What Books Do Successful People Read?

July 14, 2023
Posted in Questions
July 14, 2023 Terkel

What Books Do Successful People Read?

Ever wondered what books successful people have in their libraries? We asked CEOs, COOs, Co-founders, and Community and Marketing Managers to share their top picks. From Think and Grow Rich to The War of Art, here are nine books that have shaped the minds of these successful individuals.

  • Think and Grow Rich: Principles of Success
  • Getting Things Done: A Productivity Guide
  • Sapiens: Big Ideas for Thought Leaders
  • The Alchemist: Themes of Success and Self-Discovery
  • Lost and Founder and The Hard Thing: Entrepreneurship Insights
  • The Art of War: Strategy and Leadership Lessons
  • Who Moved My Cheese?: Embracing Change and Initiative
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People: Building Relationships
  • The War of Art: Overcoming Resistance to Act

Think and Grow Rich: Principles of Success

A book that many successful individuals have likely read is Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think and Grow Rich. This timeless work of personal development literature has been a cornerstone for success since its publication in 1937.

Think and Grow Rich introduces key principles such as desire, faith, and persistence, emphasizing the significance of setting clear, definite goals. Hill famously stated, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Its impact transcends business, applying to any area of life where success is sought. For any aspiring successful person, Hill’s classic book is an invaluable read.

Vikrant ShauryaVikrant Shaurya
CEO, Authors On Mission

Getting Things Done: A Productivity Guide

David Allen’s classic guide to Getting Things Done is an essential read in business and personal productivity. It’s a personal favorite, but I have met a number of high performers who are fans of the book or practice a modified version of GTD at the very least. While the tools have modernized task management, the ideas, and strategies are timeless.

Trevor EwenTrevor Ewen
COO, QBench

Sapiens: Big Ideas for Thought Leaders

When Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind was published, it became something of a sensation. Even though a number of his ideas and overly broad generalizations have been challenged by experts, this didn’t hurt its popular reception. Anyone who considers themselves a thought leader was sure to have read it.

Big ideas and sweeping narratives are very appealing. Successful people latched on to a number of his ideas even though they often had limited relevance to their work or areas of expertise.

Temmo KinoshitaTemmo Kinoshita
Co-founder, Lindenwood Marketing

The Alchemist: Themes of Success and Self-Discovery

Successful people have most likely read Paulo Coelho’s book: The Alchemist. The book is based on pursuing one’s personal agenda and simple mission in life.

Themes of inspiration and motivation are found throughout Coelho’s novel. It inspires readers to believe in themselves, follow their gut instinct, and conquer challenges to achieve inner happiness and success. Successful people frequently seek external insight to expand their limits and accomplish their goals.

The Alchemist covers themes relevant to everyone, like bravery, tenacity, and self-discovery. It deals with humanity’s state and the difficulties encountered in achieving success.

Lastly, its topics, motivating attributes, and cultural significance have made it a well-liked option among people looking to advance their personal and professional lives.

Peter BrylaPeter Bryla
Community Manager, ResumeLab

Lost and Founder & The Hard Thing: Entrepreneurship Insights

This is a great pair of books that I highly recommend. The first one is Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin. Why? If you want to read a book that is brutally honest about starting and growing a company, this is definitely one to recommend. It is fun to read and full of learnings where Rand Fishkin also gives great considerations about company culture.

And the second one is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Why? Ben Horowitz has the ability to take complicated business topics and break them down into very tangible and practical advice. If you are thinking about starting a company, this is the ultimate mentor you could get. On top of that, it is fun to read!

Oksana SydorchukOksana Sydorchuk
Marketing Manager, Right People Group

The Art of War: Strategy and Leadership Lessons

The Art of War by Sun Tzu may not appear immediately relevant to business, but its teachings on strategy, competition, and leadership inspire creative thinking. Successful individuals appreciate its military insights, such as deploying resources efficiently and adapting swiftly to change.

For example, consider a successful entrepreneur who applies the principle of “knowing your enemy” to thoroughly understand their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. By leveraging this knowledge, they can develop competitive strategies and gain a competitive advantage. The Art of War offers valuable lessons beyond conventional business literature, making it a unique and insightful choice.

Yoana WongYoana Wong
Co-founder, Secret Florists

Who Moved My Cheese?: Embracing Change and Initiative

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is a thought-provoking book helpful for personal and professional growth. You won’t find in-depth strategies or detailed advice for success there, though. The book tells an allegorical tale of mice in a maze and their quest for cheese. This simple yet impactful story conveys an important message about the role of change in our lives. It encourages readers to let go of fear and resistance to change and view it as an opportunity for growth.

Sometimes you cannot change what life gives you. But you can always decide how to react, adapt to the new, and seek solutions. A proactive attitude is key to success. Who Moved My Cheese? reminds us that instead of waiting for things to happen, we should take the initiative and find new ways to deal with what we get.

The book is short—you can easily read it in one sitting—but its message will likely stay with you forever. I believe everyone striving for success should know it.

Agata SzczepanekAgata Szczepanek
Community Manager, MyPerfectResume

How to Win Friends & Influence People: Building Relationships

This timeless classic has been in print since 1936, and its simple yet powerful advice means it’s still widely read today. The book offers timeless advice on building relationships, strengthening communication skills, influencing others more effectively, becoming a better leader or manager of people, and managing personal stress.

It provides an abundance of advice on how to improve relationships with customers and colleagues alike—most notably by being generous with praise and avoiding criticism as much as possible. In short, it tackles the challenges of achieving success through understanding and working well with other people.

Roksana BieleckaRoksana Bielecka
Community Manager, ResumeHelp

The War of Art: Overcoming Resistance to Act

This book teaches us how to overcome resistance and start doing the work we’re here to do. The book is such a great resource for anyone who has a lot of ideas but never acts on them. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, want to start your own business, or even just a writer, The War of Art will help you get started on your dreams.

Matthew RamirezMatthew Ramirez
CEO, Paraphrasing Tool

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