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5 Business Books You Should Read This Spring

Why? They're great. And they'll help you become greater.
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I promise they're all good:

1. Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter, by Henry Evans and Colm Foster. You lead all day, every day, but some moments really matter, and what you do in those moments makes all the difference.

Short on theory (but not too short) and long on practical applications, Step Up is a great book for anyone who needs to know how to step up more often--and when you think about it, title or no title, we all need to step up more often.

2. Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion, by Steve Yastrow. Though theoretically just a sales book, Ditch the Pitch delves into understanding people's real needs and interests so you can make a genuine connection.

Everyone gets hung up on perfecting an elevator pitch, but at its heart, business is two people coming together and extending trust. Yastrow shows how, if you want to influence and persuade, you don't have to become a different person--you just need to adapt to those around you and let who you really are shine through.

3. Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, by Yukari Iwatani Kane. If a steady diet of how-to books has left you feeling flat, read Haunted Empire. It's a nonfiction book based on exceptional reporting that reads like a novel.

If you think you know everything there is to know about Apple or Jobs, you're wrong. Plus, Kane digs deeply enough into personalities that you'll recognize parallels to yourself and your employees, which makes this a practical book after all.

4. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds, by Carmine Gallo. I know. There are tons of books and articles that use the TED Talk theme to help you improve your speaking and presentation skills.

No problem. This is the best one. You'll learn how to become a better speaker--and better yet, you'll be excited about becoming a better speaker.

Plus, you'll find a slew of examples of Talks you can watch and learn from, even though that might take you on an hours-long journey down the TED Talk rabbit hole. (Don't say I didn't warn you.)

5. Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua. An American woman goes to Kenya, by chance meets a young orphan boy, and in time their lives are forever changed.

Trite and clichéd? Hardly. Hope Runs is the best book I've read in a long time. Unflinching, thoughtful, and honest, it will definitely make you rethink what you're doing with your life.

And it shows that all it takes to find a little more meaning in our lives is to walk through just one of the many doors that are already open but that we never seem to notice.

Until now.

Last updated: Apr 11, 2014

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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