The absolute best business and self help books out there

I’ve read over 200 self help and business books and that number is growing quickly. These are the books I’ve gotten the most out of and why.

Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss

The most important book on this list. It outlines and reinforces the fact that business, negotiation and any human interaction is inherently very emotional. It’s centered around negotiation but this book has so many solid management and leadership principles. Mirroring, tactical empathy, starting with no and labeling are all phenomenal. A sneak peak on the author here.

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber

The first stop for any beginner. This is a great book about the importance of creating a business that can thrive without you. Preaches a lot of my favorite business principles like working on the things that are important for the long term but not necessarily urgent or pressing. Can be a little satire / elementary at times (the hotel description and Sarah’s “all about pies” are poor examples) for the more accomplished entrepreneurs but the principles are rock solid.

Entreleadership – Dave Ramsey

This book just has non stop quality advice about how to build a business the right way.  Dave doesn’t preach about politics or religion. He just tells it like it is and tells the stories of what worked for him. Phenomenal read.

Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Ryan studies and preaches Stoicism and how to handle rejection and stress. Managing that split second between an event and your reaction is what life is all about. The Ego is the Enemy shows the incredible importance of remaining humble and the dangers of overconfidence and an inflated ego. I also recommend The Obstacle is the Way, Stillness is the Key and The Daily Stoic by the same author.

Principles “Life & Work” – Ray Dalio

An awesome book but my main takeaway is the discussion on strategic decision making. “Radical Open-mindedness”. It’s human nature to want to be right and appear right in the eyes of others. People who make the best decisions know they don’t have all the answers so they are open to many other points of view. They change their minds often even at the expense of their own ego.

Built to Sell – John Warrillow

This book talks about how to get your life back once your business takes over. How to specialize in your niche and do it really well. Make it scalable an take yourself out of the equation so that it is valuable to a potential buyer. Story format. Very good.

The Goal – Eliyahu Goldratt

Also in story format this is all about removing bottlenecks from your business. Find out what is holding you back and really focus on fixing that issue so you can break through and expand. The owner of the small business is almost always the bottleneck.

Company of One – Paul Jarvis

Large scalable companies aren’t likely and aren’t the goal of many entrepreneurs. Starting small and specializing is the key to building a great lifestyle business and then an asset that produces money while you live the life you want to be living. This book helps you question if growth is really the goal.

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

A bit cliche but this is packed full or resources that are useful when it comes to dealing with other people and selling yourself or your service. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. Give honest and sincere appreciation. Become genuinely interested in other people. These are just a few. This takes practice and I recommend reading and thinking on a summary at least once a year after.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The original productivity guide. How to set goals and make them happen. 1. Be proactive. 2. Begin with the end in mind. 3. Put first things first. 4. Think win-win. 5. Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. 6. Synergize. 7. Sharpen the saw. This is worth reading and studying your notes at least every year.

Flip the Script – Oren Klaff

Oren Klaff is an energetic salesman who routinely puts together big venture capital deals. His approach to sales is to frame the situation so that customers SELL YOU and the deals close themselves. He came on the podcast and outlined this framework.

The Greatest Salesman in the World – Og Mandino

Life is all about being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Everyone is a salesman and sales is uncomfortable. This book is a pump up about determination and perseverance and its importance. Its not always going to be fun. Its not always going to be easy.

2020 Small Business Taxes – JK Lasser

The best tax resource there is for small businesses. Reads like a text book but for some reason I absorbed it quickly and it was an enjoyable read. Explains all the important concepts around deductions and how to make sure Uncle Sam only gets what is actually his. A good accountant is critical but its even more critical that you understand this yourself. This book has probably saved me $50,000 in the last 5 years. Thats a low estimate. Read it.

Barking up the Wrong Tree – Eric Barker

What traits, skills or routines are most likely to lead to success? Eric dives in and realizes that introversion and outgoingness are a lot more likely to drive success than good report cards. A study backed book full of stories and great insights into what it really takes to win at life and business.

Good to Great – Jim Collins

How so many companies get complacent and turn over in our economic lifecycle by failing to constantly improve and stay on the cutting edge. Its easy to stop looking at the big picture when you are winning. Then all of the sudden its too late.

The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

The business plan is just a hypothesis until you get out and prove it. Get out and interact with your customers and be ready to shift gears at a moments notice. As Steve Blank says “there are no facts in the building so get the heck outside!” Lots of great case studies and proof of each concept.

Epic Content Marketing – Joe Pulizzi

Writing amazing content that stands out from the crowd is the new way to dominate SEO. Create content that is the best on the internet and you’ll succeed at driving traffic and increasing sales. Avoid sales language. Remember that its a process and a long term goal that requires consistency. More about Joe in this amazing video.

The Dip – Seth Godin

This is a short book (75 pages) and it only took me a few hours to read. Its meant to get you thinking and the real works when you apply the concepts to your life and your business. My summary here.

Loopholes of Real Estate – Garrett Sutton

This book explains, in a simplified version the advantages of building long term wealth through real estate. Taxes, appreciation and cashflows are all covered. 1031 exchanges, capital gains, depreciation and more. A great read from the standpoint of housing and apartment rentals but can be applied to any asset class.

J Scott’s Books on Real Estate Investing

If you are looking to learn more about residential or multi family real estate this is your guy. J Scott joined us for an awesome episode of the podcast that has been one of the most popular of the year. He has books on Estimating Rehab Costs, Negotiating Real Estate and Flipping Houses. Gold nuggets sprinkled throughout.

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight 

An amazing story of grit and making good decision after good decision. People think Nike was an overnight success. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Titan – The Life of John D Rockefeller, Sr.

Wealth on a scale that will never be matched. The story of how John dominated the oil and gas industry from the days when kerosene was the only way to light your home after dark. He caught a new industry on the upswing and did amazing things.

Podcasts I really enjoy:

  • Akimbo – Seth Godin
  • Seth and Ryan Holiday’s appearances on The Tim Ferris Show
  • Tropical MBA – Dan and Ian

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