In a day and age where, funny enough, people actually read more, granted it’s mostly repetitive Twitter and Facebook feeds, I like to think people are more accustomed to reading than ever before.
I was fortunate to have been taught the value of reading at an early age. However, it was instilled in me that reading was less so about discovering new ideas and more so about understanding yourself better. We are highly intelligent creatures, and we incessantly absorb the world around us whether we choose to or not. Yet, few of us take the time to a) reflect and understand the information we’ve ingested and b) prioritize the most pertinent information for our personal growth and mental wellness. Reading helps with both.
As an entrepreneur, I will spare you the must-reads on everyone’s reading lists these days like Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, or Eric Schmidt’s Lean Startup. Those are more or less “business for business” books. I believe the bigger challenge for most entrepreneurs is not within the business landscape or economic ecosystem but within ourselves. As an entrepreneur (or even a budding one), maintaining a well-oiled machine and some sanity between your ears is top priority. Getting into the right mindsets, holding the right belief systems, and building for yourself a reliable inner voice is crucial to your success. After all, as the famous adage says, “to love others you must first love yourself,” I’ll relate, “to build an organization to help others, you must first help yourself.”
Here are some books that I live and breath by. Hopefully, I’m introducing a book or two you’ve never read.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
— By Dale Carnegie
The title is self-explanatory. I’m quite unabashed about self-help books, and funny enough they don’t call it that anymore. All self-help books are being re-marketed as “personal development” books because nobody thinks they need help. Truth is, not only does everyone need help, we need continuous help because the world is continuously changing around us and we’re faced with new challenges at every stage of our life. Most people are probably more familiar with Dale Carnegie’s other book How to Win Friends and Influence People, but few know of this classic gem. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is like a bible I flip through from time to time because not all stories apply to me at the same time or at the same stage in my life. I tend to find this a common theme with all the books I revisit below.
— by Anthony Robbins
Tony Robbins’ infomercials may throw you off as if he’s some hype man or motivational speaker, but he is far from that. I think of him as our modern day Freud. As he aptly puts it himself, he’s a life strategist. If you’re not where you want to be, physically, mentally, or emotionally, he’ll guide you there by focusing on your physical body first. We live in a world so busy that we often put our bodies last thinking we can solve all of our problems with our brain. Yet, you’ll learn that a poor physical condition is the root to all your problems, from how you feel emotionally to the decisions you make day-to-day. As a famous adage says, “your health is your wealth,” I’ll add that “your health leads to your wealth.”
The 4-Hour Work Week
— by Timothy Ferriss
I will start off with a fun fact that the 4-hour work week is not what the title touts; as I had initially thought when I picked up the book years ago. I’m sure Tim Ferriss chose the title for its wow factor but there is also a deeper meaning beneath the surface. It doesn’t mean “only work 4 hours per week” because if you did you’d be bored to death. What he’s getting at is promoting 4 hours of work life, and then spending the rest of your time devoted to your life work. With life work defined as what gets you up in the morning, and work life defined as the illusory retirement you’re slaving towards, which honestly will never come in this day and age.
Speaking of which, I had an interesting discussion the other day about how truly archaic the concept of retirement is. I agree it was created and much needed during the industrial age but in the information age, it is unrealistic.
Back to the book, Tim Ferriss lays out a sensible way to approach life and work in this new age. I read the other day, a provocative thought from Peter Diamandis quoting venture capitalist Steve Jurveston, about how automation will displace 90% of our jobs. This may be disappointing news for some, yet he explains, “instead of doing busy work or a ‘physically repetitive thing for a living,’ we’ll be involved in information or entertainment. ‘We’ll live off the production of robots, free to be the next Aristotle or Plato or Newton. Unless we’re miserable without doing busy work.’” I sure am not.
One of my favorite thoughts Tim Ferriss shares in his book is how sadness is not the opposite of happiness. The two are coupled on the same side of the coin much like love and hate. He explains that indifference is the true opposite of love, and that boredom is the true opposite of happiness. This thinking really helps set the right framework for happiness. If you’re looking for happiness, don’t focus on avoiding sadness, but rather focus on living a life of excitement.
The Magic of Thinking Big
— by David Schwartz
This is an interesting book that I revisit from time to time. It’s quite short, but quite dense with nuggets of wisdom that help create the right mindset of abundance, instead of scarcity, in our world.
— by Paulo Coelho
You won’t find much fiction on my top book list, but Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is a fun read for those who can’t stand non-fiction. Finding the purpose of your life is one thing, focusing and working on your set purpose is another. Through powerful storytelling he instills both priorities into your life.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
— by Susan Cain
Being a self-proclaimed extrovert, I will admit, I disliked the first quarter of this book. I disliked it because I felt like the author was bashing on extroversion. As I read on, I realized Susan Cain was laying the groundwork for us to see how society has been bashing introversion for the past half a century, as a defect or disease, and over-promoting extroversion. What we discover is that we need both, and that neither is superior to the other. Additionally, we learn how balancing introversion and extroversion allows for us to be at our best.
Manage Your Day-to-Day & Make Your Mark
— Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei
These are two separate books in a series from 99U. The series compiles essays, thoughts, and interviews from some of the top thinkers and leaders of today. The books are wonderfully organized in a format that can be easily followed and reviewed as daily nuggets for better managing your day-to-day, and defining and realizing your purpose in your organization.
Please do share with me books that have made a difference in your life.
Other memorable books I loved throughout the years but view as one-time reads are listed below (in no particular order):
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
Mindset – Carol Dweck
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Acres of Diamonds — by Russell Conwell
The Richest Man in Babylon — by George S. Clason
Rich Dad Poor Dad — by Robert Kiyosaki
The Power of Habit — by Charles Duhigg
Lions Don’t Need to Roar — by Debra Benton
Stumbling on Happiness — by Daniel Gilbert
Start with Why — by Simon Sinek
Delivering Happiness — by Tony Hsieh
The Dip — by Seth Godin
Made to Stick — by Chip and Dan Heath
How to Fail at Almost Everything — by Scott Adams
Good to Great — by Jim Collins