by Mark Moses, Entrepreneur and CEO Coach at CEO Coaching International
Reading is mission critical to stay on top of your game as an entrepreneur. That’s why I’ve always made time to read, from fiction to biographies to blogs to business case studies. The top entrepreneurs I work with read every day, whether listening to an audiobook during their commute, studying a business magazine while on the bike at the gym, or relaxing into a paperback after dinner.
My trick to reading at least one book per week is to listen to audiobooks while I run. I find that playing the recording at 1.5 or double speed helps me get through books quickly, while still absorbing the key insights. Try it out and let me know how it works for you.
Numerous studies show the link between reading and success. Harvard Business Review even released the business case for reading novels. When asked how to become more successful, Warren Buffett remarked, “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works, it builds up, like compound interest.” Today, I want to share the books I’ve enjoyed over the past year and recommend to CEOs and entrepreneurs:
1. Extreme Ownership
This management guide by Navy SEAL officers Jocko Willink and Leif Babin introduces leadership as personal responsibility. The combat veterans provide military examples and apply them to business situations. They cover four critical concepts that enable a team to perform at the highest level including how to move an organization as one, how to avoid fixation on a single issue, and how to empower leaders at all levels to make decisions. Action-packed with both successes and failures, it will keep you turning pages.
2. How To Win Friends And Influence People
Though this classic was published in 1937 and contains some dated language and references, its key wisdom and contemporary psychology is just as applicable today as during the Great Depression. “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain — and most fools do,” Carnegie writes. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
Carnegie encourages leaders to acknowledge when a subordinate is not meeting expectations or when a competitor’s approach is inferior to their own. However, he helps readers do so in a way that acknowledges what is working, avoids resentment, and encourages improvement.
3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s reference details how successful organizational leaders fail to see their problematic behaviors. Perhaps they are unaware, lack feedback, or are in denial, but continuing these behaviors often derails their career.
What Got You Here illustrates the process necessary to eliminate common blind spots with a step-by-step process. Understanding these twenty bad habits and their remedies is a powerful move for all leaders.
4. How Fast Can Your Company Afford To Grow?
Although not technically a book, this Harvard Business Review paper outlines a straightforward calculation for a sustainable growth rate, given your company’s current operations. The function takes into account three critical factors: your operating cash cycle, the amount of cash needed to finance each dollar in sales, and the amount of cash generated by each dollar of revenue. The equation provides a value for the self-financeable growth (SFG) rate. A must read for any CEO looking to grow their firm with or without outside financing.
5. Scaling Up
Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It and Why the Rest Don’t is Verne Harnish’s award winning update of his bestseller, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. The new version outlines how CEOs can create a company where their team is engaged, their customers are doing the marketing, and everyone is making money. Ultimately about creating freedom for business owners, Scaling Up includes tools and strategic planning checklists to get your company to the top of the S-Curve.
6. Elon Musk
In Elon Musk: Pay Pal, Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, writer Ashlee Vance gives us the first intimate look at the remarkable life of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. The book chronicles Musk’s childhood in South Africa and his quest to change four different industries. A must read for entrepreneurs who aim for the stars.
7. Think & Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill’s classic is on standby in my library. I re-read it this year. The guide offers a blueprint for transmuting what you desire in a few simple steps. Although too focused on money, the concepts are great for getting what you intend and can be applied to things other than money. Filled with examples from history, Think and Grow Rich offers self-assessment questions and exercises for the reader that stand the test of time.
8. The Boys in the Boat
This true story chronicles the unbelievable saga of nine American rowers from the University of Washington on their quest to win the gold at Hitler’s Berlin Olympics. The lessons of teamwork, loyalty, and collaboration shine through in this underdog story where a team of mismatched rowers from the Northwest beat the sons of Senators, bankers, and aristocrats.
9. Exponential Organizations
Frost & Sullivan’s 2014 Book of the Year was reportedly listed as required reading at Google headquarters. Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest, and Mike Malone are business visionaries and researchers that have documented ten characteristics of Exponential Organizations. The book offers leaders a path for organizing their firm for exponential growth.
10. Lean Startup
The Silicon Valley bible by Eric Ries is no longer just a book, but a movement. The goal of the methodology is to reduce the risk of a startup by testing and validating ideas early. Popular concepts like Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Pivoting originated in this must-read bestseller.
Bonus: Make Big Happen
I wrote this book to share the insight I’ve gained from working with the world’s top entrepreneurs. The four questions in Make Big Happen help leaders understand where they are now, where they want to go, and how to get there. The book is designed to help you find limitless success in your work, life, and giving.
Reading can be a hobby, a passion, or a daily habit that sets you apart. In a 2007 commencement speech given at the USC School of Law, Charlie Munger said, “I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up.”
What is on your recommended reading list? Share your favorite books with me and if you’re looking for more tips to grow your company and lifestyle, check out my new bestselling book, Make Big Happen.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 100 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.