business books

I’m that guy who writes in his books. Yup, the inside covers and margins aren’t even safe. Over the years I’ve read, and doodled in, hundreds of business and personal development books. Two handfuls have tremendously influenced me. Here’s my top 10 best business and leadership book list – the ones I keep nearby for instant wisdom:

  1. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish – The business world regards this baby as a bible. It outlines John D. Rockefeller’s approach to business, which starts with a one-page strategic plan. Verne’s manuscript helped transform my first company into an Inc. 500 enterprise, and its process is what I pass onto my clients in business facilitations today.
  2. Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi – You won’t be the best version of yourself without the support of others, that’s what Keith teaches. Life is all about personal and deep connections. This book transformed the way I view relationships both professionally and personally.
  3. Perform Like a Rock Star and Still Have Time for Lunch” by Orna Drawas – Life is all about balance. From emails to meetings, Orna teaches the art of prioritization and focus to make room for the fun stuff in life.
  4. Awesomely Simple” by John Spence – Business is fairly simple until you add people into the mix. John hits the reader between the eyes with factual insights that inspire business owners and managers to alter the way they lead their teams.
  5. Topgrading” by Brad Smart – The best practices in hiring, coaching and maintaining top talent are outlined in this best seller. It’s a must read for anyone making hiring decisions.
  6. Ownership Thinking” by Brad Hams – Why can’t my team think like me, the owner? Brad answers that question and lets readers in on the secret to instilling vested interest in employees.
  7.  “The 5 Levels of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell – John is the defacto standard in leadership. He defines the different levels of leadership and equips the reader with the necessary tools to climb each rung of the leadership ladder.
  8. The Leadership Challenge” by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner – Now in its fifth edition, this classic offers 20 plus years of leadership research. To commemorate their latest chronicle, Jim and Barry have developed an app, The Leadership Challenge Mobile Tool, to help leaders stay focused on their growth paths.
  9. Drive” by Dan Pink – Money doesn’t motivate. Autonomy, mastery and purpose do. Dan explores four decades of motivation research to prove that common beliefs on the topic are wrong. He outlines how to fix the motivation mismatch with company culture.
  10.  “Oops!” By Aubrey Daniels – Aubrey, a.k.a “the father of performance management” has a straight forward writing style that outlines 13 common business practices that create more issues than they resolve. He doesn’t stop there. He trades out the bad with the good and delivers 13 effective approaches.

You have my permission to dog-ear, highlight and doodle on this article. If you want to go a bit further, rip it out, take it to the bookstore and buy one or two of these business and personal development books. Let me know what you think.


This article was originally published in The Tennessean.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Maarten Takens</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>