By Meredith Wood
When asked about the key to success, Warren Buffet famously pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.”
And he’s not alone.
Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and Elon Musk have all said that reading has been critical to their success.
Reading can expose you to new concepts and tactics that will fundamentally change the way you do business—for the better.
And if you’re on the path of starting or growing your business, you’ve got your homework cut out for you!
Summer is the perfect time to settle into a good book, and there are plenty of great reads that can keep you as entertained as they will keep you informed.
And hey, one of these books might even change your life. 1.
1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Because every reading list needs some classics. Business magnate Warren Buffett said that this was the most important book on investing ever written, which is no small praise. And yes, it’s old—published in 1949—but it’s by the father of investment advising, Benjamin Graham. The book introduces and illustrates Graham’s philosophies around value investing. One of the main points? To recognize when a stock is trading stocks for less than its intrinsic value.
His goals and tenements teach investors how to develop long-term investment strategies, and to protect from major errors. And these concepts can be extended beyond the world of investing. Good business starts by looking for what other people might be failing to recognize.
2. What If It Does Work Out?: Turn your passion into cash, make an impact in the world and live the life you were born to by Susie Moore
Business and confidence coach Susie Moore writes about how important it is to believe you can pursue your passion…and then to actually do it. She provides practical advice as to creating a side hustle out of doing something you actually want to do, until you can actually do it full time. Moore says your business is “already inside you,” just waiting to be manifested into profit and personal contentment. Sounds pretty good, right?
3. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz.
From the co-founder of venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, entrepreneur, author of Ben’s Blog, and yes, all around cool guy, Ben Horowitz. He gives his invaluable insights on building a startup and he gives it straight—that creating a business from the ground up is no easy feat. He provides true problem solving tactics to the issues people in the middle of a place like Silicon Valley actually confront on the day-to-day. Plus he adds song lyrics to underline his points, which make the read all the merrier.
4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.
Ries notes how many startups, despite brilliant concepts, often fail. Apparently, it doesn’t have to be this way. Ries introduces methods that shift how companies measure success, provide true representation of customer desire, and speed up product development. Ries is about what he calls “validated learning”—successful strategies adapted from lean manufacturing for testing and retesting your business vision, and learning how to grow with an ever changing and ever innovating marketplace.
5. You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master The Concept of Wealth by Jen Sincero
Because (financial) abundance really begins from within. Jen Sincero is a bit of a darling in the realm of success self-help, providing easily digestible, straight-shooting guidance on turning personal financial woes into business and personal achievement. In the NY Time’s best selling “You Are A Badass!” she talks about taking chances and changing the perspectives that keep you in a “lack consciousness.” In her follow-up, she focuses more specifically on using those strategies towards growing your career…and more importantly (wink) your bank account.
6. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss.
Ferriss’s book The Four Hour Work Week is basically a bible for entrepreneurs in the modern business landscape, and if you haven’t read that one, add that to the pile! Ferriss’ philosophy is about turning the cult of workaholism on its head, and restructuring the way you focus on spending your time. Yeah, it’s about success in business, but it’s also about creating a life worth living.
He’s back at it with Tools of Titans, gathering the best pieces of advice from hundreds of guests he’s had on his popular podcast, to create a huge but accessible collection of their secrets.
A quick tip? 80% of these “titans” have some kind of daily mindfulness practice.
7. The Little Book Of Behavioral Investing by James Montier
James Montier is one of the world’s foremost behavior analysts, and he turns his expertise towards behavioral finance—confronting the reality that there are psychological elements to decision making in investment and finance that can lead to unfortunate results. Montier introduces the basics of the behavioral traits that lead investors to lose money or see lower returns, like overconfidence, bias, and high emotion. And, of course, these ideas reach beyond investing. Emotions can lead you to make impulsive business decisions that can has a lasting negative effect. Montier guides readers to recognize when these behaviors pop up to avoid common mistakes.
8. Essays of Warren Buffett, Lessons For Corporate America by Warren Buffett
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” says the old adage of Warren Buffett. It’s no secret that business magnate Buffett is considered by many to be among the most successful investors in the world. His writing on groundbreaking business principles are presented in a way that makes their length actually digestible and distills his more complicated concepts through the genius of his editor, Lawrence A. Cunningham. Woven thematically, the core philosophy is Buffett’s explanation of the differences between price and value, and how recognizing this informs how you navigate investment decisions.
9. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning psychologist specializing in behavioral economics, presents the contrast between two “systems” of thought that shape our decision making. System 1 is quick, instinctive and emotional. System 2 is slower, more logical and deliberative.
His book describes the biases associated with each thinking system, and illustrates how we place too much importance and confidence in our ability to make judgement calls. One example of this is how humans are loss averse, more likely to act and make choices in an effort to avoid loss than to act and make choices towards gain. Understanding our thinking processes can divert us from common mistakes and bias.
10. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy
You might recognize Harvard professor Amy Cuddy from her Ted Talk on power poses. Cuddy writes about the effectiveness of altering our body language, behavior, and moment-to-moment perspective shifts in harnessing presence and having more control over interpersonal communications and high pressure performance. She underlines that this is different than the journey of personal discovery often encouraged in self-help business advice, instead it’s about recognizing how your self-presentation can affect your achievements.
Cuddy guides through the science and practice of body-mind techniques that allow us to tap into our personal power in high-stakes moments. Confidence and presence of mind are, at the end of the day, at least half the battle.
Oh yeah, and pro tip—start with a book that calls out to you, and then maybe one that doesn’t. We’re often not reading things that are in our blind spots, so try to challenge yourself to digest things that you *think* (only think) are over your head or boring.
Now, get to the library! Or, you know, your Amazon account. Whatever works.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.