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10 Essential Books For Rising Entrepreneurs

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by David Garland in David's Blog

I remember a recent interview with best-selling author John Jantsch when we were discussing his new book, The Referral Engine. I asked him at the end of the interview bluntly: “John, what would you say to someone thinking about buying the book? Why should they buy it?”

His answer was simple and profound. He said that he has been in business a long time and there might not be a greater value than books. Meaning, even if you just pick up one good idea, it is worth perhaps hundreds, thousands, or millions of the cover price.

Of course, you might pick up more than one big idea. You might pick up fifty. Or think of something in a new way. Or get that little (or big) kick straight in the pants to get you in gear. Or learn a new skill that takes you and/or your business to the next level. Or make a change in your life. Or just be flat out inspired or entertained (both are important).

Great books create change. It might be a very small micro-change (as in, stopping a small habit or not eating a specific food) or it might be a massive change (in the way Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek introduced and inspired many of us to make work and life changes). Big and small, change of any kind is important.

The interesting thing of course is right now in the world of books there are debates all over the Internet (and in real life) about publishing, print, and more. Not a day goes by without a headline (in fact, I’ve used them as well) sparking something like “Is Print Dead?” or “Is Publishing Dead?” …and the list goes on. For a really good chat, make sure to check out this conversation I had with Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Crown Publishers. But, I argue that it doesn’t matter what format it is in as long as the book gets to you and offers you value and creates some kind of change.

It might be a good “old fashioned” hard copy (even though I don’t think they are old fashioned at all).

It might be a digital download on an e-book reader or tablet computer.

It might be an audio book that you can listen to at the gym or in your car.

Heck, it might even be a video book like a Vook that combines reading, watching, and listening.

The source of the book varies too. It might be self-published. It might be traditionally published. The key is it gets out there. The ideas spread.

As a recent author (my first book, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business, came out in December 2010), I now understand first hand the effort, dedication, and passion it takes to release a book into the world. And because of this, and my love for books, here is a list (in no particular order) of some of my favorites for the rising entrepreneur (links are Amazon links, unless otherwise noted):

1. Linchpin by Seth Godin

Why? Entrepreneurs ship. Entrepreneurs are artists. This book is filled with all kinds of motivational thoughts and ideas.

Interview with Seth on what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Why? Simply put, the book challenges assumptions. Big time. It isn’t about “literally” creating a 4-four workweek, but instead ideas on productivity and limiting meaningless work.

Interview with Tim on the keys to his success in marketing and promoting two #1 New York Times Best Sellers.

3. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Why? Another book challenging the “old school” misconceptions about what an entrepreneur is or should be (meaning, the goal of every company is just to sell it). A quick read that will make you think.

Interview with David on rethinking entrepreneurship.

4. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Why? This memoir is a real treat of essentially Tony Hsieh sharing his story, thoughts, and insights on his journey that eventually led to the building of the Zappos empire.

Interview with Tony on delivering a warm glass of happiness.

5. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

Why? In my opinion, this is a bible-like guide for creative thinkers. If your work can be outsourced for pennies, you might be in the wrong line of work.

Interview with Daniel on what motivates us.

6. Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Why? Sort of like having a high-energy, caffeinated (or perhaps after a glass or two of vino) conversation with Web TV and brand building mogul Gary Vaynerchuk. Want to use the Internet to cash in on your passion? Read the book.

Interview with Gary on how he went from stocking shelves to a “web celebrity”.

7. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Why? Chris is the master of weaving personal experiences into bigger lessons. In this quick-moving book, you might just be sparked to make a big change in your business/life.

Interview with Chris on challenging conformity.

8. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Why? Because the overall lesson of giving first can’t be repeated enough. In fact, it should be tattooed on every entrepreneur’s arm.

Interview with Bob on building better relationships.

9. The Referral Engine by John Jantsch

Why? Because referrals matter. Are you being recommended all the time…and to the right people? John will help you with that challenge.

Interview with John on how to become a referral engine.

10. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

Why? If you have/need/want/will ever work with clients, you need this book. Michael’s formula will get you booked solid.

Interview with Michael on his journey from actor to professional writer.

Time to get reading.

Of course there are hundreds (if not thousands) of other books that I love (and I’m sure you do as well), ranging from topical to iconic.

What about you? What books would you add to the list?

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