We read to know we’re not alone. — William Nicholson
As a lifelong entrepreneur, and an advocate of embracing the journey through business and life, the above statement couldn’t be more true. Reading doesn’t just allow you to learn about others’ experiences, but to absorb their knowledge.
I am often asked, what books do I read, which ones do I recommend, who are the authors that inspire me and so on. While I could write an entire list of hundreds of books, I thought I would recommend four in particular that will absolutely change your entrepreneurial life.
Keep in mind that my recommendations embody four key principles:
Bettering your mindset
Balancing your life and family
How you look at your business
Managing your relationships and ongoing communication.
1. Evolved Enterprise: How to Re-Think, Re-Imagine & Re-Invent Your Business to Deliver Meaningful Impact & Greater Profits by Yanik Silver
Yanik Silver is a serial entrepreneur, digital-marketing maven, husband, father and best-selling author, but more important, he achieved all of his success by redefining the rules of business in a digitally connected world.
Related: 5 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business
In Evolved Enterprise, he touches on the massive shift that’s taking place in global business dynamics, especially given that we’ve moved towards a more open, transparent society. People now want to know why you exist in business, who you are, the company’s culture and character and what do you plan on doing with all the profits.
In essence, we have moved across a multitude of “impact levels,” as Silver describes it, from transactional to transitional and now transcending. He also takes the reader through all of the “new” business models that have popped up in recent years due to the nature of more transparent businesses.
This book is a must read for all aspects of managing the cross section of your life and your business and how your brand speaks to the world.
2. School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper and Leaving a Legacy by Lewis Howes
Lewis Howes is an entrepreneur coach, founder and host of a podcast called the School of Greatness, a writer and an athlete. For those of you unfamiliar with his podcast, Howes has been interviewing the world’s best business minds, athletes and celebrities to discover what makes them great.
He’s taken his past experiences and wrapped them up into a new book. In essence, School of Greatness is about “changing your lifestyle to match your goals,” and harnessing the right mindset amongst a sea of distractions. This makes perfect sense given how much information overload we’re experiencing these days.
Even more applicable is that Howes walks readers through his own journey as an example of what happens when we think we have everything and then lose it all. How do we get back up? How do we make pivots, embrace the journey and create a life we want to live?
The book is a great testament to life design and applying the right approach to fulfill it. In other words, it takes a series of actionable steps and consistent behavior to achieving your full potential.
This book is an all-round great read, and if you’re looking for a really great way to keep to some daily actionable steps, then I highly recommend pairing this book with a “productivity planner,” which helps you “get more done and beat procrastination,” found here on Kickstarter.
3. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg
Gabriel Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you, and in my opinion, a truly creative entrepreneur with the end user always in mind. Hence, his book about traction is essentially every businessperson’s holy grail to building an audience and user base for products, services, technology and more.
If you want your startup to succeed, you’re going to have to attract an audience that truly wants to use what you have to offer. In the words of Weinberg, “Traction is a sign that something is working. If you charge for your product, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it’s a growing user base. Traction is powerful.”
Related: The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate List of 8 Must-Read Books
My brother Matthew and I have built some of our most successful businesses to date because we had immediate traction. That is, we already had a trusted audience that wanted to be a part of our other endeavors so they followed us when it was applicable for them.
In fact, we created immediate crossover traction from our previous venture YoungEntrepreneur.com to our next one, Kidpreneurs.org. Essentially, we discovered that not only were older generations of people (many of whom we previously featured) finding it difficult to explain entrepreneurship to their kids, but they also wanted to help them prepare for what has become the most entrepreneurial generation of our time.
This book is a definite read, especially as you go through the ups and downs of your startup.
4. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk In a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
This last recommendation is something that I hold very close, considering that our personal lives cannot be fully run by technology and an “always on” mentality.
Sherry Turkle is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor at MIT and a remarkable author. Over the past five years she has been conducting research for a “better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation,” according to the book description.
We see people constantly connected to devices. At social gatherings people are texting, tweeting and connecting everywhere outside the event and the dinner table has had to establish a no-digital zone to get the most out of a familial setting. What I like most about Turkle’s book is that she shows all the aspects of how we can balance conversation in the physical world and keep it healthy.
Given how much further we’re likely to go with technology, this is a must read for managing a healthy relationship between your technology and the real world.
In reading each of the above, I found that they all play a pivotal role not just in the mindset of an entrepreneur, but as a person navigating through today’s society. We all have the power to forge new ideas, be great, build a community, have impact and live a life of balance and gratitude, so long as we participate in it 100 percent.