It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to focus on our own education. When deadlines are approaching and targets need to be met, the first things that we tend to put aside are the books we’re reading.
However it’s during these busy times that it’s just as important to remember the significance of self education and recommit to our personal development. The daily grind means nothing if we’re not acting from a place of purpose and our businesses can’t progress if we’re not growing and improving at the same rate.
I get asked very frequently about my book recommendations, so I’ve put together this list of suggestions based on the books that have helped guide my journey over the last 12 years.
While this list might give you some inspiration, don’t take it as a definitive list. It’s important to read about what makes you curious – for me that’s education, innovation and spirituality. But for you it might mean something completely different.
For now though, here are my top reads to get you started:
1. Win Big Risk Small – an entrepreneur’s formula by Dorry Kordahi
My good friend and advisor Dorry Kordahi has just released his latest book, ‘Win Big Risk Small’. A lot of entrepreneurs hold back from leaning in to the next stage of business growth, because they are focused on what they don’t have; the time, the extra resources, the capital required.
In ‘Win Big Risk Small’, Dorry who’s a master at running businesses profitably and efficiently, reveals the formula he used to go from being a suburban hairdresser to the head of an incredibly diverse group of companies (in one of the world’s most competitive industries) and a BRW Young Rich Lister.
More importantly, he explains how anyone can adopt this formula to their own business dreams.
2. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
This book will always have a special place in my heart. Every day I see people who aren’t fulfilling their purpose, because they feel disempowered by the hand they have been dealt in life. Oprah Winfrey, who was born to a single teenage mother in rural Mississippi in 1954, and grew up in significant hardship, challenges this idea in ‘What I Know For Sure’. This book empowers people to find ways to define their own lives, offering lessons in acting with love, purpose and passion.
After all, it’s being driven by something far more meaningful than money that enabled Oprah to foster a genuine authenticity contributing to making her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history.
3. Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch
Some people shy away from this recommendation, as they read the title and think: “Not for me, I’m not religious”. I’m not a religious person either, although I am spiritual. ‘Conversations With God’ is not a book about religion, instead it’s a book that explores answers to some of life’s biggest questions like ‘why am I here?’ and ‘how do I live to my full potential?’ Many titans, including Oprah Winfrey, sight this book as being one that changed their life.
4. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel (Co-Founder of Paypal)
The one word that sums up this book is ‘counter-intuitive’. Peter Thiel’s ‘Zero To One’ is a 200 page handbook that offers truly original insights into building a business of value in today’s world. If you’re a business owner or anybody pursuing a dream, do yourself a massive favour – stop what you’re doing and read this right now.
Thiel invites readers to pursue innovation by thinking outside of what has been done before, giving us frameworks to think through in order to find original ideas and create those new things.
5. Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull (Co-Founder of Pixar)
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights and a manual for anyone who strives for originality.
As an entrepreneur you’ve probably realised by now that we live in a world that finds comfort in familiarity. A world that looks to the past to examine what is tried and proven in order to feel comfortable about progressing forward. In Creativity Inc, Catmull acknowledges this, stressing that to create something truly original requires a deep sense of courage and vision, which is why it resonates so deeply with me. Those seeking to innovate must find reassurance in the discomfort of originality.
6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
As some of you may know, in 2016, The Entourage went through a particularly challenging time (I talk more about this in this episode of Unscripted). During this period, I read ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ – and gave it to my entire leadership team to read too.
Why? Because it’s perhaps the most real, relatable, no bull shit account of entrepreneurship I’ve ever read.
Horowitz’ refreshing recount acknowledges that the hardest part of being an entrepreneur is not coming up with the dream or the big business idea. The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur, is finding the strength to keep going when you wake up at 3AM every morning and that dream has become a nightmare. When you have to find the internal resolve and resources to keep going when everything around you is crumbling.
Definitely one to keep on the bookshelf for those inevitable days/weeks/months when things aren’t going your way.
7. The Four Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey
So far, my reading list has spoken a lot to ideas and elite mindset. However in business what’s equally important is what actually gets executed. Ideas are great, but what’s even better is an idea that your team brings to life and has a real impact on your business.
That’s why I’ve added this book to the list – it’s another one I’ve shared with my leadership team at The Entourage.
The overarching principle Covey speaks to is the importance of stepping out of the day-to-day ‘whirlwind’ and hustle of simply running a business, and developing strategies that will enable you and your team to effectively execute on long term projects that drive growth.