If you are looking to become successful, one of the best things you can do is to read or listen to advice given by people who have already done it. Lucky for you, there are plenty of books out there that will help to distill the secrets of success. They range from getting started, to pushing past self-doubt, and ultimately getting to your goals. Even when you have reached those financial goals, though, you still might feel a bit disappointed that achieving “the dream” doesn’t guarantee happiness. These 40 books will cover each and every stage of success, no matter what step in the journey you are on.
40. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
Success does not happen overnight. It is a long and complicated journey that will require you to overcome challenges you never had to deal with before. Pushing yourself towards getting everything you want out of life is not just about working hard. It can also become a huge mental struggle. Sometimes, we can accidentally deceive ourselves into thinking we cannot do something, which eventually leads to self-sabotage. In Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, the Arbinger Institute goes over conflict, motivation, and collaboration in order to get your mental game strong.
No matter what your gender is, it’s important to know how to work with a co-ed staff. Women and men have only been working together in for a few decades. When you think about it, we are still trying to figure out how to do it. If you want to see how backwards things used to be back in the 1960’s, you just need to watch Mad Men. Years ago, there were very few opportunities women had in the workplace. Even now, women have very serious issues. That’s What She Said by Joanne Lipman goes over all of the problems between men and women in the workplace. If you read this book, you will probably have a better perspective of the issues, and it may make you better at dealing with them in your own workplace.
Written in the 1700’s, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is a study of economics. Just like the name suggests, it goes over how a country makes its money. This was vital for people to read during the American Revolution, and it is still relevant today. This book is usually required reading for students who are studying economics. It has also become a vital resource for future political and economic movements in the modern world.
37. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
Factfulnessby Hans Rosling has been recommended by both Barack Obama and Bill Gates as a life-changing experience. They say that if everyone were to take the time to read this, the world would be a better place. Hans Rosling goes over statistics, and how our perspective can paint a world into being an awful place, or a beautiful one. The news today makes it seems like something is going wrong all the time, or that this generation is far worse than the last. This book will help you realize that things are not as bad as it seems. Having hope in the world is vital to moving forward in your business ventures.
You may or may not know of Gary Vaynerchuck from his popular YouTube channel called “Ask GaryVee” about hard work and entrepreneurship. He is amazing at helping to encourage people to push past their own self-doubt and figure out how to get to the path to success. In his newest book, Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence- And How You Can, Too he goes over how professionals can use social media to cultivate their personal brand. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms have now become absolutely essential to making a name for yourself. This book is great for anyone who is already established in their career, but it can also be helpful for someone who is thinking about pursuing a non-traditional path, and they need to turn their work into a brand.
You may remember reading about Ralph Waldo Emerson in school, because he was the founder of Transcendentalism. His collection of essays called Self-Reliancefocuses on just that: How human beings should reflect on themselves, and try to live a life where they do not need God or anyone else in order to love themselves. If you are trying to change your life and succeed, you may have to deal with a lot of haters. So the only way to get through the negativity is to believe in yourself. Self-Reliance may have been written in 1841, but the advice Emerson gives is still relevant today.
34. E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
This classic book has been around for years, and many professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs go back to it for advice, because it is extremely important to know. The essence of “The E-Myth” is to dispel common misconceptions that people have about growing a successful business. Throughout the book, Gerber gives some really good advice that can apply to nearly every type of business, no matter what field you may be working in.
One of the biggest take-aways people get from this book is the advice to outsource work to other people whenever possible. A business can only be successful if it runs with little-to-no effort. If you are too busy managing the business and working 12-hour days, you have created a new job for yourself. Ask yourself: If you weren’t there, would the business crumble without you? If the answer is “yes”, then find someone who can replace you. Michael Gerber goes into much further detail about how you can do that in this book.
33. The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career Without Becoming The Person You Hate by Fran Hauser
If you are a woman, you are probably all too familiar with the pressure to be a “nice girl” and still get things done. Powerful females are often associated with dragon ladies who everyone secretly hates. Author Fran Hauser writes who to avoid this dilemma in The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career Without Becoming the Person You Hate. It goes over maintaining your true identity, not being afraid to speak up, and so much more. A lot of female CEO’s like Girl Boss’ Sophia Amoruso have sung high praises for The Myth of the Nice Girl.
32. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Many people grow up focusing on the outliers- the people who had an “overnight success”, or were born with a genius IQ. By focusing so much on theses special cases, some people lose hope that it is possible for them to succeed, as well. Malcolm Gladwell is here to dispel those thoughts with his book Outliers: The Story of Success. He also goes over some very solid statistics of how and why certain people are better at certain things. This book is truly fascinating, and it will give you plenty of interesting bits of information to bring up at parties, as well.
31. Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Publishing a book can be amazing for your career, because it establishes you as an expert in your field. And you may also want to be a fiction author who sells to the mass. Just how, exactly, do you accomplish that? Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant go over their journey to becoming writers, and how they were able to self-publish stories on Amazon in order to make a full-time living. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a fiction author, Write, Publish, Repeathas amazing advice for anyone out there looking to make great content on the internet.
Originally written in 1937, Think and Grow Richby Napoleon Hill has inspired many of the other books that are on this list. Most recommend that this is best for kids who have recently graduated from High School, because the sooner you can get this advice, the better. Hill uses examples of millionaires like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie to break down the essential elements of what it takes to be a successful person. Even though this book was written so long ago, Napoleon Hill’s advice is truly evergreen, and anyone can take this advice and apply it to their own lives today.
This book has been around for a very long time, and yet so many people keep recommendingThe Richest Man in Babylon. The story is exactly what it sounds like- It’s about the richest man living in Babylon, and how he got that way. If you read through the reviews on Amazon, you will find hundreds of people who say that this book helped to open their minds to see how easy it truly is to make a budget and stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. Even if you have absolutely no plans to start your own business, The Richest Man in Babylon is filled with amazing financial advice.
Chris Guillebeu truly is “living the dream”. He has traveled to 175 countries, and still manages to earn a living as an entrepreneur. Throughout his book The $100 Start-Up, Chris Guillebeau explains that he found over 1,500 people who started their business with $100 or less, and they were able to grow it into a job that made at least $50,000 a year. The good thing about this book is that it doesn’t try to over-hype you with promises of being a millionaire. A tiny fraction of us will actually get there, no matter how many self-help books we read. But if we find a business that aligns with our passions in life, there is a far greater chance that we can make a living doing what we love.
27. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Most successful people have similar traits that help them get ahead. Wonder what those are? As the title suggests, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey was originally published in 1989, and it has continued to be a best-seller for the past 30 years. It breaks down all of the most important attributes you need in order to be in the right mindset to do well in life. Lucky for you, this book is free on Kindle Unlimited, and it has been around so long, you are basically guaranteed to find it at any local library.
There are some people who put millionaires up on a pedestal, as if they are super-human. However, you have probably met a millionaire at some point in your life, and you had no idea. Not every person with a million dollars has a sports car or a huge house. They don’t all live in the richest neighborhoods, either. (Look at Warren Buffet- He lives in Omaha, Nebraska!) The Millionaire Next Door was originally written by Thomas Stanley in 1998. He goes over the qualities are shared by the kind of person who ends up becoming a millionaire.
Some people scoff at The Secret, but it truly is valuable to have the correct mindset when you are trying to succeed. Whether you consider yourself to be spiritual or not, following the advice from this book is going to help you get on the right path. The book talks a lot about “The Law of Attraction”, which is the idea that if you really focus on the thing you want, the universe will help give you the steps to succeed. This isn’t just a bunch of mumbo jumbo, either. The book may present it in a spiritual way, but it’s actually very logical.
Think about it: Every time you buy a new car, you suddenly see it driving on the road everywhere, right? Those cars didn’t appear out of nowhere. They were there all along, but you only noticed them after you became more familiar. Same goes with the Law of Attraction. If you have a goal, and you think a lot about what you want in life, the opportunities will begin to appear before you, because you never took the time to notice them before.
The ancient Chinese book called The Art of War by Sun Tzu is just what is sounds like; a guide to military strategy. The year was written in the year 1080, making it the oldest book on this list, by far. The advice from The Art of War has been used by world leaders for over 1,000 years. Even though this book is technically about warfare, many people have taken the advice given in this book and applied it to business and life. Entrepreneurs everywhere recommend this book, because it teaches you how to patiently strategize the various steps of success, which includes “conquering” your enemies, or business rivals, creating a plan of attack, and so much more.
If financial advisors are to be believed, almost anyone can retire a millionaire…When they’re 65. You can live a very normal life, be frugal, and save your money. Or, like The Millionaire Fastlane suggests, you can push yourself to make more money and accelerate the speed in which you are traveling towards your goal. The author, MJ DeMarco, is wild, and tries to be blunt and call people out on their BS. He’s all about giving tough love. Basically, it’s easy to get “rich quick”, but it’s never easy. For example, maybe a musician gets a song on the charts, and they become an “overnight success”, but what you don’t see is the years of practice that went into it beforehand. Many of the people who reviewed this book on Amazon say that they wished they had read this book years ago.
22. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
The idea behind this next book is very simple, but incredibly important for anyone to succeed. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek is exactly what it sounds like. Before you do anything, start with one question: “Why?” As in, “Why would someone want to buy my product?” If you are starting a YouTube channel, you might ask, “Why would someone watch me instead of the next guy?” Once you really dive deep into this question, you can begin to sort through good ideas vs. bad ideas. However, most people who reviewed this book on Amazon have said that they wish they simply watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, instead of buying the book. This way, you can get his core principles in just 18 minutes, instead of a few hours.
For nearly every person who is trying to read books in order to improve themselves, they have most likely already readRich Dad Poor Dad. The book teaches you the importance of cash flow, investing, and so much more. The author, Robert Kiyosaki, has turned this book into a successful brand, and he branched out to several more self-help books about finance, as well as his own board game. Even if you have already read this yourself, consider recommending it to other people, especially if they have just graduated from High School or college. Getting this kind of financial advice at an early age will make a tremendous difference in someone’s future.
20. Losing my Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson
You may or may not have heard of Richard Branson. He is the eccentric CEO of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Records. Over the course of a 25-year career, he started over 100 business ventures. After accomplishing so much with his life, you would think that Branson is a workaholic. The truth is the exact opposite. This book, Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune During Business My Way goes over all of the zany and over-the-top adventures Richard Branson has had over the course of his life. This is very much a “work hard party hard” mindset. So, if you think being a CEO means giving up the things you enjoy, read this book to be proven wrong.
Charles Duhigg was a professional business reporter before he wrote the book called The Power of Habit. After meeting so many business people throughout his career, Duhigg realized something. There is a huge amount of potential that people can unlike in themselves. Our habits can completely make or break our lives and careers. If you find that you are struggling to get into good habits like working out, waking up on time, or getting your butt in the chair to work, reading this book may help you. Duhigg really takes the time to break down how habits work with our brains. For example, there are triggers that motivate our habits. Once we learn to recognize these triggers, it will help us to stop doing the negative things.
Tony Robbins is one of the most famous public speakers in the world. He is a professional life coach who tries to inspire people to succeed with money, pay off debt, and live their dreams. If you have never listened to him speak, it truly is worth listening, because you will walk away feeling super motivated to make your life better. Tony Robbins has written several books, but one of his newest titles, Money: Master the Game discusses what you should do a little bit further along in your journey. If you have a nest egg, but you’re not sure what to do with it, the book have suggestions. Robbins gives people a “lifetime income plan” so that they can grow rich and achieve financial freedom.
Unlike the rest of the books on this list, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is actually a novel, rather than non-fiction. The reason why it deserves a place on this list is that many people have read this story and walked away feeling more inspired to run their business than any other self-help book out there. Ayn Rand examines the American Dream, and she presents her own philosophy called “objectivism”. She talks a lot about freedom, desire, hard work, materialism, and so much more. During an interview, Rand said, “highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness, and that he must not force other people, nor accept their right to force him, that each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own rational self-interest.”
Keep in mind that Atlas Shrugged is an incredibly long 1,200 page book. If you do not have the patience to get through it, you should consider listening to the audiobook, or watch the series on Amazon Prime.
Out of all of the books on this list, many people have considered Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss to be one of the most valuable of the bunch. Ferriss is famous for his book 4 Hour Work Week, so you have probably heard of him already. In this book, he tries to examine the habits of most successful people in the world, and tries to break down how they live their lives. This book is so chock-full of amazing advice, it is almost impossible to leave it without getting something out of it. Even if you are not aspiring to be an entrepreneur, this book will still help you with happiness, problem-solving, difficult choices, and so much more. (There is a reason why this book is so thick!)
15. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
Ever wonder what makes one person succeed with others fail? In most cases, it is because that one person chose to work ten times harder than the next guy. In Grant Cardone’s book The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, he presents his idea of “Massive Action”. This will help you accelerate your work load, and learn a lot more about time management. Everyone is forced to live the same 24 hours in a day, but you are capable of doing so much more than you think.
The book is also about changing your mindset on goals. Cardone recommends that you write down all of your goals and aspirations, and guess at how long it would take. Then, multiply that by 10, and you are probably getting a more accurate idea of the real timeline. This way, if you finish your goal early, you feel amazing about yourself. Same goes with your other aspirations. Whatever your goal is, multiple that by ten. For example, if you said, “I want to make an extra $10,000 next year”, make it $100,000. The likelihood that you will actually make an extra $100,000 is slim-to-none, but it may motivate you to reach for the stars.
Ray Dalio’s life story is basically the American Dream. He started his own investment firm called Bridgewater Associates out of his two-bedroom apartment, and was able to grow it into a massive hedge fund in New York City. Today, Bridgewater is the number five most successful private company in the United States. Ray Dalio explains exactly how he did it, and manages to distill his success into some essential life principles that he lives by. Even some of the most successful and famous people sing the praises of his book, Principles: Life and Work. Tony Robbins said, “I found it to be truly extraordinary.”
One of the most famous entrepreneurship books out there is The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Just like the title suggests, this book gives you a guide on how it is possible to start a business that requires little-to-no work from you, because you are hiring other people to get things done. However, don’t mistake this as a guide to becoming an overnight millionaire. If you want this kind of lifestyle, you might have to work your butt off for years before you can outsource. For some people, you might love your job so much, that you want to work more than 4 hours a week.
12. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Business school can only prepare you for so much. Earning an MBA may help you learn all of the theory, but there is a huge difference in actually applying it all to real life. On top of that, there will also be issues that no one can prepare you for, since everyone’s journey is unique. This is where The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz comes in. Most people go through huge issues, but they only want to talk about the positive stuff. Horowitz goes over these issues with a lot of humor, to help you laugh at the obstacles life throws in your way, without giving up.
11. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A huge part of being successful is working well with other people. After all, no man (or woman) is an island. In order to build a successful business, please your boss, or have meaningful personal relationships, you need to get along well with people. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People was written back in the 1940’s, but even to this very day, it is still a bestseller because it gives incredibly good advice generation after generation. If you need to do any public speaking, and you feel nervous, you might benefit from reading this. This is especially helpful for anyone who feels socially awkward, or has a hard time making friends. Many people have claimed that this book totally changed their lives for the better.
It is no secret that app design has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and computer scientists around the world are trying to get into the industry. George Berkowitz does a deep-dive into the origin stories of some of the world’s most popular smartphone apps like Candy Crush, Instagram, Uber, Whatsapp, and Snapchat. This is incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to see a “proof of concept” story from the very beginning stage where a founder is jotting down notes on napkin all the way up to making a multi-million (or billion) dollar company.
Money isn’t everything. If you are already successful, but feel as if money is not actually making you happy, you might want to check out The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. In order to be truly happy, people need a balance between their personal life, and work. Nowadays, “work-life balance” has become sort of a buzz word, but many people do not actually know how to implement that into their life. If you struggle with this, you really need to check it out. This book has become so popular, it has sold over 4 million copies, and it was translated into 50 languages.
There is a big difference between following the path that someone else has already gone down, and choosing to make your own. True innovation can only come from someone who thinks outside of the box. When it comes to running a business, this can be even more intimidating. If you are interested in creating a startup that disrupts an industry, check out Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This book is great, because it teaches you that you should never try to become a carbon copy of someone else. That will never bring you to success. Always be the best version of you that you possibly can be. It is also great for anyone who is looking to specifically get into tech.
7. The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
By this point, you have probably heard of Bitcoin, unless you’re living under a rock. But have you ever wondered what blockchain technology was, or how it actually works? The Internet of Moneyby Andreas Antonopoulos covers the “how” and “why” Bitcoin is such a revolutionary technology. One day, blockchain will become apart of our every-day lives, just like the internet. By the end of this book, you will get a far better understanding, and you will be on your way to deciding if you really should invest in crypto-currency or not. If you are not convinced that you should be reading an entire book on Bitcoin, take at least a few minutes to look at Andreas Antonopoulos’ TED talks and interviews on YouTube, so that you can get a small preview of what this is all about.
6. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
You probably already know who Elon Musk is by now, since he is one of the most influential people of the 21st Century. Founder of PayPal, Space X, and Tesla Motors, he is basically the real-life Tony Stark. There is no doubt that he will go down in history as being up there with Nikola Tesla and Henry Ford in his contributions to inventing new and innovative technology to bring the human race into the future. Author Ashlee Vance goes over the events of Musk’s life, starting with his birth and early life in South Africa, all the way to today. If you are looking to get inspired, or if you are a fan of Elon Musk, this is a great book to read.
5. Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat
Maybe you have never heard of Mo Gawdat, but you definitely have heard of his employer, Google. As the Chief Business Officer, Gawdat has had to go on a long journey through his life to get where he is today. He also opens up about his personal tragedies and struggles, and how difficult it truly can be to find happiness in a work that is so full of difficulties and darkness.
In his book, Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy, he talks about the possibility that there may actually be a way to quickly re-train our minds to get back to happiness as our default setting. If you don’t have time to read a whole book, you should start by listening to one of his talks on YouTube. In one of his talks called “An Algorithm for Happiness”, he runs you through some exercises to show you just how quickly and easily you can change your mood in a positive way.
Warren Buffet is one of the most wealthy men in the world right now, with a net worth of $85 billion. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffet taught himself how to analyze the stock market in order to pick the most profitable investments. He gives credit to everything he knows about investing toThe Intelligent Investorby Benjamin Graham, which was originally published in 1949. In it, you will get an overview of exactly how Buffet decides where to put his money. In essence, he never blindly trusts a stock broker with his money. Instead, he does a lot of research into each and every company to see if it will truly make a profit. He calls this “value investing”. Not sure how to find a valuable stock? Might as well read the book to find out!
3. One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 by F. C. Minaker
Yet another favorite from Warren Buffet’s childhood library was One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000. The book was originally published in 1936, so some of these ideas may seem a bit outdated. However, this book still gives you a lot of amazing ideas on how you can make money doing practically anything, as long as you set your mind to it. The book is currently out of print, so if you want a physical copy, it’s expensive. However, if you get Kindle Unlimited, the e-book is available for free.
Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric who helped build the company’s market cap to an impressive $450 billion. Instead of trying to change himself to fit the business work, Jack Welch brought his personality and unique perspective to his projects. Jack: Straight From the Gut is essentially an autobiography on how he started making just $10,000 a year to becoming a billionaire. It should inspire anyone who is trying to move forward in their career stay true to themselves, no matter what the circumstances. This is also a great book for anyone who is currently a manager or running a company, because his advice is so straight-forward, it almost seems like common sense, but it just may lead to a lightbulb moment.
1. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales of the World of Wallstreet by John Brooks
Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have recommended Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales of the World of Wallstreet by John Brooks for aspiring business people. This book goes through stories of huge defining moments in companies like General Electric, Ford, and Xerox. John Brooks gives deep and valuable insight into business culture, and his prose is straight-forward and easy to understand. Through each story, you can walk away with a valuable lesson on what you should and should not do in the course of your entrepreneurial journey.