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A survey of entrepreneurs turned up these favorites and current reads.
Mike Repole, brand-builder, investor and entrepreneur: “My favorite book is Who Moved My Cheese? It’s all about embracing change and not doing things the same old way. I share it with all my new employees at Vitaminwater, Pirate’s Booty and Energy Kitchen.”
Liz Lange, fashion designer and Shopafrolic.com founder: She is most influenced by autobiographies of trailblazers and entrepreneurs, particularly: Mary Wells Lawrence’s A Big Life (in Advertising) , [Starbuck’s CEO] Howard Schultz’s Pour Your Heart Into It , and Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World [by Donald Katz, 1994]. “These great pioneers’ stories are ones I can relate to and also learn from. I just started Bossypants by Tina Fey —hilarious! And I recently read Just Kids by Patti Smith. It’s one of the most beautiful and moving stories I have ever read and incredibly well-written.”
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks: He’s reading In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy (2011) “to get some insights into the company. The Fountainhead [by Ayn Rand] is my all-time fave. It just motivates the hell out of me.”
Entrepreneur and marketer extraordinaire Seth Godin recommends Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want (2011). “He was the founder of CDBaby, and he shares 40 lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur…. I liked it so much, I’m publishing it!”
Microsoft founder and Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates just finished The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010), which covers the history of cancer.
Warren Buffett praised The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, revised edition. “Jason Zweig did a first-class job in revising The Intelligent Investor, my favorite book on investing…. [It’s for] defensive and enterprising investors.”
Mark Sanborn, author of the best-seller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, says “Because of my work in leadership development, I’ve been reading books about recent research in brain studies and neuroscience, notably Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work  and David Rock’sYour Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus and Working Smarter All Day Long. I find [the latter] fascinating and reaffirming (and write about it in my upcoming book Up, Down or Sideways: How to Win When Times Are Good, Bad or In Between) that science is confirming many of the principles of the power and effects of attitude that cynics have been so critical of. For those of us who have studied and applied the principles of success, it is great to see what we believed intuitively to be true being validated by research.”
Check out these books to help you steer around potholes in the road to prosperity.
- Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki (2008)
Ignore fads and stick to commonsense practices in growing your business, the high-profile entrepreneur advises.
- Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan (2009)
Great marketing depends on trust, and Brogan shares how to gain people’s trust online and turn it into a potent force for your business.
- The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-it-like-it-is Guide to Cleaning up in Business, Even If You Are at the End of Your Roll by Mike Michalowicz (2008)
Stop procrastinating and get with it, says the author, because a shortage of cash and experience are not obstacles.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purposeby Tony Hsieh (2010)
The Zappos CEO applies research from the science of happiness to forming the kind of corporate culture that breeds customer loyalty.
- Hit the Deck: Create a Business Plan in Half the Time with Twice the Impact (2010) by David Ronick
Step-by-step tips for starting a business—fast.
- Never Get a Real Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke by Scott Gerber (2010)
Gerber empowers people to leave their 9-to-5 jobs by dissecting failures, sharing hard-learned lessons and presenting steps to building, managing and marketing a successful business on a shoestring budget.
- Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (2010)
Fried and Hansson, founders of the software company 37signals, describe a new reality where anyone can be in business without being a workaholic.
More for Budding Businesspeople
Several more entrepreneurial must-reads that didn’t make the magazine list:
- The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By by Scott Shane (2008)
The author uses extensive research data to provide accurate information about who becomes an entrepreneur and why, how businesses are started, and which factors lead to success and failure.
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin (2010)
There’s a third group of workers beyond management and labor: the people who know what to do when there’s no rulebook. They love their work and are the building blocks of great organizations. Become a linchpin.
- The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by John Jantsch (2010)
The author tells how the entrepreneur can have customers do the work of marketing their business.
- Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson (2010)
Author lists seven patterns that encourage innovative thinking and concludes that, with today’s tools and environment, extreme innovation is highly accessible.
- Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education by Robert Kiyosaki (2011)
Starting with education, the author presents steps an individual or family can take to create financial opportunity.
- From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership by Harry M. Kraemer (2011)
Today’s business environment demands values-based leaders who do the right thing and deliver outstanding, lasting results. The journey to becoming a values-based leader starts with self-reflection to know and lead yourself, a prerequisite to leading others.