What was the last book you read? More importantly – what was the last book you read that helped you and your team succeed at work? Being well read doesn’t just help you in your day-to-day activities. Choosing to learn from established experts and authors helps shorten your learning curve so you can bring practical information and methods to your co-workers, colleagues, and clients. While there’s no substitute for learning by doing, there’s a wide gap in knowledge that favors those who take time to read effective business books over those who don’t. Over the years, I’ve read more than a fair share of business books, and some have stood out more than others. That’s why today I am sharing my top five favorite business books that you will wish you had read sooner.
1. “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
Written as a narrative story, this is an easy read. I find this book foundational for any new or recently-started investor to understand what it means to have an investor mindset. It helps distinguish what is truly an asset and liability and how to use money as a tool to create wealth. You don’t have to be born rich to become rich. Instead, there’s a path that just about anyone who is willing to take can follow. In 1999, my wife Joanne read this book and I read it shortly after her. It was one of the reasons Joanne decided to leave her teaching career to become a real estate professional just a year later. It’s the reason we bought our first investment property and created goals around real estate investing. I have a lot of gratitude for this book.
2. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
This book is about breaking bad behaviors and adopting good ones in four steps with small, incremental, everyday routines that compound into massive, positive changes over time. You can truly change your behavior by following these steps. There are some great hacks here on breaking cravings and creating new habits. These include steps about making new routines easy to start, making them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. 1. Make it obvious – Don’t hide your fruits in the fridge, but instead put them on display front and center. 2. Make it attractive – start with the fruit you like the most so you’ll actually want to eat one when you see it. 3. Make it easy – don’t create needless friction by focusing on fruits that are hard to peel. Bananas and apples are super easy to eat, for example. 4. Make it satisfying – if you like the fruit you picked, you’ll love eating it and feel healthier as a result! The book goes into a lot more detail. I highly recommend it as you can apply these little hacks to make your life better and more efficient.
3. “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins
This book is a self-help classic that breaks down how Tony Robbins has helped top performers perform at their highest level and how you can use the same mental and physical tactics to accomplish your biggest life goals. “Unlimited Power” connotes your ability to revamp your life and produce every outcome you’ve ever wanted while generating value for the people around you. There is so much packed into this book that I can’t get into everything. It’s a long read, but it’s worth every page. One key idea is to use modeling – how you can model yourself after others who are more successful to get what they have. We’ve used this tactic in our real estate business as well as real estate investing. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that successful people see “failure” as an opportunity to grow and learn. We model, try new things, fail and learn. Also simple hacks to change your mood with body posture and breathing techniques, it works! And lastly emotional intelligence, how you respond to situations and your emotions, your attitude determines a lot of what you can accomplish.
4. “First Break All The Rules” by Don Clifton
This book walks you through how to be a better manager and debunks a lot of traditional management methods. I enjoy this book because it resonates with my management style, especially being a part of a small team. We are truly a family. Happy and satisfied employees make the company better and treat clients better. Managers can help employees be happier and more satisfied, it starts with caring about how happy and satisfied they are at work and personally. Intentionally design the atmosphere to encourage self-expression, trust, enjoyment, and productivity. A leader sets the goals, and helps guide but ultimately employees will be happier when they can control and have input in how they reach those goals. If you want to help your team grow, you’ve got to get to know them on a personal level. And if you want to know what standard you should hold everybody to, you need to look at your top performers and spend a lot of time with them. I’d recommend this book to someone who just became a manager and feels overwhelmed, or a seasoned executive that wants to learn and play to their employee’s strengths, or anyone that would like to become a great leader at work.
5. “Five Dysfunctions Of A Team” by Patrick Lencioni
This book will teach you how to have a functional team to be more productive and how to avoid back-channel politics. It’s written in an easy-to-read fable and then breaks it down into practical guidelines on how to overcome each of the five dysfunctions. In hindsight, if I had read this book at the start of my team building career, I could have avoided some drama and probably gotten out of business faster with some people we ultimately ended up parting ways with, but not before they caused damage to the team. it could have possibly helped to fix some bad behavior, but I suspect it would have just highlighted it and caused them to opt out sooner, and maybe I’d have a few less gray hairs.
The next time you are asked what the last book you read was, I hope you think back to one of my five suggestions and are able to apply what you’ve learned in the workplace. True leaders and intelligent thinkers know that they don’t know everything, and they know when to look for outside wisdom and advice to pass along to those who rely on them in the business world. These five reads cover everything from financial responsibility and habit building to team chemistry and unlocking your true potential, and I highly suggest that you check them out.