5 books all business leaders should read

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Reading more books is often on people’s New Year’s resolution list, but our busy lifestyles can mean reading is seen as too luxurious, replaced by board meetings and conference calls. For an entrepreneur, taking the time to read books allows you to grow your business exponentially.

Reading books helps you learn new skills, deepen your understanding of a subject, and allows you to learn from the mistakes or triumphs of others. As an entrepreneur, I have found that there is always more to learn, and reading books is a great way to gain knowledge and look at issues from different angles.

A 2009 study found that reading a book for just six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 68% – but I’m guessing with this list of recommendations, you’ll be hard pressed to limit reading to just six minutes.

Below is a list of my top five books that every business leader should read. The list is by no means exhaustive, and I invite you to consider them as a starting point from which you can explore a myriad of new titles.

1. Who moved my cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson

At just 96 pages, this book is short yet powerful, making it perfect for reading and digesting on the morning commute. It follows a parable format and takes place in a maze in which two mice navigate – “Sniff” and “Scurry” – as well as two mouse-sized humans, “Hem” and “Haw”. The story explores the characters’ relationship with cheese, which can be seen as a metaphor for elements of our working life, such as our jobs, career paths, industry, etc.

The story focuses on the benefits of embracing change, which may be more difficult for some people than for others. It’s a great book for understanding the fundamentals of change in a business environment, as well as how the change can benefit your life outside of work.

2. The changing world order by Ray Dalio

If you’re looking for a great example of someone who knows how to navigate the modern business world, look no further than investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. He has been the Co-Chief Investment Officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, since 1985.

In the most recent addition to his Principles series, Dalio explores the patterns of previous economic and political periods and analyzes the cyclical forces behind the development of the British, Dutch and American empires. He also takes a look into the future, exploring why the times to come may follow a similar pattern to those that have occurred in lives before our own.

3. Rich daddy poor daddy by Robert T Kiyosaki

It is without a doubt one of my favorite books. He tackles the themes of wealth management by focusing on the author’s two “Dads”; his best friend’s father is the “rich daddy” while his own father is the “poor dad”. The book covers topics from how to make your money work for you to the importance of financial literacy, teaching the reader several powerful lessons in money management. It’s a must read for business leaders, but I would extend the recommendation to anyone interested in expanding their financial knowledge.

4. Good to excellent by Jim Collins

Good to excellent is another truly phenomenal book by Jim Collins, who is also the author of the classic Built to last. The premise of the book arose out of Collins’ desire to understand what makes some businesses successful while others simply fail. He assembled a team of 21 researchers and conducted a five-year study to figure this out, all of which is summed up in this fantastic book. Collins covers a number of business characteristics that determine whether an organization can go from good to great, and I think all business leaders would benefit from taking the time to read this book.

5. Offer happiness by Tony Hsieh

Last but not the least, Offer happiness by former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes the late entrepreneur’s rise to success. Hsieh illustrates to the reader how he built a billion dollar retail business, with a focus on a high level of customer satisfaction and employee well-being. As the title suggests, putting happiness first is a core part of Hsieh’s philosophy, which he describes brilliantly throughout.

Reading books is a great way to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others, and this list is sure to provide you with great advice and an opportunity to hone your problem-solving skills. I’m always on the lookout for new books to read, so please leave your recommendations in the comments below.


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