yourself trapped between stagnating sales, staff turnover, and unhappy customers, what do you do first? Every problem seems urgent — but there’s no way to address all of them at once. The usual result: a business that continues to go in endless circles putting out urgent fires or prioritizing the wrong things.

Fortunately, Mike Michalowicz has a simple system to help you eradicate these frustrations and get your business moving forward, fast. Mike himself has lived through the struggles and self-doubt of a stagnating business. He figured out that every business has a hierarchy of needs, and if you can understand where you are in that hierarchy, you can identify what needs immediate attention. Simply fix that one thing next, and your business will naturally and effortlessly level-up.

Over the past decade, Mike has developed an ardent following for his funny, honest, and actionable insights told through the stories of real entrepreneurs. Now Fix This Next offers a simple, unique, and wildly powerful business compass that has already helped hundreds of companies get to the next level, and will do the same for you. Immediately.

Favorite Quote

“The biggest problem business owners have is that they don’t know what their biggest problem is.”

― Mike Michalowicz, Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business

5. Zero To One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

zero to one

Goodreads Book Description

If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

Favorite Quote

“The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that’s hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.”

― Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

powerofhabit

Goodreads Book Description

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

Favorite Quote

“The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.”

― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

7. The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

obstacle

Goodreads Book Description

We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn’t be this way. There is a formula for success that’s been followed by the icons of history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek.

These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations.

This book reveals that formula for the first time—and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.

Favorite Quote

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

― Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

subtle

Goodreads Book Description

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

Favorite Quote

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

― Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

7habits

Goodreads Book Description

When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant rage because people suddenly got up and took notice that their lives were headed off in the wrong direction; and more than that, they realized that there were so many simple things they could do in order to navigate their life correctly. This book was wonderful education for people, education in how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.

But not everyone understands Stephen Covey’s model fully well, or maybe there are some people who haven’t read it yet. This is definitely true because we still see so much failure all around us. Now, I am not saying that by using Covey’s model, or anyone else’s model for that matter, you can become a sure-shot success, but at least we should have seen many more successes around us already judging by the number of copies the book has sold! So, where is the shortcoming?

There are two main problems here, and we are talking only about the people who have read the book already. The first problem is that most people are too lazy to implement the ideals of Stephen Covey in their lives. They consider his masterpiece of a book as a mere coffee-table book or a book that you use for light reading when you are traveling and then forget all about it. They do not realize that this book contains life-changing information. Or, they take the information and do not make the effort to actually utilize it so that it becomes knowledge for them.

The second problem is that a lot of people have a myopic view of Covey’s ideals. These are people who are impressed by the book already. If you ask them what the seven habits are, they can rattle them off end to end, but then they miss the larger picture. They do not understand that Covey was trying to tell more than he wrote in words. There are hidden implications in this book, yes, and a lot of people have just failed to see through them.

That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to show you how Covey’s book, or rather, his model, was a complete model in itself. There was nothing amiss about it. If you implement it, there should be no aspect of your life that should go untouched. The only thing is that you have to understand these ideals and try to implement them in your life.

But, before we barge into that area, it is extremely important to understand what these ideals are. What was the model that was propounded by Stephen Covey in his mega-famous book? We shall begin by trying to understand his model first, and then interpret it in such a way that it pertains to every aspect of our life.

Favorite Quote

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

10. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

cowpurp

Goodreads Book Description

The acclaimed Wall Street Journal and Business Week Bestseller.

You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.

What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don’t? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last?

Face it, the checklist of tired ‘P’s marketers have used for decades to get their product noticed – Pricing, Promotion, Publicity, to name a few – aren’t working anymore. There’s an exceptionally important ‘P’ that has to be added to the list. It’s Purple Cow.

Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff-a lot of brown cows – but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. And it’s not a marketing function that you can slap on to your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It’s built right in, or it’s not there. Period.

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for marketers who want to help create products that are worth marketing in the first place.

Favorite Quote

“In your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”

― Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

11. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

thinkslow

Goodreads Book Description

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

Favorite Quote

“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”

― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

12. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

influence

Goodreads Book Description

Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.

Favorite Quote

“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

― Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

13. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

miraclemorn

Goodreads Book Description

What if you could miraculously wake up tomorrow and any—or every area of your life was transformed? What would be different? Would you be happier? Healthier? More successful? In better shape? Would you have more energy? Less Stress? More Money? Better relationships? Which of your problems would be solved?

What if I told you that there is a “not-so-obvious” secret that is guaranteed to transform any—or literally every area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible? What if I told you it would only take 6 minutes a day?

Enter The Miracle Morning. What’s now being practiced by thousands of people around the world could perhaps be the simplest approach to creating the life you’ve always wanted. It’s been right there in front of us, but this book has finally brought it to life.

Are you ready? The next chapter of your life—the most extraordinary life you’ve ever imagined—is about to begin.

Favorite Quote

“Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.”

― Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM

14. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

startwhy

Goodreads Book Description

Why do you do what you do?

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why. It was their natural ability to start with why that enabled them to inspire those around them and to achieve remarkable things.

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way—and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not money or profit—those are always results. WHY does your organization exist? WHY does it do the things it does? WHY do customers really buy from one company or another? WHY are people loyal to some leaders, but not others?

Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.

Favorite Quote

“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

15. Hit Makers by Derek Thompson

hitmaker

Goodreads Book Description

Nothing “goes viral.” If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today’s crowded media environment, you’re missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history–of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults that turn some new products into cultural phenomena. Even the most brilliant ideas wither in obscurity if they fail to connect with the right network, and the consumers that matter most aren’t the early adopters, but rather their friends, followers, and imitators — the audience of your audience.

In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has “good taste,” and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold, yet sneakily recognizable.

Every business, every artist, every person looking to promote themselves and their work wants to know what makes some works so successful while others disappear. Hit Makers is a magical mystery tour through the last century of pop culture blockbusters and the most valuable currency of the twenty-first century–people’s attention.

From the dawn of impressionist art to the future of Facebook, from small Etsy designers to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson leaves no pet rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens and why things become popular.

Favorite Quote

“People gravitate toward products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable–MAYA.”

― Derek Thompson, Hit Makers: Why Things Become Popular

16. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

4hourwork

Goodreads Book Description

A new, updated, and expanded edition of this New York Times bestseller on how to reconstruct your life so it’s not all about work

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

Favorite Quote

“The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”

― Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

17. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

makeideas

Goodreads Book Description

How the world’s leading innovators push their ideas to fruition again and again

Edison famously said that genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. Ideas for new businesses, solutions to the world’s problems, and artistic breakthroughs are common, but great execution is rare.

According to Scott Belsky, the capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone willing to develop their organizational habits and leadership capability. That’s why he founded Behance, a company that helps creative people and teams across industries develop these skills.

Belsky has spent six years studying the habits of creative people and teams that are especially productive-the ones who make their ideas happen time and time again. After interviewing hundreds of successful creatives, he has compiled their most powerful-and often counterintuitive-practices.

Favorite Quote

“An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.”

― Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

18. Buy Then Build by Walker Deibel

buybuild

Goodreads Book Description

Entrepreneurs have a problem: startups. Almost all startups either fail or never truly reach a sustainable size. Despite the popularity of entrepreneurship, we haven’t engineered a better way to start. …Until now. What if you could skip the startup phase and generate profitable revenue on day one? In Buy Then Build, acquisition entrepreneur Walker Deibel shows you how to begin with a sustainable, profitable company and grow from there.

Favorite Quote

“What if there was a way to establish success from the beginning? An ‘entrepreneurship hack,’ so to speak. A path that could bypass the startup phase altogether, so entrepreneurs could start operating a successful business as the Chief Executive Officer from day one. This would provide an immediate platform to add value from. You could grow it, run it as is, or use the cash flow from the company to fund the creation of new products or services. This exists, and it’s called acquisition entrepreneurship.”

― Walker Deibel, Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game

19. Range by David Epstein

range

Goodreads Book Description

What’s the most effective path to success in any domain? It’s not what you think.

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields–especially those that are complex and unpredictable–generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

Favorite Quote

“Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones. Our conceptual classification schemes provide a scaffolding for connecting knowledge, making it accessible and flexible.”

― David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

20. Alchemy by Rory Sutherland

alchemy

Goodreads Book Description

Why is Red Bull so popular, though everyone—everyone!—hates the taste? Humans are, in a word, irrational, basing decisions as much on subtle external signals (that little blue can) as on objective qualities (flavor, price, quality). The surrounding world, meanwhile, is irreducibly complex and random. This means future success can’t be projected on any accounting spreadsheet. To strike gold, you must master the dark art and curious science of conjuring irresistible ideas: alchemy.

Based on thirty years of field work inside the largest experiment in human behavior ever conceived—the forever-unfolding pageant of consumer capitalism—Alchemy, the revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland, whose TED talks have been viewed nearly seven million times, decodes human behavior, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from his storied career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others.

Heralded as “one of the leading minds in the world of branding” by NPR and “the don of modern advertising” by The Times, Sutherland is a unique thought leader, as comfortable exchanging ideas with Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler (both interviewed in these pages) as he is crafting the next product launch. His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in surprising places:

What can honey bees teach us about creating a sustainable business?

How could budget airlines show us how to market a healthcare system?

Why is it better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong?

What might soccer penalty kicks teach us about the dangers of risk-aversion?

Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech.

Equally startling and profound, Sutherland’s journey through the strange world of decision making is filled with astonishing lessons for all aspects of life and business.

Favorite Quote

“Irrational people are much more powerful than rational people, because their threats are so much more convincing.”

― Rory Sutherland, How to Be an Alchemist: Or, the Art and Science of Conceiving Effective Ideas that Logical People Will Hate

21. No Excuses! by Brian Tracy

no excuses

Goodreads Book Description

You don’t need to have been born under a lucky star, or with incredible wealth, or with terrific contacts and connections, or even special skills…but what you do need to succeed in any of your life goals is self-discipline. Unfortunately, most people give in to the two worst enemies of success: they take the path of least resistance (in other words, they’re lazy) and/or they want immediate gratification: they don’t consider the long-term consequences of the actions they take today.No Excuses! shows you how you can achieve success in all three major areas of your life:

1. Your personal goals.

2. Your business and money goals.

3. Your overall happiness.

Each of the 21 chapters in this book shows you how to be more disciplined in one aspect of your life, with end-of-chapter exercises to help you apply the “no excuses” approach to your own life. With these guidelines, you can learn how to be more successful in everything you do—instead of wistfully envying others who you think are just “luckier” than you. A little self-discipline goes a long way…so stop making excuses and read this book!

Favorite Quote

“Discipline is what you must have to resist the lure of excuses”

― Brian Tracy, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

Anything you would add to this reading list for entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments!

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Micaila Blankenship

Micaila is an avid reader of fantasy and historical fiction (you can check out her book review site over here). She’s passionate about Ashtanga Yoga and, recently, she learned how to do a headstand (with the wall’s help).

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