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Here are some books that will make you smarter in business, marketing, and life.

(In alphabetical order)

*These are affiliate links. So for every book you buy, I make like...25 cents. #baller #rollingincash

small-giants-bo-burlingham

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

What

A daring look at the companies that made the bold decision not to grow, expand, sell, or go public.

Why

This book challenges conventional notions of business success and showcases companies that value being exceptional over being big.

If you are looking to invent the future of business by staying privately owned, refusing to compromise on quality in exchange for scale, and instilling a sense of purpose and direction into your company – you’ll want to grab this one.

This book emancipated a generation of entrepreneurs from the restrictive “grow or die” mantra that has historically defined business success.

Disclaimer

Not for you if you’re looking to build the next WalMart.

Get Small Giants
steal-like-an-artist-austin-kleon

Steal Like An Artist

What

Eye-opening truths about art and creativity disguised as a picture book.

Why

If you’ve ever had that snarky, “Well, who exactly do you think you are?” voice pop up when you’ve tried to start a new project, you’ll want to grab this book. Kleon reminds us of the banal truth that there are no new ideas and gives us license to exhale and get back to work.

Disclaimer

Picture book. Short. That’s not really a disclaimer, but this is less of a book and more of a work of art that you’ll want to revisit over and over again.

Get Steal Like An Artist

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

What

This might as well be retitled “a primer in mindfulness and meditation,” except it talks about neither. Using tennis, Gallwey explains that technique and practice don’t matter if you’re self-judging, trying too hard, thinking too much, and exerting other forms of “over control.”

Gallwey’s proposed solutions (for tennis) are as applicable off the court as they are on. The “inner game” is what we are all playing every day against ourselves.

Why

This book will help you get that inner critic that’s constantly telling you what you did wrong (or right) to shut up.

Disclaimer

It’s not the most entertaining read. The book is more of a textbook than a book. Found myself a little bored at times, but it’s short enough that it wasn’t too bothersome. Read it with that in mind and you’ll get a lot out of what’s laid out here.

Buy This Book

The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley

What

The results of a longitudinal study on net-worth millionaires. TL;DR: Net worth, self-made millionaires resemble Warren Buffet, not Tony Stark.

Turns out, net-worth millionaires are family-first pragmatists, straight C-students with high EQ and are very risk-averse. Throw everything you think you know about what it takes to be “rich and wealthy” out the window.

Why

If you’ve got any hangups about money, wealth, or what it means to be a (real) millionaire, this is worth every penny.

Disclaimer

I read this book shortly after grad school and it blew my head open. But it’s also possible that being surrounded by financially struggling academics who pride themselves on their moral and intellectual superiority colored my view of the work. I was hungry for a new narrative and found one here, in the data.

Buy The Millionaire Mind
righteous-mind-Jonathan-Haidt

The Righteous Mind

What

The book that explains why some people appear to be unreasonable and cray-cray when it comes to politics and religion.

Why

Given the explosive political climate, you’re probably already interested in this topic. Truth is, the book is less about politics and religion and more about why we value what we value. And how we come to our moral intuitions (and why they’re so damn hard to break).

Part history lesson, part psychology, and all great story, this book will illuminate why you can’t seem to have a civil family dinner anymore without someone going off the deep end. It also offers solutions for helping you reason with people you think are unreasonable (or, at the very least, understand them).

Disclaimer

Parts are a bit dense, but so worth it. It’s got a textbook element to it which is a refreshing change of pace from the all-too-common, “Here is what I think!” books out there.

Buy The Righteous Mind
subtle-art-fck-mark-manson

The Subtle Art of Not giving a F*ck

What

The self-help book you want to brag to people you’ve read

Why

Despite the irreverent title, it’s a well-researched (yes, I said researched) and beautifully written (yes, beautifully) book. Manson’s gift is in taking complex ideas and making them palatable (and entertaining) for lay people by weaving them into stories. And he’s really funny. I was laughing out loud in public at this man’s candor and reframing of traditional self-help fluffery.

Totally counter-intuitive and remarkably funny, this is a great and practical guide to living a good life.

Disclaimer

Gratuitous cursing. If you don’t have the stomach for the f-word, you’re gonna have a tough time with this one.

Buy The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
war-of-art-steven-pressfield

The War of Art

What

The catalyst that will take you from amateur to professional.

Why

Pressfield doesn’t hold back in this honest peek into what it takes to be successful. The secret: Stop waiting for “inspiration” and take yourself, your work, and your craft seriously.  Yeah…not really a secret, but the way Pressfield explains how to do this (and why you aren’t already) will change the way you see yourself and your career.

It’s uplifting, but painfully sobering.

Disclaimer

You will not get much value out of this book unless you’re ready to take an honest look in the mirror. It packs a punch.

Get The War of Art

To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

What

If you’ve ever wanted to sell with integrity, this is your book.

Why

Pink will blow your preconceived notions of what it means to sell out of the freaking water.

He takes you through how selling came to be associated with “used car salesmen” and how the shift in the economy from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market has changed everything.

This book will take you from believing you are “above” selling to appreciating and valuing the art and science of moving others.

And yes, for you tactical nerds, there are tons of actionable advice on how to get better at sales.

Disclaimer

Unlike most books on sales, this one comes with an academic rigor that puts the rest to shame. If any of the ideas set forth in this book sound familiar it’s because they’ve permeated the mainstream by now.

Buy To Sell Is Human

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

What

The world’s greatest reference guide for acquiring customers. It’s like a textbook you want to read.

Why

All the questions you’ve had, but were afraid to ask in public – this book answers them. Highly actionable, clarifying, and no fluff. You get a comprehensive in-depth look at the 19 different traction channels. It explains clearly and unambiguously how each channel leads to customers and gives detailed examples and case studies from real businesses.

TL;DR: Read this and you will be an expert in customer acquisition.

Disclaimer

Focuses on tech startups, but the channels are relevant to anyone doing business and trying to make sense of the modern marketing landscape.

Buy Traction

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

What

Required reading for anyone who uses the internet.

Why

Ryan Holiday clears his conscience in this tell-all from his life as a media manipulator, aka: Someone who controls the news cycle and uses it to make money, at the expense of integrity, reporting, and facts.

He explains how media is having a renaissance in yellow journalism (basically, lying to sell things) thanks to the internet. The current business model has everyone is chasing clicks and impressions in order to get paid, which leaves content susceptible to exploitation and manipulation (aka: “we’ll do anything for a click”).

Holiday figured out how to exploit this in order to get his clients press and spread misinformation for the sake of controversy and PR. He lays it all out and you’ll be shocked at how you’ve been complicit in this conspiracy too.

Disclaimer

You’ll become “that person” at dinner who informs everyone of what you just learned. Also, the book gets a little repetitive half way through, but the message is important enough that it’s worth repeating for emphasis.

Buy Trust Me, I'm Lying