If you like reading, you might be interested in seeing some of my favorite books from recent years. Some of them were enlightening and inspirational. Some were funny and fascinating. As you’ll see, I’m not a big reader of fiction. When I read for fun, it’s almost always a biography. But I also find good business books to be fun. I’m goal-oriented and always looking for info that can move me to a higher gear of productivity. (It’s amazing how a single sentence can sometimes make a huge difference.)

Anyway, here’s the list I came up with.

They Ask You Answer, by Marcus Sheridan

This book is one of the best marketing books I’ve ever read. Its principles make so much sense and should be applied at the core of any marketing strategy. They involve creating content that is focused on the most common questions people have about you and your products or services. When you have content that is authentic and transparent, it can help you become known and trusted. And it can work while you’re sleeping. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a business.

Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This book is a remarkable study on the subject of communication and how it relates to memory. It offers important lessons for anyone who wants to be a better teacher, speaker, writer, marketer, or communicator. The Heath brothers, Chip and Dean (both college professors), decided to study the phenomena of memory, and why certain things tend to stick. Their discoveries are very useful and, I believe, will make a strong impression on anyone who reads them. I found this book because of some rave reviews from people I know. I must agree; it is excellent.

The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale

An old classic that has sold many millions of copies, this book inspired me to have a more positive attitude in daily life. Norman Vincent Peale makes you question your own thought habits, and then challenges you to see everything around you in a more positive light. Changing our thought habits to be more positive can benefit all aspects of our lives. In that, I am a true believer.

Networking Like a Pro, by Ivan Misner and Brian Hilliard

As the founder of BNI, the international networking organization, Ivan Misner knows a thing or two about networking. This book gives ideas and advice to anyone who wants to be better at connecting with people and building relationships.

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The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber

This book is a landmark publication in the area of entrepreneurship. I believe it will live forever as a guide to help business owners avoid the common trap it calls the “E-myth” (short for “Entrepreneur-Myth”). The E-Myth is a fable that almost all entrepreneurs tell themselves as they endeavor to grow and scale their business, not realizing the barriers ahead of them. This book not only describes those common barriers but also gives solutions for how to overcome them. If you ever plan to scale a business, reading this book will be the best investment of time and money that you could make.

The Challenger Sale, by Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson

One of the best books about sales I’ve ever found, this book outlines the most common approaches used by salespeople, and then compares the results based on research. One of its most important points is that the likable salesman who is constantly building relationships is not the most successful one. It’s the “challenger” salesman who builds relationships but also challenges them at some point. For anyone who wants to become a better salesman, reading this book should be a must.

The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann

This book was recommended to me by several people, so I was interested to check it out. It’s an easy and fairly short read but very inspirational. It tells a story that teaches the importance of being a giver – one who is continuously trying to help others — and how that is the best way to forge great relationships and achieve goals. It would be helpful to anyone who cares about networking and wants to be a greater help to their community.

My Autobiography, by Charles Chaplin and David Robertson

This is one of my favorite books, and I’m adding it as a change of pace from the sales, business, and motivational books that I’ve focused on so far. Charlie Chaplin is my favorite entertainer in history, and his life story is one of the most interesting that I’ve ever heard. Whether you like his films or not, or whether you are interested in entertainment or not, I don’t think you can go wrong with this book. It details the most dramatic rags to riches story imaginable and paints a fascinating picture of London in the late 1800s and America in the early 1900s. It’s full of stories that are entertaining, emotional, and just plain stunning.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson

When I want to read for fun, biographies are my go-to genre. I’ve read about rock stars, comedians, politicians, business moguls, and dictators. Almost all of them were interesting stories. But this book about Benjamin Franklin certainly goes to the top of my list of favorites (along with Charlie Chaplin’s book). Benjamin Franklin lived a life that was so full of accomplishments that he seems to have been super-human. And while he was the industrious, disciplined, intellectual, and ambitious type, he was also highly sociable and entertaining. In fact, he was one of the funniest people to ever live (in my opinion). I laughed deeply many times while reading this book. I hope you will too.

Grinding It Out, by Ray Kroc

The movie “The Founder” came out a few years ago, which is about the origins of the McDonald’s restaurant and franchise success. Ray Kroc was the man behind the franchise success (but not the restaurant). Although he clearly made some unscrupulous moves, he was a highly-motivated and disciplined salesman who would change the business world forever – both in the food industry and beyond. I enjoyed the storytelling of his life and how he built the McDonald’s empire. The title “grinding it out” refers to the endless hours of work required to succeed in sales and business.

Go for No, by Richard Fenton

Having heard about this book from someone giving a lecture about networking and sales, I decided to get a copy. As you might imagine, the main principle in this book is to “Go for no” in business; as in, “Don’t be afraid to try to sell.” Make your pitch often because sales is a numbers game. There’s an old saying in sales that “Every ‘no’ gets you closer to a yes.” This book is a motivator to help you get in action, making your offer to more and more people.

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The Referral Engine, by John Jantsch

Well worth the time and money, this book instills a principle that should be the core of any business strategy, which is to generate positive word-of-mouth advertising. If this can be accomplished, your business can grow exponentially without you being the one to do its promotion. It offers ideas for how you can strategize for this outcome and explains the various ways that the benefits can manifest.

Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferris

Time Ferris had a very popular book some years ago called “The Four-Hour Workweek.” The title intrigued me quite a bit, so I read it. It was the best book about time management that I’d ever read. It made me think about time in a different way, and it also helped me adopt a more modern approach to how technology can be used. This book, Tools of Titans, is a collection of knowledge and principles Tim has amassed from being a student of successful people and an interviewer of high-achievers, including inventors, athletes, and business moguls. Anyone interested in upping their game in how they work, eat, sleep, and live life won’t go wrong from reading this book. It’s long but can be read in sections and jumped around in.

Driven: How to Succeed in Business and Life, by Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec is an ultra-successful entrepreneur and one of the sharks on the TV show “Shark Tank.” In this book, he tells the story of his life and career. In my opinion, anybody who builds a business from nothing to a value of hundreds of millions of dollars has an interesting story to tell; and Robert certainly does. There are many stories and lessons from this book that have stayed in my head. The one that I think of the most often, though, is his belief that people who become very successful in business tend to be obsessed with a vision that they want to make a reality, as opposed to being mostly focused on money.

How to Win at the Sport of Business, by Mark Cuban

If you like books that are good motivators, this one will be good for you. Mark Cuban is a multi-billionaire entrepreneur who started only with curiosity and a willingness to work very, very hard. He entered the computer field early on and hustled his way to growing a massive business. He considered daytime to be “selling time” and did his studying and other work in the early mornings, late nights, and on weekends. Mark’s book makes you realize how tough one needs to be to survive and grow in the competitive business world.

The Rhythm of Success, by Emilio Estefan

Emilio Estefan is a brilliant producer, promotor, and businessman, who is also the husband of Gloria Estefan (the Miami-based recording artist). In this autobiography, Emilio tells his stunning story of extreme poverty and hardship in Cuba and Spain before coming to America. When he came to America, he committed himself to working as hard as possible to succeed. Like many immigrants who come to America, he appreciated the land of opportunity and didn’t want to take anything for granted. The story of his life and climb to great success is definitely worth reading. It reminds me of the quote by Albert Einstein, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.”

Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion-Dollar Business, by Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran became a real estate agent in New York City after quitting her job as a waitress in a diner. She found that she had a knack for it immediately, and began to build a business and reputation. In this book, Barbara tells the story of her upbringing, beginnings in business, and incredible success as one of the leading real estate moguls in the country. There is a lot to be learned and enjoyed from her story. She frames many of the stories around principles and lessons that helped her succeed. Don’t miss the story about how she once sold over 100 condos in a single day!

(In Closing)

This list might have been longer than you expected. It ended up being longer than I expected, actually. Now that I just looked it over, I’m remembering a couple of others that could have been included. Oh well, maybe I’ll write a sequel list one of these days.

As much as I love to read, I don’t do it regularly anymore. Most of my time is spent either working or enjoying time with my family. These days, my reading happens in occasional binges.

Thanks for taking an interest in this list. I hope you’ll read one or more of these books and enjoy them as much as I did.